SPONSOR: Grain Audio Designs the Best Speakers and Headphones for the True Music Fan
Speakers and headphones are everywhere these days, and they all seem to be more of the same, plastic, average-sounding, heavy pieces of disposable junk. However, Grain Audio, a New York-based speaker company is kissing off the mediocre and mundane, and bringing us something different.
The smart start-up has gained a reputation for clean, simple aesthetics and a fastidious approach to sound and social responsibility. We spoke with the Grain Audio team to shed some light on what's really important when it comes to personal sound and how they’ve achieved it.
People don't buy speakers or headphones to listen to them -- they want to listen to the music. Grain Audio believes that it’s their role to get out of the way. And by ensuring the music sounds as the artist recorded it, they’re doing just that. The artists put their souls into recording their music and they know better than us how it should sound. This is why we engineer all of our products with a flat frequency response and zero distortion at all volumes. We don't juice the low end or push the midrange in any way. We want your recorded music to sound as it should -- simple as that.
Grain Audio believes speakers and headphones are meant to play simply music. That is all. The PWS.01 does not double as a speaker phone, it doesn't charge your phone and it doesn't have a flashlight built in to it. It's a speaker, not a gadget.
What it does have is bespoke drivers, a solid wood housing and a proprietary isolation system that keeps the speaker from shaking and skipping across the table when the volume goes up. It runs aptX and is AAC compliant to insure a high-quality transfer of your music library.
We also use a Grammy-winning sound processing suite, to dial in the frequency response and build a broad and immersive soundstage. Features that enhance the quality of the sound and listening experience -- these are what we spend our time and money on getting right. The other stuff? You don’t need it.
Most products on the market are made of plastic and are outfitted with off-the-shelf components because picking parts out of bin is cheaper and quicker. Of course, this approach doesn't necessarily lead to the best setup for generating quality sound.
We believe that materials that have an inherently tactile and visual quality are highly desirable. After all, we respond emotionally to objects in our environment. We want them because they make us feel good. This is a big part of why we use solid wood. It's also why we use molded silicone rubber and perforated metal for the grills. All of these materials have a tactile quality that people naturally respond to. Try doing that with molded black plastic.
A well-designed object should disappear into everyday life. It should function to its highest potential but won't call attention to itself. Using a product should also be a seamless experience. These are subjective opinions, but ones that drive us everyday.
If you're not interested in that, there are plenty of audio products available that are tortured into all kinds of random shapes. These will usually have a counterintuitive control scheme and awkward input placement. We believe that this kind of design places shape over sound and ultimately interferes with the purity of the listening experience.
• Housing: Walnut with hand-applied oil finish.
• 8mm proprietary drivers: The two headphone speakers, featuring Neodymium magnets and a CCAW voice coil: these smaller magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire are both light and offer a strong connectivity.
• Inline mic and remote: Take calls, advance or repeat songs and control the volume.
• Silicone eartips: Includes four sizes to ensure a comfortable, secure fit.
• 3.5mm jack
• Lithium-ion battery: Rechargeable and provides eight hours of playtime.
• MaxxAudio sound processing: Creating rich, complex soundscapes.
• Dual two-inch drivers: The loudspeakers, with a passive radiator, located behind the grill.
• BT 2.1+A2DP with aptX technology: A strong, high-performance Bluetooth connection, using digital audio data reduction technology for clearer sound without distortion.
• Housing: Walnut with patent-pending construction.
• Dimensions: 7" W x 2 3/8" D x 3 1/8" H
Responsibly Built: All of Grain Audio's wood is FSC certified and finished with a zero VOC oil. The component parts of the products and packaging are recyclable and they offer a battery replacement plan.