The audio wizards at Grado Labs are at it again with a new headphone in the Heritage Series. The latest model is the GH2 Limited Edition Headphone. This open-back headphone is a premium audiophile model that features a special air chamber made of cocobolo wood. But is this headphone worth the price? And what types of music does the Grado GH2 sound best with? I’m about to find out with a full review.
Grado Labs GH2 Limited Edition Headphone Review
In The Box
Grado Labs puts nearly all their thoughtful energy into the design and sound of their headphones so they keep the extras to a minimum. In the box you’ll get the sophisticated looking GH2 Limited Edition headphone and one 1/4″ adapter for use with home stereos and pro-audio gear. It’s an all-around nice package and doesn’t need to be adorned with extra cables or accessories. The GH2 is a fixed wire headphone with a 3ft cable. The left and right signal is wired directly to each earcup which is a standard for good audiophile headphones.
Audiophile headphones like the GH2 Limited Edition are always made to be a headphone you have for a lifetime. Grado Labs makes all their headphones by hand in Brooklyn, NY and every part from the solid cocobolo air chamber to the hand sewn headband feels well made.
Grado headphones are typically a home listening type of headphones for audiophiles with a hunger for premium sound. Although it’s not the most portable headphone the GH2 Limited Edition is light and could easily be taken out and about with a proper case.
Everybody has their own opinion of the Grado retro headphone design. The old-school foam padding and leather headband aren’t the softest things in the world but many people love it and Grado Labs is probably on-point in keeping with the classic look of their headphones. Overall it’s good fit and doesn’t pinch around the ears which is most important for long listening sessions.
The main features of the Grado GH2 Limited Edition headphone is the cocobolo wood air chamber. This is a tropical wood from Central America and Grado has included this wood as part of the backing in the GH2 headphone to add special sonic characteristics. In addition to this rare wood, the UHPLC copper voice coil and HPLC copper connecting cable ensure the best signal possible.
The sound signature of the Grado GH2 is relatively flat. The frequency range of 14Hz – 28kHz mixes well with the copper drivers and cocobolo wood backing. I tested it with many genres of music and found it to be best with classic rock, indie rock, jazz and symphonic music.
The bass on the GH2 is exceptional. The key to having a good bass sound in headphones is not overdoing it and Grado has found a fine balance with the GH2. The open-back lets the low-end breathe so it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the mix.
Mid-range is typically the easiest to reproduce for any headphone because of the size of most drivers but it some headphones the mids can be too hot. Grado manages to get a well rounded mid-range without that wincing harshness around 1kHz-2kHz. Very nice.
The presence on the Grado GH2 is delightful. Opening up the frequency range to 28kHz was a wise choice and it gives you a sense of elements in the mix that float high up in the spectrum and it’s definitely noticeable.
The Grado GH2 Limited Edition has a splendid soundstage. The music becomes open and alive. Testing this headphone out with classic rock tracks like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd I felt like the bands were right there in the room playing live. I got the same effect with jazz music. From Dave Brubeck to Thelonious Monk, it was like a private performance in a small New York jazz club. Symphonic music came alive with the GH2 as well. The Boston Pops Orchestra playing Night On Bald Mountain had me moved. I even gave them a dose of The Pixies and My Bloody Valentine. The result was sonic bliss.
Sound Pressure Level
The GH2 headphone has a SPL of 99.8dB and it runs at a mere 32 Ohms. I found that a low output device like an iPhone will drive this headphone just fine with no complaints but you’ll definitely get amazing results with an amplifier. My Hifiman EF100 tube amplifier paired nicely with the GH2 Limited Edition and the cocobolo wood.
The Grado GH2 Limited Edition headphone is a fitting edition for the Heritage Series. Audiophiles interested in getting a unique, clean sound slightly warmed by a cocobolo wood air chamber should absolutely consider the GH2. Although it’s a bit pricey with an MSRP of $650 I’m certain many music fans will be pleased with the sonic results they’ll get from their favorite tracks. It’s fun, sounds great, looks cool and I’m so fond of it I’ve nicknamed it The Cocobolo Audio Machine.
Transducer Type: Dynamic
Operating Principle: Open Air
Frequency Response: 14 – 28,000 hz
SPL 1mW: 99.8 dB
Nominal Impedance: 32 ohms
Driver Matched dB: .05 dB
Cocobolo air chamber
UHPLC copper voice coil
HPLC copper connecting cable