Gold Planar GL2000 Review [updated]




Gold Planar is a brand that has popped up in the last year or so. While this is my first time trying any of their products, they have had some interesting looking gear that I've liked to try, including planar headphones, in-ears, and AMT driver headphones. This article will take a look at their newest planar magnetic over-ear, the GL2000.

The GL2000 comes in a single-sided ($550) and double-sided ($600) magnet array, however I am not 100% sure which version I received. I believe it is the single-sided one though. This product was provided for review by Linsoul and its available on their website at http://www.linsoul.com.

Update: The version I reviewed is in fact the single-sided version.


Unboxing


The GL2000 came packaged in a large waterproof hard-shell box. Inside, you'll find the GL2000 headphones, an extra set of hybrid pads, and a set of headphone cables. The cable is a simple black braided cabled that terminates in a 4.4mm balanced connector for a balanced amplifier, and it uses 3.5mm connectors to the headphone. This is a pretty standard headphone cable connection nowadays, so if you're not happy with it, you can easily find a new cable. That said, I like this cable. It's easy to handle and lightweight and it is approximately 6 feet long.

The GL2000 comes with oval pads. The default pad is a real leather pad that is soft and quite nice. The secondary pad is a hybrid pad consisting of a pleather exterior, and velour top that presses against your skin. The external of the pad is perforated, though I don't think the holes are actually fully punched in, and the interior side isn't perforated at all. Is this just for looks?

The unit weighs approximately 457 grams without cables, and is quite comfortable thanks for the wider and very padded headband. The one downside to me is that I have a smaller head, and for many headphones, I am on the lowest or near the lowest rungs on the headbands. With this one at the shortest it can go, I feel like it's a tad too long due to the oval shape. The ear pad hits the bottom of my jaw bone and just misses going below towards my neck.
 
This isn't a problem on other oval-shaped headphones I've used in the past, including my own Hifiman Arya, so I do think this can be an issue for people with smaller heads. My wife for example, complained it was hitting her neck and it was uncomfortable to wear.



Sound

I primarily listened to the GL2000 on my Topping A90 solid-state amplifier paired with the Schiit Bifrost 2 multi-bit DAC. I also did use it a small amount with the Feliks Elise Mk2 OTL tube amplifier, and the Dethonray Honey H1 portable dac/amp.

The GL2000 does some things well and some things a little off to me. The headphone has a sort-of W-shaped tuning that is pretty lean and referencey-ish, but also sounds a little veiled and grainy too. I think I can attribute a lot of it to the very un-planar like bump around 1KHz. While most planar headphones I've tried, outside the Audeze Sine, dip at around 1-2KHz, this one actually has a level gain, followed by another dip.


In listening to this type of sound on other headphones or in-ears, I can sometimes attribute this to a hazeness sound, and it is somewhat present here as well. It's not totally apparent listening to it on its own and without a lot to compare to however, but when I swapped back and forth between the GL2000, the Meze Empyrean and the Hifiman Arya, it was more obvious.

The low-end does extend low into the sub-bass. I do find it lacks a lot of punch and micro-dynamics down here, while listening to Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories" album. "The Game of Love" played back on the GL2000 has very little impact and sounds pretty flat and lacking any excitement. When I switched it to the Empyrean, it sounded much more eventful and had a more powerful slam to it. The Arya also performed on this much better, even if I do find it is not the best for wanting a slammy effect.

In "Giorgio by Moroder", there is a bit more rumble in this more deep-bass focused track. The kick drums don't have a lot of bite however, but the low bass lines give a good sense of power and performs much better than in "The Game of Love."

I do want to be somewhat clear here though, I don't think this boasts great micro-dynamics, but in terms of just overall macro-dynamics, it's sufficient though I believe its not really on par with its asking price of $550.

The mid-range, again, has a bit of honky sound to it that goes down to tuning. The slight haze and veil make this planar sound gives this a bit of a low-res effect to it. That doesn't necessarily mean that I find it low-resolution in general. It just gives that sense due to some recession in an important area of the frequency response for a lot of my music.

When I listen to James Taylor's "Country Road", there's some thing just not totally right with the overall timbre. It's colored and not in a good way. First off, I feel that Taylor's voice is missing a lot of body, and secondly the entire song sounds quite unnatural, especially how the snare drums and cymbals sound. They lack the right timbre and natural resonance here.

Interestingly, when I listen to Tingvall Trio's "Den Gamia Eken", the GL2000 sounds pretty nice. Contrary to my last statements, the cymbals and drums sound fine and better. Not the best I've heard, but not so terribly missing and flat. The contrabass sounds pretty good here, though I will say it does lack a little bit of deep rumble and body. Piano keys are much more forward than the rest of the instruments, which isn't out of the norm, but it does seem at times, that it's a little more forward here than other headphones I've used.

Switching over to Nickel Creek however, this bluegrass band seems to sound pretty good overall. I went through several songs on their debut record including "The Lighthouse Tale" and "The Hand Song" and they all sounded pretty nice. Maybe it's partly due to the heavy focus on string instruments that fall within the upper-midrange, or the vocals that also fall within this range. All in all, this band sounded fine with just an elegant soundstage and good resolution.

I do think there is some sort of airy sensation with the GL2000 in most songs. This does help create an illusion of a wider soundstage. It's definitely not an intimate sounding headphone to me. It's imaging is decent with good separation and a soundstage that is also vertical and slightly deep. I don't think it bests the Arya and Empyrean which I tried on at the same time in this general area overall though. 

Comparisons/Wrap-Up


I wish I had some more comparable price range planars to battle with this besides my closed-back portable Audeze Sine. In this case, I prefer the Sine's overall sound signature, but it does sound more closed-in and intimate and doesn't have the larger soundscape that the GL2000 presents.

The same can be said with my Denon D5200, Emu Rosewood and Sennheiser HD600, a few other headphones I own in the same price point. They all present to me a better overall sound package, though may lack in the soundstage department and perhaps resolution.

Either way, I used to own an Hifiman HE560 and have spent some time with the Sundara and LCD-2 and LCD-GX. While I wasn't able to do any A-B directly, my fond memories of these other planars best that of the GL2000 and a Sundara goes for a bit less. The GL2000 isn't bad or terrible or any of that. It's fine. It's just not good enough, I think, to overcome the competition at the price point.


Comments

  1. you said you don't know if you got the single or double sided version, so how can you say you are reviewing it when you can't even tell people which one you are reviewing? Seems useless to me, people who have tried both say they are significantly different.

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    Replies
    1. The version I have is the single-sided one. I should update to note that. Thanks.

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