All Grados are open-back headphones and aside their Statement and Professional Series, most are on-ear rather than over-ear headphones. Unfortunately for me, after a 15 minutes session, on-ear Grados are so painful that I have to take them off. Comfort, together with the SR325e’s lack of bass are the reasons I sold them and moved away from the brand which turned into an obsession with closed-back, over-ear, headphones.
Fast-forward a few years later, I missed the famous Grado sound and felt more comfortable experimenting as I came to understand that dealing with absolutes in this hobby is a mistake. Closed-back headphones impose sonic constraints open-back headphones don’t — physic’s a bitch. Grado also have an over-ear offering and, therefore, over-ear pads. So I ordered the pair of Grados “I always wanted”— the RS2e — together with a pair of Grado G-cush. Oh boy… I wish I knew.
Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 / Firmware: 1.10 CM – EQ: none / Music app used: Stock & Spotify – Official site
CABLE & PADS
Stock 3.5mm, Single-ended, cable & Grado G-cush pads
Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, Never Going Back Again / Quality: 24-Bit 96.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Iron Maiden, Fear Of The Dark, Fear Of The Dark / Quality: 24-Bit 44.1 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Joni Mitchell, Blue, California / Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Nina Simone, Pastel Blues, Sinnerman (Live In New York/1965) / Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here, Wish You Were Here / Quality: DSD / SACD
Plüm, You’re the one, You’re the one / Quality: 16 bit 44.1 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Simon & Garfunkel, Sounds Of Silence, Anji / Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Stevie Wonder, Talking Book, Superstition (Album Version) / Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Various Artists, Atlantic Jazz: Soul, Comin’ Home Baby (LP Version) / Quality: 16 bit 44.1 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
A breath a fresh air is how I would describe the RS2e with the Grado G-cush. I imagine the Grado family would be the first to say that the RS2e aren’t intended to sound the way they do with the G-cush on but I don’t really care, sorry 🤷🏻♂️. With the standard pads, the sub-bass is lacking a bit of weight, the mids are too forward and the highs are borderline for my tastes. This is not to mention the comfort which makes them a no-go from the get-go. The G-cush change everything. The sub-bass is improved, the mids are a bit more laid-back, the highs are just perfect and, last but not least, the soundstage opens up. I genuinely believe that the fact this combination works so well is pure luck. If told these would cost 1k+, I would have understood.
Before I go on about the usual points here, one of the key advantages of Grados is that they’re going to benefit from high-end recordings yet, at the same time, won’t suffer from average ones either. In my book, this is a plus.
Now, the RS2e are light and comfortable with the G-cush. As with all Grados, however, the cable is too long, heavy as well as can’t be swapped. As they’re open-back headphones, everyone also hears what you’re listening to. The serial number is carved by hand on the plastic and the fit and finish is far from perfect yet, together with the smell of mahogany, one can’t deny their charm.
Like I said, I wish I knew… and despite my belief that the combination I found is pure luck, I could only recommend that you try yours… at this price point, compared to *every* headphones I’ve owned (Grado SR80e, SR325e, Meze 99 Classics, Campfire Audio Cascade and A&K T5p 2nd gen.), these are the best I ever had, period.