There’s a lot to love about the Beatles-inspired White Headphone, from its impressive soundstage to its stunning retro design. You won’t be able to take these open-back cans on your commute however, and they’re missing a few modern features you might expect at this price point.
Striking retro design
Fantastic audio fidelity
Comfortable to wear
Lacking modern features
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Grado is a well-known name in the audiophile community; based in Brooklyn, the family-run company started out making phono-cartridges for record players in the 1950s, before branching out to headphones in the early nineties.
In 2009, we awarded the GS1000e Statement Series headphones 5/5 stars for their tonal balance and glorious resolution; and now they’ve been upgraded for a special limited edition run.
The Beatles-inspired White Headphone certainly looks striking; but can they match the sound quality of their predecessor?
- Interested in Grado? Check out our Grado GW100 Wireless Headphones review
Price and availability
These limited edition Grado headphones will set you back $795 / £795, which works out at around AU$1170, based on current conversion rates. That’s pretty expensive, even for a pair of audiophile headphones; for comparison, our current favorite model, the Sony WH-1000XM3 comes in at $349 / £300 / AU$499.
Saying that, you’re getting an overtly premium package with the updated Grado GS1000e; they come with a special anniversary two-LP vinyl edition of The White Album by The Beatles – the iconic design of which served as the inspiration for these over-ear headphones.
As a limited edition model, the White Headphone will only be available to buy until the end of 2019. It's also worth bearing in mind that Black Friday is coming up very soon, and we could see that price drop during the massive sales event.
Talking about the design of these limited edition cans in a press release, Grado Labs President and CEO John Grado said: “Inspired by one of our family’s favorite records, The White Headphone by Grado commemorates the power that an album – or even just a single song – may have on a person’s life.”
That Beatles influence is written all over these headphones, which sport a retro 60s design and striking black and white color scheme.
White platter outer enclosures made from maple frame the earcups, designed to provide a “fuller-bodied, deeper sound,” according to Grado, while also amping up that sixties aesthetic.
It’s not a look that will appeal to everyone, but there’s no denying that these headphones look very impressive indeed – and it’s plain to see how well-crafted they are.
Topping off these unique housings is the white-stitched leather headband, with its large, flat shape making these over-ear headphones feel comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
The foam ear cushions are also incredibly comfortable, with their bowl-like shape encompassing your entire ear for an open feel; you won’t get any of that annoying clamping sensation with the GS1000e, that’s for sure.
A 12-conductor cable feeds into the earcups, finishing with a 3.5mm jack – if you’d prefer to plug into an amplifier, there’s a 6.5mm gold adapter included in the box, too.
Features and performance
If you’re looking for features like noise-cancelation, Bluetooth listening, or built-in voice assistants, you’ll have to look elsewhere; the Grado White Headphone are made for pure audio fidelity, and that means sacrificing some of these modern conveniences.
However, if you’re after true audiophile sound, you probably won’t miss things like wireless listening – these are headphones made for sitting at home, plugging into your music streamer, sitting back and listening to your Hi-Res Audio files.
Another aspect that makes these headphones unsuitable for outdoor listening is their open back design, which means the grille is exposed on the rear of the enclosure on each housing, allowing sound and air to move more freely in and out of the cups.
As well as allowing for a more open soundstage, this design does create a lot of sound leakage – so unless you want to treat your fellow commuters to the sound of your music every morning, you might be better off leaving the Grado SR325es at home.
That sound leakage is totally worth it though – these limited edition over-ear headphones have a stunningly wide soundstage. Their 50mm drivers and cured outer enclosures, make for detailed sound, expertly separated frequencies and a warm overall tone.
In Childish Gambino’s Redbone, warm subby bass bubbles up from the depth of the mix, while sparkling vocals sound clear and resonant; meanwhile mellow guitar riffs and shimmering chime-like keys drift in and out of the soundstage.
Moving on to Feels Like Summer, the GS1000e Statement Series masterfully convey dry percussive hits, warbling synths, softly brushed drums, and dirty bass lines as Gambino’s lush vocal harmonies build throughout the chorus.
They also perform well on less structured pieces, like Perfume Genius’ Slip Away, which features crunching industrial drums, warped synths, retro chimes, and cacophonous instrumental breakdowns.
It’s not all about pop; the open-back design of these headphones lend themselves to the dramatic dynamic shifts found in Classical music; listening to Mozart’s Symphony No.41(Jupiter), delicate flute and violin ostinatos contrast with thunderous timpani and booming brass sections, without sounding fatiguing.
The Grado White Headphone are a joy to listen with, and they’re bound to suit audiophiles who like to sit at home and listen to music.
If you're looking for a pair of commuting headphones, though, the open back design and lack of wireless connectivity makes them unsuitable in this scenario – and you might be better off with the Sony WH1000MX3 Wireless Headhones instead.
They’re also very expensive – although, you could argue that their striking design and premium materials make up for that price. Whether you should buy them really depends on how much you value the exclusivity of these cans – they’re only available until the end of 2019, so they truly are a collector’s item.
Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.