How and Why I Ended Up With RS-1’s (Long)
post-776555
Thread Starter
Post #1 of 38

NotoriousBIG_PJ

Step 1: Plug power cable into wall. Step 2: Plug other end of power cable into....umm.... Step 0.5: Order something to power with power cable.
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Messages
3,487
Reaction score
18
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Posts
3,487
Likes
18
How and Why I Ended Up With RS-1’s (Long)

I was never happy with the sound of my headphones coming out of my weakly powered pcdp but I was at a loss on how I could get better sound. In a nutshell I wanted the music to sound much more real and dynamic. This was before I stumbled upon Head-fi on that fateful day sometime in March of 2002. My cans of choice were Koss r-80’s, a large closed headphone retailing for under $50 that by the way kick the crap out of Sony v6’s (in that they do not suffer from extreme harshness or overdone bass). I read all I could on the forum and it was not soon afterwards that I picked up a pair of Beyer dt250-80’s. Upon listening I liked what I heard; this can has a nice relatively neutral tone with recessed highs and slamming bass. Soon to follow would be a headphone amp and various portable sources; I was addicted to achieving better sound.


Although my music collection was sounding better then it ever had, I was not satisfied yet. Around this time, head-fi was filled with hype over the AT w100’s and I was curious to try out a wooden headphone. Around this time I also managed to burrow a friends Grado sr60’s. Compared to my Beyer’s, the bass was lacking but I was digging the way cymbals shimmered, it was really great for rock. And so it was that I was drawn to the rs-1, a wooden headphone that a kind head-fier told me was more suited for rock music then the AT cans because of where the midrange colourations lay in each can. At the time the U.S. was going through a bit of a recession and there was plenty of goodies in the for sale forum. I managed to pick up a pair of used rs-1’s for cheap that had been up for sale for quite some time.


I was excited when my rs-1’s finally arrived. I put them on and thought to myself how is it that a headphone looking so beautiful off the head looks so hideous on the head (hot). Back then my ears were far less refined, I didn’t know what a mid bass hump was or the difference between harsh and smooth, all I knew was that the rs-1 took some of the shimmering cymbals of the sr60’s, added the bass fullness of the 250-80’s and completed the cycle with a warm enchanting midrange. Now this was my kind of headphone. J


My next experience with high-end cans was when ZZZ let me borrow his Grado hp2’s for a while. While I can see why these cans are so highly respected, they just don’t do it for me. I never found myself grooving along with the music and only found them to best the rs-1’s when I switched over to orchestral music (where I find better tonal accuracy and a less aggressive sound a good thing). Am I bothered by the headphones lack of colourations? No, not particularly. Does the tight detailed bass that lacks any sort of fullness and the absence of musical energy bother me? Yes, yes it does. I had not given up on this headphone yet, but it wasn’t giving me what I wanted in my system.


I was also able to listen to ZZZ’s omega 2 set-up which at the time consisted of Cary 303/200->KGSS->Stax Omega 2. I was hearing something special (and this was my first time listening to a dedicated cd player). With this combo, details float out of a black background and the hiss from each recording is very audible, redefining for me what a low noise floor is. The sound of the 007t/kgss combination is very natural and true to the recording. When listening I’m not placed at a live venue; I’m in the studio with the artists experiencing every detail in a very refined and pleasant way. The sound is free of colourations (like hp1000), though they don’t drain the life out of music like an hp1000 can. The bass is extended and full (unlike hp1000) with no bloated bass hump (unlike rs-1). There is bass in quantity and it changes texture from recording to recording. The cymbals on these cans put the rs-1 cymbals to shame. They recreate them exactly as I would like a can to, not out of control with tizzyness like John Grado cans. Vertigo-1 once wrote that Grado cymbals sound like cars crashing and in almost every system I find this to be true. The soundstage of the omegas is wide and high providing lots of separation. So what did I find missing with the omega 2’s? Impact. I love to feel the sensation of the drums as if I was really there. The omegas do have impact, but it is not to the extent of the Grados. For me the rs-1’s were still keepers.


Fast forward to the first Toronto head-fi meet. I was now equipped with a Gilmore v1 amp and d515 pcdp. I was not really digging the combo (particularly in the midrange) but I was curious to find out how other amps would compare and to hear more of the world’s high-end headphones. I was able to try Sony r-10 (not nearly enough bass for this bass head), AKG 1000 (speakers on my ears, haha no thank you), Sony cd3000 (lacking midrange fullness) and Sennheiser hd600 with Cardas and Equinox (boring presentation). I also got to try the hp1000’s with a Melos and a set amp but I still couldn’t get the cans to wakeup and get my foot tapping. The combo that wowed me the most at the meet turned out to be msjrr’s custom 300b tube amp with my rs-1’s. The sweetness of the midrange drew me in and I was still rocking along to the music. The magic of tubes was what was missing in my system it turned out. I immediately knew I had to get myself a tube amp that could drive low ohm cans well and build a complete system around the combo.


At the time, other then the Ear hp-4, there weren’t many amps to choose from so I asked the builder of msjrr’s amp about building a tube amp for low ohm cans that would be great for rock music and he had just the thing in mind. A few months later I had my own el34 tube amp and things were starting to get good in my system. My source back then was a Shanling s100 (music hall cd25), which with some new opamp chips and a decent power cord I was able to get a smooth non-bright presentation out of. The sound was detailed, wide and flat. I craved more depth and fullness in my system so I saved up my pennies.

A couple months past before I set out on finding a better source. I auditioned 7 different sources in the $2-3k range along with a friend who also has rs-1 headphones and likes similar music. The first 6 sources we not a big enough difference over my Shanling to justify the cost. Then we headed over to Fab Audio, the place that built my amp and listened to their modified Teac player. This was it; I had to have this player. The depth and dynamics were great and paired with my amp, the music sounded as real as I could wish for. I sold off all my portable gear and bought their demo model within a month.


That was last summer and since then my system has gone through many tube changes, power cord swaps and interconnects to get the sound just right (I’m talking synergy). One main goal of mine has been to get rid of the tizzy sound on cymbals the rs-1 loves to make. This fuzziness around the cymbals is affected by every component in my system. A few high priced power cords and cables were actually adding to this effect so they had to be replaced. I can say now that I managed to get rid of the problem. The cymbals are still overly sweet but I am satisfied with what I have (and obviously I’m not satisfied easily hehe).


I think certain head-fiers would be amazed by how refined the rs-1 can sound. Don’t get me wrong, these phones will always have a syrupy midrange, tipped up highs and a mid bass hump, but they can sound so smooth, focused and natural I often found myself taken to a sonic oasis I wish I didn’t have to leave. There’s nothing quite like getting chills from listening to a recording that has been brought to life. I’m onstage with the musicians and they are playing for only me. It’s a nice place to be and it is created by a selection of components that give depth, dynamics and tube magic to complement the rs-1’s presentation, refinement and PRAT. What these headphones do is make the music come alive and get me grooving along with the music. They scale up very well and are smooth. The rs-1 can do depth (in layers), it can do a sound stage wider then your ears, and it can also sound overly bright (which is why I use flat pads). The speed of them allows playback of complex passages with ease. Unless your components aren’t up to the task, the rs-1 isn’t going to turn any recordings into mud. Imaging is very tight making it very easy to point out where each instrument is coming from, while the soundstage never creates a disjointed or analytical sonic picture. A band plays as a band with these headphones; you aren’t going to experience huge amounts of separation. The resolution of the rs-1 is great but it doesn’t compare to cans like the r-10 or omega 2’s which both reproduce trailing s-sounds better (the hardest thing in audio to get right in my opinion). These headphones aren’t for everyone, but they are my headphones of choice.


Eh, so who wants to lend me some ps-1 pros. ^^

Biggie.
 
     Share This Post       
post-776586
Post #2 of 38

Wmcmanus

President treasurer secretary and sole member of the Cayman Islands Head-Fi Club.
Joined
Nov 29, 2002
Messages
11,830
Reaction score
23
Joined
Nov 29, 2002
Posts
11,830
Likes
23
Biggie, this was a brilliant post! It provides much insight to your headphone journey that any new head-fi member can learn from. It also demonstrates what folks like Hirsch and ServinginEcuador have been saying for years - any well designed headphone can sound utterly amazing when properly system matched and fine tuned to the listener's sonic preferences. This is true at the RS-1, HD600, and CD3000 price level, and does not require an Omega II or R10 type of investment. Your post also shows that determination to "get it right" pays off, and that no matter what, there are tradeoffs involved - no one pair of headphones will be perfect for everyone.
 
     Share This Post       
post-776620
Post #3 of 38

TonyTripleA

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 24, 2004
Messages
672
Reaction score
19
Joined
Feb 24, 2004
Posts
672
Likes
19
Wow, what a great post. I felt I was on the journey with you - thanks!!!

Now the RS-1 cans are on my list of "must listen too" phones. As I can buy the Alessandro MS-pro cans in Australia, can you say how these differ from the RS-1s?

But... selling ALL your portable gear... that, I can never do!

Cheers,

TonyAAA
 
     Share This Post       
post-776700
Post #4 of 38

ServinginEcuador

Founder of the Head-Fi Pay-to-Post Program.
Joined
Sep 1, 2002
Messages
8,384
Reaction score
14
Joined
Sep 1, 2002
Posts
8,384
Likes
14
Nice read on the history of your listening/buying experiences leading up to the purchase of your beloved RS-1s. It's always neat to read about how people arrived at their cans of choice. More of us should share this as it is quite eye opening.
 
     Share This Post       
post-776754
Post #5 of 38

3lusiv3

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 10, 2004
Messages
3,677
Reaction score
13
Joined
Feb 10, 2004
Posts
3,677
Likes
13
Dope! This is what we come here for.
 
     Share This Post       
post-776789
Post #6 of 38

elnero

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 24, 2002
Messages
6,081
Reaction score
489
Location
Prince Edward Island, Canada
Joined
Jul 24, 2002
Location
Prince Edward Island, Canada
Posts
6,081
Likes
489
Excellent post Biggie! I casually followed your journey to nirvana since I discovered Head-Fi shortly after you. It's interesting to read your thoughts now with some explanations of why you ended up with what you did.
 
     Share This Post       
post-776796
Post #7 of 38

Hirsch

Why is there a chaplain standing over his wallet?
Joined
Aug 12, 2001
Messages
7,820
Reaction score
23
Joined
Aug 12, 2001
Posts
7,820
Likes
23
Wonderful post. I use my RS-1's every day (they're the headphone I build my work system around), and sometimes feel that they don't really get the respect on Head-Fi that they deserve (even from me
). This is a beautiful example of how to take a headphone, your personal tastes, and then build a system that bridges the two. For people trying to figure out how to build a system, you've laid down a blueprint on a great way to go about doing it. Congrats on an excellent write-up!
 
     Share This Post       
post-776807
Post #8 of 38

agile_one

忍者
Joined
Sep 2, 2003
Messages
2,663
Reaction score
10
Joined
Sep 2, 2003
Posts
2,663
Likes
10
Excellent description of your journey, big. Really enjoyable to read of your experiences and insights. Seems you have arrived at harmony and balance, and described well the process. Your comments on synergy and everything working together are very true, but often overlooked.

A most enjoyable and informative post.

"You have come far, Grasshopper ..."
 
     Share This Post       
post-776814
Post #9 of 38

jpelg

Needs a regular fix of 'Fi
'06 Nat Meet Co-Coordinator
Joined
Jan 19, 2002
Messages
8,675
Reaction score
26
Location
The Elm City
Joined
Jan 19, 2002
Location
The Elm City
Posts
8,675
Likes
26
Great post about your journey, Biggie.

I have become a recent convert to the RS-1 camp (although I still love my HP-2's). For me, they, along with the Alessandro MS-Pro's, are the best current production headphone <US$1k, imo. Perfect? No. But they just get the sound right more often than not.

Thanks for reminding us that we should listen with our own ears, that you can tweak a system to suit your specific tastes, and all the work is worth it.

I still want to hear these out of a Holmes-Powell headphone amp...
 
     Share This Post       
post-776817
Post #10 of 38

reeseboisse

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 3, 2004
Messages
435
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jan 3, 2004
Posts
435
Likes
10
Thanks for that Biggie, it was a really interesting read. I hope to end up in a similar position regarding equipment someday, and know that my system is truly correct for "me".
 
     Share This Post       
post-776823
Post #11 of 38

dhwilkin

Headphone audiophiles are practically the stuff of legend.
Joined
Jun 20, 2001
Messages
4,426
Reaction score
11
Joined
Jun 20, 2001
Posts
4,426
Likes
11
Yes, very nice read. I like hearing not only about what you progressed to, but more importantly, why you progressed to what you did.
 
     Share This Post       
post-776834
Post #12 of 38

gsferrari

Member of the Trade: Veda Audio Contributor
Joined
Nov 10, 2003
Messages
7,362
Reaction score
14
Joined
Nov 10, 2003
Posts
7,362
Likes
14
I think the words :-

* Refined
* Syrupy midrange
* Smoothness
* Tightness of bass
* Speed of response

all go hand in hand with what I have heard when I auditioned an RS-1 at a recent headfi meet. I would definitely like to spend more time with this headphone but I am under the spell of an AKG K-1000 and Grace Design 901 right now
 
     Share This Post       
post-776835
Post #13 of 38

gpalmer

We are the weird ones.
Joined
Apr 27, 2002
Messages
7,080
Reaction score
12
Joined
Apr 27, 2002
Posts
7,080
Likes
12
Great post biggie, it's nice to see someone think through their journey in the headphone world and I'm glad you made it to at least a temporary Nirvana!
 
     Share This Post       
post-776842
Post #14 of 38

NotoriousBIG_PJ

Step 1: Plug power cable into wall. Step 2: Plug other end of power cable into....umm.... Step 0.5: Order something to power with power cable.
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Messages
3,487
Reaction score
18
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Posts
3,487
Likes
18
Thanks for the kind words everyone. I haven't had a quality post in a while so I thought I was due for one.


Biggie.
 
     Share This Post       
post-777038
Post #15 of 38

Zanth

SHAman who knew of Head-Fi ten years prior to its existence
Joined
Oct 11, 2001
Messages
9,570
Reaction score
37
Joined
Oct 11, 2001
Posts
9,570
Likes
37
Excellent post Biggie. Seriously.

It was very well layed out and very similar to my experiences. I perfected my system (though I felt the RA-1 was enough for me...since I owned the HP-1's and tweaked my Melos, perhaps after this write-up I should be eyeing a nice SET amp for my loved RS-1's
) in a similar manner, perhaps I should contribute my own journey, perhaps we all should.

I think this, as has been said, demonstrates truly what determination and the idea of synergy can achieve. Hirsch I would say is our primary prophet of the synergy camp, I'm a follower for sure. The great systems of audio are out there...they just need to be found. How many times do people chime in with: "You NEED a Melos with HP-1000's" or "What you don't have a Max for those HD600's? Well then you aren't getting anywhere near what you could be out of them." etc. Half the fun in the hobby is finding that magic. I'm glad you found it. Now enjoy the other half of the hobby....the music.
 
     Share This Post       

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top