Grado PS2000e Loaner Program @

Discussion in 'Sponsor Announcements and Deals' started by Todd, Jun 14, 2017.
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  1. Mshenay Contributor

    Happy to say I've gotten both the PS2KE and the GS2KE, I'm currently finishing up my thoughts on another Dac atm, but in the mean time I can say I'm really enjoying these! The cups are beautiful! An no buzzing in the lows either

    An the Vali 1 & EL Dac combo is one for the books! Great synergy with the PS2KE
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2017
    ruthieandjohn likes this.
  2. ruthieandjohn
    Can’t wait to read your comparison. Congratulations!
  3. JoeDoe
    Hey fellas, my completed review is forthcoming! Haven't forgotten that responsibility - recently taken a new job and had very little time for head-fi. SHould be posted by tomorrow evening!
  4. ruthieandjohn
    @JoeDoe , looking forward to it! And vs. the PS1000 AND the GS1000i (my Favorite Grado, which You are Trying to Sell!)
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
  5. ruthieandjohn
    Well? PS2000e vs. GS2000e????
  6. Oteil
    First off, I’m really sorry it has taken so long to get this review up. Unfortunately, I have been slammed at work and some unexpected family surgeries haven taken up most of my free time. I really want to take the time and thank Todd for doing this tour. He is a very kind of individual to loan out his personal headphones for all of us to try out. I would never gotten to hear these headphones if it wasn’t it for him, so for that I really am grateful.

    On to the review of the PS2000e……I am not going to lie. I am an unabashed Grado fan. I love their headphones. I do like they way they look and most importantly how they sound. Every time a new headphone is released I get excited. Just a little background on my preferences and the headphones I own. Currently I have the PS1000 with “e” drivers….I also have the GS1000i and the GH2. I have also owned the RS1i and the “e” which is currently for sale, the 325e,225e,80i,60. My personal favorites at the moment are the GH2 and the GS1000i….the GH2 is just a lush sounding headphone. It has great bass and is so smooth, it also has that great “Grado” magic when it comes to the upper treble but it is the most non fatiguing Grado I have listened to. I could use them all day. However; the comfort does get me after a couple of hours. It is not a deal-breaker for me though. The GS1000i is the most comfortable Grado I have owned. It is so light and man, after the long break in, it sounds so good. It is the ultimate low level listening headphone. The highs can be piercing if you turn it up too loud but I really adore how this headphone handles most music, especially jazz and classical. The soundstage is simply awesome and how you are able to place the instruments in the room or mix is just incredible. I know what you are thinking, the PS1000 is better, it probably is, it has a semi- smoother sound and it has more body to its sound but most of the time for me it is a comfort thing. The weight gets to me. Side note: Grado really needs to fix the rod blocks on the heavier headphones, good grief, it gets annoying when they slide down, the customer shouldn’t have to figure out a mod to fix this problem.

    Now to the PS2000e, the first critical thing I will say about it is the weight. I know this doesn’t bother a lot of people but it is something that I feel that should be mentioned. They have improved the headband since the PS1000 and for that I am grateful, it is only marginally better though. For a headphone that is this expensive I feel like the comfort issue could be addressed fairly easy.

    The sound….It does sound quite good. Better than all my other Grados?? Maybe, Probably….but definitely not $1000.00 more. This clearly is a case, in my opinion, that they thought they could charge a lot more for something that is just marginally better. My first thought on the headphone was that it was a pretty balanced sounding headphone on the verge of kind of sounding boring at first. After further listening the resolution on this headphone is fantastic. You can hear really deep into the recording and athough they are very smooth sounding and don’t seem very harsh, the more I turned them up the brighter they got. One other thing, they are extremely sensitive, I could hardly turn them up compared to my other Grados. This is not necessarily a negative, I just thought I would mention it. The tone of this headphone is really, really nice, the drivers seem to bring a “weight” to the recording that is really addicting. The more you listen the more you like it. The only thing that I really found lacking was the bass. I am not a bass head and Grado’s have never been known for a lot of sub bass but I felt their could be a touch more. I feel my PS and GH and even my GS had more punch to the low end. I also did some A/B comparisons to the PS1000 and the PS2000 and they are pretty dang similar. A little different….yes, but a lot different, I don’t think so. I definitely felt that the PS1000 had more sub bass. In the end, I feel like this is a great sounding headphone that maybe is simply over priced in the Grado lineup. If I had to pick between it or the PS & GS I would keep what I have. Maybe I am getting older and crabbier(haha) but the longer I listen in this hobby there just hasn’t been as much lately that just wows me. I have been to a lot of headphone meets and listened to a lot of headphones and they all sound fantastic but “better” is really in the eye of the beholder and deciding whether it is worth the money is up to you. Grado’s will always be my favorite headphone…they always “wow” me with their presentation of the music and at this point in my life, I’m pretty content. Of course this is just one person’s opinion. I don’t want to sound overly negative towards these phones. They are fantastic and sound really good but I want to be realistic when it comes down to the overall sound vs. cost. I wanted to like them more.

    I want to thank Todd again for allowing me to try these headphones out. It is fantastic that he does this for the headphone community.

    I know I am probably in the minority here but I kind of feel like listing my equipment that I use is dumb because unless you own everything I do you really aren’t going to be getting the same sound impressions that I do or at least that is the argument. I, personally like giving the overall impression of the headphones( if you find them to be different, that’s great)…but ultimately on head-fi, it always boils down to….What source are you using? What kind of DAC are you using?? Oh, that’s what you are using?? That’s why it doesn't sound as good as it could…

    Equipment used:

    Marantz HD DAC1

    Glow Amp One
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  7. Mshenay Contributor
    It's November! I'd forgotten how busy things get towards the end of an Academic Semester!!!!

    So for my listening, I ran with my Project Ember II sourced from my NFB10ES2 which I fed Coax input from a Schiit Etir. The Ember II runs without any input attenuation and I use low gain for the output on my Dac. Tube Wise, I like a 1944 Slyvania 6SN7 GT, White Label Tall Bottle JAN-CHS VT231. These are apparently the most resolving of the SYL 6sn7, which I found to be true! I tried both the 1950 Green Label Variant of the tall bottle 6sn7 and a Bad Boi, out of all of them I felt the 1944 White Label had the best resolve and mix of warmth and clarity! Some also feel it's maybe a little "bass shy" though I found it to offer better resolve and texture in the lows. Though I guess for some a lack of distortion down there can be perceived as a lack of "body" or fullness, however I prefer a cleaner tighter/more textured low over a "fuller" one

    Back to the headphones though, in short I find the GS2KE to be a touch more open and natural, it's not as EXCITING nor energetic/detailed as the PS2KE it's also not as intimate. Listening to both imaging tracks from David Chesky's Headphone Demo Disc and my own copy of Miles Davis Kind of Blue, I noticed the PS2KE to be more detailed, in the vocal imaging tracks the PS2KE has more mouth noise, makes the sound of foot steps more apparent ect... but it struggles with the sense of space. The voices start further out and draw closer, there's always a sense of "closeness" with the PS2KE. Where as with the GS2KE there's a more evident echo in the room but a better sense of space, the GS2KE also had a more defined sense of space over the PS2KE! I feel the lack of emphasis the GS2KE has, allows it to be just a smidge more precise, where as the PS2KE while being quite balanced does lean more towards emphasizing leading notes, the fundamentals and the attack of those notes it can sometimes lack coherency, it's those trailing notes that help us to define space and with the PS2KE sometimes those trailing edges or the decay/release of a note is a bit overshadowed by the intensity the POWER and suddenness of that leading note!

    Both did excellent with dynamics, as the men grew closer to the mic their voices gradually got louder, I feel though the GS2KE did better with micro dynamics than the PS2KE, where as the PS2KE did better with macro dynamics over the GS2KE. Quieter sounds or smaller less evident changes in volume are more apparent from the GS2KE, where as sudden LOUDER shifts are more apparent on the PS2KE. Moving back to Kind of Blue track #1- So What is the track I know best I found the PS2KE had a more resolved presentation in the double bass, the lows where more defined, some mild string noise was more evident, there was an excellent balance between the attack on the fundamentals and the decay of the subsequent harmonics, I was really impressed by the PS2KE in this regard! It's hands down the best bass presentation I've heard from a Grado to date. The GS2KE was fuller, bigger a little looser, the string noise was a bit muted and the overall definition a bit smeared and moving from my Ember II into the Schiit Vali 1 only made this WORSE.

    Each had it's strengths and weakness in the mid range, the GS2KE was softer than hard, less tactile but also... more gentle. Horns and paino's had a beautiful fullness to them a very natural envelope, on the other hand the PS2KE was often more aggressive, with a more forceful envelope. Which is at times exciting and very engaging, but can also be a bit fatiguing as well. Vocals were finicky as well, more aggressive vocalists pair'd beautifully with the GS2KE softer vocalists more so with the PS2KE. The Eagles Live performance of Hotel California was a polarizing listen with both headphones! The guitars were stunning with the GS2KE, I noticed the... individuality of the 12 string guitars more with the GS2KE, each individual string has a slightly different harmonic decay in addition to it's fundamental the attack of each of them as well as the group. Overall the track was spacious, almost ethereal with the guitars down right magical. But the vocals were a bit too soft for my liking and the bass guitar a bit too diffuse, additionally the sound of the crowd was a bit lost and the percussion was energetic but a bit lost

    The PS2KE lacked that MAGIC in the 12 string, but brought some life to the other guitars, the track as a whole was more tactile, a bit more intimate each guitar stood out a little more, but that individuality was lost. The more forceful envelope brings excitement but lacks that magic, how ever the bass guitar does comes to life, the drums pop a bit more and the sound of the crowd is a bit more evident.

    Speaking of Amping, it's kind of a mixed bag. On one hand the GS2KE does well with the Vali 1, it's more open sound pairs nicely with the more intimate sound of the Vali 1 in comparison to my Ember II but on the other hand the bass while having more body is a little more smeared, the mid range follows as well. Overall the GS2KE emphasizes decay/harmonics more so than the attack, the leading edge and the fundamentals it leans in the opposite direction of the PS2KE. So with the Vali 1 having a similar presentation... the two can sometimes be too much of a good thing, and other times be really stunning! The PS2KE maintains it's cleaner more resolved sound when I scale it down to the Vali 1, but it get's even MORE intimate so... again sometime's it's nice other times it's too much.

    I believe Todd owns the GS2KE him self over the PS2KE, I can kinda see why. There's a magic to the GS2KE that I kinda enjoy more than the technical achievements of the PS2KE and as much as I hate to say it.... the HD 800 is more or less the happy median for these two. Not as magical as the GS2KE but not as dry as the PS2KE... and it's technically better than both. More spacious and coherent than the GS2KE and more resolved than the PS2KE...

    It's also a bit slower than the two, which is odd to say... it doesn't lack resolve nor miss out on any of the ambient noise. It's dynamics are more evident both macro and micro... but it's envelope is just a smidge slower than that of the GS2KE. Which is again odd to me! It's warmer than both of them, not as intimate as either... it has the magic of the strings I enjoyed from the GS2KE but it's not as obvious, not quite as evident as it was on the GS2KE!

    I just SDR Modded my HD 800, I've had the insert for a while but I was curious how the stock HD 800 compared to two Grados... and now after modding the HD 800 to cut down on the 6k hrz Peak I have to say it's just that much more of what Iike'd about it to begin with! Not having as much emphasis up top, everything below stands out just a smidge more, and while it's not as magical as the GS2KE still... the de emphasis of that 6k hrz peak allows a little more magic through than on the stock HD 800

    I only have 2 days left with the PS2KE, I thought I was the last stop but it turns out there are two others after me! That said I'll be wrapping my thoughts of it up here shortly! Though there's not as much to say as I'd hope'd... it's FAST very much like my Modded HE 4 is! I can really dig that, though in terms of price... it doesn't really feel competitive... there's nothing it does that another can in my collection can't match and for $1000 less in most cases.

    An as for it's combined pro's/con's ... I reminds me a lot of the HE 4... and my HE 4 has been my go to can for years! So before I state my opinion of the PS2KE I'd like to compare it TO my HE 4 see how this easy to drive dynamic compares again'st a now discontinued but very power hungry planar, IF the PS2KE can do with acoustic music what I love about my HE 4, present that amazing sense of ENERGY and DYNAMICS with a very taut powerful low end, then that'll be it's niche, super speed without the super fuss!

    An honestly after mods, my HE 4 ran me around $800 ish, I've also got another $1000 into my balanced Dac/Amp including the purchase of peripherals and I use Phase Reversal with my balanced amp to get the best out of it. So where around like $1800 ish for everything... if the PS2KE stock can match what the HE 4 does after modding and some VERY specific amp requirements, then it's price is a bit more grounded in reality... if I can get what I love from my HE 4 with ONLY a headphone [no mods, special cables/software or amping] then the price is a bit more tolerable

    Given that after years of building a system around/for my HE 4 I still enjoy it's very unique presentation, and there may/will be others who will also appreciate a balanced frequency response pair'd with almost hyper real transients and a very taut bass
    ranfan, ruthieandjohn and ruhenheiM like this.
  8. ruhenheiM
    i'm looking forward for part 2 :D and good luck for your exam!
  9. ruthieandjohn
    @Mshenay , what a GREAT comparison of the GS2000e and PS2000e. I have strong interest in getting both, have reviewed both on their respective TTVJ tours, found each to be the among the best two Grados I had heard , but I didn’t have them both at the same time to compare. Excellent review!
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
  10. Mshenay Contributor
    What's nice about the GS 2KE is that it's a bit... less resolved it's not SO obvious when the fit is off. It leans the right direction but doesn't resolve on the same level in the lows that the PS2ke and HD 800 do... I bring up the bass because I put in my SDRs into my HD 800 right before work and I swapped the pads... left on the right side right on the left side. Now my pair is brand spankin new! I did that because my head's lop sided and the pads wear "uniquely" depending on what side they are on, so swapping the pads is noticeable... and I didn't have a chance to fix it before work so thankfully I tighten'd everything down and put the pads back and It seems to have resolved it self... but with both the HD 800 and PS2KE there's something nice about that level of resolve! I also have to fidget with the PS2KE to get the fit right before the sound stage opens up and the bass is "proper" in a sense I like the simpler less... resolved less hyper active low end on the GS2KE. It's just right!, spacious and magical for 9/10 placements on your noggin, an I dig that.

    I'm listening to the HD 800 and GS2ke at the moment, and I like how the GS2KE just has that touch of emphasis on the magic! The nuance of the harmonics especially, it's just a smidge less technically correct and lends it self to be just a smidge more pleasurable! Going to swap over to the HE 4/ PS2KE now, I will be level matching but I won't be running out of the same amp with them. I want to get the HE 4 at it's best and vice versa, and seeing as the PS2KE is SE only it sounds it's best out of my Ember II [though almost all of my dynamics do!]
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
    ruthieandjohn likes this.
  11. Mshenay Contributor
    So I spent some time with the HE 4 and PS2KE, the PS2KE reminds me a bit of the Utopia. I only heard the uTopia at a meet in a noisy environment, but it had the same energy of my HE 4 but better nuance and resolve with less sub bass... the PS2KE proves it self the same. Easy to drive, better nuance, great aggression but still a little less extended down low than I'd like. An I'm not saying the PS2KE out resolve the Utopia, as I've never spent any quality time with the Focal Flag Ship. But the PS2KE has a presentation that reminds me a lot of the Utopia

    My listening notes for the HE 4 and PS2KE are similar too, I will say overall I enjoyed the PS2KE the most out of a very modest set up! The JDS Labs EL Dac an Vali 1 are still my favorite pairing with this headphone! Granted it loses a smidge of resolve, but the improvements to frequency response are worth it! I'd imagine a nicer OTL or SET Tube would serve the PS2KE better than my hybrid, it really needs some added distortion to bring that magic back into play...
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
  12. up late
    @Oteil - your impression of the ps2ke is similar to mine
  13. joseph69
    Do the PS2Ke/Utopia sound similar too you?
  14. JoeDoe
    Well, here goes...

    The Chain: Mac Mini running JRMC22 > Audio gd R2R 2 > Audio gd C-2 > PS1k, PS2ke, HD800S

    A lot of my review will refer to the PS1k, because to my ears, that's the headphone to beat from Grado. I like it better and find it more natural than the PS1000e, so for me the question that was overriding was 'Will the new flagship justify it's price over the previous (real) flagship?' When it comes to the low end, I think there are pros and cons. Like the PS1000e, the 2000e lost a bit of the impact/slam that I love about the original PS1000. Kick drums don't have the potential to hit me in the chest, figuratively speaking, like the original does. What the PS2000e gave up in impact though, was regained in refinement. I did feel like the low end as a whole, was more refined by 5-10%. Textures and nuance-y things on bass guitars, organ, and sousaphones came through a little more easily and I did appreciated it!

    To me, the mids on the PS1000 are excellent and the mids on the PS2000e are superb. They keep the Grado magic that got a lot of us to drink the Kool-Aid, but yet again, present a slightly more resolving and refined midrange. Adele's raspy alto, Cory Henry's B3, and Eric's acoustic all came through just a bit more clearly, helping me to hear more, but without feeling like things were being dissected. A tough feat, to be sure!

    This was the biggest departure from the PS1000. Honestly the upper end reminded me a lot of the HD800/800S. Things are a little more extended and airy, but I say that without an interpretation on my part. That's to say, I'm not sure it's better. Personally I'd still pick the smooth and detailed treble from the PS1k. The 2000e's upper end borders on the edge of artificial to these ears. It's definitely not stock HD800 artificial, but there were times with certain jazz or classical tunes, that I thought the upper end was a little too emphasized or out of balance compared to the rest of the presentation.

    I'd say that this is the largest and most coherent soundstage I've heard out of Brooklyn. Other than the GS and PS series, Grados are pretty well-known for having a somewhat collapsed soundstage and if I had to judge the PS2000e by a single characteristic, I'd say the way it best earns its flagship title is in it's soundstage presentation. To offer a rough comparison, I'd put it between the PS1000 and HD800S.

    In conclusion, the PS2000e is definitely a great headphone. I'm an unashamed Grado head, and I've gotten to lay ears on almost every model that the Brooklyn boys have produced. The 2k definitely earns a spot in the top of my internal ranking. I certainly think it's better than any of the GS models, past or present, as well as the PS1000e. That being said... is the PS2000e is worthy of flagship status. Yes. Is it worthy of its price tag? Not at all. For the incremental upgrades over it's previous flagships, I can't imagine paying $2700 for what you'd get. To anyone considering it, I'd heartily recommend the PS1k or an HD800S with an Audio-gd or Schiit stack before dropping that kind of green!

    Anyway, those are my thoughts and I'm sticking with em!
    ranfan, ruhenheiM, Mshenay and 2 others like this.
  15. Mshenay Contributor
    Don't have an S my self but I do have the HD 800 with the SDR Mod, and in terms of cost, I felt the same. The PS2KE is a step above my DIY grado models/drivers and I felt it was more resolved than even the GS2KE and my own HE 4... but it wasn't a step above the LCD 2.2 or HD 800sdr, different but not by any means better. I will say, price aside, I'm happy to hear this level of detail out of Brooklyn! If your some one who wishes to ONLY buy US Based Brands, the PS2KE isn't a bad headphone to own,

    Still while I felt the PS2KE wasn't as spacious as the GS2KE, things were deeper and sometimes wider on the GS2KE than the PS2KE, have you heard the GS2KE yet @JoeDoe? I'm curious as to why I felt image was more open than that of the PS2KE, though openness aside the PS2KE was very coherent and precise
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