Published on July 7th, 2017 | by Greg0
Mitchell & Johnson GL2 Headphones: Electrostatic-Lite
There is a downside to the technological treadmill- so many products we have become rapidly obsolete, leaving our cutting-edge gear to be confined to the scrap heap after only a few years of use. But it’s easy to miss the flip side of that equation- the best part of this always-advancing wave is that the fantastic quickly becomes accessible, dropping in price and often in size. And it’s not just computers and processors and batteries, but other materials and thus techniques as well.
The trickle-down effect applies even to audio equipment, like the Mitchell & Johnson GL2 Headphones. Electrostatic headphones aren’t new, and the underlying idea is actually quite old. But this British company created a hybrid of sorts named Electrostatz, using what they call a “patented nano-particle infused diaphragm that can hold an electrical charge forever” as well as a dynamic cone driver to help handle the lower frequencies. These are a closed set, which helps with sound isolation, allowing you to appreciate your music more easily, and they are more portable than most electrostatic sets on the market.
Mitchell & Johnson raised some money on Kickstarter for these and their larger family, and they offer a pretty wide range including other options like the larger MJ1 and the JP1 DJ-style. We liked the real walnut wood earcups, though the rest of the build is mainly plastic. Ear cushions are made from leatherette, and these are fairly adjustable but didn’t feel built for serious travel (they don’t fold, and though they are not heavy, they aren’t light enough to ignore either). We burned these in for around 100 hours before trying them out, and because the manufacturer bragged about them not requiring an amplifier, we tested them primarily directly with our sources (both digital and analog, via smartphones, laptops, and more).
The GL2s sounded great with rich, acoustic music, thanks to some natural warmth and a deep sound stage, and pretty energetic with pop and rock tracks too- but less so with rap and hip-hop. There is plenty bass and power, but detailed reproduction suffers a little, as the signature aims for smoothness rather than accuracy. Everything we tried sounded natural, with no clipping and no artifacts, even at higher volumes. Best of all, they are easy to drive, friendly, and look pretty great. The cables aren’t fantastic, and they don’t offer any color options, but they are priced nicely for electrostatic internals. Expect to spend around $299 for the Mitchell & Johnson GL2s online and in stores.