Alessandro MS1i

General Information

Reintroduced in March 2009 with a tweaked and improved driver, the Alessandro MS1i is a high end headphone designed by Grado and Alessandro, and distributed by Alessandro. Designed to be more neutral in their presentation compared to their coloured Grado brethren, the MS series is created for music makers in mind. With the same plastic body as the presteige series (SR60i through 225i), the MS1i mixes technologies from the lower end SR60i/80i and the middle-of-the-line black sheep, the SR125i.

Latest reviews

Pros: Smooth Mids and Treble, Full Bodied Bass, Light Weight, Easy to Drive
Cons: Smoothed Over Sound, Laid Back Tone

Alessandro Music Series MS1i Black Walnut Cups $169

Big thanks to JoeDoe of Head-Fi as he performed the cup installation as well as the swapping out the headband.  I paid a little more for mine due to the lovely Walnut Cups, price for a Stock Alessandro MS1i is $109
 Now the headphones themselves have been outfitted with an Auvio Headband. Which offers a slightly more durability than the stock Grado Headband.  ​
It has a nice construction, very light weight has a good feel in the hand. It also have a comfortable head band and a sturdy feel to it's hinges. ​
My only fault with the Auvio Headband is it doesn't feature to much left or right cup rotation, which with an open back headphone isn't a huge issue, though it does affect the sound stage a small bit.
The drive and housing assembly are unique to this headphone as well, the cups are made from American Black Walnut and the drivers are suspend within them. 
A unique feature of the drivers though is the small white pad that sits in front of them, while it certainly has some sonic benefits unknown to me, I can say it does improve the comfort of the headphone.  
In addition to comfort, the headphones placement is pretty simple. Dead center on your ears for the best sound, slightly different from the Senn Grado I reviewed early this month!
Sound Impressions 
1 Michigan & Smiley- Sugar Daddy: Sugar Daddy
To be honest, I really dig this reggae tune a little smoothed over. Voices have a great tone, they are just a little recessed for my tastes. The bass has a nice body to it, a touch loose and forward but again it's a very smooth sound. Instrumental separation is good though, while it's a warm, smooth sound it's not congested in this simple Reggae tune. The treble is lacking a little extension as well, it's a little rough to my ears, though a touch forgiving. 
2 Skream - Pass the Red Stripe
The Bass has a nice tone to it, sufficient texture nothing amazing but not a complete disappointment. Bass is a touch loose in comparison to something like the HE 4, but all in all it's enjoyable. Nice sense of tautness, though you can hear the slight sub bass roll off.  An back to the treble, again the MS1i-W doesn't show much forgiveness, rendering the defects present in the terrible rip I got my hands on. 
3 DaiQing Tana & Haya Band - Migration : Gayatri
Presentation for this track is fairly balanced,  there's a nice sense of width to it as well and each instrument has a nice placement within the sound stage. It's not particularly deep and the extension on the top end isn't the best. This track is of much better quality than the two preceding it, and the MS1i-W does a nice job of presenting those extra note of decay. The Vocals have a good tone, but lack a little in the way of tactility. 
4 Animals As Leaders - The Joy Of Motion: The Woven Web
MS1i-W showing it self to have a nice sense of dynamics, the quiet build up of the song to the first initial electric DROP was very nice.  Bass has good presence in this tune, great sense of crunch in the guitars in addition to a nice snap in the high hats. I think Metal is really were the MS1i-W shines. It's got enough bite in it to bring some fun to the rougher genres of music. An the some what laid back sound isn't short in bite! Though the some what smooth sound of the MS1i-W really compliments this tune. It keeps a very good sense of atmosphere and presence overall and does well with the dynamic shifts. 
5 David Chesky - Transcendental Tripping 
Again the MS1i-W showing it self to have a nice sense of width, though some what lacking depth. Still the tone is pleasant, though I prefer a touch more energy in my music or rather... a touch more attack and less decay. Instrument separation is sufficient and placement is enjoyable.  Though as a whole this track is a touch bland for my tastes out of the MS1i-W.

Sound Summarized ​

The MS1i-W has a smooth and mellow presentation, it brings the right amount of bit when needed for metal and other very metallic instruments, the bass has good body and the overall presentation is airy though a tad laid back. All in All if you enjoy a fairly smooth presentation or are new to the hobby. This would a can I could recommend! [Without the Walnut cups though, to save ya a few bucks] I'd say in the $100 range this can does well, it's got a nice presentation a good sense of separation and is just pleasant to listen to without being overly smoothed out or just plain boring. 
This is a headphone that works wonderfully in casual listening circumstances. From your buddys house, to the waiting room of your local Fire Stone Auto care or even out shopping the MS1i has the right mix for forward sound and decay to give a wonderful presentation despite sub optimal listening enviorments! 
Pros: good detail
Cons: Uncomfortable, Open=Leaks=Quiet and noisy depending on room noise.
They were ok at first, I enjoyed the added detail as they were my first good pair of phones. But they got VERY uncomfortable VERY quickly. Not just physically but audibly as well. very fatiguing. 
Just got Sony 7506's and they are better in every way, comfortable, easier to drive, quieter background noise, better detail. better dynamics, and I can listen for hours comfortably. 
I've been using a dac port pro for both sets. for 10-15 bucks more go sony. 
The open-back design is exactly why these headphones are so detailed, just saying. If you want isolation, don't bother with them. I agree though, Grado/Alessandro are some of the most overrated headphones in existence.
I think for $100 these sound awesome, but I guess everyone has their preferences. I understand why some people hate Grados/Alessandros, but I really like their sound sig. 
Pros: Sound quality (Subjective), design, ability to mod easily
Cons: Standard comfy pads causes ear fatigue within an hour, Not as portable, treble may be too sibilant for some people
These were my first ever "High end" headphones. I had to decide between these, the SR60, or the SR80. I decided to go with these as they were the same price of the SR80, but most people claimed for them to sound like the SR 125. 

First listen was slightly disappointing. I overestimated the sound quality, coming from Bose AE2's. However, given several, maybe 50 hours of burn in, these cans really opened up. The soundstage was bigger than I imagined, and it really helps if you picture yourself at a concert. Instrument separation was great on this too. I was pleased after the burn in and didn't regret buying them at all. After a few weeks, I decided to try the hole punch mod, and so I made four holes with a pencil and surely enough, the bass was more present. However, it eventually sounded a little muddy or leaked into the mids. To fix that, I bought some EarZonk Bowl pads fit for Grado, and everything was fixed. The Soundstge was yet even bigger and the bass was nice and tight and controlled. 
Overall, these headphones are a great value, for only $100. Yes, the sound leaks like crazy, so don't use them at a library or in a bus. I would easily recommend these to anyone interested in the Headphone world.


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