Those of you who know your audio onions should be well aware that Grado has an excellent reputation in the audio arena. From its ungodly expensive PS1000 'professional series' to the more consumer-friendly iGrado headphones, it isn't too hard to find a great-sounding Grado product to suit your budget. The latest from Grado Labs, the Grado GR8 in-ear headphones, takes a slightly different direction, however. Instead of fleshing out the already complete headphone range further, this set of in-ear 'phones purport to bring Grado's expertise to the in-ear market.
The price is certainly what you'd expect from a quality Grado product. At a touch under £270 these aren't going to appeal to your average punter. If Grado is going to persuade would-be buyers - who could grab a pair of tried, tested and cheaper Shure SE530 earphones - to pick its own fare, then it's going to have to do something special.
Initial impressions of the Grado GR8 earphones is very good. The plastic casing doesn't quite have the high-end feel that the rubberised finish of Shure's IEMs do, but the dark, slightly glittery blue colouring is very nice. The reinforced connection where the cables reach each earpiece imparts confidence in the build quality as does said cable's rubberised feel. Such coatings may not actually affect durability but they show attention to detail, which is exactly what £265 should get you.
As someone who often listens to music in bed, in the dark, I'm always pleased when earphones offer some kind of physical differentiation between the left and right earpiece as the GR8 do. There's a raised bump on the left 'phone to cater to that need nicely. What's more, the Grado GR8 are extremely comfortable to wear. They can be worn with the cable running either straight down or over the ear and in both configurations are barely noticeable in the ear. I didn't notice any rubbing noise from the cable either, which is always good.