Ooo, me too.
My S2 arrived today so I'm acclimating to it, but I think I'll keep em as my balanced phone. Comfy, mic/control, build, easy and fun sound. It may still need to burn in as the fx700 sound much smoother, and I would say from the brief listwn the JVC are more capable but not by much. And theyre not as clear with the midbass.
OK, preliminary impressions, just went for a dogwalk, get much of my best listening quiet nights out with Ozzie. Listened through Fiio X3, to my current favorite/obsession Power Pop band, Valley Lodge. My usual opening disclaimers/caveats: They are both new, both probably need more burn in time (really haven't burned in aside from listening so far-I'm lazy with the burn in process, do it sometimes). Second, some impressions may relate to fit..I have an easier time with the Monster style than the Philips style with the large casing. So here goes:
Build-I'd give this to the S2, feels solid, ceramic, Monster is plastic, don't note anything wrong there, but seems for $300 list, you'd expect more (as you can find them for about $60 now, this isn't such an issue). They both have flat cables and in line mics.
Isolation-Monster by a mile, but by design, as the S2 is semi open, Gratititude is closed. Still, S2 won't do as well in a noisy environment.
Bass-both do nicely, S2 maybe a bit cleaner, more controlled. Gratitude a bit more drive, more bass in amount (fit may play a role here-everyone seems to hear the S2 as very strong in the bass, I've settled on Comply Comfort Plus, but still not sure I've got perfect seal.
Highs-both have strong high end, smoother on S2 (again, may be partly lack of break in), stronger on the Gratitudes, maybe a bit too strong. In prebreakin stage, some may find Gratitude a bit tizzy, though I like it
I'd generally say they have different presentations, Gratitude being of the V type, that some love, is exciting, tends to drive the music more, S2 being more balanced all the way through
Both do a nice wide soundstage and imaging, though the S2 clearly does it better-detail/microdetail much easier to hear, open space between instruments clearer, quieter. Gratitude is more efficient, need volume up less than S2. Haven't tried amping yet-S2 may benefit and sound even better with more drive behind it, though colorations of Gratitude may make amping through line out beneficial for the Monster iem, something to try out at some point...
OK, my conclusion? First, I didn't feel any loss of enjoyment going from one to the other, never felt, "this stinks, need to go back to the other", different flavors. Listening to the Monsters now as I write (still going back and forth), fun sound. Just changed over, S2 is more refined. If I was to rate just on total sound (leaving out efficiency, fit, isolation), the S2 is the definite winner at this stage, open, clear, soundstage, detail excellent. I do have to fidget a whole lot to get the S2 to work for me, and the Monster is more comfortable (YMMV, of course, I seem to have more trouble with this than most here). However, the current asking price for the Gratitude, about $60 at many sites, is about half what the S2 generally sells for, and is definitely a good buy (and I should do a burn in to see if the highs smooth out, mids open more).
Edited by doctorjazz - 9/14/13 at 10:28pm