Update (8/30): Thanks for all of the entries into our first Small States giveaway, @omar_cruz is our winner and he has been contacted.

Small States is a new series on 9to5Toys that features small companies that design and manufacture within the United States. 

The first time you pick up a pair of Grado headphones, you know that something is different. The first time you speak to John Grado, you know why. Hearing this man tell the story of the headphones, the handshake agreements with men he’s worked with for 50 years and the passion for what they do, it is easy to fall in love with their product. The simple packaging, the smooth wood of mahogany and the clean look all bring you in before you ever plug in a pair of Grado headphones.

History

It all starts with John. He bought the company from his uncle in the 80’s, and designs each headphone on the top floor of the factory in the listening room. Carrying on the Grado tradition of “good ears”, he sits listening to three carefully selected songs, his self-described reference points: Red Garter by Duke Ellington, Night in Tunisia by Ella Fitzgerald and Before You Accuse Me by Eric Clapton. By utilizing the same equipment since he began his craft 25 years ago, John Grado knows what he’s listening for and sometimes it just takes him a while to find it. expand full story