RIP: Audio Engineer Joseph Grado, Founder of Grado Labs

Joseph Grado, founder of Grado Laboratories. (Photo courtesy of Grado)
Joseph Grado, founder of Grado Laboratories. (Photo courtesy of Grado)

Joseph Grado, the founder of Sunset-Park based high-end audio manufacturer Grado Laboratories, passed away on Friday at his South Carolina home, the company announced on its website. He was aged 90. The second-generation Italian-American founded Grado Laboratories in 1953 in the space formerly occupied by his father’s fruit store. It’s remained in the same building for 62 years.

We’ve previously written about Grado’s headphones—which are the best you can buy at their price point—but the company only started manufacturing headphones in 1990, the year Joseph Grado ceded company operations and ownership to his nephew, John. Before that, Grado Labs was known for its turntable cartridges, producing as many as 10,000 per week during the 1970s. Amongst his 48 patents, Joseph Grado is credited with the invention of the stereo moving coil turntable cartridge, which is still the type preferred by many audiophiles.

Before entering the audio business, Grado was a watchmaker who worked for Tiffany & Co. In the early fifties, he began crafting cartridges at his kitchen table, before taking over the unassuming three-story building that now houses Grado Laboratories. Most of the company’s products are still made under that roof.

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