Grado HF2

The HF2 has bass that no other Grado has. Well, maybe the PS1 does, but I can’t really say, cause I’ve never really heard the PS1. I suppose the HP1000 has a very nice bass as well, and that its presentation is different, but the HF2 has the most fun sounding bass compared to all modern Grados and Alessandros. It has soft but punchy, just enough quantity of bass to make music a lot of fun. The fun bass, combined with a fuller body than the traditional Grados, yet still possessing its magical mids, really make the HF2 a lot of fun to listen to.

When playing the Beethoven String Quartets, it becomes obvious that the wood/alloy housing HF2 has a different timbre than the full-wood MS-Pro. Where the MS-Pro’s timbre really sounds like dry wood in violin, the HF2 has a slight metallic sound to it, but still a very good timbre overall. (I’m talking a very very small metallic sound, but still overall a very woody sound). What’s interesting is that I enjoy strings more on the HF2 than on the MS-Pro. I don’t think it’s because of the slightly metallic timbre, but I think the more fuller body of the HF2 complements very nicely to string recordings that often sounds a bit dry.

The MS-Pro remains a more technically superior headphone, with its superior transparency, soundstage, and separation. However, the limited edition HF2 wins for musicality. It has a fun bass that Grados don’t seem to have, a fuller body, and a smooth sound without sacrificing detail. I think with the exception of Classical music, HF2 wins with everything else.


GOOD
:
Fun sound, very good and musical bass for a Grado. Retains the smooth Grado mids.

NO GOOD:
Limited edition. Lettering is spelled wrong on the majority HF2s. Doesn’t play classical music well due to lack of separation and soundstaging.


System for auditioning:

Headphones: Grado HF2, Alessandro MS-Pro
Source: CEC CD5300 CD Player
Amplifier: Beta22 3-Channel

Thanks to Winsome for making this review possible.

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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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