What makes a Grado in my opinion is the slight emphasis they have in the upper mid range, it lends for a very exciting presentation. An that forwardness is where the similarities stop for the GS and PS2KE.
Starting with the GS2000E, I found it to have a beautifully massive sound stage with a slight emphasis on the harmonics present within the individual notes of each instrument, it had a real magic in the mid range to it that made it simply enjoyable! An at the very top, while slightly attenuated, it presented percussive instruments with phenomenal clarity. Overall it had excellent dynamics and micro detail, though it suffered a little with macro detail or ambient noise and I found the bass to be a little softer than hard.
Musical is the word that I felt describes the GS2000E best, regular readers of my content know how much I hate that word. As it’s often thrown at any headphone that has a “warm and smooth” mid range, while those qualities make for an enjoyable listen out of less resolving systems, in a top of the line rig excessive warmth and smoothness can kill music. The GS2000E how ever, had to my ears the perfect balance of warmth, decay and “magic.” It had by all means excessive decay and a soft low end, but it was beautiful to listen to non the less. It never lacked any texture in lows, never lacked any resolve in the mid range, had a nice present edge for guitars and drums! It was by all means a for the music headphone, it quite often glossed over a lot of ambient noise with no shortage of phenomenal micro detail. In every system I pair’d it with it was just a pleasure to experience. Though. electronic dance music wasn’t the best with it but… I don’t typically like EDM without big closed wood cups and copious amounts of EQ.
The PS2000E on the other hand was a far more technical listen, taut punchy well extended bass met with a fast tactile mid range and just enough sparkle up top. While it had the same precision and airiness as the GS2KE it was not as wide and spacious sounding. Almost a little intimate in comparison. What surprised me most though was just how FAST the PS2KE was, fast in the sense that it had a slight focus on the attack of an instrument with a clear but lighting fast decay. While it was well extended it was noticeable drier than the GS2KE. But that lack of body made for a very tactile presentation so much so that it made my HD 800 sound soft and slow! An like the HD 800 it’s quite picky about what your plugging it into. That said, in the right system it’s simply stunning, how ever sadly my system was not just “right.”
In my own system, I really felt the PS2000E wasn’t resolving enough. It had so much aggression and energy that it often overshadowed some mid-range micro detail. A lot of this could be attributed to how cold and clear my system is, and while I’ve worked over the years to remove as much of this coldness as I can… there’s just enough of it left to skew the balance of this very picky headphone. It really felt like a headphone designed to be pair’d with good analog turn table system, that or something “analog-esque” with that warm naturalness that people associate with analog.
That said though, seeing as at this time my system focus more on clarity than it does naturalness or “musicality” I wasn’t as much fan of the PS2000E at home in my rig. But again, the Grado line features two flagships. The musical GS2000E which sounds great in my system that’s optimized for technicalities and clarity in addition to the PS2000E which does better in a system that focus more on naturalness. That said, let’s dig into the specifics.
- The PSKE had the advantage down low, it presented a cleaner mix of both fundamental and harmonic textures. Instruments such as the double bass had cleaner transients, sharper more distinct vibrato after the initial peak of each note as well as more apparent fret and bend noise.
- Electric bass guitars also found a sharper leading edge with a quicker resolve of action on the frets. An finally larger drums had an excellent sense of not only their weight, size and mass but also their hollowness, there was good slam and umph that was followed by a twinge of that hollowness.
- The GS2KE on the other hand put a emphasis on the body and harmonic texture of these instruments. So while big drums sounded heavier and fuller… there was a little less of that hollowness.
- Though as much as I enjoy listening for these more technical notes focusing in on individual instruments does detract from the musical piece as a whole. That said, both the Double and Electric bass had plenty of fret action and punch while not quite as textured as on the PS2KE.
Overall in my system there was a clearer presentation of transients in the mid range from the GS2KE. Yes there’s a little emphasis on the decay, but it never masked any texture.
Horns has a nice touch of bite followed by a full rich body that differed with each breath. An those breath’s taken in-between notes where present, a little subdue’d but always there non the less.
Vibrato was more apparent for both stringed and metal bodied instruments as well, the variation in pitch and tone as the notes decay’d were clear but still sweet and lush. Guitars again had a nice mixture of bite, tactility and sweetness.
The PS2KE on the other hand, had a sharp focus on the leading edge of these notes in my system. With an intense attack followed by a very well resolved and obvious echo. Though at times this emphasis on the echo of the release masked a little of the vibrato.
In Mile’s Davis so what the PS2KE presented a better sense of depth, as the horns lingered on and on, but the intensity of each note combined with this cleaner super resolved lingering release often overshadowed the vibrato ever so slightly.
Guitars also had more crunch and bite, in some cases heavy or faster fretting was clearer and more vivid but with acoustic guitars some of the fullness of the instruments body was overshadow’d by the hollow space within the instrument. Again, in a system that’s more natural and lends a little more decay there’s significantly more balance and resolve, but in my system it was just a bit too aggressive.
- Depending on how the track is mastered these two seem to trade blows. In Miles Davis So What the percussion was more lively and had better clarity on the GS2000E with an improved sense of depth, how ever while listening to the Live performance of Hotel California the PS2KE presented the percussion with better clarity.
- Additionally the sounds of the crowd were more apparent from the PS2KE.
- Overall the PS2KE was a bit deeper and the GS2KE was a little wider, more intimate recording favored the GS2KE and anything recorded or mastered at a live venue often sounded a little realer on the PS2KE
- While both had an excellent sense of dynamics, the over aggressive nature of the PS2KE on my system created some de-emphasize on micro detail. Ambient noise was time and time again clearer and more present with the PS2KE.
- Often times the GS 2KE had the better micro resolve. With cleaner more defined transients. Each had good tactility, with the PS2KE being noticeable more energetic, how ever the combination of resolve and polite tactility of the GS2KE really draws you in!
For those that love music and love the magic of connecting to what your listening to, I can’t recommend the Grado GS 2000E enough. While it’s not the most technical headphone out there, I found it to just simply be a guilty pleasures to listen to! Now the PS 2000E is very much the epitome of the Grado Sound, as on the right system it has both a little sweet magic and amazing speed, clarity and resolve! Certainly the Ps2KE is the best that Brooklyn has to offer, is reversed for those who are ready to spare no expense on such a system. Though if your ready for that endeavor you’ll be rewarded with a truly unique listening experience!
For my tastes though I still felt the GS2000E is a better value and more competitive, as it’s priced closer to the HD 800 in both MSRP and resale value.