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I finally met a Grado (RS-2), and...

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
...now that I'm back home with my K701, rock feels even more odd with these headphones.

Quick background: I was away (way away, like 3 hours) on a semi-vacation and I saw this low-key audio store amongst all the other drab stores, stopped by, and saw a wall of Grados (up to RS-2), and Senns (up to 595).

Equipment: I only tried it through my headphone out and with an amp from the store and a silver cable again from the store, since i wasn't expecting this at all, and I was traveling with the minimum (iPod and KSC75).

Observations: Even with this rushed and mediocre setup, I heard very distinguishable things from this rarely talked about Grado model.

First off, it crushed any myths I heard about Grado bowls and the sound, as well as soundstage (maybe the RS-2 is an exception with the sound and soundstage?): Very comfortable, did not crush the ears at all; it fact, it enveloped my ears much like the K701. As for the sound, even with the silver cable, it was indeed a tab bit on the bright side, but not so much as hurtful. For soundstage, nothing felt in your face; it was like sitting a fair amount away from the singer and band, but enough to be engaged.

The sound overall is best described as tight and controlled, with maybe fast decay. Many of you know the Ultrasone test CD, and I listened to the first track (clarinet, tuba, etc.) as well as Elvis and The Beatles and Steely Dan.

Clarinet and tuba both sounded rich in quality (I have been in band for quite some time, so I know what they really sound like, yet I felt like that decayed a tad bit too fast. Vocals were clear and seemed to never mix with the instruments. The strength of Grado came through with the guitar and drums, of course; very energetic and with a quality I could not describe, but it made you forget about analyzing them and just enjoy it. Bass was round and pretty much complete, but perhaps from the silver cable felt a bit sharp. Mids were of course the stars of the show, being unique for Grado, and for treble it was accurate, yet maybe the silver exaggerated it a bit.

This is the first headphone I listened to that I have to admit is too much fun not to like. I keep mentally kicking myself for not brining my Jumbo Cryo and Hornet (one guy in the store asked what equipment I use, and when I rattled it off, him and the guy next to him were totally ), but this was better than nothing. I also regret listening to one of the top Grados, because now I know nothing less can satisfy my now-spoiled ears.

Thanks for listening in, and I hope others can benefit from this to determine whether the Grado sound is for them. To me, this was EXACTLY as if the K701 and the KSC75 mated and this was their offspring.

Remember though, that according from many people from Head-Fi (I don't know if anybody disagreed with this), the RS-1 and RS-2 are noticeably different in overall sound signature and presentation.

Oh, and the RS-2 weighed as much as a feather it seemed; way less heavier than a K701 and looked cheaper at first glance, but the retro appearance and the finely crafted wood more than made up for that.
post #2 of 42
buy them. you know you want to.

can't wait until i build up the courage to just click "buy" on TTVJ... the only thing holding me back is a broken condenser mic sitting on my desk next to me. they're AWESOME headphones, but, i've yet to have a halfway decent audition of the RS1s. your analogy of the K701 and KSC75 having a baby is very accurate, although it's a lot more like the KSC75 i think.
post #3 of 42
The RS-2 is AMAZING. The bass is OUT OF THIS WORLD.

First let me say the bowls are extremely uncomfortable, mine are not through the break in period yet. What drives me nuts is that they sound so good, that I can not take them off, and when I am finally done my ears are almost raw. I listen to the RS-2 on the setup in my sig but let me provide some extra detail not listed in my sig:
I have electric tape around the bowls, which does wonders for the already great bass. I am waiting for some ttvj flats to arrive and I will try those out as well. The tubes I am using in my MPX3 slam are an N.U. gray glass 7N7 power tube, and a pair of 7044 driver tubes. It is listed in my signature but my DAC-60 has the sonicraft mods, and I am using a pair of 1961 gold-pin & gold lettering Amperex JAN-6922 tubes with it.

Anyway, I don't know how you can say the RS-2 is on the bright side, at least on my setup, it is VERY warm! It is punchy as heck with very deep (well extended) and impactful bass. The midrange is incredibly lush and seductive.

I can't give too detailed of an explanation of the highs as the music I listen to doesn't venture there to much, but they do seem to have a nice sparkle and extend perfectly fine to my ears. In other words I don't hear any faults with them and they are not in any way fatiguing, either.

And here is what simply blows me away. All the things I just mentioned about the sound, are in conjunction with having great speed, decay and attack, and at the same time having a surreal sense of "air" around all the notes. The soundstage is not very wide, and is very up front (you are with the band -- GREAT for the music I listen to). To me, this is the pinnacle of an amazing "tube" sound, and this whole setup which I threw together based on other peoples comments and reviews alone has an amazing synergy that I have yet to hear with any of the other headphone setups I have ever heard.

To put it short: The RS-2 is an amazing headphone and it really saddens me that it is shunned and ignored so much on head-fi.

I was going to post these impressions in their own thread, but I just saw this and it is the perfect place to do so.

post #4 of 42
Yup. The RS series is just amazing, I've seen people have the same reaction to the RS-1. The HF-1 is a great headphone, and fueled curiosity about other Grados. Then, the RS-1 just stooped me dead and forced me to listen. The HP-2 is excellent, but no headphone has quite grabbed me the way the RS-1 did. It still does.

Bowls really are comfortable, even moreso if you give them a good washing with soap and water. Then they're buttery soft and good for hours of listening.

Oh, and wait until you power a pair with tubes. You have no idea....
post #5 of 42
I have to second 003 on the RS-2 impressions. They are amazing and I think they have the bass response that people find missing from most other Grado cans. Many people can express their opinions about the headphones much better than I can so I'll just make a few comments.

I find new bowls to be very comfortable. My ears are kinda small, so like you, they almost wrap around my ears and are very comfortable. The only thing is after a while the foam gets deformed and eventually I find the plastic screen pressing up against my ears which is very disagreeable. Using flat pads ($10 for HD414) solved that.

Another thing that you may not have noticed which I find very enjoyable is the smell of the phones. Yeah, I know it is very strange, but whenever I have them on, there is a slight scent of the mahogany and leather that wafts down to your nose. I find this very pleasurable when I am relaxing at the end of the day with some nice baroque cello pieces. It is very hard to describe and hard to notice unless you are alone with them without distractions. (Or you could just stick your nose up to it ! ) Either way, the smell really makes a nice experience when combined with the amazing sound. It is also something that you might find further places it apart from the K701s and other non-wood headphones.

I would also like to add that there seems to be a saddening lack of appreciation for the RS-2's. What gives?
post #6 of 42
Nice to see some RS-2 love here. It's my favorite Grado and definitely a great headphone.
post #7 of 42
so is RS-1 defintley better than RS-1,i have read a billion threads, and could not come to a definite conclusion.
besides,you always say that RS-1 sounds different than RS-2,in what way is the sound different?
post #8 of 42
i have read that the rs2 is 90 to 95% of the rs1. when i demoed in a noisy shop i couldn't tell the difference between the two, listening to opeth. i feel that there is a woody grado in my future, even though i have only ever owned an ms1, and have 0 money to spend. (anyone feel generous? lol.)
post #9 of 42
Welcome to the Dark Side. Just wait until you hear the RS-1, PS-1 or classic HP1000's.

Grados Rock.

post #10 of 42
Originally Posted by pearljam5000 View Post
so is RS-1 defintley better than RS-1,i have read a billion threads, and could not come to a definite conclusion.
besides,you always say that RS-1 sounds different than RS-2,in what way is the sound different?
RS-1 is not definitely better than RS-2. They're just different.

If you like more aggressive sound then RS-2 is for you. RS-1 is slightly more refined and has wider soundstage. IMO they sound very similar though.
post #11 of 42
Thanks for the impressions. The RS-2 gets passed by, but it is really a great headphone for those that think the RS-1 is bright. Also, I think the silver cabling might be the culprit for the brightness that you heard.

There are too many good Grados to waste time with other brands
post #12 of 42
The RS-2 is one of my favorites. It improves on a lot of things I really like about the HHF-1. An 'almost' as full sound but with better instrument separation and detail. The best headphone I could imagine would be settled right in-between the HF-1/HHF-1 and the RS-2.

I looked for a used one for a long time but they seem pretty rare and the resale prices are pretty high (even as compared to RS-1's).
post #13 of 42
Prices aren't that high for a used RS-2! I got mine almost brand new (purchased and used for 10minutes) for $385, compared to the retail $500. I have seen more used ones go for under $300.
post #14 of 42
I own the RS-2 and now the HF-1. I love both of them. I actually prefer the RS-2 to the RS-1. But I am still dying to give the HP1000's and PS1 a try.

My best was of explaining the RS-2 to someone is like being in the front row of a concert as far as the soundstage goes.
post #15 of 42
I think the RS-2 is more like the HF-1 than the RS-1.

Both the RS-2 and HF-1 have more bass than the RS-1. I wouldn't say any of them are better than the other it just comes down to preference.
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