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Golden Ears: HarmonicDyne G200 Review

Playing in the Big Leagues?

Christopher Coke Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

Hot on the heels of the Poseidon, HarmonicDyne has officially entered the planar magnetic market. The G200 is a drop-dead gorgeous pair of headphones that ooze quality. Featuring huge planar magnetic drivers, beautifully cut aluminum grilles, a carbon fiber headband, and more, these headphones promise top of the line sound quality and ultra-low distortion. At $699, they’re a perfect set to explore in Golden Ears, our column dedicated to high-end audio. Just what do you get in return for seven hundred dollars? Join us as we find out.

Thank you to Linsoul for providing the sample for this review. 

Specifications

  • Current Price: $699 (Linsoul
  • Type: Wired HiFi Headphones
  • Drivers: Φ102mm Planar Transducer
  • Input Impedance: 64Ω
  • Frequency Response: 10-45,000Hz
  • SPL: 100±3dB
  • THD: ≤ 0.2%(@1000Hz/254mW)
  • Cables: XLR/4 balance, L=2M , 6N Litz wire
  • Ear-cup: Aluminum Alloy
  • Headband: Carbon Fiber
  • Earcups: Suede fabric / Lambskin
  • Dimensions: 230mm x 175mm x 112mm
  • Weight: 480g (No accessories included)
  • What’s In The Box:
    • Headphone
    • XLR Balanced Cable
    • XLR-6.35 Adaptor
    • XLR-4.4 Adaptor
    • 4.4-3.5 Adaptor
    • Earcups
    • Storage bag
    • User manual
    • Storage box

HarmonicDyne G200 - First Impressions and Key Features 

The HarmonicDyne G200 is the latest headphone from the company that brought us the Helios, Zeus, and Poseidon. We’ve reviewed the last two here at MMORPG and enjoyed both (the Zeus moreso). When Linsoul reached out to let us know the company was launching its first planar magnetic over-ear headphone, I jumped at the opportunity. 

The G200 is a step up in almost every way. It arrives in a gorgeous, if impractical, box. HarmonicDyne’s prior models all shipped in hardshell cases. The G200 takes that up a notch by turning the box into a genuine display case, complete with a tempered glass side. It feels very high-end, but with the switch to breakable tempered glass, the case no longer has a carry handle, so it’s clear it’s not actually meant to travel. Inside, the headphones and accessories are all housed in separate foam cutouts to keep them safe in transit.

HarmonicDyne has always designed beautiful headphones and the G200 is easily its best yet. The earcups are made entirely of aluminum with laser-cut grills. The design is a classic optical illusion of diamonds made to look like stacked cubes and is absolutely striking. The build is made to last with metal joints and connections. The headband is now lightweight carbon fiber. Below the band is a lambskin suspension band that distributes the weight (480g) across your head for a comfortable, all-day wear. 

Inside the earcups, the G200 uses massive 102mm planar magnetic drivers. Planar drivers are extremely popular in audiophile headphones due to their increased clarity and lower distortion. They can, however, require more power. These headphones have an impedance of 64 ohms, and though Linsoul doesn’t share their sensitivity, you should plan on using some kind of amp. They will work plugged directly into a dongle but the drivers sound better with more power than the average dongle is able to provide. The THX Onyx, which offers up to 2 volts RMS, was plenty but expect limited sound quality if you’re plugging these into a weak source.

Also included in the box is an alternate set of pads and an excellent modular cable. The headphones ship with two sets of pads. Comfortable and breathable suede pads come pre-installed. An alternate set of lambskin leather pads (perforated on the inner edge for breathability) is also included and increases bass response a touch. Between the two, I settled on the leather pads for the added bass.

The cable is custom-made and is excellent. It’s soft and flexible without any microphonics to speak of but is also thick and rope-like. It connects to the headphones with dual 3.5mm connections and terminates in a full-size XLR connection. Inside the velvet accessory bag are alternate ends that adapt the XLR connection to 3.5mm, 6.35mm, or 4.4mm balanced, so you’re free to connect to whatever DAC or amp you please.

Overall, the package here is exceptionally well done. HarmonicDyne continues to top itself in presentation. They sell the idea that you’re buying a premium product, which is exactly what I like to see from expensive headphones like this. The level of craftsmanship and use of high-quality materials is exceptional, to say the least, and really makes you feel good about your investment. 

With that done, let’s get into fit and comfort and how they sound!

HarmonicDyne G200 - Fit and Comfort

Despite being rather heavy, the G200 is quite comfortable to wear. The leather suspension band does a good job of distributing that weight and warding off hot spots. I was able to wear the headphones for hours at a time without any soreness or discomfort. 

While comfort isn’t an issue, fit can be. The headphones have a very light gripping force that made it difficult for the cushions to create a consistent seal around my ear. If the positioning wasn’t perfect, the bottom half of the pad would leave a small gap for sound to escape. This has a direct impact on the bass and how full the headphones sound. I was able to position them “just so” to create that seal, but it took some trial and error.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to say whether you’ll experience the same thing as fit is going to depend on the shape of your head and how it makes contact with the pads. At least one other reviewer has had the same experience, however. Aftermarket pads may be a necessity for the best sound quality if you experience the same gap and can’t find a comfortable position with a proper seal.

HarmonicDyne G200 - Listening Impressions 

Image Credit: Headphones.com

For this review, I conducted most of my listening through the iFi Gryphon, both wired and wirelessly. Most music was streamed through Spotify on Very High quality, but I did listen to lossless audio files stored locally on my PC to experience the highest quality the headphones can deliver. Intermittently, I did connect these headphones using a simple dongle DAC to my smartphone, as well as to my GoXLR, but found that the sound quality improved with the additional power of a dedicated amplifier. 

The HarmonicDyne G200 has a lot of potential, but the out-of-box tuning leads to a mediocre first impression. It’s especially glaring given how gorgeous and well-considered the rest of the package is. But upon my first few listens, I couldn’t get over the veil these headphones have on them. Listening to Coheed and Cambria’s, The Running Free, it sounded like someone had thrown a blanket over the guitars and vocals. This is the exact opposite you would expect from a high-end planar magnetic headphone — clarity is the name of the game here, and for some reason, HarmonicDyne turned this headphone in the opposite direction: warmth to the point of muddiness. 

At the same time, there were also some things that immediately stood out to me. The headphones have good sub-bass extension. Church by Tom MacDonald and D.R.E.A.M. by Jonny Craig demonstrated excellent reach that was being under-utilized. With the flat bass tuning in the graph showing such solid reach, EQ becomes an effective solution. 

The other thing that was immediately clear was that the details and technical performance of the headphone were very good. Transients and texture were excellent in the mid-range and percussion. Nightmare by Polyphia was a showcase of realistic guitar tones and note attacks. The layering of sounds and the amount of detail coming forward were impressive — easily on par with my Ananda.

With all of that in mind, EQ does magic with these headphones. I used Resolve’s EQ settings as a baseline, and that midrange veil immediately disappeared. Vocals stepped forward and guitars were immediately clearer. All of the smaller details you could pull out from the stock tuning became much more apparent. I stepped up the bass with a 5db shelf at 60Hz to add more thump and rumble. The new tuning even slightly enhances the soundstage, which is wide but still more constrained than the Ananda or Gold Planar GL2000

Final Thoughts and Overall Impressions

This was a challenging review to write. I generally avoid EQ during the review process and believe in assessing headphones on their stock sound. Is it reasonable to expect someone spending $699 to EQ a headphone? That’s a trickier question than you might think because the audiophile community is quite split on EQ. Some people will spend that money and never bat an eyelash at tailoring the sound to their personal taste, while others look at it like a bandaid on a product that shouldn’t be bleeding in the first place.

In the case of the G200, I absolutely think it should have been better tuned out of the box. At $699, it’s competing against the likes of the HIFIMAN Ananda, which, in my opinion, doesn't need those kinds of changes. But the fact is, EQ is easy to apply and pushes these headphones to a very, very good place. Without EQ, they’re a 6, which is “Okay” on our scale, but with EQ, they jump to an 8, “Great.” Given the high-quality build, excellent case and cable, and the excellent sound they can produce, we land at a 7 - Good.  But make no mistake, if you put in the time, these headphones are absolutely great. 

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.     

7.0Good
Pros
  • Excellent detail (technical performance ++)
  • Gorgeous aesthetics
  • Comfortable to wear over long listening sessions
  • Nice display case
  • Responds to EQ very well
Cons
  • Requires EQ to bring them to potential
  • Really needs a good amplifier to sound their best
  • Potential fit issues that may require alternate pads to fix (will vary user to user)
  • Case isn't designed for travel


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight