Big thank you to Linsoul for sending the GL2000 to review!
Full disclosure: This is a paid review but I made it clear to them that I do not guarantee positive reviews or recommendations – I make in-depth, honest evaluations based on my impressions and the ultimate value that the product may or may not provide.
Greetings mate and Welcome aboard. Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music (NOT gear) all over again, so…
Gold Planar GL2000
Price: Check Linsoul!
In The Box
Gold Planar GL2000
Braided balanced cable
- Impedance: 60 Ohms
- Magnetic Type: N52 Neodymium
- Driver Dimension: 112.5x83mm
- Sensitivity: 99dB (Double magnetic circuit version); 95dB (single magnetic circuit version)
- THD: <0.1%THD
- Frequency Response: 4Hz – 50kHz
- Driver: Diaphragm planar driver
- Cable: 2 meter detachable OCC silver-plated cable
- Package weight: 2.8kg
- Recommended power: At least 2W
When Linsoul reached out to me about the GL2000, I was fairly excited.
I had heard about these headphones but only stumbled across a few ratings here and there – from Drop.com mostly and perhaps a couple of other places that I’ve since forgotten about.
I don’t know too much about them and haven’t read any actual reviews, so this write-up will be my raw and honest impressions of the product and if it’s ultimately worth a purchase based on price, value, sound, build, and comfort.
By the end of this article, I will have painted a clear picture for you to determine if the GL2000 is ultimately worth the money.
So strap in and let’s get started!
Design & Build
We’ll begin with the build, which seems excellent all around.
the box they come in looks like it could survive a nuclear holocaust, so that’s always a plus. xD
Trust me, you’re never going to have to worry about these breaking, that much is certain.
Just don’t bring them to the beach with you if you’re actually looking for a girlfriend because you’ll be rejected immediately.
“Hey wanna schee my new headphonesh?”
*girl runs away*
the GL2000 strikes a nice balance of not too heavy and not too light.
It definitely doesn’t feel cheap, and the Grey aesthetic is fairly low profile and discreet.
You’ll likely enjoy the design on the outside of the grilles, and for the most part, these are very simple and utilitarian.
aside from one small “GL” marking on the bottom of each grille, they are not branded in any other way.
Firstly, the headband adjustment blocks are squared off and not rounded as seen in the aforementioned models, but the headband itself is almost a carbon copy.
In other words, it’s DUMMY THICC.
The other subtle difference you’ll notice is that the pads are a bit thicker than the DEVA and 400se.
In addition to that, they are oval-shaped this time around and seem much deeper.
In other words,
they envelop the ear a bit better than their HIFIMAN counterparts and it feels like your ears are a little further away from the driver.
I think 99% of auricles will comfortably fit inside unless, of course, you’re this guy:
For OCD’s sake, the cups on the 400se and DEVA run about 3/4 of an inch deep (the DEVA is probably a tad deeper actually).
About an inch deep, but I’d say the DEVA and GL2000 are more similar in openness than the 400se and GL2000.
In any event,
the GL2000 is definitely bordering on bulky and I wouldn’t wear them outside unless you want to get throat punched by your local bully.
These are definitely headphones for aspiring nerds which is putting it mildly, but I’d probably stay indoors for the foreseeable future.
The headband adjustment mechanism feels solid enough and the clicks themselves are satisfying, but you may have a hard time moving it at first.
The good news is that it will most certainly stay wherever you leave it, but adjusting proved a bit cumbersome initially.
The unit doesn’t fold or anything which is fairly unsurprising, but I do appreciate that the cups can move in and out about 45 degrees and they also rotate down completely which adds a nice element of flexibility as well.
While we’re dancing around the subject, how do they feel on your head?
Because of what I just mentioned above, getting a good fit on your melon is simple and pain-free.
The one small issue I have is that they will slide around more than I’d like (similar to a DEVA), but comfort here is marvelous, and even despite them weighing 462 grams or around a full pound, I can honestly say that I don’t feel them on my head much at all.
This is astonishing when you consider:
- They are planar magnetic headphones – i.e. notorious for being heavy.
- I have some disc issues in my neck and can’t wear heavy headphones (such as Audezes for example) very long.
The fact that I haven’t had a single complaint with regard to comfort is definitely impressive here.
It looks like taking a page out of HIFIMAN’s book has paid dividends as well since the headband doesn’t dig into the top of my dome and the clamping force is just about perfect on the sides.
In fact, the GL2000 will likely be added to my most comfortable headphones of all time list and I applaud them for the effort here.
How do they sound?
- Playlist: Here!
- Amps/DACS Used (all 4.4mm balanced): FiiO K9 Pro, iFi hip-dac, hip-dac 2, Gryphon, Zen. More soon!
The first thing to keep in mind before purchasing these is that they come with a balanced, braided 4.4mm cable.
So make sure your DAC has a 4.4mm headphone output.
I’m actually not sure what they ship out officially, but they only sent me a balanced cable for what it’s worth.
The good news?
Most companies are gravitating away from 2.5mm and towards 4.4mm.
Even FiiO themselves, who utilized 2.5 a lot in the past are now coming around to 4.4.
let’s start with the bass.
What I enjoy about the bass is that it’s fairly flat and reaches down deep, but doesn’t sound boomy or bloated.
Part of this is due to the all-important mid-bass not getting out of line which allows the rest of the bass response to perform admirably.
By admirably I mean that everything is present and accounted for, but nothing seems overblown, overly forward, or too in your face.
The strange part is that even despite them reaching down fairly deep, there’s impact missing which you won’t find in other headphones that are similarly tuned in the low end – namely HIFIMAN and Audeze.
it’s hard not to talk about GL2000 without mentioning up front that it’s one of the blankest sound profiles you’ll likely ever come across.
If you’re into raw neutrality and a somewhat dull-sounding signature, the GL2000 really fits the bill.
The problem is that there’s nothing about it that’s all that unique or memorable.
Everything just … is.
Now that’s not to say this is necessarily a bad thing, but I look at the GL2000 in the same way that I look at an Audeze LCD-1.
- Recommended: 8 Audeze Headphones Ranked Worst To First
In other words,
I almost chuckle and shake my head at how ruler flat everything is.
The great thing about a flat bass like this is that you can immediately tell who mixed it high, high-ish, or too high vs. those that didn’t add enough.
Jack Harlow’s “THRU THE NIGHT” takes an Usher sample and pitches it up, but the bass really thumps nicely without sounding out of line even despite the fact that you can clearly tell it was emphasized in the studio.
In other words, it was obviously mixed for a car stereo but sounds just right through the GL2000.
Mobb Deep’s “Give Up The Goods” provides an almost perfect bass line, fills out the track incredibly well, and digs deep without sounding boomy or forced.
It never feels like the bass is trying to take center stage but it absolutely lets you know it’s there.
This is in essence what I love about the flat line variety bass response (if you will), and the GL2000 doesn’t disappoint in this regard.
Even with that said, there is something strange going on with the mid-range as I feel like it takes a dip somewhere around the presence regions.
The reason I say this is because I found myself turning up the volume slightly with many different tracks in an attempt to make out vocals and instruments a bit better.
This is a sure sign that there’s a cut somewhere, but even in listening, it’s quite obvious that parts of the mids are recessed and it makes for a somewhat strange, jarring experience at times – almost as if you’re listening to music in a small box or something.
With certain songs, you’ll feel as though everything sounds completely right, and with others, you wonder what the heck the sound engineer was thinking.
In that way,
the GL2000 reminds me a lot of an Arya in how it requires the absolute best source possible.
And, like the Arya, the GL2000 most certainly does NOT put lipstick on a pig, so plan accordingly.
Now, am I nitpicking?
Yes and no.
The GL2000 mostly sounds “good” in the sense that I never feel any one part of the sound signature overpowering another.
The problem is that there’s nothing about its timbre that gets me all that excited (read: these can sound boring and flat at times), but clarity and detail are most certainly good.
This is to say that the resolution, for the most part, is satisfactory but not mind-blowing.
In my mind,
Could that be because I’ve become jaded due to all the high-end gear I’ve tried?
It’s certainly a possibility, friend.
The treble here is likewise non-intrusive, mostly subdued, and leans “darker” though I wouldn’t classify it as dark like I would when referencing an Audeze.
That is to say with certain tracks, you’ll hear a tiny bit of sibilance or essiness, but these moments are few and far between.
I’d wager about 98.83725% of the time the treble isn’t going to become an issue or bother you in any way.
Could it use a bit more sparkle and character?
Probably, as at times, I feel like it’s a bit on the dull side, but I’d almost rather deal with that than an overly essy mess seeing as how I’m really treble sensitive.
Your mileage may vary.
Imaging & Soundstage
I wouldn’t call the Soundstage particularly wide here, but I did get a few out-of-my-head moments.
I’d say that for the most part, the Staging here is about average and that includes depth and height as well.
Instrument separation in my opinion is above average, as the placement of sounds is rather good and I never feel like things run together or feel too claustrophobic.
Because of that, the GL2000 would make a pretty decent mixing headphone in terms of transparency, but I’d still caution you about the mid-cut and somewhat dark-ish-sounding treble.
With the Zen, I have power match off and I’m around 12 o’clock.
Speaking of amps, let’s briefly discuss how each fared with the GL2000.
This was a decent pairing but I felt like everything was a bit brighter and a tad essier when paired with the GL.
This is strange considering the Zen is mostly a cross between neutral and warm-ish, so I’ll have to try it again and update this as needed.
Similar to a Zen but perhaps a smidgen warmer and more enjoyable. Very crisp and vibrant.
ifi hip-dac/hip-dac 2.
Because these are the same exact thing, I lumped them together.
As most of you will know, the hip provides a very warm, lush sound but sacrifices a bit of detail/clarity in the process.
Given that the GL2000 is very neutral, leans a bit dark in the treble, sometimes tends to gloss over stuff, and doesn’t have the best resolution in the world, I probably wouldn’t pair either the hip-dac or hip-dac 2 with it.
FiiO K9 Pro (ESS version).
In my opinion, this is the best pairing and sounds the most natural, but the Gryphon is a close second.
Do keep in mind that some may take exception to the ESS sound and feel as though it has a bit too much glare, but it’s always been a personal favorite of mine and will highlight the best characteristics of the GL2000 – ensuring things aren’t getting glossed over.
Your mileage may vary.
To sum it up, I wouldn’t go too crazy pairing something here but definitely invest in a DAC above the entry-level price point.
Of course, my top overall desktop recommendation is indeed the K9 Pro, but you may not start with that.
As with most headphones of this caliber (read: neutral and transparent), you’ll enjoy most genres here.
For my official playlist, look here.
In short, I listened to Hip-Hop, Jazz, Classical, Indie Pop, Lo-Fi, Post-Rock, Classic Rock, etc.
So a bit of everything.
I found that everything sounds good but I’d say pop and hip-hop are especially juicy because of the excellent bass response.
Before we close this out,
let’s compare the GL2000 with a couple of other planar cans.
Keep in mind that thanks to my friend and Patron “Hawk”, I was able to demo all three side by side with a balanced 4.4mm cable (for the Ananda/Arya) that he sent over courtesy of Hart Audio.
He also sent me the Ananda for a revisit!
This enabled me to keep my impressions fairly consistent and… balanced. Ahem.
I’ll see myself out.
Ananda vs. GL2000
As mentioned earlier,
the Ananda is its closest competitor and while similar to a GL, I think it’s livelier and has better instrument timbre, separation, as well as slightly superior resolution.
You’ll notice the Ananda is a bit brighter up top as well, and its bass rolls off a tad more but still mostly hits deep.
I think both of these headphones reveal backing soundscapes really well but the GL2000’s resolution just isn’t quite on par with the Ananda.
It’s also way more hollow/empty sounding.
The other difference is that the Ananda is a bit more aggressive in its overall portrayal while the GL is more laid back and dare I say a bit more natural.
That I think is the main takeaway between these 2.
With the Ananda, in comparison,
you may find yourself not turning the volume up as much whereas with the GL it’s the opposite.
The GL also may come across as rather hazy and veiled when switching back from an Ananda.
This to me was particularly jarring and one reason why I lean towards an Ananda over said GL.
Again, I prefer the livelier character of the Ananda.
Arya vs. GL2000
The Arya is similar to an Ananda (a tad more laid-back sounding), but it’s clear that the GL2000 is even more laid-back.
I used Smokey Robinson’s “Much Better Off” as a test track because I’m really familiar with how it sounds but also because it has some really awesome, incredibly subtle details and soundscapes going on.
While both the Ananda and Arya highlight those amazing qualities, I’m sad to say the GL2000, while not completely glossing over them, really doesn’t do them justice as I’d like.
It’s almost as if there’s a subtle layer of blanky draped over the sound and the resolution, again, just isn’t quite up to snuff.
In terms of aggressiveness and detail retrieval, I’d rank them Ananda > Arya > GL2000.
The GL2000 is a wonderfully built, comfortable headphone that sounds neutral and transparent for the most part.
While the bass is exemplary and really digs deep, the mid-range can be problematic in spots and the overall sound will be a tad too relaxed and laid-back for most people.
The treble here is mostly fine and won’t be an issue for the majority of users.
I like the GL2000.
I really do.
It’s a good headphone, but it’s not a great headphone.
It doesn’t soar to new heights like Lebowski, Lebowski.
It does almost everything right but doesn’t wow me in any way due to its somewhat overly dull, blank vibe and lack of detail at times when compared to other, more superior headphones.
It also doesn’t make me want to change my “step-up from mid-fi” Ananda recommendation, but it’s certainly priced much better than the Arya – a headphone that’s absolutely overpriced beyond comprehension.
- Read more: HIFIMAN Arya Review
So to be clear, I look at the GL2000 as perhaps a slight downgrade to the Ananda.
Do I recommend it?
I’d lean towards no.
It’s definitely worth a listen, but in my opinion not quite worth a purchase if I can get an Ananda and be more excited about it.
The good news is that I think they priced it in the right general ballpark though I’d probably value these at around $499 at the end of the day (shaving off roughly $150 from the current asking price).
This is taking into consideration build and comfort.
If just valuing these in terms of sound alone, they aren’t really that close to the $500-600 bracket in my opinion.
If you’re looking for my top dog step-up from mid-fi recommendation, it’s gotta be the Ananda.
Well, that’s about it for today folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Gold Planar GL2000 review and came away with some valuable insight.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
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Any personal experiences with the GL2000? What about the Arya and Ananda? I’d love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,