Back in May, Grado Labs introduced the GS2000e over-ear headphones, the latest creation to come out of its unassuming Brooklyn factory. These new cans sit atop the Statement Series with a fresh design that marries two woods – mahogany and maple – with a hefty $1,400 price tag. But as they say, you get what you pay for…
If you’re an avid reader of 9to5Toys, you know that we’ve covered a wide variety of Grado’s headphones over the last few years. The Brooklyn-based, family-run company is made up of a multi-generational family that has been in the audio business for years. John Sr. continues to head up the headphone design with his precisely tuned ears from over 40 years in the business.
The GS2000e are a step out-of-line for the brand however, as they have elected to combine two woods in a headphone release for the first time. Grado has long used mahogany wood sourced from a saw mill in the northeast because of its warm and consistent tone. The hope is that the inclusion of maple in the inner chamber will brighten the overall sonic balance. As the top-of-the-line model in the Statement series, these headphones utilize the familiar open-air design we’ve come to know from Grado.
You’ll notice that the GS2000e uses the same G ear-cups as its little brother and ships with plenty of cord (thanks to an included extension cable) plus a female 1/4-inch to male 3.5mm adapter. It’s the same heavy-grade cabling that we’ve come to expect from Grado, so there is no concern about wires shorting out here. A balanced XLR plug is also available but must be special ordered.
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As with any audio review, your experience with a product is going to be different from mine. We all have different reference tracks and listening habits. It’s simply human-nature. That said, Grado’s GS2000e over-ears are the best pair of headphones I’ve ever used. There are some caveats to that claim, which I’ll get into later. Across the board, I believe that open-air headphones provide the best true-to-recording listening experience on the market. Whether you’re using high resolution audio files or compressed MP3s, the GS2000e’s are able to layer instruments in way that is very notable. Obviously on your 24-bit FLAC files you’ll notice a wider soundstage, but these cans do a nice job no matter the source.
Much like the GS1000e, this new model has the same balanced tone and unaltered sonic signature. However, I found Grado’s newest release to be slightly brighter overall. There is great control over the low-end without any perceived restraint. John has created a particularly dynamic set of headphones. There is no issue transitioning from bass-heavy to vocal-focused tracks. For those interested in the technical specifications, this set has a frequency response of 4 – 51,000Hz and an impedance of 32 ohms. The GS2000e’s work best when paired with an external amplifier to fully power the internal drivers. I have been using the Schiit Valhalla 2 in my testing, but just about any $100+ amp is going to provide a noticeable difference over a built-in board.
For those interested in my reference tracks, I use Eric Clapton’s Goodbye, BB King’s My Kind of Blues, and Sing and Dance with Frank Sinatra. While I tend to stray towards vocal-heavy and blues albums, Grado’s latest release handles modern day tracks just as well. Current EDM standouts The Chainsmokers are one of my favorite groups right now and tracks like Don’t Let Me Down and Closer are excellent examples of how these headphones handle tracks that hit the entire spectrum.
It’s important to take a moment to the put the GS2000e’s $1,400 price tag into context. These aren’t meant to be justifications, but rather a few things to think about when considering this product and review. It’s true, at $1,400 you’d hope that these are great sounding headphones. With a Grado product, more goes into the product than a standard mass produced offering. As we noted above, each set is made by hand in a townhouse turned factory in Brooklyn. Additionally, many of the materials are locally sourced, which is particularly true with its wooden headphones.
Grado offers a wide range of headphones that start at $49. Jumping to this price brings a hand-designed sonic signature and top-of-the-line components. This is something that you’re not going to find with more mainstream brands like Beats and Bose. Those headphones certainly have their place (and are some of our favorite wireless options) but you’re not getting the backstory and attention to detail that you will with this type of high-end offering. I recognize that these headphones may be priced out of many shopper’s price range but, I’d encourage you to check out Grado’s other offerings as an alternative before reaching for the latest release from other brands.
It’s obvious that Grado’s GS2000e over-ears are a high-end, great sounding pair of headphones. If you’re after a refined listening experience that handles nearly any genre, this is a great place to start. It’s an investment that will stand the test of time if well taken care of and used as instructed. I can whole-heartedly recommend this set of cans if it fits in your budget. The Grado GS2000e are available for purchase via 4OurEars.