The Grado IGE is a new in-ear model crashing onto the headphone scene with a price of $99. The first Grado earphone to sport an Apple-licensed controller, it’s also the most economically-priced earphone from the manufacturer to date. So with all the cards on the table, how does it stack up to the competition?
Grado IGE Review
The IGE might be a little bulky. It fits in the ear comfortable, though – thanks to four different silicon tips that come with the earphones. Otherwise, the ‘phones don’t come with any accessories, but such is the Grado way.
The cable, while thin, doesn’t seem weak. And the Apple-certified controller doesn’t have that cheap, plasticky appearance that we’ve seen with other brands.
|Connector||1/8″ (3.5 mm) stereo mini-jack|
|Frequency Response||20 Hz to 20 kHz|
|Sensitivity||105 dB @ 1 mW|
|Max Input||Power: 30 mW|
|Cable Length||51″ (130 cm)|
|Weight||0.32 oz (9.0 g)|
The specs show a headphone with a standard frequency range, a lower-than-normal impedance, decent volume levels, and cable that is slightly longer than usual. Clearly, Grado is aiming this earphone at the casual consumer and their smartphone. (Who knew, right?)
The low end of the IGE can be described as deep and strong, with good bass that can get a little fuzzy at times. The bleeding is present only in the trickiest of tracks where deep male vocals vie with low-frequency notes. With this in mind, most of the time the sound remains clean.
The midrange on these in-ear headphones is a bit odd. In terms of accuracy, the mids are good – almost pristine. But the whole midrange sounds disjointed or removed from the rest of the frequency range. This isn’t a horrible sound, but it does seem a little “off” when listening critically – something the target consumer isn’t likely to notice, but something we feel is still worth mentioning.
Ah, Grado. Despite their love-or-hate design and sound, everyone everywhere can pretty much agree on one thing: Grado headphones are bright. This is true for the IGE, as well, with its high end sometimes bordering on piercing. This sound is still fantastic for anything with strings and female vocals, though.
At first listen, the soundstage on the IGE can seem relatively small, but still with a good sense of space and depth. This level of soundstage is fantastic for an in-ear headphone, and actually sounds better than some closed-back over-ear models we’ve demoed. So, yeah, soundstage is pretty awesome.
Grado IGE vs Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear vs Shure SE215
The price point of $99 is highly competitive, with most manufacturers putting out something to compete. The most popular models – the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear and the Shure SE215 – certainly lay claim to more public attention, but which headphone is superior?
The Momentum In-Ear is probably the weakest among the three. Underplayed, bleeding bass and a thin, sibilant high-end lead to a sound that could be considered underwhelming at best. Meanwhile, the Shure offers an experience more in-line with the IGE, with a slightly cleaner low end and a slightly more compressed soundstage.
Overall, the IGE is one hell of an in-ear headphone with a decent decent low end, good mids, and a bright high end. The sound is rich and full, and that soundstage is to die for. That being said, it’s definitely going to be turning some heads once it gains steam.
Paradoxically, the biggest selling point of the IGE is also the biggest drawback. The iOS remote will win over plenty of iPhone-toting listeners, but those using phones from other manufacturers will probably opt for another headphone. Where sound is concerned, though, the IGE offers a richer, more expansive sound than any other competitor. For bassheads, the Shure SE215 might offer a more enticing low end, as well as removable cables.