BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Mitchell & Johnson GL2

It is lightweight, not much different from its sibling, the GL1. It does carry a different look on it, or perhaps I will call it flair as it does look a lot classier. I liked the look of the wood on the cups, it does indeed add a lot of style on the entire thing. After all, it carries quite a premium on its price tag so I am expecting no less then the frills of a really nice looking headphones.

Similar to GL1, Mitchell & Johnson employed the same Electrostatz tech on its drivers. Which means, as the GL1 did, the sound should resolve quite fast particular to the lowest frequencies.

With all this, I wonder much more different the GL2 is from its sibling. And is it worth investing on one if you already have the GL1.

Let’s get on to it, shall we.

Build

As I have said a while ago, this pair sure is light. Weighing at only 269 grams, the GL2 feels quite comfortable on the head. Sure, it isn’t as light as GL1, but I can comfortably move my head without feeling slightest pressure nor weight. Clamping also doesn’t seem to be an issue; it is not too tight to put a strain around my ears but not too loose to misplace the headphones while wearing it.

I think Mitchell & Johnson could have really used a different cable. While I liked how it is sheathed with fabric, I still find the cable a bit stiff, forming folds when I unboxed the GL2. The good thing about the GL2 though is that it carries a detachable cable, something that would at least give me the relief that I won’t have to keep up with the stock cable by getting myself a better, suppler one.

The wood cup definitely brings quite an elegant look on the GL2, giving it a bit of a classier look compared to the GL1. I think it also bears a bit of weight to the entire thing, probably spelling the weight difference between the GL2 and GL1. Mitchell & Johnson also employed a different finish on the gimbals as they went for a matte like finish, of which actually appeals more to me as it gave the GL2 a nice accent to the wood. Other than these, everything seems to be similar to the GL1, from the foam pads to the leather headband.

mitchell&johnson_gl2_topmitchell&johnson_gl2_side

Packaging is pretty much the same with the GL1; I kind of expected it as the two seems to really be a chip off the same block. Both has insulated molding on the interior of the box, a felt pouch is included and the overall scheme of the box itself is pretty much the same.

Overall, I think GL2 is significantly better compared to GL1 in terms of the build; not really surprising as GL2 carries a higher price tag, but is a welcome improvement to me as I liked the overall look of the GL2.

Sound

I will have to admit, while it seems that GL1 and GL2 carries their own inherent sound signature, I think that while I prefer the GL2, both seems to have a captive market to appeal to. For those who likes the low frequencies powerful, fast and punchy, I will recommend the GL1. In the case of GL2, however, I will recommend it for a more balanced tonality, with sufficient bass attack while allowing the mid-range to be a bit broader and the highs allowing quite a good sparkle to the overall sound.

Great thing though that for both, they are quite easy to drive so it was a comfort listening to both using my portable players, even with my mobile phone, so I was able to go around doing some sound assessment even when not in front of my PC.

Let me share what I heard from the GL2 using my portable DAPs:

John Henry (Hugh Laurie, Let Them Talk)

I liked how well presented the mid-ranges are with this track using Cayin N3; placing of the instruments seems pretty accurate, with the vocals emanating such clarity the way I like it. Strings sounded pretty raw and aggressive, piano sounded crisp, with everything rounded up by the drums, giving a good mix that allows me to discern everything easily while sounding cohesive. If I were in a cafe, this is how I would like the sound to be replicated by the ambient sound of the place.

Spiderwebs (No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom)

While the sound seems decent using my phone (Motorola Moto Z), I felt like the sound off the GL2 was a bit laid back. Sure, with certain cans plugged in straight from my mobile, it sounded crappy at least, but somehow the GL2 was able to give me a decent sound to enjoy the track. It was not as lively as I hoped it to be, but at the very least the GL2 offered a certain level of detail that I normally don’t get with other headphones, even with those easy to drive ones. If the GL2 was able to crank some good tunes out of my mobile phone, I will think that it is doing a great job.

Slow Ride (Foghat, Fool For The City)

GL2 seems to conform well with the Cayin N3 paired with the iFi Audio Micro iDSD Black Label; this perhaps was the best output I got out of the GL2. Sound was pretty fluid for me, smooth and aggressive with a nice touch of harmony across the frequencies. It also offered the best imaging out of the 3 tracks I tried with the GL2; perhaps it was the iDSD doing the job but the fact that the sound yield was immensely engaging made the GL2 shine at its best. I liked how deep the sub-bass went while keeping the mid-bass quantity at bay to how I wanted it. Everything sounded quite clean and organic; nothing was overdone.

Overall, I really liked the GL2 over GL2 in terms of sound. Yes, both are resolving (in a very fast manner at that), but the GL2 carries a more natural sound over the GL1, at least in my opinion. Bass is quite good and fast, plus it carries a very good sound stage one should easily fall in love with.

Gripes

After going through the GL1, I guess Mitchell & Johnson was able to remedy my gripes with the said can with the GL2. While I liked how they veered away from that shiny finish of the GL1, I thought that maybe a more premium plastic material could have been used with the gimbals. Not really a big issue, but with the price point, a better material could have been in order.

Again, the cable throws me off a bit. While the GL2 seems to be the type of headphones that can be carried around while commuting, it would have been a more comfortable ride if you got yourself a supple cable to go along your movements while travelling. However, this can be fixed by replacing the cable with a better one.

Also, on the cable department, I would always prefer to have my cans to carry a cable split into 2 between each cups, especially for detachable ones. That would have opened a whole lot of modification opportunities, from upgrading the cable material to using a TRRS termination. But, given that GL2 already sounds quite good, there’s really no need to do so especially if it is something you will plug into your mobile phone which normally has no TRRS jack option.

GL2 could also use a sturdier case rather than a soft pouch, given the price. I have seen several similarly priced cans in the market with a tougher case; one could protect the GL2 especially the wood cups if one is furnished along in the box.

Wrap-Up

At around US$400, one might think that the Mitchell & Johnson GL2 is on the steep side. I will, however, think that given the current market, it can compete quite well against similarly priced cans. With build notwithstanding, overall tonality should easily fit anyone’s requirement from a very good headphone.

The Mitchell & Johnson GL2 is currently on Massdrop for only $69.99. Pretty good price considering it usually is priced at about $400. Great time to grab one, if you happen to be interested.
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