Sitting in the MajorHiFi review office with the new Grado iGe3 earphones, it’s time to get down to our latest review. At $99, this earphone replaces the previous iGe as Grado’s new entry-level earphone. But how does it sound? And how does it stack up against other earphones in this price range?
Grado iGe3 Review
In terms of accessories, the Grado iGe3 might seem a bit minimalist. Inside the box, you’ll find four pairs of eatips, but no other extraneous knick-knacks.
In terms of design, this earphone offers a slight refresh on the older iGe, with a beefier stalk and slightly larger housing that actually seems to fit better in my ear.
Cabling also seems improved, feeling light and strong, with an integrated mic and remote aimed at Apple devices. That being said, the real selling point of this earphone is the sound quality.
Frequency Range: 20-20,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 16 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 91 dB
These specs show a fairly standard frequency range that mimics the range of human hearing. A low impedance of just 16 ohms jives well with low-output devices like smartphones and laptops, or personal music players. An SPL of 91 dB does seem a little low, but volume still comes across as accurate.
There’s an okay amount of detail here, but the biggest feature to this low end comes in the form of an emotive, powerful bass response. Working wonders on rock, hip-hop, and electronica tracks, this driving bass provides a solid foundation for any test track I throw at it. While a little off-center for analytical listening, this low end still delivers a fun and rousing listening experience.
The IGe3 sports a decent midrange. Slightly recessed, it’s nowhere near the level of presence I usually prefer in a pair of earphones. That being said, it’s not too distorted or compressed, and the relaxed sound here works well with that emotive low end. The result is slightly less clinical and vastly more interesting, with vocals still clear and articulate. I find myself unconsciously tapping my toes and bobbing my head to every track, as I fall more in love with the IGe3’s innate charms.
Slightly rolled off, the highs could sound better. While still detailed, they may miss just a bit of emphasis on the high highs, leading to strings sounding slightly affected. Keeping that in mind, the rolled-off character works beautifully with female vocals, and pop music sounds particularly breathtaking – especially with the juicy bass thrown into the mix.
Soundstage suffers from the same issues found in most in-ear headphones, leading to a slightly narrow sense of space. However, the bass response does add a level of depth to the sound that almost saves the soundstage for some genres. While I would never recommend this earphone for avid classical or jazz fans, it still exhibits enough of a soundstage for decent playback where rock and hip-hop are concerned. And when it comes to pop and electronica, the Grado IGe3 sounds downright heavenly.
The more I listen to the IGe3, the more I love it for modern pop, dance, and electronica music. Sure, it’s not the Audiophile’s creme-de-la-creme earphone for every genre. But when it comes to a thick bass and smooth vocals, it offers an amazing listening experience that sweeps you off your feet and carries you away.
I also get more of an impression of solidity with the IGe3 than I’ve ever gotten from another Grado earphone. While a little flimsy-feeling, these models still offered good sound. Yet, with the new IGe3, I feel like I could really put this earphone through the ringer…and then pop it back in my ears and get back to my jams.
If you’re after a killer sound for bassier tunes, and one that won’t skimp out on lyrical content, either, the Grado IGe3 offers an excellent choice at $99. No other headphone at this price does vocals and bass at the same time so well.
For folks who want the whole range of sound (albeit with less bass), my recommendation goes to the Sennheiser HD1 In-Ear. At the same price, this earphone offers a more even-keeled sound, though it never sounds as fun or intoxicating.
But what if you’re looking for something truly analytical? Go with the Mackie MP-120. This pro-level $99 IEM was made for working Joes who need a flat and clean sound with no coloration whatsoever.
The Grado IGe3 won’t be the perfect earphone that handles every genre flawlessly. But at $99, it provides a fantastic sound – especially for pop and electronica, though rock and hip-hop also sound pretty amazing, too. Really, I’ve never heard such an inexpensive earphone handle these genres so well, and it’s hard not to recommend the IGe3 to anyone who listens to these genres of music.
Find the IGe3 for the best price here:
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