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Headphones

Straight outta Brooklyn: Grado GS2000e headphones

This new headphone is very much in the Grado tradition, just better.

Jonathan Grado

Grado headphones have a sound. AKG, Audeze, Beyerdynamic, Hifiman, and Sennheiser headphones tend to be more tonally neutral and accurate. The thing I love about Grados is they're more dynamically alive and present than those other brands' headphones. I'm never more aware of that as when I listen to Grados at recording sessions. I could go into the studio and hear the band play -- then hear them in the control room with a set of Grados and feel their energy. Grado headphones reach me in ways that other headphones rarely do.

Grado GS2000e headphones

Jonathan Grado

This new Grado Statement Series GS2000e is a bigger headphone than the more familiar SR60e, SR80e and SR125e lines. The real leather headband, genuine mahogany and maple wood ear cups add a touch of class to this design, hand-made in Brooklyn. The thick cable isn't user-replaceable, but it feels far sturdier than most cables. The headphone comes with a 12 foot extension cable, plus a 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter. John Grado told me the GS2000e's 50mm driver is a new design, and I'll take his word for it, but the sound is all Grado. Impedance is rated at 32 ohms.

I used a Schiit Lyr 2 headphone amp for all of my GS2000e listening tests, and thoroughly enjoyed the combination. It was obvious from the get go this headphone's sound was more transparent than other Grados. Listening to any halfway decent recording, I felt more directly connected back through time to the session.

Next, I pitted the GS2000e against the Hifiman HE560 headphones, and I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. The HE560's low bass was deeper and more visceral, my ears literally felt the difference. Bob Marley's "Lively Up Your Dub" took on a weightier presence over the HE560, returning to the GS2000e the sound was leaner, but the texture of the drums leapt out of the ear cups. With trumpeter Jon Hassell's brilliant audiophile recording "Fascinoma," the HE560 shrank the sound stage to a considerable degree, and Hassell's horn sounded less alive than what I got from the GS2000e.

There's more energy and more life with the GS2000e, but it can sound too bright on some recordings. If you listen to a lot of over-compressed, harsh sounding music, the GS2000e probably won't be the right choice.

Elliot Smith's mostly acoustic "XO" album was positively vivid, I could almost see his fingers on the strings, his vocals sounded like he was right in front of me. The stereo sound stage was vast, wider than most headphones, including open-back ones, so the sound never feels stuck inside your head. That's true for most Grados, but the GS2000e is even more expansive sounding. It doesn't hold anything back, the music is right there, so other headphones sound a little lifeless after spending time with the GS2000e.

The Grado Statement Series GS2000e sells for $1,395 direct from Grado's online store with free shipping. Grado's full-size headphone prices start at $79 for the SR60e.