Grado GS1000i review

We know they look odd, and they leak your musical tastes to those nearby, but we can't recommend these can enough for sonic quality Tested at £1000

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

A fabulous pair of headphones: they’re not for the train, and they don’t protect those around you from hearing what you’re listening to – but for sheer sonic pleasure they’re stunning


  • +

    Extraordinarily open and detailed

  • +

    clarity and realism, great dynamics


  • -

    Very leaky, sonically speaking

  • -

    odd-looking when worn

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In the search for truly high-end performance, you sometimes have to accept a few eccentricities. These Grados have a couple of their own, but don't be put off – they're worth it.

They're certainly not ugly: the mahogany earpiece design has a homely beauty about it, while the very large foam earcups are designed to create a ‘listening room' for your ears (as well as helpfully catering for the larger-lugged among us).

The ‘i' version of the GS1000s also have a more stable chassis, along with improvements to the voice coil wire gauge and better damping.

Of course, the other aspect of the Grados, which works to produce as clear and uncoloured a sound as possible, is their open-backed design.

And while this reduces resonances and unwanted reflections, it also means that a person sitting next to you can hear just about every note of the music you're listening to.

If even a small part of your reason for buying headphones is that you want to listen to music without inflicting it on your nearest and dearest, then at the very least try these out before you buy – the GS1000is are very, very leaky.

Superb openness and clarity
But if that's not a problem – and neither is their slightly odd look – you're in for an absolute treat with the GS1000is.

Their other idiosyncracy is that they take an age to run-in: we had them playing constantly for a week before they sounded their best. But when they do, they offer a truly stunning muscal performance, with incredible clarity and detail.

Play any music through them, and the first thing you'll notice is the remarkably open, airy treble and upper midrange: voices and instruments float with superb insight and precision.

The second is the autheticity of the detail they dig out. Neil Young's acoustic guitar sounds blisteringly real – the vibration of all six strings communicated with rare accuracy.

Their presentaion is a little leaner than that of close rivals, although the bass they produce is finely punchy, well-timed and communicative.

But where they triumph is in their sheer transparency and musical realism: their timing and dynamic sweep combine with detail and insight to deliver your music with a near-perfect fluidity.

Sure, the GS1000is are very expensive – they're also extraordinarily good.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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