First of all, I'm not an audiophile by any stretch of the imagination.
I do, however, have pretty solid hearing so I can tell when something sounds good and when something doesn't. Ke$ha coming through my iPhone's white earbuds a good example of the latter, Booka Shade coming from a $5,000 portable audio player via a pair of Grado headphones, an excellent example of the former.
For those of you who aren't regularly in the market for high quality audio devices, a little background. Grado Labs is an extremely well regarded Brooklyn based headphone manufacturer that has been around since 1953 when it was founded by former watchmaker Joseph Grado. Their specialty is hand-built high-end open-air (hyphens = quality) headphones. In Australia, they're sold in small quantities from premium AV retailers focused on serving those with the most discerning ears.
The set of Grado's I was given to sample, the RS2e's (Reference Series 2e) retail at $649 a pair - expensive by Bose & Beats standards, but we're not talking about a consumer grade pair of headphones here. Grado compete in the audiophile and professional realm where cans quickly rise into the thousands of dollars and beyond. For your first foray into super high-end audio, they're actually relatively cheap.
Packaging on the RS2e's isn't exactly extravagant, a simply blue pizza style box that is quickly discarded, but we're not here for the packaging, we're here for the sound, a sound which is designed not for commuting, not for the gym, not for the plane, but for the sole purpose of listening to music in its purest form - for me - at home, a glass of whisky in one hand, the fire roaring and whichever song tickles my fancy pumping through my headphones.
I've an eclectic taste in music, and the Grado RS2e's handled everything I threw at them with poise. Everything I listened to was pretty much the best version of that song I'd ever heard. From J. Cole to Puccini, Daft Punk to Vance Joy and everything in between, the bass is consistently crisp, treble solid, highs and lows are more discernible than you've ever heard and you can pick up nuances in songs that you'd never heard before.
Not being an audiophile by any stretch means, means that my ability to articulate the sound quality on these headphones is limited, but I hope my superlatives throughout help you get an idea of what these puppies sound like.
Simply put: running music through both an iPhone 8 (with converter), and the Astell & Kern SP1000, the RS2e's sound incredible and make me never want to put in my crappy Apple Earpods again. If you're looking for a pro-grade headphone that won't break the bank, look no further.
For Australian stockists, visit Busisoft Australia