Inside the Magical Room Where the Best Headphones in the World Are Made

Smart people know that Sunset Park is where you get the best Chinese food in Brooklyn.

Really smart people know it’s also where you get great headphones—some of the best in the world.

The Grados have been making audiophile-grade cans in the same building since 1955.

What was the family produce mart is now a factory, and through the graffitied doors is the listening room, where company president John Grado uses a special hi-fi stack to tune every headphone his company makes.

1. The Tube Stack | Grado’s system has two distinct halves: a tube side and a solid-state side. The tube bank is all Audio Research gear: an LS25 preamp, a PH3E phono stage amp, and a 100.2 power amp. “None of this gear is stock,” Grado says. The engineers at Audio Research souped it up for him.

2. Rotel RCD-9658x CD player.

3. Forte F 50A DA Converter | his translates the signal coming out of a CD player (he has a Rotel RCD-965BX) or other digital source into an analog wave that an amplifier can turn into sound.

4. Technics SL-1200 MK5 Turntable | “That’s the workhorse,” Grado says of the discontinued record player.

5. Threshold Fet Nine Preamp | The preamp is the junction of your audio system, and a great one—like the FET Nine— shouldn’t do much more than pipe sound from source to amp without announcing its presence.

6. Forte Model 7 Monoblocks | Serious solid-state stereos often use a separate amp on each channel to prevent interference. Each of these twin beasts from the ’90s can crank out up to 225 watts per channel.


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