With Pandora recently announcing that they will be revamping their Pandora One subscription, I felt it was time to upgrade my free edition of Pandora to the paid version. Now, being a subscription based user, I have hours and hours of advertisement-free music to listen to, but that doesn’t do me much good without something to help listen to it.
Where they are built, what kind of drivers they use, their power input, audio frequency range, and their past experience all play an important role when making audio equipment. A speaker needs to be able to play every song, every video, every ounce of audio that a user could push through it, perfectly. Every time. Otherwise, not everybody can enjoy the experience that another user has.
Working out of a shop in Brooklyn, New York, Grado has touted themselves on American pride and their handcrafted headsets, some of which I have reviewed in the past. In a new effort, Grado has expanded to earbuds where they have taken their past experience and put it into these compact speaker housings.
Welcome to my review of the Grado iGe earbuds. Throughout this in-depth review, I will be discussing the following topics: the design, functionality, and my final thoughts. A special thank you to Grado for providing me with these earbuds.
When I reviewed the Grado RS2e and SR225e headphones, there was an unmistakable freethinker look and style to them. Handcrafted, made in America, and the wooden design caught many peoples’ attention. I was surprised, therefore, to receive the iGe as they just looked like any other earbuds out on the market. Perhaps it is because Grado’s complex design standard wasn’t achievable by the outsourced country that manufactured these earbuds.
The Grado iGe earbuds follow an all-black design which allows them to blend into most clothing. At times when walking around, many people couldn’t even tell I had them in my ears.
The iGe uses a 51” inch rounded cable instead of the favored flat design, but thanks to the 9 gram weight, tangles happen less than is usual with earbud cables.
On the 3.5mm jack, we find a four-pole connector that then runs a single cable about 60% of the way at which it splits into two separate cables, one for each of the earbuds. On some earbuds, you can sometimes find a cable channel that helps manage the two split cables. When you are walking or running the two cables can flop about and get caught on clothing. Unfortunately, the iGe’s lack this cable management slider.
Additionally, there is an in-line microphone and volume adjustment clicker located on the cable leading up to the right earbud. Unfortunately, volume control is only supported on iOS, but I was able to control Pandora through the Play/Pause button on my Android smartphone.
At the top of the cables are your two independent earbuds which are identical in design. Without the ear tips attached to the earbuds, the body resembles a bullet shape where the end away from your ear is rounded off. Additionally, the part exposed to the elements is wrapped in rubber that then extends slightly down onto the cable. The rubber body helps it stand up against abuse, tugging on the cable, and damage. Also, the speaker is slightly curved to help slide into your ear canal without harming it.
As with any earbuds, you need to find the best fitting ear tips for your ears. Personally, I tend to like larger ear tips that can get a full seal in my ear canal.
Grado offers four different pairs of ear tips with the iGe, but their variety isn’t as great as it should be. First up are, as I like to call them, the double coned ear tips. These are a fatter ear tip towards the ear canal, which are then backed by an even larger back piece. These are great for when you are on a plane or in a busy environment since they prevent sound leakage from both escaping and entering the ear canal. Even though there are four ear tips, two of them are this double coned style, one in black and the other in white.
The next style, my favorite, is of a sloping design. At the tip of the ear tip is a smaller radius that then slowly increases towards the back. This is best for most users as you can push them into the ear canal until it’s a nice seal.
If you happen to have small ear canals, there’s only one ear tip that will be the best fit. Grado includes some Comply Foam Tips. These are foam ear tips instead of the traditional silicone ones that come with almost every earbud set. Since they are foam, you can squish them into a very small crumple and then insert them into your ears. Then after a few seconds, the foam expands, creating a perfect fit for your ear canal.
In terms of sound quality, the Grado iGe earbuds are on a par with its high-end audio competitors. I used to use the Beyerdynamic MMX 102 iE earbuds and then recently switched to the Grado iGe full time.
I am generally impressed with how well the iGe sounds. Everything is crisp, clear, and loud. While listening to Pandora and YouTube everything sounded just like it should. Lows, mids, and highs were spot on to my liking.
There is a dynamic driver on the iGe which can output a 20 – 20,000 Hz frequency response. Requiring 30mW of power, the speakers can hit a 24 ohms impedance. Moreover, maximum sound output can hit 105dB.
Something that puzzled me was the bass on the iGe. With normal operation, you can hear a slight bass in the music, but nothing headshaking. This is normal for most earbuds as the smaller drivers cannot compete with full sized desktop units. However, if I press inward onto the earbuds the iGe outputted some impressive bass. I couldn’t believe how well the bass sounded when a little force was applied. When I adjusted the ear tips for a better fit, I found that the bass was strong and present. Since you are not going to walk around pressing inwards on your ear buds, when relaxing on the pressure the bass is still there, just not as strong. Puzzling, I know, but the bass in the iGe is stronger than other ear buds I have reviewed in the past.
My Final Thoughts
For $99.99 on Amazon, these Grado ear buds are now my new daily drivers and I quite enjoy my time with them. Everything sounded great, they stay in my ears, and they are comfortable. They do lack the stylish cues from Grado, but they priced at a more wallet-friendly price. Although they are iOS compatible, I was happily using them with my Android phone, even if the volume controls didn’t work.
If you are looking for a pair of earbuds that can provide some great sounds and are looking to support an American brand, then look no further. The Grado iGe receives my recommended stamp of approval.
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Tagged Ear, earbuds, Grado, Headbuds, headphones, Hear, Hip, Ige, music, new, quality, review.