The $ 639 GoldPlanar GL2000 Planar Magnetic Headphone (Double Magnetic Circuit) isn’t the most refined headphone at its price point, but it’s good-looking, super comfortable, and quite exhilarating to listen to. It’s no wonder why many feel it’s the best headphone they’ve ever heard.
There’s not a lot of full-sized Audiophile headphones between $500 and $1000. Most headphone lovers start their audiophile journey with either the $350 Hifiman Sundara or the $220 Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 6XX, then when they go to upgrade, they’re advised to buy either the $699 Hifiman Ananda or some thousand dollar plus headphone like the Focal Clear or Hifiman Ayra.
But now we have GoldPlanar, a company claiming many years of experience making high-end headphones, offering a sub-$1000 headphone which they market as a “Reference” Planar Magnetic flagship.
They go on to promise a “natural and realistic sound that is also comfortable and enjoyable” along with “translucent atmosphere and accurate stereo imaging.”
I had to chuckle a little at this because most manufacturers want their headphones to sound transparent, not translucent, but I’m sure something was lost in translation somewhere.
This headphone, called the GoldPlanar GL2000, comes in both a $589 Single Magnet version or a $639 Double Magnet version, and it has some people comparing it to headphones costing thousands of dollars more.
So what’s the real story? Well, I’ll tell you this right up front, this headphone is no Ayra or Susvara killer. In reality, its value probably lies somewhere between the Sundara and the Ananda, basically right where its price puts it.
Also, despite what GoldPlanar says, I wouldn’t consider the GL2000 a reference at its price point. If that’s what you’re looking for, then I would recommend the Hifiman Ananda.
However, that doesn’t mean the GL2000 isn’t a good headphone. First of all, the Ananda has a neutral tuning (which I personally love), but to some, “neutral = boring.” On the other hand, the GL2000 isn’t a neutral headphone at all, so that may equal engaging and exciting. So, if you have heard the Ananda and it didn’t float your boat, the GoldPlanar might.
The GL2000 also makes good on some of its promises when it comes to Sonics. For example, it does have nice imaging, which is something that appeals to me. By the way, it also has a luxurious design and an excellent accessory package.
So if you’re looking to upgrade from your sub-$500 headphone, then read on and see if the GoldPlanar GL2000 Planar Magnetic is what you’re looking for!
The GoldPlanar GL2000 Planar Magnetic Headphone w/ Double Magnetic Circuit sample was sent to us by Linsoul in exchange for an honest review. No input was given as to the content of this evaluation.
- Drivers: 100 x 36 mm N52 neodymium planar magnetic drivers
- Sensitivity (double magnetic circuit version): 99 dB
- Sensitivity (single magnetic circuit version): 95dB
- Frequency response: 4 Hz – 50 kHz
- Impedance: 60 ohms
- THD: <0.1%
- Cable: 6N OCC silver-plated cable (detachable)
- Connector: 3.5 mm
- Termination: 4.4 mm
- Cable length: 6.6 ft (2 m)
As I said before, the GL2000 comes in two flavors, a single magnet version, and a double magnet version.
The review unit I received is the $639 double magnet design. It has Neodymium Magnets on both sides of the diaphragm, an arrangement generally considered to be better than a single array on one side. This is of course, dependent on the overall design, so it’s not a forgone conclusion.
GoldPlanar markets the GL2000 as their Flagship Planar headphone. It gets a top-of-the-line look with a shiny silver aluminum/plastic frame combined with a plush PU leather headband and ear cushions. The luxury theme continues to the sides of the headphone, where there’s a fancy filigree pattern overlaid with gold bars.
It feels sturdy in hand and overall looks like a $600 headphone. Keep in mind, it’s more plastic and vinyl than aluminum and leather,, as the marketing material claims.
Still, the quality is basically on par with other headphones in its price range like the Hifiman Ananda. IMHO, the GL2000 actually looks more expensive than its Hifiman competition.
If I had any issues with the build it would be the adjustment sliders, which could open a little smoother, plus they could also use some markings to make sure you’re pulling them out the same amount on both sides.
That said, I like this mechanism better than the one on the Ananda where you can hear scraping every time you extend it.
Once on your head, you can feel the GL2000’s weight, which is significant, but the thick, soft padding on the headband does a decent job of mitigating its effects on the top of your head. After wearing them for a while I got used to the slight pressure on my crown.
The equally soft earpads, and the light clamping force, also add to the GL2000’s comfort, making for a headphone you can use for long periods with little issue. By the way, even though the clamp is light, they stay in place on your head, which is an important detail.
Accessories are nice as well. First of all, the GL2000 comes in a massive Pelican-style case lined with heavy-duty foam. It looks like something out of a John Wick movie, and I was wholly expecting to pull a grenade or something out of it.
Alas, it’s only for headphones, but there’s no way the GoldPlanars will be getting damaged in there. Along with the headphones, you also get a second set of perforated hybrid pads with a narrow ear opening (at least my sample did…more on that later) and a braided cable with a 4.4mm (pentaconn) balanced connector. You also get a velvet pouch to store your cable.
I’m not 100% sure why they included a balanced cable instead of the usual 3.5mm single-ended, but it’s an excellent addition provided you have an amp with a balanced connection. DAC/Amp combos with the 4.4mm output are easy to come by nowadays; I mean iFi Audio pretty much has them on their whole lineup.
If you want a Single-Ended cable, it’s available for another $100, and you can also get a balanced cable with XLR for the same price. They seem a little pricy to me, but I’m sure there are plenty cheaper options out there since the headphones have 3.5mm jacks at the earcups.
Regarding the cable that you get in the box, I like it. It’s flexible, pretty tangle-resistant, and it’s just long enough to wear the headphones at your desk without feeling tethered. Yet, it’s not too long to where it gets hung up all over the place.
All in all, with the GL2000’s build and accessory package, GoldPlanar does an excellent job providing an affordable yet luxurious headphone experience to those looking to upgrade from their entry-level headphones.
However, we all know build and features are only part of the story. If you’re like me, sound quality is paramount when buying headphones, so let’s talk about it.
Listening To The GoldPlanar GL2000 (Double Magnet)
For my listening tests, I plugged the GL2000 into the ZEN Dac V2, which is leaps and bounds over the original, by the way. The more I listen to the V2, the more I love its detail, layering, and depth. It’s fantastic for the price.
The ZEN Dac V2 had more than enough power to run the GoldPlanar headphones, which have a 99dB sensitivity rating and 60 ohms impedance. That’s more efficient than the Hifiman SUNDARA, a headphone that’s pretty darn efficient itself. When connected to the ZEN Dac’s balanced out, it only took a quarter-turn of the volume knob to get up to a reasonable listening volume.
I connected the ZEN Dac V2 to my HP Envy X360 laptop, which ran the Desktop TIDAL software.
Initially, I listened to the GL2000 with the pre-installed pads, but after a few days, I switched to the hybrid perforated pads, and I found the sound to be more neutral and controlled than with the original pads. The new pads were slightly less comfortable since the ear openings were smaller, and my ears are enormous, but not so much to be distracting.
With the first pads, I found the GL2000 to be shouty on certain songs, like songs with prominent guitar parts. I also found the bass to be a little loose, without a lot of definition.
But with the second set of pads, the upper mids were toned down a little, and the bass firmed up, so all the sound impressions that follow will be with the hybrid pads.
Overall, listening to the GL2000 with the hybrid pads gave me the impression that the tuning is lifted slightly in the midbass, upper mids, and lower treble, then pretty much neutral in the mids.
This provided a generally forward sound with a slight recession in the midrange, something that was most evident when I listened to music with a heavy rhythm, but for the most part, the mids were right there so it didn’t come across as a hole in the frequency response.
The GL2000 was an exciting headphone tuned to make music sound lively, some may say too lively. But to me, with the right amplification, it was just on the borderline, which to me made it capable, but still “fun” for lack of a better word.
Detail and resolution were good, and I caught a lot of the upper treble detail meaning there was sufficient air and focus to make it worthy of mid-level headphone status.
GoldPlanar GL2000 vs. Hifiman Ananda
It didn’t have quite the micro detail and focus of the Hifiman Ananda, the headphone I consider to be the reference for sub-$1000 headphones, but it had enough of each to paint a clear picture of what you are listening to. It was also able to provide some framing of the listening space when present on the recording.
Where the GL2000 did best the Ananda was with presence up top and slam on the lower end. The Ananda had more of a neutral reference tuning where it didn’t add anything to the presentation, so it was much more laid-back than the GL2000.
While a laid-back sound with more detail and technicality is usually my preference for the Jazz/Acoustic tracks I mostly listen to, I found that sometimes with the Ananda I missed the slam provided by its cheaper cousin the Hifiman Sundara.
This was usually when listening to rock or hip-hop tracks. It was at those times I felt the Ananda came across as flat, and didn’t have me bopping my head.
This was not an issue with the GL2000, it had good energy in the midbass which had me grooving with the music. It also sounded a little bit more airy and open.
On the other hand, the Ananda had more Bass extension, so with orchestral pieces for example, it better micro-dynamics and made you feel like you were hearing the complete composition. With the GL2000, it was more compressed, and you missed the very bottom of the bass notes.
When it came to soundstage and imaging, the GL2000 had a slightly wider soundstage just out beyond the cups, but the Ananda had more focus and depth in the imaging.
That’s not to say the GL2000 didn’t image well, just not as good as the Ananda. The Ananda was more transparent and precise. The Hifiman headphone let you hear “into” the song more than the GoldPlanar.
Listening to “Draw Your Swords” from Angus & Julia Stone, the GL2000 did a good of spreading the performers/instruments across the soundstage and giving good weight to the drum hits. That said, those same drum hits sounded a little washed out on the GoldPlanar compared to the Ananda since the bass wasn’t as extended.
On “Breakdown” by Tom Petty, the GL2000 provided a little more energy to the song than the Ananda since it had more slam on the drums, but on the Ananda, Tom sounded more natural, even though he didn’t sound bad on the GoldPlanar.
GoldPlanar GL2000 Vs. Hifiman Sundara
I know some people are wondering if the GL2000 is truly an upgrade to the Hifiman Sundara, and to that, I would answer yes. While the Sundara has a wider soundstage and arguably better tuning since it’s more balanced, it can’t compete on overall detail retrieval nor imaging. The Sundara has more of a two-dimensional or flat presentation, while the GL2000 has a more layered and spatial presentation.
Note: I was sent the hybrid pads with the “half-moon shaped’” holes as opposed to the other version with the larger oval holes that seem to be out there. If you received different pads than the ones I have, then your experience may vary.
The Wrap Up
So while I don’t necessarily consider the GoldPlanar GL2000 (Double Magnet) to be quite a “reference” headphone, it is a technically capable one in certain aspects. It has a decent soundstage, good imaging, plus nice spatiality and layering which lifts it above entry-level planars.
It also has good detail retrieval, although not quite to the level of the class-leading Hifiman Ananda. That said, the Ananda’s neutral tuning isn’t for everyone, so those looking for a more “lively” sound may find the GL2000 a more suitable upgrade.
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I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My hunger for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.