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Grado RS2e

Reference Series on-ear headphones

11 Reviews

Item # 786RS2E

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Our take on the Grado RS2e

If you crave rich detailed sound with natural warmth, lifelike vocals, and explosive dynamics, Grado's Reference Series RS2e headphones have your name on them. These headphones feature updates to Grado's previous RS2i headphones, including an improved driver design, better acoustic damping, and a new cable. These mahogany wood beauties immerse you in a listening experience so involving you'll want to re-explore every track in your music library.

Natural, organic sound

If you crave rich detailed sound with natural warmth, lifelike vocals, and explosive dynamics, Grado's Reference Series RS2e headphones have your name on them. These headphones feature updates to Grado's previous RS2i headphones, including an improved driver design, better acoustic damping, and a new cable. These mahogany wood beauties immerse you in a listening experience so involving you'll want to re-explore every track in your music library.

Each earcup is hand-crafted by Grado in Brooklyn, New York from a particular species of mahogany. The wood is carefully treated using Grado's improved curing process to take advantage of the wood's natural acoustic properties for optimum sound quality. These Grados can be driven using the headphone outputs on most home audio systems, or even a portable player or laptop. But they'll really sound their best with the addition of a headphone amplifier.

Old-school looks with up-to-the-minute technology

All Grado headphones use a vented "open-air" earcup design for powerful, extended low frequency response and a more spacious soundstage. Mahogany enclosures and air chambers give you smooth, relaxed highs, while ultra-high purity copper voice coils and a sturdy eight-conductor connecting cable deliver refined sound with a high degree of control and accuracy. The RS2e's extra-wide frequency range ensures you'll hear all your music. And the genuine leather headband can be adjusted for a comfortable fit.

From our review of the previous Grado Reference Series RS2i Headphones:

These headphones are designed for foreground listening, ideally when you have time to sit down and fully enjoy your music. Plugged into a nice audio system, the Grado RS2 headphones can deliver an engaging listening experience. And with those mahogany earcups, look good doing it, too.

— Ralph, Crutchfield Blog Editor and A/V Writer

Product Highlights:

  • open-back, on-the-ear design with replaceable ear cushions
  • 44mm dynamic drivers
  • vented diaphragms (open-air) for spacious, low-distortion sound and extended bass response
  • mahogany wood enclosures and air chambers provide natural sonic warmth and smoothness in a lighter weight design
  • special "de-stressed" diaphragms and an eight-conductor connecting cable enhance detail
  • large ear cushions and increased air flow through improved rear metal screens deliver a large soundstage free from coloration
  • adjustable leather headband for a custom fit
  • driver pairs matched to within 0.05 dB for better stereo imaging
  • ultra-high purity, long-crystal copper (UHPLC) voice coil wire
  • ultra-high purity 8-conductor headphone cable terminated with a 1/8" plug
  • 1/4" adapter included
  • optional 15-foot Grado headphone extension cable available
  • frequency response: 14-28,000 Hz
  • sound pressure level (at 1mW): 99.8 dB
  • impedance: 32 ohms
  • warranty: 1 year (does not include earpads)
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

What's in the Box:

  • On-ear headphones with attached 67" cable (3.5mm plug)
  • 1/4" Adapter
  • "Celebrating Over 60 Years of Tradition" sheet
  • Headphone/Warranty info (printed on inside of box)

I really like these headphones. I did not find them as uncomfortable as some people. I like the art flow and the lack of leather on my head around the ears. The sound is great. Feel very open and I like the brightness.

Peter, Michigan


Grado RS2e Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(11 Reviews)

Very good overall.

Mel from Kensington, MD on 9/30/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I bought these to upgrade from a pair of Grado SR125i's. Build quality is about the same, although the ear cushions have been made more dense, so I don't anticipate them tearing like the ones on the SR125i's. The leather headband is more comfortable than the vinyl one on the SR125i's, but the ear cushions still sit on my ear and cause some discomfort after about an hour of listening. Sonically, the soundstaging, imaging, and resolution are noticeably superior. The RS2e's are also more neutral and better balanced throughout the frequency range. The only problem is that the bass lacks impact. This is especially noticeable on hard rock music. The music sounds a little "lightweight" compared to my SR125i's. These headphones are also not forgiving of overly bright recordings, though I don't expect them to be given their accuracy. Overall, I recommend the RS2e's to most people, but not to people who love pounding bass that you can really feel. I will be keeping my SR125i's to use with a small amount of my rock music.

Pros: Neutrality, resolution, soundstaging, and imaging.

Cons: Somewhat lacking in bass impact.

Grado RS2e

Peter from Michigan on 2/2/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I really like these headphones. I did not find them as uncomfortable as some people. I like the art flow and the lack of leather on my head around the ears. The sound is great. Feel very open and I like the brightness.



Grado RS2e

Carolyn from Cortland, NY on 7/30/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The sound quality of these headphones is excellent. I am not sure about the build and comfort. I have used more comfortable headphones and have used better looking ones. It remains to be seen if all these factors translate into a total positive feeling. The biggest problem i have at the moment is that I ordered to extra cord along with the headphones. This item was to ship on July 27th. I got a message from Crutchfield that the manufacturer would not give any estimated time of arrival. I ordered both these items at one time and am very disappointed that the cord may not ever be delivered.

Pros: Great sound.

Cons: Design and comfort. Cord extension ordered not delivered.

Great sounding haedphones

JNR from Rochester NY on 12/24/2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Great sound. Detailed mid and high with pleasant bass. I tried it with several different type of music (classical, jazz, rock, acoustic) with high definition recordings. They all produced great sound.

Pros: Sound quality

Cons: Cable is quite bulky and heavy

Excellent RS2e

Dinero57 from Hawaii on 11/8/2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This is an excellent headphones. Sound quality is absolutely amazing, even my wife that doesn't listen to headphones said, "oh wow, it's so clear, the voices are so detailed that it feels like your in the concert". What I loved the most too is, it's so easy to drive. I use it on my phone, my laptop & my iMac. But, of course, it sounded its best with amplifier (NAD C356Dac). Although, it hurts my right ear during long session, it's a given because the cups sits on top of your ears & also the cable is not that long & thicker than most headphones. Not a big deal for me, I am pleased with the sound quality & that is the reason why I bought it. I love it very much & it will be on my possession for a very long time.

Pros: Amazing sound quality & easy to drive.

Cons: Hurts my ear during long session. Cable is short & too thick.

Amazing - love them

Andrew from California on 10/11/2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Love the headphones. Use them for music, drumming, studio work, and of course leisure! They are suitable for all !


Cons: I am getting used to the ear piece , but I have big ears, that don't have normal folds, so i find sometimes they sit awkward on my ear... However it sounds this is my own CON haha, nevertheless they are still very comfortable.


Nick from New York, NY on 4/20/2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

My second pair of Grados. Fantastic sound quality, across volume levels. I listen mostly to classic rock, blues, etc. and have found myself rediscovering my favorite albums. Grado claims these are sonically neutral, and I agree. This may not make these headphones for everyone, as the bass may not hit as hard as some would prefer. Also, beware that the quality of your music source from master through the amp matters - any impurities are much more noticeable given the accuracy of these cans.

Pros: Accurate sound quality. Hand-made (can't beat the smell of the leather and wood after opening the box!). Look great sitting in the stand on my desk.

Cons: Other reviews will say these are not the most comfortable headphones. This is true, but I did not experience any soreness after listening for a couple of hours. One small gripe: The cord is a little heavy. I know this is supposed to be a higher quality cord, but it seems to be slight overkill.


Walt C from Riverside NJ on 4/16/2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The RS2e is a great sounding headphone.

Pros: True sounding.

Cons: None

Grado RS2e

DavidA from Hawaii on 3/17/2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I've had these for a few weeks now and what can I say, compared to my SR-225e these are in a different class in sound stage and sound signature. The highs are so smooth and the bass is deeper and fuller than the SR-225e. .

Pros: One of the great things about these headphones is that they can be used with a portable DAP like a Fiio X1 or X3 and sound pretty good. These have a place in my collection of headphones for their unique sound signature and presentation. Other headphones that I currently have include Audeze LCD-2f, HIFIMAN HE-560/400i/400, Shure SRH-1840, Sennheiser HD-700, 650, 598, 455, 239, Momentum on-ear/over-ear, V-Moda XS, Fidelio X1 & L1, Sony MDR-1A & MRD-7506, and Stax SRD-34. Going to an upscale DAC

Cons: Bad points for this headphone is the cable is a little too short for how my listening area is setup and its also too heavy for such a light headphone. The other area that have people on the fence is the comfort of the ear pads, I find that if I place them with the top of the pad on the top of my ears they seem to be comfortable enough to use for 2-3 hrs, acceptable but not great. If you want great comfort, get a HD-700 or Sony MDR-1A. Also, like the SR-225e they have zero noise isolation.

Ruined other headphones for me

cperrey from Victoria, MN on 9/18/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

These are the best sounding headphones I've ever heard. They are amazing for strings and mid-tone instruments, really drawing them out. They have surprising bass kick but it is tight and not overpowering. Since getting them I find myself re-listening to music I own to see what really is there. The build quality is good and there is a tactile quality with the wood that I haven't had with a set of headphones before. The cord is very thick and shows the quality of the product. As for fit, these sit more or less over my ear but not enough to be considered "over the ear". I find them comfortable enough but not so much that I could wear them all day. I find myself adjusting them after an hour or so to alter the touch points. They have no noise reduction, which is why I gave them 1/5. Overall, if you are looking for a great set of headphones that will bring your music to life, these are a quality pick. Build quality is amazing and the sound astounding. Don't get them if you want to be satisfied with your old headphones.

Pros: Great sound, warmth and presence. Surprising bass.

Cons: Fit might not be for everyone. Heavy cord is not as flexible as some might like.

Great warm smooth detailed sound

Mark A from New Hyde Park, NY on 7/18/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Cult following Grado's. Handmade in Brooklyn NY USA. Beautiful, detailed high resolution sound. Must be heard to be believed. Be sure to give them several hours to break in, as the sound will bloom and warm up with time. The mahogany on these phones adds a touch of elegance and contributes to their incredible warm and detailed sound.

Pros: The sound!

Cons: The cord is way too short - it's 6 feet long at best.


Hands-on research

Features and Specs

Earcup Type Open
Earcup Width x Height 3.052" x 3.052"
Noise-canceling No
Bluetooth No
Mic For Taking Calls No
iPhone Control No
Lightning Connector No
Android Control No
Frequency Response 14-28k Hz
Sensitivity 99.8 dB
Impedance 32 Ohms
Weight 9.8 ounces
Cord Length 67"
1/4-inch Adapter Included Yes
Volume Control No
Parts Warranty 1 Year
Labor Warranty 1 Year

Product Research


e series: The Grado e series represents the company's third generation of headphones. Every aspect of the headphones; the drivers, cable, plug, even the glue; has been upgraded for better sound quality and dynamics. As in the previous series, the e series headphones are all made by hand at the Grado Lab facility in Brooklyn, NY.

Reference Series: Grado's Reference Series of headphones feature real Mahogany wood, which undergoes a proprietary curing process to enhance its natural tone properties. Because wood is subject to variations in density, the curing process ensures consistency of the signature Grado sound. The Grado Labs use Rhodium, the most expensive precious metal on earth, to prevent corrosion on the connectors. The new driver cones and voice coil have been fine-tuned to be consistent throughout the frequency range.

RS2e: The Grado RS2e on-ear headphones have an open back design, and are hand-crafted from real Mahogany wood. The natural wood, and Grado Lab's advance damping treatments, help control and dissipate unwanted resonances. The headphones utilize UHPLC (Ultra-High Purity, Long Crystal) oxygen-free copper voice coil wire and state-of-the-art driver design. The 44mm drivers in the RS2e are matched to within 0.05dB for optimum stereo imaging. The headphones also have a genuine top-grain leather padded head strap.

8-Conductor Audio Cable: The RS2e has a high-quality 67" 8-conductor audio cable with a 3.5mm gold-plated plug. This new cable design exhibits greater control over the low and high frequencies, and lets Grado's world-famous midranges sing. The plug has a sturdy molded sleeve with ample stress relief. Included in the box is a gold-plated, snap-on 6.5mm (1/4") adapter that you can use with your home audio components.

Note: The size of the plug sleeve may cause interference with some smartphone cases.

Replaceable Cushions: The high-quality foam rubber circum-aural ear cushions can be removed for cleaning, if needed. If they show signs of wear, you can replace them with the Grado Replacement Cushion L.

Note: The headphone's ear cushions are not covered in the manufacturer's one-year warranty.

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Q & A

Customer Q&A

Crutchfield asked  
Why did you buy this?

According to some friends, it is one of the best sounding headphones. [ Manny F.  Jun 18, 2017 ]
Already own two pairs of Grado headphones and I love the sound quality! [ JOEY  Mar 11, 2016 ]