Disclaimer: This article about the Grado GR10 is part of the new Wayback Wednesday series which is replacing our “Favourite album of” series.
I first encountered an early version of the Grado GR10 sometime in 2012. I encountered it deep in Dimitri Trush’s Musica Acoustics office, meaning: it was buried behind boxes of GoVibes, Fisher Audio, and Earsonics stuff. Earsonics aside, it was a diamond in a coal mine. Thankfully, Dimitri has since moved.
The GR10 is still my favourite universal. It is just as comfortable, light, and unassuming as it ever was. What it still isn’t is inexpensive. And the new e version looks exactly like the quietly released V2, which I reviewed here. What are the differences? Grado’s been mum on that.
The GR10 is half plastic, half aluminium. It comes in typical Grado packaging with a typical Grado accessory set, meaning you’ve seen way better, way more, and practically everywhere.
After a few years, my GR10 is a bit scratched. Its packaging went somewhere when my family moved house. Its Ortofon ear flanges have gone green, but are easy to find. More recently, I’ve replaced them with the high-density Comply tips that come with the likes of Campfire Audio’s Andromeda fit. I did that because they isolate better and keep the earphone more solidly in the ear.
Any tip more comfy than the Ortofon tips it comes with I gobble up, which keeps me lean and mean. The Ortofon’s are practically perfect, and are bettered by few tips out there.
But I keep coming back to the GR10 because it punches above its weight. It sounds great. Its clean bass and detailed mids have Grado written all over them. It isn’t sibilant. Its highs are extended. It feels, and looks, great. Sure, Astell&Kern’s AKT8iE II is richer and Beyerdynamic’s Xelento more contrasty. But not by a lot. And with the right tips, the GR10 fits more securely, and deeper in the ear. Its plastic shell attracts less attention. Its cable is more energetic and bumps around comparatively a lot of touch noise, but the tradeoffs are worth it. In fact, I can’t think of a single earphone whose tradeoffs: permanently attached cable, touch noise, crap accessory kit, silent manufacturer updates – mean next to nothing in light of its general brilliance. Nothing is over-engineered. The GR10 advertises itself. It is quiet and unassuming. It is a holistic, mature design. It is not perfect. But it gets damn close.
The GR10 is, was, and always will be a damn fine earphone.