I can’t help but chuckle when I hear a person inform me that they’ve just purchased a new Beats headset and then go on with how well the sound is reproduced.
For almost a year now I have been reviewing all sorts of different sound equipment, anything from full desktop speaker systems, to portable Bluetooth speakers, to headphones. During each review I learn something a little different as well, listening to the same songs to get a general feedback of the device. It’s not just my opinions going into the reviews, as where I might find something pleasing, another person may loath it, so I throw in other opinions from family as well.
The term family is well suited here, as the company under the spotlight today is built from the ground up based on family traditions all throughout its history. Based in a Brooklyn, NY factory, Grado Labs has followed in the footsteps of Joseph Grado. Unfortunately, Mr. Grado just recently passed away so this review is dedicated to his hard work over many years.
Designed for a teenage market, Grado’s reference series headphones are crafted “like a fine musical instrument” as well as offering a sound that is straight out of the studio itself. While the price of the headset is far out of reach of a teenager, Grado’s push towards “the end of teenage disillusionment” is certainly valid.
Welcome to my review of the Grado Labs Reference Series RS2e headphones. Throughout this review, I will be covering the design, sound quality, and my overall thoughts of the product. I would like to thank Grado Labs for providing me with these headphones for this review.
When reviewing a Grado headset, it almost feels like design is their tradition as searching the market for headphones unveils nothing like its class and style.
It all begins with the hand-built United States quality, something that is becoming harder and harder to come by for headphones and electronics in general. Grado choose to use their own proprietary curing process and hand-crafted mahogany wood to begin the designing process.
The ear cups use mahogany wood to utilize Grado’s advanced damping treatments and help control and dissipate resonances as well as offer a superb style. Furthermore, the RS2e use an open-backed design, meaning there is no sound damping and anybody around you can easily hear what’s being played. While this gives you excellent sound reproduction, it can annoy others in the same room.
Comfort comes into play with each ear cup supporting two reasonably comfy foam cushions and a lightly padded head band. Speaking of the head band, Grado went with a butter-smooth genuine leather and not only is it very pleasing, the stitching is also well done. The only dislike in comfort would be after very long periods of usage your ears may begin to hurt, but this all varies on head size.
A while back I took a look at the Grado SR225e headphones and similar to those, the RS2e use the same height adjustment system, metal guard for the speakers, 360 degree turning for the ear cups, and even offer that great feather-like weight.
Finally, the product page of the RS2e shows off a black color scheme which does look well. However, sent to me was a tan colored headset which I personally prefer the look of. I did some quick shopping of the product only to find the RS2e with a black head band, so expect a black color scheme of the unit.
The Sound Quality
In a recent blog post of Grado’s, they announced their new partnership with JetBlue and how they will be offering their headsets on JetBlue’s Mint Class. In that post, the Vice President of Marketing, Jonathan Grado, states that they put sound first in their products and this headset shows that.
From the moment you place the RS2e on your head, you are immersed into your own musical world. The outside world vanishes away and you are left with some of the cleanest and crisp sounds a headphone can produce.
Anything and everything from vocals, instruments, music dynamics, etc. all offered that superb Grado experience that was smooth and pleasing to listen to. They matched well against other brands like Beyerdynamic and Kingston in terms of sound quality.
Most of the testing was performed using the audio jacks of a Dell and HP laptop, although I did take a small amount of time to listen to the RS2e when connected to a Beyerdynamic A20 headphone amplifier. Not only did it provide a louder sound, but it was the “ultra-smooth” sound claim Grado makes for these headphones.
Finally, specifications are followed with the RS2e having a response frequency of 14 – 28,000 Hz, 44mm drivers, a normal impedance of 32 ohms and the transducer type being dynamic. This is all transferred to the headset by using the Grado e Series 8 conductor cable.
My Overall Thoughts
All in all, these headphones are in a class of their own and priced at $495. With the exquisite building materials, perfect sound quality, and the story that follows the headphones makes them a Grado headset. It was a pleasure to review these headphones and while I wouldn’t use them for YouTube or something extreme like gaming, they are the perfect match for music. As the review comes to an end, it ends with one of the truest statement by Grado, that the RS2e “truly are an audiophiles dream”.
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