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Grado RS1 unamped...

post #1 of 88
Thread Starter 
I'm about to pull the trigger on the Grado RS1. Only thing is, I can't stand headphone amps or external DACs because of the desktop clutter... anyone think the RS1 just out of the headphone port on my Macbook will be overkill?

Moving up from the SR60, will I really appreciate the difference in SQ and not regret the purchase? What I'm looking for is a warmer sound with smoother highs. More detail would be great too, but I'm wondering if without an amp/DAC this pursuit would be rather futile.

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post #2 of 88
I cannot say personally about the RS-1 without an amp. I enjoy my Ultrasone's much more with an amp. I enjoy them tons more with a HQ DAC. If you ask me you might appreciate what they can do more with some nicer equipment.
post #3 of 88
Thread Starter 
Getting an amp/DAC for me is out of the question. I just cannot justify such a purchase, since in my own experience, they don't improve SQ much at all.
post #4 of 88
When I had the RS-1 straight out of my iPod, the sound was "meh." Going through better stuff, even a "mid-fi" DAC and amp, improves it by miles, if not worlds.

Your call in the end, but I'd say it'll also be your loss.
post #5 of 88
If you don't find that amps and dacs make a difference you'll probably also find that headphones don't make a difference.
Maybe get some earbuds and save your money
post #6 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by iKonoKlast View Post
Getting an amp/DAC for me is out of the question. I just cannot justify such a purchase, since in my own experience, they don't improve SQ much at all.
I want to chime in here. I am not an audio guy in terms of the math/electrical engineering background. But I like to think that I'm fairly sophisticated and discerning when it comes to music, i.e., I can tell when there is a real difference b/w two cans or two amps.

I absolutely agree with you that some amps and dac's do not make a difference. That's why I went dark from headfi for awhile. At that time I had the Grado SR-225 and Ety ER-4P, both cans that don't really require an amp. Well I got a Xin SuperDual and was completely unimpressed. I listened ALOT b/c everyone said there had to be a difference, and the honest truth is that there was not one ASIDE from much increased bass (the amp had a bass boost). No increase in soundstage, refinement, highs, silky smoothness, air, nothing.

Then I read the 10 lies in audio and I must admit that I believe alot of it simply b/c marketing is a huge part in the clothing industry and in the laptop and desktop industry. A part is a part and it shouldn't really matter that much. Items are pretty standardized nowadays.

Well for whatever reason I got a Corda 2Move and while it's not perfect, my goal was to tell if it could make a difference. I'm happy to report that all the things that am amp is supposed to do, it does. I'll probably not keep it simply b/c I think I can find better, but it's undeniable that this amp improves my SR-225 as well as my Ety ER-4p (much less) and my new Shure E530s. The improvement is such that I'd rather listen to the cans with the amp than without. I could tell in a blind test 100% of the time when the can was amped and when it was not, I guarantee it. I also had an SR-71 amp before, and when I first bought it I was SO disappointed. I essentially gave up on it. But then for some reason I just kept it plugged in and right before I sold it, one day I was listening to my SR-225's and the air just appeared and the smoothness appeared. I wasn't still sure if this was "burn in" or whatever, but I promise something happened that day. I still sold it, though, hehe.

So getting the correct amp is a distinct possibility in your case that you should explore. It's not that the sound is bad without an amp, but it is sort of like a few dead pixels on your computer screen. The screen is still usable, but some people don't have that full enjoyment or have their angst released until the amp brings that last bit of enjoyment.


Now despite what this board may tell you, if you have the money to burn, using an RS-1 unamped out of an ipod or whatever will yield improvements, esp jumping from an SR-60 all the way to the top. I demoed them last week and absolutely could hear improvements from an umamped ipod. Now if I was going to spend that much on a pair of headphones, I'd at LEAST hear what an amp can do to these headphones once or twice BEFORE writing off never using an amp. Now you might want to know in mathematical terms how much better the RS-1 is than the SR-225 (I have the SR-225) unamped. I will say that it is 1/3 better. I would be able to notice this in isolation without A/B testing. But let me tell you that the relationship would be more of a log graph where improvement in sound quality is on the X axis and enjoyment is on the Y axis. So for me, even though I would say there is a small improvement in sound quality, it still leads to significantly more enjoyment. So I might say the bass is 30% tighter. Well that might sound like a small difference, but on my graph, that tighter bass would correlate to a 50% increase in enjoyment, for example.

One thing you might do is get the SR-225 first since you've clearly got the money if you're considering the RS-1. IF you can hear improvements unamped BESIDES just the better bass, then go all the way and get the RS-1 and be done with it. That's basically one of the finest headphones that money can buy. But if you can't discern improvements in the SR-225 from the SR-60, unless you're filthy rich or just have to have the best, I'd say don't even bother with the RS-1. Give your money to people who don't have any food to eat.

Again, I hear you when you say that you won't consider an amp. But to me that's like hearing everyone say "the hottest girl wants to meet you. She just wants to grab a burrito once in a public place, no funny business." And you just say "no" b/c you don't believe that a hot girl would ever want to meet you. If you really believe that, you may think that you've missed out on nothing, while your friends will all be going "what on earth was he thinking? He had a win-win deal and he didn't take it?"
post #7 of 88
I like the RS-1 right out of my MacBook. Sounds good enough when traveling.

Though the RS-1 sounds a whole lot better when fed with vacuum tubes.

You don't have to buy an amp, but I strongly suggest listening to one some time. You'll probably change your mind.
post #8 of 88
They sound great unamped, go for it.
post #9 of 88
The sound out of RS-1 directly from Macbook is quite good just set the volume a little bit higher than usual and you might need Grado mini adapter Cable to connect the Cans with your Mac.
post #10 of 88
have you actually ever heard any good sources? amping a macbook with any amp isnt going to make much of a difference. using an rs-1 unamped is pretty ridiculous seeing as you've invested a lot by getting them in the first place. rs-1 unamped is still going to be a lot better than most other fones, but you're really selling yourself short by not utilizing them to at least 3/4 of their potential. it's like buying a sports car but drive really slow all the time, what's the point?
post #11 of 88
that's how i ended with few amps to pair with my phones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by panda View Post
have you actually ever heard any good sources? amping a macbook with any amp isnt going to make much of a difference. using an rs-1 unamped is pretty ridiculous seeing as you've invested a lot by getting them in the first place. rs-1 unamped is still going to be a lot better than most other fones, but you're really selling yourself short by not utilizing them to at least 3/4 of their potential. it's like buying a sports car but drive really slow all the time, what's the point?
post #12 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by iKonoKlast View Post
I'm about to pull the trigger on the Grado RS1. Only thing is, I can't stand headphone amps or external DACs because of the desktop clutter... anyone think the RS1 just out of the headphone port on my Macbook will be overkill?

Moving up from the SR60, will I really appreciate the difference in SQ and not regret the purchase? What I'm looking for is a warmer sound with smoother highs. More detail would be great too, but I'm wondering if without an amp/DAC this pursuit would be rather futile.
First of all, let's be clear that you will notice a difference between Grado's top and bottom headphones; otherwise people would never buy RS-1's. The detail of the SR-60's is there, but with less treble emphasis; and the bass, like the mids, becomes more pronounced with a tighter presentation.

Lucky for you, an amp is not a necessity with RS-1's. Before I could afford an amp, I was forced to use them straight out of a preamp's headphone jack; which was lacking in power, to say the least. Undoubtedly, though, the RS-1's still sounded damn good. I had used the identical setup with a pair of SR-60's a few months beforehand, and I was blown away by the difference - everything just sounded great, for lack of a better word.

Still, you'd be robbing yourself not to try a tube amp at least somewhere during your journey. I won't get into just how much the sound improves, but if you supplement your RS-1's with even a decent tube amplifier, I think you'll find the difference obvious.
post #13 of 88
After having the RS-2 and RS-1, the SR-60 sounds like a cheap radio.
post #14 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMarchingMule View Post
After having the RS-2 and RS-1, the SR-60 sounds like a cheap radio.
A good cheap radio ofcourse.
post #15 of 88
Thread Starter 
So to those of you saying that using the RS1 without a DAC/amp would be a travesty of justice, I don't see a compelling argument for your case. Seems like almost everyone who is DAC/amp-obsessed always talk about the change in sound signature, especially the tube amp enthusiasts; but to me, I like the Grado sound as is. I don't need even more coloration, and if I did, I could just use the EQ in iTunes. Now you're all going to say that a software EQ is nowhere as good quality as an amp. Fine. Just help me understand. I'm trying not to be judgmental... I'm genuinely puzzled about Head-Fi's fetish with this stuff.
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