John Grado answers 10 Questions
John Grado of Grado Labs fame!
10 Questions With…
Name: John Grado
Company: Grado Laboratories
How did you get into the High End Audio business?
My Uncle Joe let me start work as a 12 year old sweeping the floors. My motivation was not to become a titan in the industry but to earn some cash so I’d be able to take my older, 13 year old, girlfriend to the movies, sit in the back row and hope to have a chance to make out. It was money well earned. And, as they say, the rest is history.
Did or do you have anyone who has influenced you in your business?
There were a number of people who have influenced me in my work ethic. First my grandfather, who had his fruit store on the same location as I have the business. He would tell me how he got to his vendors an hour before everyone else in the mornings so he’d be sure to get his pick of the best fruit and vegetables, because he felt if he had the best product to offer his customers he’d be successful. This is the same philosophy we follow today.
Also my father Angelo and his brother, my uncle, Joe. Both gave me life lessons that I continue to live by till this day. My Dad taught me how to problem solve and the confidence to work and build with my hands. While my Uncle allowed me, with his guidance and teaching, to grow in the business over the years with continually taking on more responsibility and ultimately the confidence to lead the company into the next generation.
What product do you think is the best you have in your companies’ catalog?
Now, the two best performing products we have in our product line are our PS2000e headphone and the Epoch phono cartridge. These were designed to create the pinnacle of audio excellence with cost no object. To present what has become well known as The Grado Sound at its ultimate. Both are the culmination of years of work and products we are extremely proud of.
If you were to recommend one product of yours for someone looking to get started on their journey to high end listening, what would it be and why.
This is easy, it would be both of our entry level headphone and phono cartridge.
The SR60e headphone, at $79, and the Prestige Black2 phono cartridge, at $75, are both products that outperform, and we feel, can’t be beat at their price points. They are products that give the consumer a taste of what high end audio will be all about.
We get many calls and emails from customers telling us that one of these was their first purchase of a headphone or cartridge and that it got them serious about their audio system. We are one of the very few companies that have a full range of products, entry to high end, and people enjoy the voyage as they move up our product line.
If you could only keep one product in your current system what would it be?
This would have to be the turntable. The turntable has been a part of my system since I was 12 years old. The first record I ever bought was the 45rpm version of the Beatles Eight Days A Week, in 1965 and was my first personal relationship with the audio system.
What do you personally prefer - Digital or analog? Solid state or tubes?
If I had to choose it would be analog and tubes. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer to this question, everyone has their own taste and opinions and I believe as long as you can enjoy what you’re listening to, great.
Now, I’d like to say that what is most important to me is the music itself, that is my joy, whether it be analog, digital, tubes or solid state, I’m happy listening to my car radio, the songs are what I enjoy.
What is your favorite genre of music?
Being a product of the 1960s, growing up it’s been RocknRoll. But as I’ve matured (????) I have learned to enjoy all types of music. A good friend sent me a special test pressing of a Frank Sinatra album and I’ll listen to that with great pleasure, and I must say Frank, when he was young, had a great voice. My Uncle enlightened my with opera, Othello being my favorite. And I’m open to all music, my two sons, Jonathan and Matthew give me the opportunity to hear all the current music and there is a lot that I really enjoy, like Tame Impala and Rex Orange County. But all the genres just lead to Happy Listening.
Again, being a product of the 1960s, like most people of the generation, my favorite band would be the Beatles. Their album Meet The Beatles, and the song from that album Little Child were my favorites. So much so for Little Child, that whenever I call my lifelong (61 years) friend, Mark Rivera, he picks up the phone singing that song. Also some of my greatest thrills were having the chance to meet John Lennon, Ringo Starr and having a signed autographed to me Beatle album collection from George Martin himself, given to me by his son Giles Martin, nothing I could have ever dreamed of growing up listening to their albums.
Now, my two favorite live shows to attend where Ten Years After with Alvin Lee, and Jimi Hendrix, two great guitar players. I’ve seen them both multiple times.
What did you want to be growing up?
Well, I was not like most, who wanted to be a fireman, policeman or an astronaut. When I was young, under 5, I was extremely shy and quiet and wanted to be a washing machine because then I wouldn’t have to talk to anybody. Then in kindergarten I got introduced to young ladies, Andrea to be specific, and decided it was worth communicating with other people.
Not sure exactly what I wanted to be, but knew I enjoyed running things. As a pre-teen I set up a local youth police department, would run small carnivals, I set up a milk box scooter company and even had my version of a Good Humor truck, the truck was built on my red wagon. All these adventures were done with my friends and when we get together today we still speak of them and have a good laugh. And I think it all shows that I wanted to be in business.
Do you play any musical instrument or sing?
I took piano lessons for two years, and can’t play a thing now and was happy when my Dad bought a player piano. I was in a Beatle cover band back in the mid-1960s and played rhythm guitar, and can’t play a note now. And was in the glee club all through gramma school and still sing till this day but no one is interested in hearing me sing. And music is still one of the things I truly still enjoy.