Grado iGi In-Ear Headphones Review

Santa was good to me this year. I’ll use the next few posts to talk about some of the shiny toys I’ve been playing with, but today I’d like to focus on my new headphones: Grado Labs iGi In-Ear Headphones.

Grado Labs is a family owned company based out of Brooklyn, NY, probably best known for their award-winning on-ear style SR80i’s, which were also recently voted by Lifehacker readers as the best (out of the five best) headphones.

I have nothing against on-ear headphones – I’m sure the SR80i’s deliver fantastic sound – but as a traveling road warrior I prefer the minimalist in-ear style so I can save space and pack lighter on trips. With that, let’s dive into this review:

  1. Sound: I’ll say this upfront, I’m no audiophile. I’m not an audio engineer and I’m not a professional mixer. That being said I listen to a lot of music, as in 80% of my day.
    Shown with the white stacked tips.
    Shown with the white stacked tips.

    The iGi’s offer a fairly balanced sound – the bass is there, but doesn’t thump like some other pairs I’ve tried. The mid- and high-ranges are quite clear to my ears, and sound nice while listening to a range of music. If you prefer balance, you’ll like these. If you want an over-driven 808, you might want to look elsewhere.

  2. Comfort: Grado does a nice job of providing options for ear comfort. I’m very particular about the ability to create a seal with my in-ear headphones, which you can definitely do with this pair. The iGi’s come with seven different interchangeable tips – two stacked, one cone, one foam, and three normal buds (small, medium and large) – so it’s very likely you’ll find at least one that works for you.

    From left to right: stacked tip, cone, foam, normal buds. White stacked-tip not shown.
    From left to right: stacked tip, cone, foam, normal buds. White stacked-tip not shown.
  3. Quality: I take extra care of my electronics (i.e. I’m not hard on my possessions whatsoever), so quality is a little harder for me to judge. I’ve had $12 headphones last nearly two years with constant use. The body of the iGi’s are clearly joined plastic (you can see the joining line), so nothing too special there. The left ear-bud does have a raised dot, which is a nice feature when putting them on in the dark. The cord is thin and susceptible to a lot of noise when it brushes against your clothing or any other object, but this is easily fixed by looping the cords over your ears, which I almost always do regardless. The quality of the iGi’s is enough if you take care of them but nothing to brag about, especially when you compare them to the much cheaper Skullcandy Ink’d.
  4. Price: at $89 on Amazon the iGi’s are more expensive than the $27 Skullcandy Ink’d I’ve been rocking as my cheaper-but-solid go to pair, so I would call these a step or two up in terms of price. The price won’t break the bank (in most cases), but it’s high enough that I certainly wouldn’t want to replace them often, if ever.

Overall I’m satisfied with the iGi’s, but not amazed given the Grado name. The delivered sound is clear and balanced, which is refreshing, but I was hoping for a little more bass due to their self-proclaimed “urban-inspired design” methodology, and a little better build quality given the price.