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An exceptional listening experience that’ll keep you hooked!
There are few better ways to relax at the end of a busy day than by sinking into a pair of sumptuous headphones and forgetting everything else. It’s a pleasure worth paying for, and as in all things, you get what you pay for.
Spend a few more dollars, and the precious time you devote to your music will deliver even more satisfaction. In this review, we take a look at a premium pair of planar magnetic headphones that do just that.
It’s worth noting that there are two variants of this headphone model – single and double magnetic circuit versions – with the difference being a little extra weight and improved sound on the double magnetic version. Linsoul supplied me with this slightly higher-end variant for this review.
- Premium build and comfort
- Superb imaging and placement
- Non-fatiguing high end for long listening sessions
- Heavy, less suited to mobile use
- Included cable uses a rare 4.4mm connector
Gold Planar is a brand that’s on a roll in the headphone market. Following their early days, building for other brands, they began bringing their own models to market in 2017 and now have 5 models in their lineup. Three of these adopt planar magnetic drivers, and the GL2000 sits at the top of this list.
Slip these on, and you’ll forget everything else about your day. This is the place to be!
- Form: Open-back headphones
- Drivers: Planar magnetic Neodymium
- Impedance (Ohm): 60 ohms
- Sensitivity (dB): 99dB
- Frequency Response: 4Hz-50KhHz
- THD+N: <0.1%
- Removable Cable: Yes
- Mic: No
- Jack: 4.4mm Pentaconn
- Weight: 544g
The premium experience starts here. The GL2000s are delivered in a rock solid hard plastic shell case, of the kind popularized by the Pelican brand. The case provides a very safe home for the headphones when they’re not in use. It also appears to be well sealed against the elements, keeping dust and rain on the outside and the contents cozy inside.
Honestly, this is the best protection and packaging I’ve ever experienced for a pair of headphones, and I’d feel confident taking these with me on a work trip or traveling. Sure, the case is a little bulky, but this feels like a price worth paying to have such an exceptional audio experience with me, wherever I go.
In the box
- The headphones
- A 2 meter, detachable OCC silver-plated cable
- A second pair of ear pads
Lifting the lid on the case reveals the headphones, sitting safely in a plush foam lining, including protective padding on either side of the earcups. Also inside is a second set of ear pads, a velour bag containing the detachable cable, and a spec sheet.
The open-back GL2000s provide a strong first impression. They’re large, beautifully designed, and very solidly built, mostly from aluminum, with a super plush headband that stays where you put it, and gold finish bars across the earcups. Branding is minimal and tasteful, in keeping with the rest of the Gold Planar lineup.
The fitted oval earpads are large and spacious, and the over-ear ear cups can articulate in 3 directions to help ensure a good fit. The fitted pads are made of what appears to be leather, and are what I used for my listening. They’re comfortable, even over glasses, though they do tend to get warm during longer listening sessions.
Gold Planar also supplies a second set of pads with a D-shaped profile. This second set is perforated, and there’s a soft, synthetic material similar to lycra/spandex on the surface that tends to stay cooler than the default leather style pads.
There are a couple of interesting aspects to these headphones. Firstly, they’re relatively heavy! 544g with pads, according to my scales. The extra soft headband helps to absorb and spread some of this weight, and you’ll get used to it, but you’ll never forget you’re wearing these. Nor will you be dancing around the house with them on! Nod your head too enthusiastically to the music, and you’ll find them working loose and threatening to fall off!
Secondly, the supplied OCC cable is terminated in a 4.4mm TRRRS balanced Pentaconn connector, a very odd choice. This connector type, introduced by Sony, is a great design, providing a compact but sturdy balanced option. Unfortunately, it’s been adopted by very few audio devices, so you’ll probably need either an adapter or a replacement cable. Gold Planar offers a couple of cable options, for a price!
Outstanding imaging makes it easy to follow any instrument in the mix.
The size of the GL2000s ensures they’ll comfortably fit heads and ears of all sizes. But there’s also a reason for that size. Inside each ear cup are drivers measuring 100x36mm: that’s a lot of surface area! Couple this with a double-sided magnetic circuit – magnets on either side of the diaphragm – and you’ve got a recipe for a wall of sound.
From the moment you slip the GL2000s on, and the first song starts playing, you know you’re in for an experience. This is a premium set of headphones, and they wasted no time communicating that with every song I played. Perhaps it’s a mind trick, given their size, but I felt like I was listening to what I can only describe as a ‘big’ sound. I was enveloped in my music and loved every minute of it.
The source I used for most of this review was dictated by the 4.4mm plug on the supplied cable. Fortunately, my Sony NW-WM1A Walkman accepts that plug for its balanced output. On the Walkman itself, all EQ was bypassed to give me a true sense of the sound signature of the GL2000s. I also acquired an adapter to try them with my THX headphone amp and an iPhone 6S.
With their relatively low impedance (60 Ohm) and high sensitivity (99dB), they proved fairly easy to drive with all my gear, though they did seem to benefit from the extra power in my amp. At this price I’d expect most listeners will be driving these with a quality front end, and the GL2000s certainly respond well to a premium source.
Summarising the sound signature, I’d describe these headphones as very neutral, for the most part, with a slightly forward midrange and a smooth top end. It was exceptionally easy to follow whatever instrument I chose, and the ability to place those instruments was the best I’ve heard on any headphone. Let’s break that down…
Exceptional detail across the frequency range makes the GL2000s a joy to listen to.
I started my listening with an old favorite, Angel by Massive Attack, and was immediately in love with these headphones. The track begins with a mildly distorted bassline, the notes of which can be difficult to pinpoint on some systems, and yet the GL2000s separated every note and every instrument effortlessly, enabling me to sink right into the music.
Bass is so often muddied and is one area where premium speakers and headphones really set themselves apart. On the Gold Planars, bass guitars, in particular, sounded exactly like bass guitars should, complete with enough detail to reveal the sound of the guitar strings themselves.
Not only was it a pleasure to be able to pick out so much detail in the bass, but I also appreciated the way the bass never dominated the music. No bass bloom here, just revealing, detailed resolution, especially on electronic music. I’ve heard deeper bass and sharper transients, but the detail was what satisfied me here.
Having previously reviewed Gold Planar’s more affordable GL600 planar magnetics and called them out for their ‘shouty’ midrange, I was eager to discover whether the premium GL2000s would do a better job. I was relieved to discover a much more enjoyable midrange on this model. It’s still a little forward of neutral, but this time that has a positive result, providing engaging, intimate mids that never get out of control.
On Sam Jones’ Blues by Cécile McLorin Salvant, a live recording, the piano sounded beautifully melodic, and the singer’s voice crisp and rich. That song, along with the whole of that album, was just a joy to listen to. I was transported into a front-row seat in the venue it was recorded in.
The treble on the GL2000s will likely divide opinion. On the one hand, it’s never harsh sounding, smooth even, and as a result, will never shorten your listening sessions. Even on Orbital’s The Girl With The Sun In Her Head, which can get really overwhelming as the layers of sound build up, I never felt the need to turn down the volume, as I have on a number of brighter headphones and IEMs.
On the other hand, there’s some excitement and sparkle missing here. It never gets muddy sounding but can sound a little flat and lifeless. I’d probably grab my Electrostatic headphones for a livelier, fun top end, but the GL2000s would stay on my head longer, thanks to the mellow treble. Pros and cons, then.
Watch the time fly by as you rediscover your music again.
Where to Buy
At over $600, the Gold Planar GL2000s are entering premium price territory and face some very real competition from big name brands. Gold Planar had to do something special to break into this group, and with these headphones, they’ve succeeded.
Once you get used to the weight, you’re enveloped in a wall of sound that will entertain you for many hours, through many evenings of listening. Pick any favorite song, and you’re likely to hear something you haven’t heard before. Somehow it’s easier to follow whatever instrument you choose within the mix – the imaging is just superb.
They could be brighter at the top end, they could have faster transients, but their signature is close to the reference standard, making them a pleasure to listen to with a wide range of music, and an easy recommendation to make.