Open-back planar headphones already sound like they have a more expensive nature, and while some of them are relatively affordable by audiophile standards, planar’s still seem like an upper level that many can’t reach. I’ve been hearing a lot about Gold Planar, a brand that doesn’t receive the same hype as other planar headphone manufacturers like HiFiMAN or Audeze. With a name like Gold Planar, you would think that their headphones would lie in the upper echelon of audiophile products. While they do have more expensive headphones in their selection, they also feature some of the most affordable planar headphones around. The GL600 is one of them, costing you only $179.99. It’s considerably inexpensive than what I am used to seeing, so I’m interested to hear how they hold up.
What You Get
Gold Planar packaging is your standard over-ear headphone fare. The headphones come comfortably secured in foam padding and inserts, along with its detachable 3.5mm cable and quarter-inch jack. This is a 1.5-meter long cable that is 6N OFC oxygen-free, with a 4-core copper makeup.
Look and Feel
The main build of the GL600 reminded me most of the HiFiman Sundara, but smaller construction and more oval-shaped. Shockingly, the quality of materials featured on the GL600 is superior to that of the Sundara. Gold Planar uses durable and lightweight aerospace-grade aluminum. This creates a flexible frame that’s sure to withstand a considerable amount of pressure. This is quite an impressive build, especially for planar headphones in this price range, and I also appreciate the structure as well. The ear cups are smaller and are the same size in height and width as the leather ear cushions it supports. It makes for a neater, more compact design that doesn’t subtract in comfort.
My only issue here is with the headband. It uses the same leather material as the earpads and supports your head well without any added pressure. However, comfort isn’t the issue I have with the headband, it’s how it adjusts. This suspension headband is pretty difficult to slide up and down, and I couldn’t get my preferred fit without having to take off the headphones and pull with a lot of pressure on the adjuster until I got it to snap into the right place. With that being said, I don’t exactly have much to criticize about the build quality or the level of comfort. It’s all-around solid for the price and exhibits great value.
There’s no gold inside of the Gold Planar headphones, but you will find a high-end driver system with intricate details made to deliver an accurate signal. The GL600 uses a 66mm planar magnetic driver with a nano-membrane diaphragm, a noticeably large system for the price, but there’s a lot more going on here. The internal plate is modified in a way to increase surface area and airflow, enhancing the response through its ultra-thin nano-membrane and strong magnet. With this principle, the goal is to portray a much more full resolution and more life-like soundstage.
It’s no secret that planar headphones need a little more juice to drive than your average, low impedance dynamic driver. With the GL600, I don’t believe you’ll have much trouble getting enough volume level through a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, but I do recommend a DAC/Amp to get the most out of the planar. Even something as small as the ALO Pilot should suffice. For me, it provided exactly the amount of control I needed to sustain a comfortable volume with ample room for adjustment.
This is where open-back planar headphones usually shine for me, and serves as one of the many advantages planar has over dynamic headphones. It doesn’t always necessarily mean immediately better, but usually planar headphones provide a more natural reproduction of sound like they’re coming from a source outside the main driver unit. This is exactly what the GL600 achieves. My first impression of the GL600 wasn’t the most positive, but with more testing and break-in, I became more impressed the more I listened.
What threw me off was how close the image appears compared to other open-back planar headphones. It doesn’t lack in height, but it doesn’t show the most air. Instead, the response is a lot closer to your headspace, but this isn’t a detriment to the soundstage, rather a unique quality than what I’m used to hearing with planar. Sounds still bloom out of the stereo field with a natural flair, and the separation between the instruments is still plentiful. Using this tighter headspace makes the performances sound more intimate and full, instead of sounding off in the distance.
While the bass might not slam with authority, it provides enough punch to satisfy low-end centric tracks. The lows mostly play toward a much more natural timbre, while sporting smoother textures. The resonance still appears big enough to be noticeable, but the focus here is on balancing the tonality with the more forward midrange. That’s not to say there isn’t much depth here either, as I found the bass very dynamic in the way it deals with rumble and sub-bass frequencies. You might not experience the feeling, but you will get the detail and the accuracy.
Here, the mids definitely aim for a warmer timbre than one that’s detailed or clear. It works for a good number of acoustic and folk tracks. I definitely enjoyed the sound when I was listening to the album “Nebraska” by Bruce Springsteen, but for more intricate tracks have a bit of trouble breaking out. Like the lows, I didn’t find it to be too detrimental, but when listening to instrumental heavy tracks, it’s easy to notice the lacking fullness.
I usually like to hear some sibilance and well-textured treble when I listen to planar, but I didn’t get that with the GL600. Instead, the highs play to a much smoother timbre. This works toward the headphone’s overall darker tone, but if you’re looking for airiness or sparkle, that isn’t offered here. However, the treble doesn’t disappear, it’s more so less pronounced and accentuated than the low-mids. Using an EQ might bring out a livelier timbre.
If you’re new to planar, this might be a great place to start. While there’s a lot of room for improvements, Gold Planar has created a suitable jumping-off point for audiophiles on a budget. Also if you’re looking for a general open-back headphone that’s warm and intimate, this is a good pick separate from my main criticisms. I might be spoiled from hearing a lot of great planar headphones, but more casual listeners are sure to enjoy what the GL600 has to offer.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Build quality, Intimate soundstage, Warm timbre
Cons: Not the most detailed planar
The Gold Planar GL600 is available from Linsoul.
Discuss the Gold Planar GL600 on our forum here.
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