The Audio Geek!

My Grado RS 2e Listening impressions

I was looking around for some new 'phones for casual / late-night laptop listening via the MacBook Pro, Roon and Audioquest DragonFly Red (with JitterBugs) and late last year I purchased a lightly used pair of Grado RS 2e headphones.

Apple MacBook Pro, AQ DragonFly Red & Jitterbugs and Grado RS 2e - 2017

Before I talk about them, I should disclose that I am partial to the Grado 'house' sound and already own (and enjoy for different reasons) their RS-60, Alessandro MS-2 and GS-1000 products. So my heritage might cloud my objectivity somewhat. FWIW, I also use AKG-702 and Sennheiser HD600 via a Benchmark DAC1 USB and a Yamamoto HA-02 amplifier.

The Grado RS 2e is an open-back design with 44 mm dynamic drivers (matched to within 0.05 dB) and a nominal impedance of 32 ohms making them easily drivable by a smart device. But the output quality improves noticeably when driven by dedicated headphone amplification. My RS 2e also have the new light brown leather headband that matches and complements the mahogany ear cups and gives an even more luxurious look to the combo. The latest 'e' models come with a sturdier shielded proprietary copper braided 'Y' cable with the RS 2e terminated with a 3.5 mm mini plug. Also included in the box is a 3.5 mm to 6.5 mm (1/4") adaptor if required.

So, how are they comfort-wise? Grados have a solid reputation as being pretty uncomfortable if you believe all of the internet / blog reports. Actually I find them quite satisfactory. Although relatively light, the clamping force is tight enough that they don't move off your ears (they are an on-ear or supra-aural design) but 'gentle' enough to wear for 60 minutes at a sitting which is the maximum I listen for before giving my hearing and senses a rest.

As for the sound, taking note of the relative price and intended purpose via my associated equipment listed above, I am extremely satisfied.

Sonics / Colour
Warm side of neutral, imparting a slight (but extremely pleasing glow) to the sound. With a warmer amplifier than the DragonFly, I would imagine that 'lush' might be word that could describe the tone. Note to self, must try them with my Yamamoto!

Speed / Dynamics
Always a Grado strength and the 2e doesn't disappoint. They fairly gallop along with music imparting a toe-tapping, head-nodding rhythm that is particularly engaging.

Accuracy / Range
Top to bottom accuracy and range is not the strength of the RS 2e. The high end can lose definition and be a bit sharp, while the bass, although tuneful, doesn't go particularly low if your tastes (or musical selections) demand it. The overall balance is tuned to the mid range (think female vocals) so it is not the most accurate of reproduction devices.

Imaging / Detail
No issues here. The soundstage and instrument separation is clearly discernible and the size of the image is about what you might expect given the size of the drivers, resonance area (on ear) and frankly, the price. For example, the image commensurately increases when I plug in the GS-1000s with their larger drivers and circum-aural bowl pads. Within the presentation described in the preceding sentences, the RS 2es give a decent window into the music delivering very good and believable detail retrieval.

This is probably the sum of the parts above and the number one reason people would consider buying Grado headphones. They are just great fun! They draw you in to the performance and make you want to listen.

Love the wood - 2017

Again, I do love Grado and am probably biased, but the proof for me is that I ALWAYS look forward to strapping these headphones on and listening through the DragonFly on my laptop and feel that I am missing very little to the 'big boys' is size, quality and price.