I proudly present the actual FOTM in the german hifi forum,
Part 1: Basics
What is a MS 1000?
An Alessandro MS 1000 is a DIY tinker can. You need 3 components to build one:
An Alessandro MS1
Indispensible: 1 Set of distancer pieces or a comparable DIY solution (to be glued)
A set of Grado GS1000 Pads
Optional: A piece of felt to be glued into the inner part of the distancers. Tames the highs, if you do not belong to team treble.
History: How did the MS 1000 come into existence?
and then a little miracle happened!. That thing turned out to become the sensation of the meet, someone baptized the result as "MS 1000" (wasn't me), so that is what many folks in germany organize and build right now, and that is what I wanted to share with the outer world in form of this thread.
Pure chance. A coincidental synergy effect.
I once had ordered the Liberator distancers when they were still in production. I quite liked their effect on my MS2i, consequently I build something analogical out of wood for my MS1 after I had sold MS2i & Liberators. A nice effect at least, an Alessandro with a bit of soundscape - not spectacular, but nice.
Then I went to a bigger german meet, where someone mentioned his unloved GS1000 Pads, which (as you might know) sound absolutely horrible on every "normal" Grado. I wasn't too exited, but nevertheless put them on my MS1, which had the distancer pieces on...
What are the main sound differences between a MS 1000 and a stock MS1?
Everything and nothing.
Who has ever tinkered Grados and Alessandros with Beyer pads, sock mods or alike might already has experienced, how horrible squawky things can sound when being misequipped and unsuitable. Here is the good news: Nothing changes, the mids and highs keep their complete stock homogenious consistency.
The emotionality and musical bandwidth (I am picky with this) changes at least a bit. The MS 1000 still provides the right "tone", and the amount of genres that can be thrown onto it has changed remarkably, the MS1000 is a musical bandwidth monster of the HD600 sort. Things have a bit moved away from the ancestral blues- and rock corner (it still can do that) in favour of electronica, progressive, post rock, hiphop and all other stuff the stock MS1 did not like
Nevertheless, much more changes.
First thing you notice to have changed is the bass. The MS 1000 provides mentionable deep bass, whereas the MS1 has almost none. The punching kick has decreased a bit, but overall, you get a very good "audiophile" bass with some extra layers. There is still no intruding of the bass into the other frequencies. The sheer bass amount is somewhat on MS2i- or CD3000 level, a bit more than the DT880 - that is no big boomy midfi bass for sure.
The biggest change, the real sugarpiece of the MS 1000 in comparison to stock, is the enormous monstrous soundscape it provides. After almost 3 weeks of testing, I have to announce that the soundscape easely exceeds the DT880 and even of the huge caveous CD3000. The increased distance from eardrum to the driver leads to a kind of "natural crossfeed", where the usual position of the music somewhere in the head gets totally dissolved. This reminds me a bit of nearfield solutions à la K1000, it's easely one of the greatest soundscapes I ever experienced.
Consequently, we have an Alessandro which really exceeds at (!) ambient stuff or snobbish post rock and can be (at least) consulted for classical. Much better than stock. Of course, voices or brasses don't have the highend authority of a K701 or a DT880, but apart from that, it sometimes rivals or even beats my venerable CD3000 for electronica or post rock music. I guess you agree that this is a quite recognizable progression.
Comfort is great - logical. With the GS1000 pads, you get an almost circumarual wear feeling with almost no weight at all.
The MS 1000 is a completely new creature, which provides good sound, a highendish soundscape, and a level of detailling that easely exceeds the usual midfi contenders (HD595, A900, DT531, ...). Not as "audiophile" as a K701 or a DT880, but loads of fun on at least D2000 quality level.
How can I get an MS 1000?
Alessandro MS1. Next thing necessary are GS1000 pads, the actual best source for that is Todd the Venyl Junky (at least outside the US). Canadian store "Planet of Sound" turned out to be even cheaper, especially under actual € exchange rates. Also http://www.amazon.com has put them into their portfolio lately (US amazon only)
First, you need an
2010-04-25: New EU-Source for Jumbopads: Stoneaudio in GB, search term: "Grado G Cushion"
Bigger problem are the distancer pieces (and believe me, you need them, doesn't work without).
Don't try just to put GS1000 pads on your [whatever], it _kills_ the mids. One possibility is that you are good at DIY and build your own (inner diameter 40 mm, total height 13-14 mm, and 3 drills à 1,5 mm per distancer), or you are not so good at DIY and need someone's help, then see below. It turned out to sound best with 3 drillings à 1,5mm (that has to do with their lower overall sealing).
pad coating mod (read below).
Note that felt layers as to be seen on the sceme above become obsolete if you do the
- Punch hole mod
You open the back of your MS1 (best method is warming it with up before, by means of a hairdryer from sideways) so that you get access to the rear side of the driver. You'll see that it's covered with some black fleece stuff. Now you take a pencil or something similar and punch 4 holes into the fleece.
The result is an increase of the bass amount, especially the kick bass section. I do not recommend more than 4 holes, unless if you are a severe basshead. That mod is only suited for the smaller models having the plastic sound chamber as to be seen on the pic above (MS1, MS2, SR60-325), do not do it with higher tier models (MS Pro, RS1 etc.) as you'll end up in a rumbling midfi mess!
- Pad coating
It turned out that coating of the inner parts does not only increase the comfort (I personally find the foam a bit scratchy). It also has a similar (but better) effect to undesired brightness as putting felt or fleece thingies on or in the distancer. In difference to that fleece- or felt thingies, you don't put a barrier in the way, hence bass amount and detailling do not get damaged. In addition, you'll get much more warmth into the overall sound sig.
Material of the coating and its ability still to provide sufficient breathing matters though. It's a fine line with the pad lining between the smooth and "real" sound it brings and it slipping over in to muffled and too thick a sound. NoXter & me had the best results with ordinary T-shirt textile material, you may experiement a bit before the final fixation. A provisorical fixation of the test pattern may be done by means of needles, final fixation may be done with ordinary paper glue.
I personally haven't tried it, but I guess by means of pad coating it will be possible to do the MS1000 with the shriller models (MS2, SR325, etc.) as well, as its effect can be really mighty, dependend from choice of coating material.
Allover, the punch-hole-mod and the pad coating are a very nice bundle. You'll get 98% of the nicer MS-Pro "Ultimate" tonality when applying both modifications together. Not the sheer resolution and blackness though, there's still a gap between the 99$ and the 700$ model...
SHORTER DISTANCER (11,5 instead of 14mm), and also one bevelled set. You also see the black distancer on the pic, which is the "stock" one.
Some uttered issues about the soundscape being big and airy, but lacking precision in respect of instrument placement. For that purpose, I developed a
As one of our kraut headfier follows the bluetac fixation principle with his MS Pro "Ultimate", we could easely compare the results with my "stock" Ulti. The bevelled distancers simply sucked (satirical wideness of soundstage), but the shortened distancers made a really nice result:
- same amount of deep bass, but more kickbass (almost like unmodded)
- more "Grado" energy with the mids section
- more realistic soundscape
- more realistic instrument placement
- only downside: Loss of that special airyness that mod is famous for, you end up DT880Pro-ish or so in that respect
As summary, the mod seems to be fully adjustable, if you want airyness (e.g. electronica and classical) you choose 14 mm, if you want more Grado sound and more soundscape precision (e,g. Rock & Metal) you choose 11,5 mm or so. I guess also something "in between" with 12,5 or 13mm might turn out to sound really nice.
What about other Grado/Alessandros models to be pimped in that way?
See & read below.
MS Pro -> "MS Ultimate" turned out to be the really big thing.
These modifications on the
Grados in that way is unfortunally somewhat ambivalent (Ssss-Booom). Some folks quite liked a SR325 with distancers and bowls, but I do not agree with these opinions.
Edited by nickchen - 1/14/11 at 4:00pm