Review: Grado PS2000e – so desperately before

Disclaimer: Grado’s Japanese distributor, Knicom, supplied the PS2000e for this review. It’s not mine and will go back today. The PS2000e goes for 2,695.00$ USD. You can find out more about it here: Grado PS2000e.

Update: I’ve added a few photos that hopefully will show more detail.

Falling for Grado’s PS1000 was trivial. Falling from love into limbo was also trivial. Until February, the PS1000 was my favourite high-end bugger-to-wear headphone. A trip to Fujiya Avic’s Headphone Festival fixed that. What fixed it was a trip to the RHA/Grado distributor booth. The fix wasn’t the chance I had to hear the PS2000e. The fix was the limited edition Grado GH-2.

I purchased one immediately.

And what came to my door was an RS-2e. An email to Knicom brought with it an fierce apology – not that it was their fault. Grado packaged the GH-2. The distributor shouldn’t have to open each and every box to ensure that Grado did their job. But they do now. What came from that mistake was a complementary package of Comply tips, a brand new (opened and checked) GH-2, and weeks prior, the chance to take the PS2000e for a weeks-long spin.

Speaking of a long spin, this PS2000e demo has seen a few things. Check out the corrosion on its cups. It won’t wipe away. It was there when the phones arrived in my office. I assume it is due to this headphone being a pre-sale unit; or perhaps because it has been handed back and forth to too many eager headphone festival fans.

Whatever the case, the corrosion dampened my desire to take pretty photos.

Not sound

I’m putting the finishing touches on this review on 7 June, 2017. That spin ends tomorrow.

It’s a spin that I’m not happy to brake, park and package. The PS2000e fixes a few key issues I had with the PS1000, whilst holding onto a great base sound signature. The PS2000e is about as heavy as the PS1000, and if you’ve got limited cranial headroom between your ears and the top of your skull, you’ll have a bugger of a time keeping the any PS series on.

I’ve not had the PS2000e fall off my head, but a wiggle left or right forces momentary rifts between my ears and the PS2000e’s ear pads. The headband doesn’t batten down far enough to stay solid on my head. My fix is a casquette. Some headphones fit more loosely, and a few headphones – I’m looking at you MyST OrtoPhones and IzoPhones – clamp far tighter.

My comfort threshold is about three hours, after which the top of my head tenders up. This is a marked improvement over the PS1000, whose absolute comfort ceiling is about two. Four hours is about as long as I can wear any headphone without irritation, so three ain’t at all bad. If you’ve got a funny bone in your cranium, you may want to invest in a casquette. If you have thick, bouncy hair between that bone and the headband, you may be fine.

The PS series’s salad bowl pads are brilliant. They grip with decent, but never painful, force. And, for foam, they are robust. You can flatten them, stomp on them, and even put them through a mild tug of war. They resist baby-finger pokes, and even at age, barely shed. By contrast, typical foam rips. The PS2000e’s salad bowls slip on and off their mounting flanges, lickety-split, and with out the pomp and frustration of over-engineering. These pads support themselves, protect the drivers, and, in the unlikely event that you damage them, are readily available for purchase. Are they perfectly designed? Of course not. But they embody the design philosophy summed up like this: simple is best. The PS2000e’s headband is wider than the PS1000/e’s is. Like the PS1000’s headband, it ages damn well, looking better and better the more you wear it. It’s leather, so make sure to touch it often. Smear it with head oil and sweat.

As for the box this 2000$ headphone comes in? Knicom shipped this PS2000e in a GS1000 box. I have no idea at all what the actual retail box looks like, but I assume it’s still the same tragic cardboard take away box that comes with the PS1000/e. I know for sure that in that box is the familiar 6,3mm – 3,5mm step down stereo adapter. Currently I have it plugged into my Onkyo DP-S1, whose volume is set to 26/60 and which has been looping New Order’s Brotherhood for the last three hours.

Usually I go for Power, Corruption & Lies, but there’s something so fistbumpingly honest about the PS2000e, that puts Brotherhood on the brain.

Let’s talk sound

Sound after the bump: