With today’s current technology, plethora of options are available for headphones, making your choice selection a lot more diverse. This is great for us consumers, as we are finally given the range as to what we would like to hear from our cans.
Personally, I am quite please by the fact that I have had a good share of choices, be it in the past or the present. I had the chance to own a few strikingly good pairs of cans (Audeze LCD-2, Hifiman HE400S and HE400I among the few) while I currently own a few more with the likes of Meze 99 Classic, Sennheiser HD6XX, Advanced Alpha, Stax L500 and a modded Grado SR225i. As I go about collecting a few, it gives me quite a good range of option as to what I will use.
Thankfully enough, I was able to acquire a couple of pairs of cans which I think seems to beb a good diversity of what I already have from Mitchell & Johnson, the GL1 and GL2. I find it a bit unique, as its drivers (called Electrostatz) uses a technology of an electrostatic drivers without requiring the use of a high voltage power supply. As I own one myself, I was thinking that the Mitchell & Johnson GL1 and GL2 should be the answer to my need of carrying around the same sound quality of an electrostatic headphones without lugging around a huge bias amplifier to power it.
I am thinking that there must be some downside to it in exchange of the the convenience, and we are here to find out what are those, if any.
Welcome to today’s Bus Ride Impression on Mitchell & Johnson GL1.
Somewhat reminiscent to L500 is the material used for the GL1. I would like to think of it that way, as I am somehow unimpressed with the material as it is. Sure, it looks shiny, but I was thinking that perhaps a better material could have been used, but with the thought on the rationale on L500’s material, I am led to think that perhaps the reason behind the use of such material is to really avoid the unwanted effect of an electrostatic driver to a metal headphone. But then again, the Electrostatz doesn’t really demand such high voltage to drive it so I am still stumped with the material choice.
The cable, albeit a little stiff, does the job fairly well. It stretches to 1.2m which I think is quite a decent length for a headphone on-the-go, so Mitchell & Johnson did a win for this piece. Plus, the cable is thick enough to avoid fraying over time. It also is shielded with a fabric material to boot for that added protection.
Great thing that Mitchell & Johnson also added a pouch to safe keep the GL1. Not all cans come with a pouch or case in the box, but GL1 does. The pouch can also double as a rag to wife the smudges off the cans.
Packaging looks pretty good, instead of the plastic molding, Mitchell & Johnson added a sheet of fabric to perhaps avoid scratches during shipping process. Box is also quite thick and durable so worries of trashing the headphones during transit is really of small significance.
All in all, quite a decent build for the GL1. I still am not the fan of the material used of the gimbals, but it sure feels light that it feels ideal for a portable headphone.
This is what I anticipate for the most, as I haven’t had a chance to try the Electrostatz technology. Initially, my hopes are hanging on getting at least such fast resolution out of the GL1, something that is quite standard with electrostatic headphones.
Fortunately enough, I did some of that speed out of the GL1 upon my initial test, and it did carry such depths of bass that would leave some fans wanting it. I was advised a total of about 150 hours of burn-in and it did amuse me to hear how tight the mid-bass got after the burn-in. There’s also that nice touch of treble that allows great color of the GL1. Most importantly, mid-range sounded quite expansive and detailed, so I guess this is going to be a fun headphone.
As I am aim to see how well the GL1 works on a portable set-up, I will be using the Cayin N3, Hifiman HM-901S and my Motorola Moto Z to see how well it works. Here’s my findings using some of my choice tracks.
Walking Away (Craig David, Greatest Hits)
As mentioned, I was particularly please with how the bass was tuned for the GL1. Paired with the Cayin N3, bass felt a lot accurate with the mid-bass hitting it tightly and distinctly. I also liked how the mids was pronounced well, with the upper mids sounding clean and smooth enough not to even feel any sharpness. Trebles sounded clean, more like an accent to the overall tonality but feels very present.
The Kids Aren’t Alright (The Offspring, America)
Bass seems to have been tamed off with the use of Moto Z in comparison to N3, something that I didn’t quite expect. There is a richer amount of treble using the phone though, while soundstage seems to be a bit narrower. Good thing that imaging seems to still be at par with what I heard off the N3.
Guitars to be quite raunchier and sharper with the use of Moto Z, while cymbals sounds a heck lot more energetic. I think the pairing wasn’t so bad especially if you are not the type who bothers about wider soundstage.
Photograph (Ed Sheeran, X)
The Astell & Kern AK100+Centrance Glove A1 seems to carry the best pairing to GL1 among all the sources I tried, as it presented the best dynamics for the cans. While it sounded clean, it carried such nuances that somehow made the sound a lot more natural. Sound was vibrant, carrying across the sound of the guitars and Sheeran’s voice in such a way that should be engaging and entrtaining, something you would want out of your set-up. Funny that I avoided this pairing as I thought it might make the GL2 a bit darker, something that I am not so happy about but as it turned out, the pairing is great.
The biggest one that I got will have to be the chrome finish. It does look nice, yes, but the fact that it is a smudge magnet is something that doesn’t appeal me. Add to the fact that the material used wasn’t something that encourage a more premium feel is something that doesn’t help. It isn’t ugly though, but considering the price tag, it would’ve had a better material. The material does make it more lightweight, perhaps for better comfort so it is a toss whether it is something good or bad.
Cable could have also been more supple, as it felt awkward carrying the GL1 around plugged into a DAP or your mobile. Perhaps making the cables detachable could also be a good touch, at least you get to pick a choice of an upgrade if you are not entirely satisfied with the cable make.
Overall, considering the sound and comfort, the GL1 is such an excellent headphone that offers a unique attack on the sound. I particularly liked the dynamics, and is a fresh approach for those who wishes the sound of an electrostatic driver without the need for a bias amp. A bit steep in the price tag, but should be a worthy choice if you are after something different.