The Grado GH2 sits amidships in Grado’s line up. And, stock, its sound isn’t as characteristically v-shaped or otherwise as veneerily attractive as, say, the PS1000, whose minute plastic shininess kick to the upper midrange is wholly unique in the line up.
The GH2 is more RS than it is PS or GS, and not far from the 325. Which is to say: if you picked up the GH2, you may have picked it up because, like me, you like Grado, love the aesthetic, and are a sucker for limited editions. Unique sound character, while important, wasn’t the top of your list.
That said, the Grado GH2 sounds amazing.
It’s got that no-nonsense sound, drier than it is shiny, and relatively flat, that characterise classic Grados. Looking for sweet mids? Low-pass filter? Scalpel-separated bass? Nope. Check out the PS1000 for that. The GH2’s trump card is neutral immediacy with a slight chromatic cast in the lows.
Bass doesn’t drop quite as low, or with as much pressure as the PS1000 or 2000, and certainly not enough to make the opening seconds of Markus Schulz’s Mainstage rumble in your bones. It drops below 70Hz with good, and fast sound pressure, but not a hell of a lot of stereo detail. Texture resolves more than is usual considering its bass sound pressure.
Above 70Hz, it hits with the force of a violently whacked feather pillow aimed at the ears. If you’ve ever been in a sibling pillow fight, you know that feathers can pack a punch. Feathers don’t, however, recover as fast as the GH2. The GH2’s forward attack edge sears, smearing only slightly on decay. That’s may account for the slight shimmer I hear in the bass, but who knows. For a majority of my music it is a nice organic addition to what otherwise can be all hard and electronic. Even with that smear, the Grado GH2 more than keep up with the fastest trance; it just does it in a way more accented than that to which I typically listen.
The GH2 hasn’t a lot of low-voiced instrument separation, but that’s never Grado’s forte. Instruments never blend one into another, but they don’t leave much space, 3D draw, or between-instrument breath between raw musical output.
Grado headphones – the GH2 being no exception – pull sound stages, venues, and instrument bands together. Despite this, there are few headphones which as nicely delineate mids from the lows based in a smooth transition zone. It’s even flow with no evident line or even soft fade. Bass and mids are one. And they are not. They perfectly gel before tipping just as gracefully into the highs.
In their midst is a wide, flat, and ultimately contrasty vocal range. Bass kicks beneath and sort of into the lower mids which in turn kick into the mid mids. All of that pushes to the fore a somewhat liquid vocal range. It is the only liquid sounding thing in the Grado GH2, and again, it is just evident. The GH2 weights both male and female vocals perfectly, and decorates each with a almost perfect balance between passion and wry power. Then there’s the GH2’s affinity for percussion of any sort, and stringed percussion in particular. The more drum riffs the better.
If you think the HD600’s harsh, you might find reason to slag off the GH2’s highs. Overall, they are pretty well balanced. No obvious spikes, no sibilance, and like most if not all Grado headphones, they are fast, close, and totally bookend your tunes. Fans of highs that only just peak above the midrange should love the GH2. I do.
Is the Grado GH2 as addictive or immediately interesting as the PS1000 or PS2000? No. It’s not even as immediately grabbing as MyST’s OrtoPhones. But like Grado’s GR8e and GR10, it has grown and grown and grown on me until today I use it more than any other headphone I own.
With Beautiful Audio’s merino pads in place, the Grado GH2 is as comfy as any headphone out there. The only downside is that all wooled up, its sound is warmer than stock. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve grown into warmth. And ‘warmth’ in relation to Grado isn’t the same warmth you’ll find hugging even a HD600, let alone a HD650. Grado’s famous behind-the-drum-set clean, energetic, and precise percussion is to die for. And the GH2 totally nails that. The GH2 isn’t quite as dry as an RS, and it’s more matter of fact than the PS1000. It is the high (and somewhat dry)-end Grado for the masses.