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Sight and Sound: Music to Your Ears

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.



Vented diaphragm

Wooden air chamber

UHPLC copper voice coil wire

HPLC copper connecting cord

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Tranducer type
Operating principle
open air
Frequency Response
Normal Impedance
Driver matched db

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.

"If you audition the Grado RS2s, you may find something you never heard before: the calm artistry of well made sound."
— Jim Merod, Jazz-Now - Magazine
"it's the full-bodied sound - especially the luscious, rich resonant bass - that makes the Grado phones special."
— Sam Telling - STEREOPHILE Vol. 21, No.2
"Just as oak barrels enhance the flavor of wine, these mahogany drums refine the sound of music. The earpieces on Grado's RS2 headphones are handcrafted from specially cured wood and have a large open-air chamber. The result is a complex bouquet of decreased distortion, accentuated bass response, warm harmonic tones and a supersmooth top end. Sweet!"
— Seth Feman, Wired Magazine
"...the RS2s big-hearted sound won us over. It's more vivid than that of other high-quality headphones-bass is reach and touch-realistic, midrange is clear and true, and treble livelier than any other headphones we've tried."
— Steve Guttenberg / CNET