Brief: The iGrado is the first mass-market China-made headphones by Grado Labs, utilizing the same drivers as the renowned SR60 full-size headphones in a more iPod-friendly package. On paper, the iGrados seem to be a formula for success – take the drivers from an established product almost unanimously praised in the hi-fi community, put them in a plastic enclosure that is cheap to manufacture, and drop the price below the $50 mark. In reality, though, the sub-$50 portables market is a crowded one, dominated by long-time heavyweight entries from the likes of Koss and Sennheiser, so I was very curious to see how the “baby Grados” stack up.
Current Price: $49 from amazon.com
Build Quality (5.5/10): Except for the metal Grado plaque on the back of the headband, there is nothing to suggest that the iGrados are the brainchild of one of the world’s premier headphone makers. The plastic is thick and sturdy, but with visible seams and other molding artifacts. The grilles and fake bolts in the headband are also plastic. Overall, the iGrados have none of the precision-machined feel of the Sennheiser PX100s and Panasonic Slimz but compensate with brawny plastics and a lack of moving parts to ensure longevity. The major letdown here is the cabling – the cable is one of the thinnest and most plasticky ones I’ve seen on a headphone and the plug can only be described as wimpy. Even the cable on the $1.99 Parts-Express phones inspires more confidence.
Comfort (5/10): The abovementioned lack of moving parts makes the fit of these pretty rigid. While Grado did a decent job of shaping the headphones to fit all head and ear sizes, they will definitely not be comfortable for everyone. I can wear them for about an hour before feeling the pressure on my ears, and just over two before my head starts to feel genuinely pained. On the upside, the fit is very secure and I feel that these would work better for exercising/running than most of the others here.
Isolation (2/10): These are completely open headphones with no isolation and quite a bit of leakage.
Sound (7/10): Despite the dollar-store packaging and blue-collar build, the iGrados still deliver that famous Grado magic. I can perceive a house sound similarity between these and both my SR125s and SR325is. They are, of course, nowhere near as refined as the others (costing 3x and 6x the price of the iGrados, respectively), but they still make you feel like you’re in the front row of a concert. The overall sound is forward and edgy. The bass is not as tightly controlled as the Yuins and a bit boomy, but still very full and enjoyable. It does not extend very deep but still has a nice warmth to it and can be opened up a little bit by cutting a quarter-sized hole in the pads (the “quarter” mod). The highs are slightly recessed although they still sparkle on occasion. The soundstage is average in size but instruments are well-separated and nicely positioned. All things considered, I think this is the best sound of the sub-$50 group for Rock/Metal-type genres.
Value (6.5/10): There are two ways to evaluate the iGrados: as what is probably best the street-style sports headphone for the iPod crowd or as a portable little brother of the renowned Grado SR60 with a $30 discount. Either way, they come out to be pretty good value for money. Unfortunately they lose points in comfort and build quality – more thought could have been put into both. If you listen to Rock and Metal and are willing to sacrifice comfort or keep your listening sessions short, these will not disappoint.
Frequency Response: 20-20,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Sensitivity: 100 dB SPL/1mW
Cord:3.94ft (1.2m); Straight Plug