Fresh from Grado Labs in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, comes the GH1, a limited-edition headphone made from a local maple tree.
Reviewing Grado GH1
The first thing most people notice about this headphone is the price tag. For a whopping $650, is this headphone worth the cheddar?
The build quality is much the same as other Grado headphones around this price point: the same simple design, lightweight feel, and heavy-duty cable. There’s the usual 1/4” adapter in the box.
Even by looks, it might seem very cut-and-paste. The headband is black leather, like those of the Professional Series, but the earcups feature tonewood components to give you better clarity and less distortion.
Compared to other tonewood models like the RS2e, the RS1e, and the luxurious GS1000e (which feature Mahogany, not Maple), the differences are subtle at first, but become more apparent after a brief period of critical listening.
Maple has been used for ages to give instruments a brighter sound, and this is the same effect with the Grado GH1. While the RS (Reference Series) models and the GS1000e offer beautiful, clinical accuracy that most headphones simply cannot replicate, the GH1 offers the same level of separation and space, with a brighter high end. It’s not harsh or overdone in anyway. It’s perfect little smidgen of enhancement that has less to do with a flat studio sound and more to do with some ear-opening listening experiences.
While cycling through my usual track list for a headphone comparison, I was unmoved by most of the hip-hop and rock music coming through these headphones. I couldn’t tell a $155 difference between the RS2e and the GH1. Then, enter the classical music. A Vivaldi piece re-composed by Max Richter. Holy violins, Batman! Skip to some other tracks featuring more detail in the high end of the frequency range, and the difference is immediately known.
The Grado GH1 takes what is good about the Reference Series – clarity, separation, zero distortion – and gives it a soft glow in the high end, with an articulate edge to each individual note, all while effortlessly sidestepping the kind of harsh sounds you’ll hear with other headphones.
It’s not going to be for everyone. But for the discerning audiophile – the kind of person who hunts for the best sound at a given price – this headphone may arguably be the best one you can get for under $1000.
The open-back design discourages those in search of discreet listening experiences. and I imagine there are some folks somewhere who somehow just hate that Grado design. But if you’re not turned off by the look or the leak, just try one of these out, for crying out loud, and you’ll hear exactly what I’m talking about.
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