Photo by: Robert Williams
Hands down, these headphones were my favorite pair among those tested here. Handmade in Brooklyn, these boutique cans look like a throwback to the audio appurtenances of yesteryear. With their featherweight cured-mahogany air chambers, tensile headband and open-back design, the RS2is presented no issues when it came to extended listening. Their supra-aural design featuring pads that sit comfortably on top of the ears, rather than enveloping them in an attempt to isolate the ear from outside sound created a notably neutral acoustic environment.
Describing the experience of listening to music via the RS2is is slightly elusive, if only because these headphones don't attempt to impose a distinct sonic signature; instead, they're pristinely accurate aural lenses through which only the recording itself is transmitted, allowing one to perceive a lot more and a lot more clearly. Listening to Pierre Boulez's recent Mahler CD featuring the unfinished Tenth Symphony's Adagio, I could hear the string players from the Cleveland Orchestra breathing in time with the maestro's conducting of the aching opening measures. The music seemed to exhibit a depth and vitality that, in my experience, has only been associated with a live experience. The understated virtuosity of Cecilia Bartoli's charming performance of Clari's "Come dolce a me favelli" seemed to emanate from directly in front of me, as an actual full-throated voice instead of a recording.
For anyone who's spent a lifetime listening to music on sub-par headphones, hearing the RS2is can be a bit of an overwhelming experience at first akin to firing up your new fifty-five-inch HD TV, only to notice that it lets you count every pore on your local news anchor's face. With continued listening, though, you'll come to expect nothing less, because you simply won't find anything better.
Wooden air chamber
UHPLC copper voice coil wire
HPLC copper connecting cord
What does the i stand for in the new RS2i from Grado? Improved, that's what! The RS2i is the little brother of the RS1i. The RS2i has an upgraded driver and the new 8 conductor cable design. The characteristics of the RS2i remain the same as its distinguished big brother, with the new species of hand crafted mahogany, but with a smaller wooden air chamber. Although a miniature version of the RS1i, the RS2i still maintains an overall sound that is pure Grado, warm harmonic color, full bodied vocals, excellent dynamics and ultra smooth top end. These truly are audiophiles dream.