Grado IGe vs GR8e Comparison Review

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Grado IGe vs GR8e Comparison Review

Here at MajorHifi, we often get inquiries pertaining to upgrades.  Lately, I’ve seen a lot of questions regarding the $99 Grado IGe and its more expensive counterpart, the $299 Grado GR8e.  But does the difference in price really translate to an upgraded sound?  Or are these two earphones too distinct in overall sound?

Grado IGe vs GR8e Comparison Review

Grado IGe vs GR8e Comparison Review

Both the IGe and the GR8e come with plenty of extra eartips.  The higher-end GR8e also comes with four ear-wax-proof cloths, as well as two ear-wax-proof cloth rings.

While the IGe sports a chunkier, more durable-looking build, the more expensive GR8e appears almost whispy.  Despite this contrast in appearance, both earphones still seem sturdy enough to weather routine abuse, while still delivering that luscious Grado Sound.

The cables on both earphones measure a standard 4 ft (1.2 m).

Specs

IGe Specs
Frequency Response:  20-20,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance:  24 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL):  105 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD):  NA

GR8e Specs
Frequency Response:  20-20,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance:  32 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL):  118 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD):  NA

The specs reveal two earphones with the same frequency range.  However, the IGe winds up being just a little bit more efficient for portable use.  While both the IGe and the GR8e will work fine with portable players, the IGe may require less power overall.  Sound Pressure Level is decent on both models, but the GR8e may appear somewhat louder under similar conditions.  Lastly, Total Harmonic Distortion isn’t given by Grado, but both of these headphones sound on-par with one another regarding clarity – I’d say they’re probably tied somewhere around <0.2%.

Low End

Where the low end is concerned, the IGe easily distinguishes itself with a powerful, driving bass, but less fine detail.  In contrast, the GR8e sounds more detailed or articulate, but lacks any real sense of bass.

Mids

Here we see the higher-end Grado GR8e truly distinguish itself – with more definition in the midrange.  Almost bordering on too much definition for certain tracks, these revealing mids can wreak havoc with lower-quality or older recordings.  On the other hand, the smoother, less-detailed IGe is a better choice where fidelity isn’t top-notch.

High End

Again, this part of the frequency range displays a clear advantage in the GR8e, its detailed nature shining through to illuminate songs in new and interesting ways.  Clearly, this high end was made for Jazz and Classical fans, while the smoother, more foregiving ways of the IGe could easily apply to Rock and Hip Hop tunes.

Soundstage

Both earphones offer some depth and some placement, but the sense of soundstage is still greater on the more expensive GR8e.  This makes sense, and works out well for prospective buyers, too:  rock fans may not need an almost-immaculate sense of placement, but classical fans certainly do.  Depth, however, remains present and immersive in both models.

Recommendations

As mentioned above, the overall sound of the IGe may be more apt for Rock and Roll or Hip Hop.  The smoother highs will impress a certain type of listener, and the resounding, emotive bass will likewise appeal to certain music fans.

Far from being a linear upgrade, the higher end GR8e offers more detail overall, and with a marked emphasis on the mids and highs, to boot.  This sound, while unappealing when paired with some Rock or Hip Hop tracks, is ideal for Classical and Jazz material.

For those seeking a true upgrade from the IGe, the flagship Grado GR10e might be a better consideration.  However, those who are more than satisfied with their current IGe situation shouldn’t write off the GR8e, either.  Both headphone sound great on their own, but together they make one impressive set that will beautifully render any genre of music you might encounter.

Final Analysis

As different in sound as they are in price, the Grado IGe and GR8e offer two distinct paths for the aspiring audiophile.  However, both models do what they do so very well, and it’s truly hard not to recommend them both – the IGe for heavier, bass-centric material, and the GR8e for intricate recordings where details need to be brought to the fore.

Check out these earphones at the Grado Store at Audio46.com!