Grado HF2

grado_hf2_2Fast forward a few months, after a long waiting list, and lettering problems on the housing, we are very happy to audition the HF2.

The Grado HF2 departs a little from the typical Grado house sound with its forward mids. Its presentation differs in the slightly less agressive mid, just like the MS-Pro, yet still with enough to engage you with the beatiful, smooth sounding, Grado mids.

The HF2 has a very smooth and liquid sound. It’s like listening to a smooth vacuum tube amp (although we were using a solid-state Beta22 amplifier). Although the MS-Pro has a smooth sound, the HF2 is even smoother. No other Grado sounds like it; not the HP1000, not the RS1, and definitely not the GS1000. Usually, whenever you have a cans with a smooth and liquidy sound, it doesn’t play fast songs well (ie the ATH ESW-9). Not so with the HF2, a smooth sound that doesn’t sacrifice speed, detail, and dynamics. Very good job, Grado!

Soundstage, Instrument Separation, and Transparency is at the level of SR325is. Definitely not as good as the MS-Pro and the RS1. Another thing that is similar to the 325is is fit and comfort. Not surprising, considering they are similar in dimensions and both has an element of metal. The 325is might be a bit heavier, but that may be just my memory. With the stock bowl pads, the HF2 doesn’t rest properly on my ears, unlike the MS-Pro and the RS1. It is still a comfortable cans to wear, but just not as good as the MS-Pro and RS1. You can see in the picture how the MS-Pro is taller (the same dimension as the Grado RS1). The MS-Pro has a full circular ring around the housing, and a higher pivot point as well, which I suspect contributes to an overall better fit than the shorter Grado models. Also visible is the thicker cables on the HF2, the same 4-cables per driver configuration that Grado uses on updated high-end “i” models.

grado_hf2_mspro

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31 Comments

  • Reply October 5, 2010

    Zuqi

    Nice review!

    I'm looking for a amp(portable or small size, battery driven one) for my hf-2, do you have any suggestions?

    I read many possitive reviews about pico slim synergy with hf2, how do you feel about this pack?

    Please give me some advise, I appriciated.

    • Reply October 5, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Zuqi, I've never tried the Pico Slim with the HF2, but in my experience the Slim doesn't really have the voltage swing to drive headphones (it was designed purely for IEMs). Grados, though fairly low in impedance, requires quite a bit of voltage swing to reach an adequate level of loudness, probably due to the very open design.

      I'll probably use something like the TTVJ Slim (for more mids) or the ALO Rx (for a more spacious sound) with the HF2.

  • Reply October 5, 2010

    Zuqi

    What about Grado its own RA1 amplifier?

    Some says hf2 has a darker sound than other grados, does RA1 work well with hf2?

    Are there any other tiny desktop amps to recommended(battery ones)? please advise me, thank you.

    • Reply October 5, 2010

      Mike

      I've never had a listen to the RA1. Supposedly it's a CMOY-based amp and people feel that it's an overpriced. The sound may not be too bad though (as a well tuned Cmoy can sound pretty good).

      It's pretty easy to drive the HF2, but the only battery powered desktop amp I know is the Audiotrak ImAmp (http://headfonia.com/audiotrak-imamp/). But a better solution perhaps would be a desktop DAC with a built in headphone out. There's plenty of that kind that I've reviewed, but the popular ones are the Audinst HUD-MX1, the Dr. DAC 2 DX, and the Dr. DAC Prime. (http://headfonia.com/category/source/desktop-source/)

  • Reply October 6, 2010

    Zuqi

    I've read many of your great reviews, seems you really like RSA SR71a, does this amp works well with hf-2? what about GS voyager? Thanks!

  • Reply October 6, 2010

    Mike

    Hi Zuqi,

    Yes I think the HF2 should work well with the SR71a and the GS Voyager. There are an abundance of amp options out there these days. You can also try the Ibasso PB1. It's very good.

  • Reply October 6, 2010

    Zuqi

    Thanks for your advise, I finally decide to buy a TTVJ slim, it has two options, with DAC or without DAC, how does the DAC on TTVJ slim? is it good? because my buget is around 400 dollars, a extra 100 dollars for a DAC is a bit too much for me, but if the DAC is good enough, I would like topay for it as I sometimes use computer to listen to music. Could you please give me some advise? Thank you.

    • Reply October 6, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Zuqi, I never have an experience with the DAC version of the TTVJ Slim. I’ll ask a friend of mine who owns one and let you know later.

  • Reply October 6, 2010

    Zuqi

    Hi Mike, Before I put the TTVJ slim in my cart this afternoon, I saw a portable amp comparison review by Skylab on Head-fi, he give Meier Audio Stepdance a very high rank, and I saw many possitive reviews of this amp on the forum, Have you tried this amp yet? its really a tough decision to choose from so many great amps lol.

    • Reply October 6, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Zuqi, haven’t heard the Stepdance till now. There are a LOT of portable amps out there, but the TTVJ Slim remains one of my favorite along with the ALO Rx. I also asked my friend Peter who owns the TTVJ with DAC, he said that he uses the TTVJ Slim and the RSA Predator a lot, although he can’t give an in-depth evaluation about the DAC, he feels that the two are quite a bit better than the Ibasso D10.

  • Reply October 6, 2010

    Zuqi

    Wow, that's very nice of you, I really appriciated.

  • Reply November 18, 2010

    Cortes

    Eugen, Mike
    just bought a RS1, ok a little blind buy, but in the worst of the cases I can resell it. Any advice of a good amp for it?. I'm thinking of buying a HD53N but not decided yet.

    thx.

  • Reply November 18, 2010

    Zuqi

    Hi Mike, sorry to bother you again, still some questions about the hf-2's amplification.

    Some head-fiers advise me that I should make a decision after I got my hf-2. After spend a few days with my new hf-2, I think the headphone do need some amplification to make it sound better.

    I am looking for an amp which can makes the tremble of hf-2 more brighter, mids a bit forward, bass more punchy and fast, details more reveal, overall sound brighter and a bit more agressive without extra warmth.

    Is there a amp could make the headphone fit my taste? please give me some advise, I really appriciated.

    • Reply November 18, 2010

      mike_headfonia

      Hi Zuqi,
      I think you'll be better off with the RS1i like Eugen said. The HF2 seems too soft for you.

      Cheers.

      • Reply November 18, 2010

        Zuqi

        Thanks, when I listen to pop and jazz, hf-2 is good, but when it comes to metal, it sound a bit soft for me.

        Does RS1i as easy to drive as hf-2?

        • Reply November 18, 2010

          Mike

          yes, the RS1i should be more or less the same as the HF-2. They're both fairly easy to drive.

          • Reply November 18, 2010

            Zuqi

            Thanks Mike, I will keep the hf-2 until I have a chance to get a rs1.

            • Reply November 18, 2010

              Mike

              N/p. Actually a lot of people today would prefer the HF2's sound from the RS1's.

              • Reply November 18, 2010

                Zuqi

                Hi Mike, I just tried some dance music with hf-2, the bass is super fun! I am pretty sure I won't trade it for anything :), but I wish its bass could be more tight, and the treble more brighter, does any amp could do the job(portable)? Thanks!

                • Reply November 18, 2010

                  Mike

                  That does sound like a HF2 sound.

                  I can't think of any amp that will significantly add treble and tightens the bass. If you want more treble, you can try using Equalization (http://headfonia.com/eq-to-the-rescue/). But the bass, I am not sure if you can change it. I think that calls for a different headphone like the HD25-1.

                  Actually, now that I've said it, I think the HD25-1 will give you what you want. More treble and tighter bass from the HF2.

                  • Reply November 19, 2010

                    Zuqi

                    Thanks:)

                    • November 19, 2010

                      Zuqi

                      BTW, I heard that sr325is are the most agressive grado, what I want is a more agressive sound for rock music, how about 325is? Thanks.

                    • November 19, 2010

                      Mike

                      I've heard the 325is long time ago, and it wasn't as aggressive as people make it out to be. It sounded like an RS1 with less soundstage, if my memory is correct. But I really am not that familiar with the 325is, so don't hold me responsible for my words here.

                    • November 19, 2010

                      Zuqi

                      Thanks for your advises and information, I think I will keep the hf-2 and get an rs1 when I have a chance, Cheers.

    • Reply November 18, 2010

      Eugen

      Meier Concerto

    • Reply November 18, 2010

      Eugen

      Either get the Meier Concerto or do a side-trade with a RS1i … you lose the fun bass level but gain bass speed, general smoothness and detail. BUT if you get the RS1i, you will need a tube amplifier, be warned.

      • Reply November 18, 2010

        Zuqi

        Thanks.

  • Reply June 30, 2017

    Micheal E.

    HF2 is GRDO’s best of the best sound and well made headphone. and world NO.1

    So true.

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