Separate names with a comma.
Over-Ear item created by nightmancometh, Sep 17, 2010
Pros - Styling (subjective), Price Point, Modifiability, Great Starter 'Phone
Cons - Styling (subjective), Plastic can be a mild turn off, Somewhat narrow musical bandwidth
Allow me to begin by stating, along with many others, that I am no Audiophile. Not yet any ways
What I am is someone who listens to a whole lot of music for many many hours on end. I'm able to listen to music at work so I use the cans 8 hours straight every night and usually another 2-3 after I get home.
I was originally set on grabbing a pair of Sennheisers as per their legendary reputation. I then saw a few pictures floating around of these "grado" cans and noticed a lot of folks were singing their praises from rooftops as well. After learning that a company I was familiar with from my other musical hobbies were tweaking these said "awesome" cans, and on the much appreciated advice from other members here on the head-fi boards, I decided to go ahead and give these puppies a spin.
Now, I can sit here an regurgitate what many other reviewers have stated, and indeed there are some points I'd like to reinforce, however... I'll try and point out a few things I haven't seen or heard yet in regards to the phones.
First and foremost... regurgitation numero uno. Out of the box, these things were plenty good. The "famous" mids were on point from the moment I first plugged them in and they certainly beat the pants off the set of Sony XD200's I was using prior. But they really didn't come into their own for a good 15-20 hours of solid playback. Scientifically provable or not, I am now a firm believer in burn in. After said period of time I noticed the high end really opened up. They also gained a fair bit of punch in the bass department.
Regurgitation numero deux. They really do require at least a decent source file to really show their potential. I'm currently not running an amp or a DAC outside of my ALC889 chipset or Sansa Fuse but in terms of file quality you have to watch out. I've heard decently ripped 128k Mp3s that sounded fairly good but if you've got a rip that is anything less than great these cans will let you know about it. Browsing youtube now is almost painful as it's blatantly obvious how few people care about audio quality when they upload. Cheaper cans can be made to mask such faults through equalization but once you hear these things with a decent source and a quality recording you'll never wanna see an EQ again.
On to actual sound quality. When people say Grado has got Mids on lock down they are not exaggerating. While they may not be perfectly flat per se, the tones they reproduce from Electric and Acoustic guitars is nothing short of miraculous to the ears. This paired with the upfront soundstaging is downright addictive when listening to blues/rock/metal/acoustic. Vocals are also tight and well articulated as well as the source was recorded well enough to make such detailing stand out. Solo jazz piano is almost as intoxicating as a blues guitar solo.
The bass out of the box was pretty good. I was expecting them to be light on lows, but they weren't really. There was certainly no mid bass boom going on and they heavily favored a more "punchy" low end. After 10 hours or so of burn in the punch turned into a smack in the ears with a decent amount of "woof" behind it.
As for the highs I'm of a split opinion. The Mid-Highs are great. I suppose this is where much of the "detailing" in music comes from and they do a fair job at that. I wouldn't call them super detailed. If the background in the track isn't that lively you can certainly pick up subtle nuances you may have missed out on before (David Gilmour's "lip smacking" before every line of vocals on the "Meddle" album almost becomes incessant). However if there's a lot going on in the track it's almost as if the phones don't have the "bandwidth" to keep up. A lot of effects/speech in the background may become lost in the surrounding music (ie: Paranoid Android).
Also, with all but the most pristine quality and well recorded music in my library, the upper echelons of the highs also feel "compressed". You don't really get that airy roll off or decay on a cymbal hit, you just get the crash... then it's on to the next accentuated snare hit thanks to those lovely mids. This may or may not be the fault of the drivers themselves... All I can say is the only time I've heard excellent extension and delay on the high end was with a few tracks in my "Lateralus" CD. That CD almost seems to be mixed to bring out those details though, so it may just be differences in recording procedures.
To end the Sound section I'll give you a track by track of songs that these phones have completely changed for me. Keep in mind I've spent countless hours in front of Denon driven Cerwin Vega D5's learning new guitar and drums tracks so I've heard "good sound" before:
SRV - Leave My Girl Alone (Live) - Real Deal GH: Vol 2
These phones own this song. Hands down. It was the first song I played and it wowed me from the opening notes. The stereo separation is immaculate and really highlights the reverb used on the vocal track. The vocals are only a tenth of it. The clean verse guitar is so creamy it's almost unreal. Like you're standing right there. When he kicks it into overdrive for the solo, streams of melted brain tissue began running out of my nose. It's THAT good. I promise.
Porcupine Tree - Mesmer 1 - Metanoia
I drum, a lot. I love listening to good drumming. Listening to this is like sitting behind Gavin Harrison's kit and listening vicariously through his ears. The bell hits and splashes are so articulated it sucks you in. The phones are really able to capture the dynamics as well. Soft hits on toms are so subtle yet perfectly present in the groove. Just like it should be.
Peter Frampton - Do You Feel Like We Do - Frampton Comes Alive!
I've owned this CD since I was 12. My mom bought it for me lol. That was 16 years ago. I've listened to this on everything from the Vegas to countless countertops to my car system walkmans with cheap buds... everything. I felt like I was hearing it all over again. The Vegas did a good job at capturing the "live" feel (wide open). But the phones... man. The Cymbals. The Crowd Whistling. The solos. Wow. So in your face. You're not in the crowd. You're there, with Frampton... jamming it out. That talk box man... They were just made for this.
Machine Head - Bulldozer - Supercharger
This song randomly popped up in my playlist the other day. I went from sitting here processing an order to flat out headbanging in 15 seconds flat. It's just the same story. I've heard the song sooo many times. Theses cans just kinda take those guitar riffs, shove them not-so-politely up your arse and instruct you to listen up while they blow you away.
Gotta move on though....
In comfort, I rank them Highly, despite looking far from it. Due to the hours on end I wear them at work, I was completely expecting to have to go out and track down a leather headband replacement or Snap on pad to compensate but I've been pleasantly surprised. If anything, the pads get a little warm on the ears long before the band or pressure becomes an issue.
Sound leakage hasn't been an issue with me. I notice a lot of folks stating that because they are open they are not suitable for portable usage. I don't find this to be the case at all. I've worn them many times walking to and from work and have never had an issue with traffic or other outside sources interfering with my listening pleasure. I've also received no complaints at work. To the contrary, I've received plenty of positive comments on the styling and have been asked numerous times to hand them around for communal listening. I've even had a fellow bring in his laptop from home so he could see how his new mixes in FL Studio sounded "on good cans". I haven't told him I paid less for mine than he did his... our little secret.
A few people hate on the design all day, but I'll be the first to say that was the initial reason I even began looking into Grads. I think they look downright awesome and I can't wait to grab a Ms2 or 325 just because the aluminum look is downright sexy. That's complete personal opinion though... I can't really say whether it's good or bad, take it as you will.
The phones, as has been stated are easy to mod. I've already started. I punched out 5 holes, dampened the backs with Dynamat, cut the comfies all the way around the driver opening (adds slight discomfort if not positioned properly, but sounds sooo good) and cut off the driver screening. These are reallly starting to feel as though I've ripped George and John off in some way. $100 can't sound this good. I paid that for One speaker in my car. One Speaker.
It's not all peaches and cream, bright sunny days and roses in full bloom though. There are drawbacks. Most of which have been stated. If you need a wide open soundstage for large, orchestrated pieces... you might wanna look elsewhere. It's not that these are particularly "bad" at it... it's just not where they excel. Far more enjoyment for such things would be found in other places.
If you want to get lost in the spacey layers that are Pink Floyd, or if you want to hear Drummers like Carey, Peart, Harrison and Portnoy really open up, or maybe just chill on some Herbie Hancock or Ziggy Marley these cans will get you there, no questions asked.
Better yet though, If you wanna rock... if you wanna jam with the jam masters... and most importantly if you want to have your face melted off by the most delicious sounding guitar riffs you have ever heard... look no further, you have found your can.
A new set of bowls arrived in the mail about 2 hours ago.
The only gripe I had with these phones (that "compressed" feeling upper end) has now disappeared. The Bowls have really opened up the high end on these cans. I lost a tad bit of that punch they had before, but the now sizzling highs and broader sound stage more than make up for it.
The only downside I'm seeing so far is that at higher volumes these cans are now much brighter than they were. Personally, that's exactly what I wanted... for those that don't like bright sounding cans... well, I'm not sure why you were looking at anything Grado related to begin with... but you may wanna stick to comfies if you roll this way.
Pros - Plays well of mp3 player, good sound
Cons - Plastic feeling
For its price these are the best cans I have auditioned. Highly recommended. Cord is easy to replace. Still using these on the go daily.
Pros - Clarity, detail, beautiful mid-range, punchy bass, easy to mod, great value
Cons - Comfort (initially), can get expensive once you discover the joy of modding, no isolation
These were purchased on impulse - more to experience the Grado/Alessandro sound than anything - and quickly became one of my favourite headphones. Incredible sound, incredible value, and the ability to modify them yourself so that they punch far above their original weight.
For this review - I'm using them at my desktop with FLAC recordings using Amarok player (Linux) via and Audio-gd NFB-12 (using the brighter 8 x upsampling minimum phase apodising filter) .
The Alessandro MS1i is the entry level headphone from Alessandro (Grado) and is sold primarily outside the US (although they can be purchased within the US as well). The MS1i has been described by some as the equivalent of the Grado SR125i. It is a supra-aural headphone, which is very easy to modify due to it's very simple (but effective build). They are very easy to drive - and I can comfortably pair them with my iPod/iPhone with no issues.
From Alessandro's website -
Transducer type: Dynamic
Operating principle: Open air
Frequency response: 20 - 22K Hz
SPL lmV: 100
Nominal impedance: 32 Ohms
Driver match db: 0.1
Features: - Vented diaphragm
- Non resonant air chamber
- UHPLC voice coil wire
- Standard copper connecting cord
The famous Grado pizza-box + foam insert, and a 3.5-6.3mm adaptor.
Design Build Quality and Comfort
The design is very simple but very effective. 2 gimbals attached to a thin headband. The gimbals are attached to plastic cups. The whole set-up looks very flimsy, but in reality can take some abuse. The design is both it's strength and weakness. Strength because it is very easy to modify and the parts are easy to replace. A weakness because of the overall comfort - these were built for sound and little attention paid to long term comfort. The supra-aural pads can become extremely irritating after an hour or so, the headband has no padding, and the cups can swivel and twist the cords.
Thankfully a lot of the faults can be addressed with some simple mods.
Very narrow and close. I really feel as though I'm either in the front row, or actually on the stage - but this is actually a strength - as they are extremely involving and dynamic - especially for Rock or Blues.
These are extremely clear - probably more so because of the emphasis on the highs - and appear quite detailed (to me at least). But this may be due to the fact that I haven't heard a lot of other headphones to compare properly. They don't have as much micro detail as the SRH940 I had - or my current DT880/HD600 - but there is plenty to keep me happy.
The famous Grado highs! I was surprised when I first listened to these. I was expecting something exceedingly bright - but instead I find them warm, exciting and easy to listen to. This may be more because they are Alessandro rather than "US" Grado - and apparently have the highs dialed down a little. After going from these to the DT880's or HD600's, I definitely find a drop in the brightness of the highs - but it's not a huge drop (to me). I find these have just the right amount of extension without becoming painful.
Warm, exciting, dynamic, beautiful. Call me crazy - but eventually I preferred the mids on the MS1i to the Shure SRH940. I personally find them quite warm, excellent with both male and female vocals, and absolutely wonderful with guitar and piano.
Unmodified, I still found the bass punchy and nicely balanced. It's not overly detailed (especially in the sub-bass) but is enjoyable - quite nicely countering the slightly brighter highs. The bass really punctuates rock and blues especially, and IMO reasonably accurately presents how I expect to hear the bass (it's really enjoyable to me anyway). Modified (venting / cup change) adds another dynamic for me - making better impact & overall presentation.
Overall Presentation By Genre
Classic Rock - esp acoustic rock - absolute winner. Guitar is heavenly - these were made for rock. Clapton really shines - especially his unplugged album.
Blues - see above. Joe Bonamassa (esp live) is dynamic, "alive" and thoroughly enjoyable
Female Vocals - really enjoy this with the MS1is - the warmth of the mids is fantastic. Alanis Morissette is incredible with these (listening to her while I type this).
Jazz (modern) - Jazz piano especially is vibrant and dynamic. Makes Krall very toe-tapping, but to be honest, the DT880 and HD600 are both better (sometimes the presentation can be a little too bright with the MS1i).
Prog Rock - the combination of warm mids and punchy bass are an absolute winner here. Porcupine Tree really shines for me.
Classical - nice, but is really to warm and doesn't have the stage required to really present this as well as it should.
Little to none. You can pretty much hear everyone around you, and they will hear your music.
This is where the MS1i really shines IMO (as does most of the lower Grado line-up). The easiest thing to mod is the pads - and they make a huge difference to sound and comfort. With my limited experience (so far):
Senn HD414 pads reversed and quarter-mod - better clarity, good bass and slightly improved comfort
L-Cush (bowls) - my favourite - slightly more sound-stage, vastly improved comfort, no detrimental changes to sound (when combined with the other changes I'd made).
G-Cush (Jumbos) - these were an experiment. Big change in sound-stage, bass diminished, highs very bright and sizzly, great comfort. Really need to try these with wood.
Next comfort mod is the headband. I simply bought a Beyer snap on pad. Fits perfectly and totally solves comfort issues with the headband.
Internal mods - venting the drivers (I used 4 holes) definitely adds bass impact. As more people try wood though, I think less people are actually venting the drivers. I also used a little foam at the back of the driver - although I'm still not sure if it really did anything. I also applied felt on the inside of the aluminium cups. This did help both mids and bass (clarity) for me.
Cups - while most people have gone wood, thanks to Twinster I got a chance to try aluminium cups from an MS2i on my MS1is - and I really like them. I removed the inner plastic lining, replaced it with felt - and I think the change is nice. It feels warmer and 'sweeter' without darkening things too much. With the bowls they sound quite balanced.
Overall / Summary
As far as value and versatility go, it would be very hard to beat the MS1i - especially as an entry point head-phone. While the comfort leaves a lot to be desired, the ability to modify the sound to your own requirements is both fun and very rewarding (finding the right combination). But even out of the box, these sound great to me with almost any genre. One of those headphones you "have to try". Unfortunately it does have me wondering how good the Grado line really gets - and I know that could lead to more "wallet-pain" down the track. The journey will be worth it though.
Highly recommend these headphones.
UPDATE MARCH 2012
I still have these, and still regularly use them. They've undergone a few more changes recently - most noticeable being a full woody jacket in Iroko. Pics below
Next step (hopefully before end of the month) is a recable in Cardas starquad mini.
Pros - detail, clarity, strong (but not overpowering) bass, good at pretty much all genres
Cons - not so comfortable, looks are hit or miss, feels plasticky
Let me just start by saying: i'm no audiophile. These are my first pair of full size headphones, and i am certainly not disappointed. So on to the review:
not good. I tried a pair at a headphone store; at first, their soundstage was obviously thin, and the built quality itself left a little to desire. It was also rather uncomfortable than and did not seem to offer much of an upgrade from my Shure E2cs. Despite this, i was convinced (in no small part by the staff) that these were the best i could get for my money, and that i would soon grow to love them. After listening to these for nearly two weeks, i have to agree.
Funnily enough, they sounded much better than the pair in the store. The sound did rather smooth out after burning in, but i cannot say if that is due to me getting used their sound signature, or they actually got better due to burning in. I can barely stand to listen to my old IEMs because these just sound SO MUCH more clearer. I had no difficulty with the soundstage; it's not great, but it doesn't hinder the music in any way. In fact, i would argue that soundstage is more dependant on the recording and mastering process (once again, i'm no audiophile so i have no clue). The bass is strong, but does not overpower the music. It's not so "in your face", e.g. in the track "Limit To Your Love" by James Blake, the bass drop is not so head shudderingly strong, but the background bass is very evident. The highs are, admittedly, on the strong side but just like the bass, is not so overpowering.
I've listened to pretty much most genres of music with these headphones, and would conclude that these headphones can handle all genres well (except classical, which sounded rather dull, but still good). That being said, it does tend to favour "forward" sounding genres (the new Neon Indian album sounded great on these)
Now on to the design. Personally, i LOVE the retro look of these cans, but some people may not enjoy the look. One downside to the MS1i revision is that these now stick out a bit more. I wouldn't suggest using these out in public however due to the issue of noise isolation and leakage.
Obviously, these do not isolate at all, and leak quite a lot to boot. These are intended for home use, which is also reflected in their plasticky build. If you just use them at home, i can see no issue, but as soon as you take these out, you can understand why these give such great sound quality for the price. Alessandro (or Grado to be more precise) have designed these to give the most sound quality for the price, which has consequences on build quality and noise isolation and leakage. But you would probably already know this, having read other reviews.
Now on to, in my opinion, the MS1is greatest weakness: comfort. Although these have certainly become more comfortable since the first time i put them on my head, they are still not what i would call comfortable. That's not to say they are terribly uncomfortable, but nor are they comfortable for long usages. Firstly, the pads heat up rather quickly especially if it's a hot day. Secondly, the pads are rather scratchy, and prefer to push your ears down than conform to their shape. Some people do find Grado cans comfortable, but not I.
Update: Actually, these get MUCH more comfortable after break in. I can now wear these for hours (but still have to take short breaks each hour due to heat). Overral still not great but decent nonetheless.
I know that i talked about its downsides longer than its upsides; don't get me wrong, these are great cans for the price. Soundwise, i can only describe it as fantastic. It just has a few minor flaws which make it slightly less enjoyable. Regardless, i'm still happy with my purchase; my ears are still crying with joy, even though they may be slightly hot and sore.
Pros - Accurate, balanced, comfortable, hip
Cons - lack of soundstage, sound bleed/lack of isolation
Hello everyone, I thought I would add my voice to the MS1i discussion because you can ever read enough reviews. All money referred to in this review is USD.
A primer: I own the M-audio AV40s (which are fantastic for their price, and perfect for a single listener), and have had experience with varying home theater systems. Though I have always been musically inclined, the AV40s opened me to the world of audiophilia and I have become quite obsessive over finding the highest quality recordings of my favorite albums. That said, I have been using primarily 320/Lossy rips with these headphones.
I became interested in headphones because....well, you all know how it goes. After extensive research and a limited budget, I chose between the ATH AD700 and the Alessandro MS1i. Though the AD700s seem by all reports to be a 'better' headphone, I went with the MS1is due to impulse, our Western drive to be an individual (who the heck knows what an Alessandro is?), and because of the funky purple grill the AD700s sport. In retrospect I could have painted them black or something, but I will just wait for some 650s someday
Another reason for the MS1i's is that I work part-time in a machine shop while going to school, so I have the ability to machine some aluminum (or titanium?) earcups and mod into MS1000i territory.
ANYWAY, time for the REVIEW. Most of what needs to be said has already been succinctly summarized by everyone else on the net, but there is nothing wrong with another perspective.
Headphones themselves: I didn't wait long to wash the pads with laundry soap (others say fabric softener, I might do that now) and warm water, and that seemed to soften them and make them less itchy (which no one else has ever complained about?). I hear you can also bend the headband, or buy a new one, and you can certainly buy different pads and mod them etc. BUT, the phones are comfortable to me, and I have had no reason to seek comfier options.
They leak sound, but it isn't going to kill anyone. It is not like having speakers facing the outside world, unless you are perpetually deafening yourself and increasing the volume. It isn't too loud to use on the bus or in a car unless you are really jamming.
There is no isolation. I thought there would be a little bit, but there is really none. So you won't be able to use your Alessandros on an airplane and expect to drown out the engine noise. I have done it and it is possible, but Bose are made for that kind of use. However, I love riding my bike around town with some tunes, and sound isolating earbuds made me feel very paranoid--I couldnt hear anything besides my music, which is definitely dangerous and kind of weird. So these phones are great for someone who wants to hear a car coming, or someone yelling your name. But if the music is loud enough, you won't hear anything anyway.
The build quality is inexpensive, but not "cheap". Yes, if you sit on them, they are probably going to break in a couple places. However, you can drop them on your bed or carpet (though not recommended), and it doesnt have to be the finest goose-down to ensure protection. The cord is pretty thick and long, but a shoddy cable would make your phones sound worse. You can also recable them if you want to, which will be a fun project for the future.
Bass: it's there. Not overwhelming, but clear, tight, and accurate. These phones can definitely handle hip-hop/electronica, though I hear that bass-heavier phones like the Beats by Dre are better suited for that type of ear. I enjoy listening to hip-hop and similar tunes with the MS1i's because I can hear the lyrics, and that (to me) is the true talent of rapping. Bass is noticeably increased with an amp.
Treble: Not piercing like their Grado counterparts are known to be. Again, clear, accurate.
Mids: Cleanly balanced between the higher and lower frequencies. You can clearly hear the lyrics.
Imaging on these phones is fantastic. Listening to the 'Virtual Barbershop' (youtube) is a great time.
The soundstage is lacking, but that is not a problem unless you want to listen to classical music or something. My favorite albums as of late have been Tame Impala's Innerspeaker and Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here EP. These albums, along with my all time faves Loveless by MBV, The Chronic by Dr. Dre, and Endtroducing by DJ Shadow all sound GREAT on the MS1i. There is nothing missing, nothing overdone.
Some of you may be curious about amplification. I was too, and ordered a cmoy with a JRC4556 chip (same as Grado RA-1 amp) off of ebay from member AmpedUp77. First off, let me say that the MS1i CAN certainly be driven by an ipod, iphone, or macbook pro. The phones will still be accurate (you can hear vinyl static, coughing, etc), and it will probably suffice if you haven't made any type of foray into high-fidelity.
But with the amp, it sounds super duper excellent. I read on some forum that an amp gives the MS1i more depth of sound. That it is richer, and fuller. From my most objective view, the amp makes the MS1i shine. You can hear the whammy bar of backup guitars, subtle bass changes; every sound has more to it. So for 44 bucks, what is essentially a 400 dollar amp is not a bad deal.
I burned in my phones with pink noise, I would leave them on low-ish volume for a few hours then unplug them for an hour or so. Someone said something about the drivers overheating, which seems unlikely but why take the chance, right? The pink noise has drastically affected the sound of the MS1i. Much fuller, bass is deeper, and highs seem to have more behind them.
Overall: for 110 dollars, or 150-60 bucks with the amp, this is an excellent set-up. It sounds great. I can see how they could become fatiguing because the sound is very 'near', but instrument separation keeps the phones from sounding muddied.
I have heard many times that Grados are for fun, and Alessandros are more for musicians (more accurate).
For me, music is enjoyable in its raw, tonal reality--it is simply fun to listen to music, even if the sound is out of your computer speakers or a tinny boombox. But I get more out of music when I can approach an album and hear the sound the artists WANTED me to hear. It is one thing to equalize the snot out of your music, and another to keep everything flat, undistorted, and listen to the pure sounds as they were mastered for the album.
Though I have never heard Grados, the advertised overly bright sound doesnt really appeal to me. I wanted an inexpensive, neat looking set of cans with a clean, accurate sound, and that is what Alessandro has produced.
Update: First off, burn in with pink noise greatly opened up the sound on these headphones. They sounded much, much better 200 hours after my first listen.
Secondly, I modded these into MS1000i's, and they really sound great. The soundstage is huge, bass is DEEP and full, but stays in its own frequencies. Rodrigo y Gabriela sounds incredible, as do post-rock, electronica, and hip hop artists. For under 200 dollars with the amp and mods, the Allesandro's should not be passed up. Very fun and incredible quality.
Pros - Detailed High and Mids.
Cons - Comfort & Bass.
Note: I will be comparing these to the AKG K430.
Bass: Bassheads? Go away. These headphones can not be categorized under "For Bassheads". These MS1i's are very light yet very detailed with the bass. There are some "thuds" and "umpfs" but not to the point where your ears would vibrate even a little. The bass on these headphones (as stated before) are very detailed, you will hear the nice "uud" in worldwide musics. Overall? Detailed bass but very light.
HIGHS: The highs on these MS1's are amazingly clear (compared to the K430. The K430 are known for clear portables as well!). The highs on these MS1's will not pierce your ears if you turn the volume moderately high. The MS1's has laid back (only a little) the highs, mids and lows so that they all balance out, doing this allows the MS1's to show it's clear-ness with the highs through out many songs and genre that I listen to.
MIDS: The mids on these are (as stated before) laid back a little bit to allow the HIGHS and LOWS to show them self. The mids are very detailed and is very well balanced out.
LOWS: The lows on these are amazing, you will hear them fairly well and is somewhat detailed and not muddy compared to the K430.
Genre for these cans: Due to these cans being very well balanced out, they would fit in nearly every genre, except for those that uses a lot of bass (or moderately).
*Click* without headphones = 100% (Hearing percentage)
*Click* with headphones = 98% (Hearing percentage)
Isolation? No sir!
Comfort: I've used these for hours! 3 to 6 hours, and they don't hurt! Only until I take them off...
Design: All comes down to personal taste. I like them!
Value: Great. At the official website selling for $110? I'll get them! They are great and I highly recommend them for THAT price (or cheaper). But due to me being way to new to this! Don't judge only by my words!
Pros - Detail, Comfort
Cons - Bass, Portability, Isolation
Audio Quality: My initial impressions were quite negative. It seemed to lack bass, and some vocals and electric guitars seemed very piercing with specific music. However after some (brain) burn-in, and some EQ adjustments I really started to enjoy my MS-1.
BASS: I can certainly say that bass-heads need to look elsewhere. The bass is definitely there, and with some equalizing, it can actually become detailed and realistic. However, there is very little "impact" and "oomph" with these... especially if you refuse to mess with equalizer. In comparison, PortaPros provide significantly more bass, but sound muddy/veiled and unrealistic in the process of doing so.
MIDS: Very forward. As I mentioned, some vocals and some guitars can come across as piercing at higher volumes. In my opinion there's a minor peak around 3KHz range, I tend to very slightly equalize those frequencies down. Having said that, the instrument separation and detail is excellent. If you're coming from cheaper headphones, you will probably hear details in the music that you had not noticed before. And even though I complained about "SOME" guitars and vocals, most of the time MS-1 sound terrific. Acoustic music sounds especially realistic with these headphones. In fact if it wasn't for non-existing sound-stage, you would feel like you're at a concert.
HIGHS: Again, very detailed, I recall hearing a track that had some high frequency 17-18KHz sounds that I have never noticed on the PortaPros.
Music Overall: MS1 perform fantastically with Acoustic Guitar. They are also great for Most modern Rock, Pop, Indie, and Metal. I think the obvious weaknesses would be Hip-Hop, techno/dance or any bass-heavy music. Keep in mind that bass on these is still much better than ibuds and probably any $10-30 phones you can find. I believe that once you get used to the sound signature of these headphones, you will never be able to go back to anything lesser, because the music will not feel as exciting and life-like through other phones.
Isolation: is non-existent. You will hear everything around you. And everybody around you will hear your music. Do not try to use these in close proximity to others, or in noisy environments. And with the long thick cord, these are not exactly portable.
Design: Yes they look cheap and rough, and they also look like they were made in the 80s. I actually like that... but I don't think that these would be currently considered "stylish". Of course if you're buying headphones for style, these are unlikely to be on your radar. The overall design is very functional. I think the most glaring issue with Grado design, is that the earpieces rotate 360 degrees. This rotation twists the cord around, which is not good, so watch out for that.
Durability: I had these for 7 months now. No issues so far. I don't baby these, but I also don't abuse them. I think these will last many many years with normal use. There's not a lot of parts that could break. No colored shiny surfaces to scratch. In fact, my MS1 look almost as good as they did brand new... but then again, they looked pretty rough to start with.
Comfort: These are on-ear phones, so if you are used to around-ear design or earbuds, you will probably not like these at first. The clamping force was also a bit too much at first and made my ears hurt. I bent the headband a bit, and now I can wear these for 4-6 hours without any comfort issues.The new earpads were itchy. Some recommend washing them... I just replaced them with some older well-worn earpads that I had lying around. Currently I have no issues with comfort, and I can wear them as long as I want to. MS1 are also very light so I don't think the weight is an issue with these.
Value: These directly compete with Grado SR60/SR80, Audio-Technica ATH-M50 and Superluxes among others. And as much as I hate to say it, the other headphones may provide slightly better value for the money... not by much, but still. It will depend on personal preference more than anything else. I can't speak to how much better or worse SR60 is, but by all accounts, the sound is very similar, so you may indeed find that SR60 have better value ratio. If you can find M50s for under $120.. those may provide better SQ as well as isolation.
I bought these partly because I wanted something different from the mainstream, and also because of all the rave reviews these receive. Overall I'm satisfied with these, and I think they were worth the money I paid for them, but I'm already thinking about upgrading to more expensive phones. I'm looking for something that has accurate and realistic bass response,soundstage, and slightly less forward mids.
Pros - Makes me feel like a rock star
Cons - Reminds me that I have to pay child support
Get them fool
Pros - Great mids. Highs aren't bright. Lots of bass. Price! Easy to amp. Sturdy (but a little cheap feeling) build quality.
Cons - Sometimes too much bass - it can get a little bloaty. In-your-face lack of depth in the soundstage. The comfies aren't that comfy.
Note: These were received as a gift.
In short, I'm actually stunned at the level of performance that only $110 will bring - perhaps it's just the newness to me, but the level of detail of the Alessandros sounds on par with the HD 600s (i.e. excellent), and the sound signature is (IME) closer to the HD 600 than anything else I've listened to, just a bit more "exciting" sounding.
What I'm most surprised about is that the Alessandros don't seem bright in the least - I was bracing myself for that, but it never came. Well, maybe just a tiny, tiny bit. There's certainly more of an emphasis on the upper mids and lower highs - and bass (leaving the low mids standing out slightly in the HD 600, relatively speaking) - but it's not fatiguing like I found the Beyer DT 880 to be.
The bass is surprisingly very strong - almost verging on being bloaty at times, but never to the point where it offends me. It's kind of like an exaggerated version of the HD 600 bass, perhaps not with as much extension. Note definition is very good, however.
The most notable difference (beyond the price) may be the soundstage, of course. The Alessandros are narrow, less precise, and closer sounding than the Sennheisers - I don't want to imagine how a K701 or HD 800 would A/B in comparison. It's not horrible when just listening to them, but as soon as I went back to the HD 600 for the first time, I was astounded at how much more enveloping they sounded. I guess some like the Grado presentation more (perhaps those who've never heard truly great speakers), but I can't say I'm one of them. Holographic these are not.
Oh, and the other downside: Comfort. The comfies are much better on my ears than the bowls - which are uncomfortable immediately upon putting on, and hurt after just a few minutes. Still, I'm finding that after an hour or so my ears hurt a little from even the comfies. I've stretched out the headband a little which has helped somewhat, although they weren't that tight to begin with and I kind of like not having the band touch my head at all. Anyway, all the popular over-ear open headphones I've tried, including my HD 600, are way more comfortable.
I love the looks, however, and the sturdy build is excellent. The cable isn't going to fall apart on you either; it's surprisingly very good. The plastic of the cups is a little cheap feeling, but it doesn't feel like it's going to break - same with the headband and the vinyl pleather.
They're very easy to drive - the Sansa Clip+ does great for a portable, as does the uDAC. Perhaps the uDAC has slightly more more depth and dynamics, but I can't say for sure. It may just be the difference in using the HeadPlug MKII crossfeed plugin on Winamp.
So there you have it - these are superb headphones - at any price - marred really by only two things: Unrealistic in-your-face soundstaging and on-ear uncomfortableness (for me). For the price, that's excellent.
This is one of the headphones that make remembering the "voice" her for days ..
maybe ears newbie, so easily accepted ... but after prolonged use, these headphones really WOW!
easy fit with the character of an amplifier, depending on the owner's musical tastes ..
Allesandro MS1i very worthed!
I will modify these headphones .. metal mod seems