Impressions: Gold Planar GL12 Planar In-Ear Monitors

The Gold Planar brand has gained a lot of popularity over the past year with their planar and ribbon-driver based headphones that come priced below similar competition from Audeze, HEDD and Hifiman. While my personal opinion of the couple that I've tried have been lukewarm, if not mediocre, at best, there has been some praise from reviewers as well.

Today, I'll provide some quick impressions of the company's new 12.5mm planar driver In-Ear Monitor, the GL12. This product retails for $198 USD and can be found at Linsoul here:


The GL12 comes with a round wood travel container which is pretty to look at. The foam cutouts that come included in it won't fit the IEM with cable attached though, and it won't fit the cable without removing these cutouts. Even with the top foam removed, it's still pretty hard to put the IEM with its cable in it as the bottom foam piece has storage spots for the extra filters included.

Filters, you say? Yes, the GL12 has screw-on nozzle filters. The included set has no mesh leaving the nozzle totally bare, while the other set has mesh filter at the end. The major differences is the level of treble presented with and without the mesh. 

The shell design is a metal housing painted gold. There is a silver front plate with several holes that act as a semi-open grill/vent. 

The included cable is actually quite nice looking and features a gray and silver candy-striping design and terminates in a 4.4mm balanced plug. A matching 3.5mm pig-tail adapter is also included. Since the connectors are a semi-bulky aluminum design, the cable does have a bit of weight to it at the amplifier end.

Sound Impressions

The GL12 can be described as muddy, dark, blunted, and an overall AM-radio sound. The bass has a decent amount of punch to it when demanded, but I found the overall level of realism and dynamics to be severely hindered.

At first, I thought this was possibly caused by the ridiculous lack of upper mid-range and treble quantity, but even after EQing this IEM to my personal preference target (shown above in the graph), I wasn't able to improve any of the technical abilities of this in-ear. This isn't much of a surprise I guess, as technical performance may be slightly masked by FR deficiencies but is also inherent of the driver/design too.

There's a continued veil to vocals, which is most apparent on female-led tracks, but also to male ones alike. The haze level in the sound of the GL12 is almost as bad as the smog and haze coming from the wildfires hitting my area each Summer. 

I honestly did not find this IEM pleasant for use in any genre I've thrown at it so far, and my level of patience to continue to use this IEM as really waning. Planar driver-based in-ears have never hit the spot for me, as much as I want them to. I was quickly an owner of Audeze's iSine 10/20 and Unique Melody's ME1 when they first launched many years back now, and have been disappointed with every planar IEM since. Both of those IEMs have decent technical performance but require a significant amount of EQ to fix their tonal issues.

While Tin Hifi has come close a few times with tonality, they lack technical chops. Gold Planar strikes out here in both accounts.

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