Family run since 1953, Grado has seen three generations: Joseph, John, and Jonathan Grado. “When someone buys Grado headphones, they become part of the family — as long as they leave their shoes at the door” - Jonathan Grado.
Grado Labs was founded by Joseph Grado (1924-2015) in 1953 in Brooklyn. Over the past 61 years, Grado has become famous for our remarkable headphone and phono cartridge designs. Joseph Grado is responsible for more innovations in phono cartridge design than any other person in our lifetime, inventing the stereo moving coil phono cartridge and holding more than 48 patents.
In the early years Grado also produced speakers, turntables and the highly acclaimed wooden tone-arm, which came in several models. In 1963 all of Grado's resources were dedicated to creating the world's finest phono cartridges. Grado Labs ceased production of all other products and, for the next 21 years, focused only on cartridges.
Joseph Grado is responsible for more innovations in phono cartridge design than any other person in our lifetime.
In the late 1980s Joseph began the development of what was to become the first true high-end dynamic headphone. The introduction of the Joseph Grado Signature Series of headphones was a major event in the evolution of headphone design. Joseph's painstaking design process, combined with nearly a half century of experience manufacturing precision audio devices, astonished even the most critical reviewers. Joseph extended headphone performance to levels previously attained by only the very best full-range speaker systems in areas of dynamics, pitch control, harmonic accuracy and bass quality. In the process, he once again created a new category - true audiophile quality headphones. Now retired, Joseph was inducted into the Audio Hall Of Fame in 1982.
Taking the reins and becoming President & C.E.O. in 1990, John Grado, Joseph’s nephew, created and released Grado’s first line of headphones that the Brooklyn company is known for today. From Grado’s first headphone entry to 2014, John has created over 25 headphones. This Prestige Series of headphones went on to win more awards than any other headphone line in the world. He had come a long way from sweeping the floors of Grado in the ‘60s.
In the beginning, John lived with his family on the top floor of the factory. His wife, Loretta, and he would build the headphone orders themselves on a small worker’s bench everyday for the first few years. John has since brought Grado’s headphone lines from one generation to the next, introducing every headphone that is available to this day.
John lived with his family on the top floor of the factory. His wife, Loretta, and he would build the headphone orders themselves on a small worker’s bench.
In 2008 he created The i Series, the second generation of Grado. For the first time, he also decided to enter the in-ear headphone market at the urging of his sons, Jonathan and Matthew. In 2011 the in-ears came to fruition. The boys realized the importance of this booming segment of the headphone market and that the third generation of Grado would be a part of it. Jonathan and Matthew were both instrumental in the process of voicing of the iGi, GR8 and the GR10.
Jonathan Grado is now Vice President of Marketing for Grado Labs, “I grew up on the top floor of Grado Labs,” says Jonathan, “so now I’m working with people who have known me all my life".
Even though he’s John’s eldest son, Jonathan never felt pressured to join the family company. It was only in his sophomore year of college that he found a passion talking to Grado users, leading him to craft Grado’s social efforts and expand the company’s narrative.
“I grew up on the top floor of Grado Labs,” says Jonathan, “so now I’m working with people who have known me all my life".
Jonathan was in charge of the launch of The e Series, the third generation of headphones, in mid 2014. Although the new headphones look suspiciously similar to the older models, everything about them is improved. From the housings to the wiring, to the cones and coils, The e Series represents Grado’s third generation of audio excellence.
With being named in the Top 8 Most Social Small Businesses in America, Grado has shown it can adapt while keeping their traditions deep rooted in family, quality, and Brooklyn.
(Above photos by Geordie Wood, Jorge Quinteros, and James Chororos.)