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MidFi: Reviews and Discussions! [Reviewed: AKG K400; Alessandro MS Pro] - Page 3

post #31 of 50
Thread Starter 

AKG K400:

 

The AKG K400 is a classic headphone that is produced back when the K500 was produced. They were launched at the same time, and both were prior the K401, K501. For more background information, you should search in these forums or google.

 

Its bass is not deep by any definitions. Very tight and lean is how I would describe it. I do think it is similar to the K701 but maybe I need to loan a pair to confirm such. The roll off is very early but I find its mid-ish bass satisfying enough for a bass light experience, at least it is not non-existent.

 

The treble of the K400 is very smooth. It also does not offer the highest highs in other flagship / treble head headphones. However it is not as sibilant as others e.g. the DT880. In fact, one can listen to these for very long sessions and the sound is very pleasing, because of...

 

THE K400 MIDS IS MAGICAL. The clearest mids in my collection, the most natural ones. Not as upfront as the Alessandro MSPro, but it is really a high-fidelity experience. Again not the most detailed headphone (even the HD580 is more detailed to my ears); but there is no mid bass hump, no sharp treble. Every bit of research AKG has done to the K400 has went down to its mids. Absolutely neutral, flat FR in that middle range and rolls off both end. It avoids being too dark, nor too clinical sounding; which is why I have chosen it instead of the K701. To me it far surpasses the K701 in terms of musicality. Not everyone could enjoy a K701 - clinical, cold, 'plasticky', 'unreal soundstage' etc., EVERY audiophile would enjoy the K400 mids.

 

Other:

  1. Not the quickest headphone. Very quick music will sound congested e.g. metal like 'Dragonforce'; Visual Kei band 'Versallites'
  2. Not the biggest soundstage. It is bigger than the HD580 due to having less midbass (I find warm sounding headphones having a close and intimate soundstage that is not the widest nor the closest); but smaller than the K500 (close). From sonic memory it is smaller than the well regarded ones namely the HD800, K701 and the Sony SA5000.
  3. Detail - it will not give you that magnifying lens you had with the K701 or SA5000. What you get is a lovely picture of the music as a whole.

 

Conclusion / Other notes:

I'll give an anology as a conclusion. The K400 portraits a very real natural scenic picture. It does not have too vivid colours, it does not offer a gazillion pixels. However its positioning is very appealing, and white balance, exposure is spot on. The clarity and detail might be confusing, so in my definitions (at least in here) clarity is the lens, and they are sharp; detail is the pixels and no it is just enough for a standard monitor wallpaper; and the high/low end roll offs sort of create a lovely depth of field that makes the focus point so appealing.

 

Suggessions:

Any music that does not require super low bass or high treble would yield good results with the K400, if you enjoy purity/clarity in your music. Maybe try something that appeals in a natural way, e.g. instrumental, orchestral depending on what you focus on, accoustic, OPERA might be good etc. you get the flow. You are either very special or stupid if you purchased these to listen to dubstep or crazy metal riffs in my opinion.

 

K500 deserves a mention!

 

A side note to the K400. I at one time had a K500 but ultimately decided to sell the K500. While the biggest deciding factor was demand and price (ashamed); I was glad the buyers made that decision for me. K500 had better treble, better clarity, sounded more airy etc, but that is due to the treble's strong performance. The K500 nailed the connection between mids and highs, it is done very smoothly, it is its strongest suit. K400 however trumps at its narrow mid frequency range. I put on the K500 and get amazed, goes back to the K400 to listen to my music, to feel the singer's emotions. Lovely headphone.

 

 

 

EDIT:

Both the K400 and K500 requires MONSTEROUS CURRENT to sound good. Good thing is their impedance is high so an OTL tube amp would work; or a mid/higher end solid state. They will produce decent volume out of a normally designed amp, but you only get that smoothness and bass and everything on a very solid performing amp.

 

Disclaimer:

I used an AUDIO-GD NFB5.2 on HIGH GAIN as my DAC feeding into my DARKVOICE 336 OTL tube amp.


Edited by mrAdrian - 1/21/13 at 6:07am
post #32 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer5150 View Post

Great thread topic... I'm in the same boat.  Except my trio is RS1 / K701 / DT880... Multiple mid-fi cans to pick from to suit my mood.  So far I'm not reading anything deterring me from the DT880-250.  Thinking it should pair up well with my earmax OTL amp, and a little tube rolling.  DT880 prices are crazy low right now, little over $200 on ebay.  I've been away from HF for 5-6 years.  When I left the DT880 was a ~$400 headphone.  Come back and its half what it used to cost!!!

Playing around with the headroom graphs compared to my K701, the DT880 bass extends deeper and has a little more treble energy.  I'm thinking with the right tubes (amperex, mullard, telefiunken). it should be a great pairing.  The real question though is how the 880 responds to transients and resonant decays?  Is it fast/snappy like the 701?... or more "syrupy" like the DT990.  My memory of the 880 was that it excelled in this area, although its peaky treble could have been playing tricks on me.



In spite of what the graphs show, the Q701 definitely has more apparent treble energy.
Switching from one to the other is always rather jarring: the Q701 is subjectively a much lighter sounding headphone.
I'll have to compare waterfalls when I get some time.
The Q701 may have more pronounced ringing in the treble/ upper midrange. Which may account for the apparent treble energy in the Q701.
Listening, the DT880 definitely has more extended, deeper, fuller, punchier bass.

I wouldn't call the HD650 a bass monster, but relatively speaking, it sounds a bit dull, more of a treble roll off than too much bass.
post #33 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrAdrian View Post

the high/low end roll offs sort of create a lovely depth of field that makes the focus point so appealing.

This makes so much sense to me, haha!

Well done on the review mate, I'll have to try a K400 sometime...
post #34 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdiddypdler View Post


This makes so much sense to me, haha!

Well done on the review mate, I'll have to try a K400 sometime...

 

You a photographer? :P Thanks for the compliment, it is actually my first review biggrin.gif

 

Oh, and GOOD LUCK finding a pair of K400

post #35 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooko View Post

Hi all

 

@mrAdrian - as we have similar setups, thought I'd toss my 'two-pennies' in .......

 

Your setup - NFB 5.2 -> DV336 -> HD580, K400, D5000, MS Pro

 

Mine - NFB-12 -> LD MKIV -> HD600, K701, DT880, SR3251 (woodied)

 

My aim was similar to yours - rather than continually climbing the tree, I wanted to try most of the former flags (or close to them), and have variety that would totally satisfy me.  I do find with the current range I have, I've ceased looking for gear now, and am far more interested in the pursuit of music.  In that regard - yes, I think the DT880 does serve nicely to round out the collection.  I personally find they're a great all-rounder (particularly with tubes), and just give a slight smile rather than a real V.  I know a lot of people regard them as being slow - but it's something I've never found - mind you a lot of my music is slower paced (prog and classic rock, jazz, classical, acoustic, indie and folk).  I'm not really into too much really fast paced stuff.

 

The one thing I do like about the DT880 is the imaging.  The SS is by no means huge - but I do find it pretty accurate.  The K701 can sometimes be too big (SS), whilst the HD600 can sometimes be a little too laid back (I love it - but sometimes I crave a little more sparkle).

 

For me, it bridges the gap between the K701 and the HD600.  And then of course there is the 325i - which is just flat-out fun :)

 

Anyway - all 4 cans get pretty much equal time - just depends on what I'm listening to and what my mood is.

I reckon there are a lot of us who decided to be nostalgic and refuse the consolidation to happen... You'll be killing me to make me sell all my headphones even if you reward me with a flagship (unless its a SR009 with amp). And wow our setup is really really similar - from source to amp to heapdhones...

 

Super agree with how the DT880 is just a grin from a cute girl, not the Joker grin you get from Ultrasone XP We both have a grado to cover quicker pasted music, although to my ears they are not exactly quick, they just sound harsher and more punishing for that intimate, blood rushing to head experience. The SA3000 that I eventually sold was -VERY- quick. I agree with how you rate the soundstage too, the HD580 sounds like music in a very cozzy loungeroom while the DT880 is more exciting and larger and ultimately the Grado/Alessandro - which is just flat-out fun :)

 

I'm thinking of doing a review of all these headphones one by one, Brooko do you want to join me? We could team up and eliminate those who hold a different opinion to us! very_evil_smiley.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer5150 View Post

Great thread topic... I'm in the same boat.  Except my trio is RS1 / K701 / DT880... Multiple mid-fi cans to pick from to suit my mood.  So far I'm not reading anything deterring me from the DT880-250.  Thinking it should pair up well with my earmax OTL amp, and a little tube rolling.  DT880 prices are crazy low right now, little over $200 on ebay.  I've been away from HF for 5-6 years.  When I left the DT880 was a ~$400 headphone.  Come back and its half what it used to cost!!!

 

Playing around with the headroom graphs compared to my K701, the DT880 bass extends deeper and has a little more treble energy.  I'm thinking with the right tubes (amperex, mullard, telefiunken). it should be a great pairing.  The real question though is how the 880 responds to transients and resonant decays?  Is it fast/snappy like the 701?... or more "syrupy" like the DT990.  My memory of the 880 was that it excelled in this area, although its peaky treble could have been playing tricks on me.

 

 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

I think in terms of transient responses etc, the DT880 is not the ultimate KING, FLAGSHIP anymore... It will provide a contrast to headphones like the Sennheiser or (I can't think of another 'slow' headphone!) Oh! my K400, but if you are after the absolute best class in those area or any area, I think a hiFi headphone is required. I am also guessing the K701 would perform better in those areas than the DT880, or they would be on par. The 701 just sounded razor/laser sharp when I tried them quite some time ago

 

Not only the DT880, in fact besides the Denons, all old flagships are dropping in price massively! HD580 is below $150... And btw I performed your Kramer mod!

 

I can't believe my thread has attracted you to comment on!! I've read a lot about your grado's :D

post #36 of 50
Thread Starter 

Alessandro MS Pro:

 

 

I just began realizing how much uncommon headphones I have that are variations of a VERY common headphone. Well the MS Pro is Alessandro's tuned RS1 from Grado. They share same construction, same styling; but like the sr80 vs ms1, the MS Pro is tuned to be more balanced. I do not have a lot of experience with the RS1, but I will try to describe the MS Pro's Sound signature below.

 

MS Pro has some very punchy, responsive mid bass performance. It is not and was not designed to be a dubstep headphone, but more towards rock / metal. You can hear the bass drum and bass player with a lot of detail, texture and most importantly his emotions in it. Listening to Red Hot Chilli Pepper and you can feel Flea furiously attacking his bass while Chad kicking the drums!

 

MS Pro also has very very nice mids - upfront, energetic, aggressive, and I mean AGGRESSIVE here. Yes put on some smoother songs say Cassandra Wilson and they are very emotional, very upfront, lovely sounding, still a very very good performance. However, in my opinion, the MS Pro really out-shines the others when listening to something more aggressive, namely rock, progressive, metal; things that begs to scream in your head. Guitars, especially electrical guitar solos are absolutely the best I have heard from any sounding devices. It is not in the same league with the rest of my headphones, as none can draw me into the music as much as the MS Pro can.

 

Treble, is probably the weakest link in the FR. It does get quite harsh when loud. However it is your fault to turn them up that loud and fatigue yourself tongue.gif. Fact is the MS Pro sounds too much like a live performance that you've turned the volume up too much to pretend you are actually in a live. And, just like a real rock concert, your ears fatigue after a few songs. Those who are looking for a very relaxed listening experience should look away, even if you listen to low volume etc, I do not think you are justifying the cost of this piece of headphone.

 

Other:

  1. Some people say the Grado drivers are very quick. I find the Grado and Alessandro drivers behaving quite similar besides the differences in FR; and I think the fast response is true. Not the quickest, but still very responsive. Together with the aggressive treble it gives them a very exciting, lively sound.
  2. Soundstage is well defined but still very upfront. Definitely an improvenment over lower end Grado's or Alessandro's however. While still being in your brain or at your nose, you hear fantastic separation between instruments, well defined directions from each performer and the soundstage is very coherent. One perfect alive rocking stage.
  3. I am finding it hard to focus on details and give my opinion. I'm often derailed by the exciting music: notes are almost jumping at me begging to be listened. With slower or acoustic music I can easily hear smaller details in guitars, as well as the bass, or vocals. I think it is a detailed headphone but it is not designed to be used analytically as it does get crowded and to a lesser extend congested.

 

 

Conclusions / Other notes:

I tried VERY hard to separate different aspects of the MS Pro's performance and write notes about them. The thing is this headphone is so coherent and everything works together to provide what it's so famous for. It's musicality, exciting sound signature is due to everything including: an accentuated treble, accurate mids, dynamic bass performance, it has to be quick enough to portrait so many layers of music in order to draw you into the lively realistic stage. It is one piece of art, not to be analysed by separate aspects. It draws you into the music, balanced enough to hear everything, yet each performer earns his own spotlight!

 

I used some photography jargon to describe the K400. If the AKG vintage K400 was a naturally beautiful photo, the MS Pro will be a piece of witchcraft which draws you to the live stage and put you on steroids with the musician. A headphone that you could never listen to passively. Countless hours have been wasted when I tried doing that while struggling with my assignments. In fact, I usually listen to the HD580 until its 3am (and all that means is your assignment is due in 6 hours) and I need a quick song to 'bring me back to life'.

 

Suggestions:

If you are a person who really likes anything that relates to a guitar, save up and grab yourself a pair of Alessandro MS Pro (or, the RS1. But its FR will disappoint the inner audiophile you). It's more neutral approach allows you to enjoy other genres well enough, and gives you that dynamic experience when you switch back to your favourite band. All sort of music that has a small number of performers will work well with the MS Pro, obviously provided you like your music up front and exciting. Things like a solo instrumental piece, a quartet will also work very well; but an orchestral piece might leave you disappointed. Also look elsewhere if you are into electronic music, it is not what they are tuned for.

 

 

 

Disclaimer:

I used an AUDIO-GD NFB5.2 as a DAC feeding into my DARKVOICE 336 OTL tube amp, with output capacitors mod so bass does not roll off. The MS Pro does not need a very beefy amp, I just like them out of tubes to tame the treble a bit. It is also super dynamic with my setup, I'm loving it!

post #37 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrAdrian View Post

MS Pro has some very punchy, responsive mid bass performance. It is not and was not designed to be a dubstep headphone, but more towards rock / metal. You can hear the bass drum and bass player with a lot of detail, texture and most importantly his emotions in it. Listening to Red Hot Chilli Pepper and you can feel Flea furiously attacking his bass while Chad kicking the drums!

 

MS Pro also has very very nice mids - upfront, energetic, aggressive, and I mean AGGRESSIVE here. Yes put on some smoother songs say Cassandra Wilson and they are very emotional, very upfront, lovely sounding, still a very very good performance. However, in my opinion, the MS Pro really out-shines the others when listening to something more aggressive, namely rock, progressive, metal; things that begs to scream in your head. Guitars, especially electrical guitar solos are absolutely the best I have heard from any sounding devices. It is not in the same league with the rest of my headphones, as none can draw me into the music as much as the MS Pro can.

 

Treble, is probably the weakest link in the FR. It does get quite harsh when loud. However it is your fault to turn them up that loud and fatigue yourself tongue.gif. Fact is the MS Pro sounds too much like a live performance that you've turned the volume up too much to pretend you are actually in a live. And, just like a real rock concert, your ears fatigue after a few songs. Those who are looking for a very relaxed listening experience should look away, even if you listen to low volume etc, I do not think you are justifying the cost of this piece of headphone.

From what I remember of your MS-Pro vs. my RS1i the bass on the MS-Pro goes a little bit deeper before it rolls off, and the mids are a little more in balance with the treble.  Bit less fatiguing too, but I don't really like wearing grado's for a long period of time anyway so it doesn't bother me much.

post #38 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Errymoose View Post

From what I remember of your MS-Pro vs. my RS1i the bass on the MS-Pro goes a little bit deeper before it rolls off, and the mids are a little more in balance with the treble.  Bit less fatiguing too, but I don't really like wearing grado's for a long period of time anyway so it doesn't bother me much.

 

When you listen to your RS1i, what sort of music do you listen to?

post #39 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrAdrian View Post

 

When you listen to your RS1i, what sort of music do you listen to?

Mostly rock... a lot of porcupine tree, pink floyd and the like.  Sometimes a bit of jazz or jazz fusion sort of stuff.

post #40 of 50

i love my akg K400 too beyersmile.png. better than grado sr325i and denon D7000 L3000.gif

post #41 of 50
Thread Starter 

What earpads do you use? Mine is really deflated...

post #42 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrAdrian View Post

Alessandro MS Pro:

 

 

I just began realizing how much uncommon headphones I have that are variations of a VERY common headphone. Well the MS Pro is Alessandro's tuned RS1 from Grado. They share same construction, same styling; but like the sr80 vs ms1, the MS Pro is tuned to be more balanced. I do not have a lot of experience with the RS1, but I will try to describe the MS Pro's Sound signature below.

 

MS Pro has some very punchy, responsive mid bass performance. It is not and was not designed to be a dubstep headphone, but more towards rock / metal. You can hear the bass drum and bass player with a lot of detail, texture and most importantly his emotions in it. Listening to Red Hot Chilli Pepper and you can feel Flea furiously attacking his bass while Chad kicking the drums!

 

MS Pro also has very very nice mids - upfront, energetic, aggressive, and I mean AGGRESSIVE here. Yes put on some smoother songs say Cassandra Wilson and they are very emotional, very upfront, lovely sounding, still a very very good performance. However, in my opinion, the MS Pro really out-shines the others when listening to something more aggressive, namely rock, progressive, metal; things that begs to scream in your head. Guitars, especially electrical guitar solos are absolutely the best I have heard from any sounding devices. It is not in the same league with the rest of my headphones, as none can draw me into the music as much as the MS Pro can.

 

Treble, is probably the weakest link in the FR. It does get quite harsh when loud. However it is your fault to turn them up that loud and fatigue yourself tongue.gif. Fact is the MS Pro sounds too much like a live performance that you've turned the volume up too much to pretend you are actually in a live. And, just like a real rock concert, your ears fatigue after a few songs. Those who are looking for a very relaxed listening experience should look away, even if you listen to low volume etc, I do not think you are justifying the cost of this piece of headphone.

 

Other:

  1. Some people say the Grado drivers are very quick. I find the Grado and Alessandro drivers behaving quite similar besides the differences in FR; and I think the fast response is true. Not the quickest, but still very responsive. Together with the aggressive treble it gives them a very exciting, lively sound.
  2. Soundstage is well defined but still very upfront. Definitely an improvenment over lower end Grado's or Alessandro's however. While still being in your brain or at your nose, you hear fantastic separation between instruments, well defined directions from each performer and the soundstage is very coherent. One perfect alive rocking stage.
  3. I am finding it hard to focus on details and give my opinion. I'm often derailed by the exciting music: notes are almost jumping at me begging to be listened. With slower or acoustic music I can easily hear smaller details in guitars, as well as the bass, or vocals. I think it is a detailed headphone but it is not designed to be used analytically as it does get crowded and to a lesser extend congested.

 

 

Conclusions / Other notes:

I tried VERY hard to separate different aspects of the MS Pro's performance and write notes about them. The thing is this headphone is so coherent and everything works together to provide what it's so famous for. It's musicality, exciting sound signature is due to everything including: an accentuated treble, accurate mids, dynamic bass performance, it has to be quick enough to portrait so many layers of music in order to draw you into the lively realistic stage. It is one piece of art, not to be analysed by separate aspects. It draws you into the music, balanced enough to hear everything, yet each performer earns his own spotlight!

 

I used some photography jargon to describe the K400. If the AKG vintage K400 was a naturally beautiful photo, the MS Pro will be a piece of witchcraft which draws you to the live stage and put you on steroids with the musician. A headphone that you could never listen to passively. Countless hours have been wasted when I tried doing that while struggling with my assignments. In fact, I usually listen to the HD580 until its 3am (and all that means is your assignment is due in 6 hours) and I need a quick song to 'bring me back to life'.

 

Suggestions:

If you are a person who really likes anything that relates to a guitar, save up and grab yourself a pair of Alessandro MS Pro (or, the RS1. But its FR will disappoint the inner audiophile you). It's more neutral approach allows you to enjoy other genres well enough, and gives you that dynamic experience when you switch back to your favourite band. All sort of music that has a small number of performers will work well with the MS Pro, obviously provided you like your music up front and exciting. Things like a solo instrumental piece, a quartet will also work very well; but an orchestral piece might leave you disappointed. Also look elsewhere if you are into electronic music, it is not what they are tuned for.

 

 

 

Disclaimer:

I used an AUDIO-GD NFB5.2 as a DAC feeding into my DARKVOICE 336 OTL tube amp, with output capacitors mod so bass does not roll off. The MS Pro does not need a very beefy amp, I just like them out of tubes to tame the treble a bit. It is also super dynamic with my setup, I'm loving it!

 

That is the best informative description of MS Pro I read. Thank you !!

 

I had a RS2i before, and since parted have been thinking of getting an MS Pro someday. I found the RS2i too harsh, too agressive. Things sound accentuated and congested within that peanut soundstage, but now and then it has very good midrange tone and intimacy with music that have a small number of performers. The MS Pro may be just the ticket for me.

 

May I ask, did you found the MS Pro to have any preference with tubes (as the RS1i has been alleged by some) or solid stage ?

post #43 of 50
Thread Starter 

I do like them out of my tube amp, but that could just be my personal preference.

 

How does the rs2 compare to the rs1? I thought they are 'darker' or more subtle at the treble than their big brother already!

post #44 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrAdrian View Post

I do like them out of my tube amp, but that could just be my personal preference.

 

How does the rs2 compare to the rs1? I thought they are 'darker' or more subtle at the treble than their big brother already!

I have not had a comparison but some mentioned the RS1i has a smoother treble than the RS2i. There seems to be a few members who are under the impression that the RS1i is more tamed than earlier iterations of the RS1.

 

It looks like the MS Pro that you have was not the "i" version that came out when RS1 was upgraded to RS1i. I just hope that your impressions remain valid with the new version.

post #45 of 50

Thanks for this review!  Had never heard of these headphones and my interest was piqued.  Don't think they will be for me based on your review as I listen almost exclusively to classical and you mention they sound congested with large ensembles.  I'd love to give them a try with music such as Bach's violin sonatas though.  Alas, no way to audition them and absolutely no way I'm going to take a wild gamble and just order them up unless a number of people with my musical preference were to really stand  behind them.  

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