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Grado's GS-1000 Statement Headphone
By Jude Mansilla
founder of

Until about midway through the day on Saturday, the most significant new product of the National Meet for me was the SHURE e500. While we see a lot of new headphone amps, portable sources, CD players, and accessories introduced in any given year, significant new high-end headphone introductions can have years between them. And yet at the National Meet we were fortunate enough to have two. On any other day, the e500's outlandishly excellent performance (in a universal-fit earphone no less) would have stolen the show. It would take a new flagship headphone from the likes of Sennheiser (think "HD700"), AKG or Grado to swipe some thunder from the e500, and that's exactly what happened.

It's a funny story. John Grado walked into the exhibition area. I'd never met him in person before, so when Todd Green (TTVJ) introduced me to him that day, it was the first we'd met. John was carrying around what looked like a typical leather soft-side briefcase, and, of course, I thought nothing of it. He was carrying it around for a while, before John and Todd clued me in to what was in there, which was a prototype of what was intended to be Grado's new top-of-the-line headphone. Shhhhhhh. It wasn't really ready for release yet. No copy had been written about it yet for things like press kits, dealer announcements, etc. Packaging for the headphone was (and is) still a ways away. With the exception of John's family and a few friends and associates, nobody knew what was in that bag, because, at the time of the National Meet, what was in that bag was supposed to stay, well, in the bag.

Those who know me know that the Sennheiser HD600 and HD650 have been my reference headphones for years. I love my Grado HF-1, and I use it for a regular change of pace, as well as one of my open cans of choice in my portable rigs. I have a Grado HP-1, and it's an occasional change-up, too -- a headphone deserving of its now legendary status, but, for me, still secondary to the HD600/650 as my primary headphone. I love the RS-1 (I actually prefer it to the HP-1), but, again, not enough to pry the HD600/650 away as my reference headphones. Having said all this, it should be no surprise that I was expecting something better than the RS-1 to come out of that leather bag, but something that I'd have to leave to more diehard Gradophiles to raise to the standard of their new reference. In other words, I was expecting to hear something I'd really like, and something I'd fully understand as a new reference choice for Gradophiles, but not a headphone that would become my new reference.

I looked at it and handled it. Yeah, it definitely looked like a design departure from the current Prestige and Reference Series headphones by Grado (as well as from the HP series from the Joseph Grado days). Larger in diameter, yet less heavy looking -- it felt lighter, too. Huge earpads -- next to the standard Grado bowl pads, the new headphone's pads look like a pair of woks.

I put it on my head. Hmmm.... very comfortable -- like they were barely there. What went through my mind was that I may have been wearing the most comfortable full-size headphones I'd yet worn. But the new appearance and comfort alone weren't enough to prepare me for what I was about to hear.

I turned the music on (Jazz at the Pawnshop on Todd's Panasonic portable CD player through a Ray Samuels Audio Hornet). "The soundstage is HUGE!" I shouted through the music. John just smiled. And I didn't mean huge soundstage for a Grado, I meant huge soundstage, period. I want to clarify something about the soundstage: I'm not talking about just making the headstage cavernous at the expense of coherence. I'm talking about a natural, open soundstage in which image density isn't compromised -- the GS-1000 just extends the sonic image objects out further in every direction, and makes them more alive and seemingly more tangible. This will almost certainly be the first thing about this headphone that most will notice.

But there's more to the GS-1000 than just soundstage. The overall sense of neutrality and transparency. The effortless and liquid midband. And the bass -- strong yet perfectly controlled and detailed. I'll say it now, as I've had a chance to listen to spend many hours with it since the Meet: The GS-1000 may be as close to a perfect headphone as I've so far heard.

But I've digressed somewhat from the story...

After giving the GS-1000 a listen, I looked at John and asked him if it was going downstairs to the exhibition area for others to hear. But he explained to me that he hadn't brought the prototype with any intent to show them publicly yet (for some of the reasons I mentioned a few paragraphs up, as well as other reasons specific to his business) -- he had only intended to give private sneak previews to a few people. I told him that I would, of course, not say a word to anyone if he wasn't ready to show it yet, but that I felt like I was now holding a secret that, at some level, I thought everyone downstairs would want to find out -- at the first National Meet no less. John did the arms-crossed, thinking-man's thing, and silently deliberated with himself over whether or not to bring the headphone downstairs to the exhibition hall, no doubt contemplating what the production and business implications would be. Somewhat uneasily at first, he said, "Should we do it?" Then he seemed more resolute, as he went from question to decision, saying, "It's the National Meet. Let's do it. Why not?"

And so I wore it downstairs in the exhibition hall (plugged into my iPod Shuffle). If I recall correctly, I think the first to notice was Trogdor. By the time the whole National Meet was over, many people had the chance to hear what would later be named the Grado GS-1000. The response was overwhelmingly positive. And it's not hype. It's not flavor of the month. It is, however, my new reference headphone. If the final product sounds like the prototype I've been listening to, the GS-1000 will -- I have no doubt whatsoever -- elevate itself into the pantheon of the highest-end headphones, and will, from this point forward, be discussed in the company of the likes of Sennheiser's Orpheus. It's that good.


Vented diaphragm

Wooden air chamber

UHPLC copper voice coil wire

UHPLC copper connecting cord

Buy Grado Direct from
Tranducer type
Operating principle
open air
Frequency Response
Normal Impedance
Driver matched db

What does the i stand for in the new GS1000i from Grado? Improved, that's what! Featuring a new species of handcrafted Mahogany earpieces made using an intricate curing process; Grado has been able to optimize the tonal quality. The GS1000i uses new upgraded dynamic transducers and the new 8 conductor cable design. All this, new wood, driver and cable designs result in improved control and stability of the upper and lower range of the frequency spectrum with both better supporting the GS1000i's new world renowned midrange.

Grado's GS1000i cushion design actually creates a "room" for the ears to sit, creating a larger soundstage and greater spatial experience for the listener. It was most important to design the correct balance between the driver and our wooden driver housing to give us the resulting sound that we desired. This has been accomplished. By creating this "room" for the ears to sit, positioning of the cushions with regards to the ears (i.e., forward or back) is somewhat critical in finding the absolute sweet spot.

With this cushion design, we believe the GS1000i to be one of the most comfortable headphones on the market today.

The GS1000i retains a sound that is pure Grado, rich full-bodied vocals, excellent dynamics and an ultra smooth top end. The presentation is very detailed, the bass is deep and the music is very tight and non-fatiguing. All with a soundstage that is huge allowing for unbelievable separation and layering of the music which is simply stunning.

Listen and enjoy!

"The GS1000 is a fantastic headphone for every musical taste. It is my headphone of choice and for good reason. Its soundstage is huge, the highs are detailed, the mids are sweet and the bass is deep and rich. Oh, and it's comfortable to boot! Way to go John!!!"
— Todd Green, Todd The Vinyl & Headphone Junkie
"Tell Mr. Grado that those new (GS-1000) headphones are probably the best/finest Dynamic headphones that I have ever heard in the world... in my life."
— Wayne Shuurman, Audio Advisor
"But there's more to the GS1000 than just soundstage. The overall sense of neutrality and transparency. The effortless and liquid midband. And the bass strong yet perfectly controlled and detailed. The GS1000 may be as close to a perfect headphone as I've so far heard."
— Jude Mansilla, founder of
"Grados flagship cans just might make the best sounds youll ever hear."
— Richard Black / HIFI Choice
"The GS1000 was named one of the six great indulgences in the world."
— Details magazine
"Each and every instrument has body and the vocals come across without any doubt or question. When you hear the sound of a voice, you can actually hear and feel the sound as it would be coming from a real human flesh and blood. These qualities, along with the immediate proximity of the headphone, allow the music to actually get right under your skin."
— Dr. Reinhold Martin / HiFi&Records (Germany)
"The GS1000s were superb and did a fantastic job of putting a three dimensional space inside my head, almost fooling me that I was listening to a pair of speakers."
— Jeff Dorgay / Tone magazine
"The first thing that struck me about the GS 1000 was the comfort level. The GS1000 is one of the most comfortable headphones I have ever tried."
— Ryan Clarin /
"This may well be the finest electricity-to-sound transducer in the world. If you don't want to be haunted by the suspicion that your interest in audio is terminally superficial, you absolutely must hear a pair of these."
— Richard Black / HIFI Choice magazine
"The GS1000 was the only headphone selected and recommended by Fortune magazine for their Holiday Gift guide."
— Fortune magazine
"The Grado's bring excitement and an engaging musical quality to the table. I urge you to audition the GS1000 and to appreciate the new qualities which John Grado has brought to the table. The new GS 1000's are a statement option which now belong on the top of the short list up there on the top."
— Ryan Clarin /
"The latest offering from Grado Labs represents decades of educated trial and error experimentation, the slow and painful development of mastery, and I feel the GS-1000s are a masterpiece... Good enough for Accessory Of The Year? Undoubtedly."
— Max Dudious/Positive Feedback
"It's not often a product I review elicits in me an emotional response... The Grado is like no other headphone I have ever tried I've hook them up to quite ordinary hi-fi, to iPods and even my laptop and still been bowled over by the sheer beauty, clarity and spaciness... They have improved my life to such an extent that I have bought a pair for my own selfish use... A sound investment."
— Jonathan Margolis/ Financial Times/UK
"Editors Choice Award* THE GOLD STANDARD: Very likely the best sounding headphones ever made - and they're priced accordingly."
— Tim Gideon / PC Magazine
"The GS1000 exceeds all limits of advances in headphone design... The GS1000 sounds breathtakingly open and transparent. Compared to most other top class headphones, the Grado draws a superior spatial reproduction and makes it easy to feel like being in a concert hall. "
— Martin Freund / HomeElectronic magazine (Switzerland)
"Right off the bat, you enter a universe of subtlety and emotion: the bandwidth toward the bottom as well as toward the top seems unlimited. The best, however, is the fact that the GS1000 does it without "bragging" or exaggeration."
— Henri-Pierre Penel / Prestige Audio Video (France)
"The Grado GS1000 is a luxury headphone built for comfort and long listening sessionssinking into a favorite chair and enjoying a visit with a beloved symphony, headphones don't sound or feel much better than this. The GS1000s are utterly habit-forming, so audition at your own risk. "
— Neil Gader / the absolute sound
"Pardon me while I gush over the way GS-1000 clarifies live recordings. The sound seemed to surround me, with a rare ability to resolve depth, just as you would in a concert hall. Ditto for the way this headphone reveals rhythmic underpinnings in rock and jazz CDs. Grados have always been exciting, classical music now sounds more refined. Bass is deep, yet more controlled and precise than ever before. "
— Audiophiliac CNET News / Steve Guttenberg
"The sonic result is of the highest quality, the spectral balance is an amazing achievement. This headphone is a tool that will highlight the shortcomings of many famous loudspeakers. Have a listen, compare, you shall not be disappointed."
— Audiophiliac CNET News / Steve Guttenberg
"We've rarely heard American Trilogy convey both the pathos and bombast of late-era Elvis in such a moving way even replayed through speakers costing many times the price of these Grados."
— Tech Specs / England
"One of the finest headphones on the planet, with detail to die for..."
— Hi-Fi Choice / England
"Don't be fooled by the retro aesthetic; this pair of phones features incredibly detailed sound and exquisite construction light-years beyond whatever came with your iPod. The flagship model from Brooklyn-based Grado Labs, these headphones are among the finest ever produced. "
— Anthony Cross / City Magazine
"...where they win out over the HD800s is in their sheer transparency and musical realism: their timing and dynamic sweep combine with detail and insight to deliver your music with near-perfect liquidity. Sure the GS1000is are expensive they're also extraordinarily good."
— What HiFi / England
"...the GS1000i retained the power of the bass beat but blended that with delicately plucked guitar strings. That tonal balance was achieved with such ease is a testament to the design."
— Hi-Fi World magazine / England