Grado Labs appears to be a much bigger company than it is. Founded 60 years ago by Joseph Grado, the company made millions of phonograph cartridges in its long history and, during the rise of portable music, hit pay dirt by making some of the best-sounding headphones in the business. Where is this company located? In some massive office park in the depths of New Jersey? In a manufacturing town on some Alpine slope?
Nope. It’s in a multi-story townhouse on 7th Avenue in Brooklyn, part of which used to be the Grado family’s fruit store.
In what was one of the most amazing discoveries of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting with the father and son team that currently run Grado and to see their factory in the flesh. From their basement injection molding area to their second floor assembly plant to their beautiful listening room, I saw one of the rarest things in manufacturing: the family-run business that has never forgotten its roots and a company that prides itself on making the best audio gear in the business from in space that would make giants like Denon, Bose, and Onyko snicker.
The current owner, John Grado, sees his space as a sort of lucky charm, something that keeps the company grounded and the headphones amazing. While change is afoot – the younger Grado, Jonathan, finally nabbed the @grado handle on Twitter – the company is staying true to its roots and still makes thousands of phonograph needles (and many more pairs of headphones) yearly.
Grado is unique. It’s well worth a look as we explore the multiple floors and follow a process that has been left unchanged for over half a century.