Hi folks. I have lurked here for a while. Here is a simple review.
My source is FLAC rips on my Qnap server through a squeezebox touch to my Bottlehead Crack running a 6cg7 into 6AS7G. For home recording I have use the DT's with my older Apogee equipment or a first generation Apogee Duet.
I have had my 600ohm DT770 's for around 14 years. I am on my third set of cushions. Last year my puppy ate through one of the drivers. I though it was just the cord chewed up, but when I dismantled them and began to rewire them I got no impedance from the left transducer and wired it up temporarily and it was dead dead. I peeled off some of the white paper to find dents. I still can't figure out exactly what broke (maybe the voice coil?).
I have been a customer of George Alessandro through the guitar world so I decided to get the MS1i's a whirl. I trust his judgement.
The were very nice and personally I find them pretty comfortable. I like the forward presentation sometimes; it can be very engaging. The bass is nice and punchy -- very crisp and detailed. Not just a bunch of woof and bloat.
The midrange is just awesome. Generally I find them lush and coherent at the same time. I also did not find them bright at all. Maybe it is my Crack, but even with my iPhone I find them detailed and not "bright". Just too much midrange goodness to be bright to me.
So, last week I finally ordered a replacement transducer for my DT770's. I was a little concerned because of possible differences in the driver over the last decade, but finally decided $60 was worth it. I looked for weeks to find a used replacement driver, couldn't find anything.
Also, I used some Canare 4S6 wire I had laying around for the new wire/cable.
Now, I was able to do a head to head comparison of the two. It was very interesting. The tonal balance didn't seem way off with the new driver, but I wonder what will happen as it breaks in over the next few weeks. But, now I am able to truly refine what I like and dislike about each.
At first, I was happy with both and just concentrating on the differences. Then I started to listen to some Beethoven (7th symphony, Karajan/DG) and everything changed. The DT770's were captivating. This is when I really could hear the where the bass was missing in the Grado's.
In the second movement there are some bass drum and bass notes that are extremely moving as the piece slowly crescendos. I swapped them on and off and played it over and over and it barely, I mean barely, came through on the Grado's. With the DT's I didn't want to take them off.
This is also where the soundstage differences really stood out. Yes, I like the forward Grado sound, but as I listened to the rest of the symphony I could hear how the instruments began to sound crowded. The affected the detail in a way I think some refer to as "smearing".
Where the MS1's really shined was on the Miles Davis Quintent albums. I went through them all. If I were a bell was phenomenal. Overall the breath and tone from his and Coltrane's reeds are very clear and the sound is tight and it jumps. But this is also where I would have liked more bass frequencies as the double bass is not recorded as closely as everything else in my opinion and whatever you play them back on, it needs a really good low end to bring some of the heft that they really had as a band.
Also, I simply just get along with the MS1's with rock like Pink Floyd or Tool or anything in between. The DT's can hold on longer distortion wise when I really turn up the volume. Although, I don't really want to listen that loud, but sometimes the mood hits me. I have tinnitus, so I really shouldn't do that anymore ;)
But with the DT's listening to rock and some of my live Phish (FLAC) and some of the Grateful Dead's Dick's picks and vault albums I could start to hear some hollowness in the sound at times. Almost like the soundstage was too big. Not reverb or echo, but some artifact that I can't quite place yet.
So, naturally, this leaves me with the modding bug. I want to get some space and bass out of the MS1's and may try some dampening on the 770's. I'll report back and of course I appreciate any modding ideas as there are obviously a ton for both headsets.
Thanks for the years of great information HeadFi.
My Crack: the finish on the plate is Eastwood's Translucent Mahogany powder coat. When the light hits it and you see the aluminum grain underneath it looks like wood.