Review: Alessandro MS1, Shure SRH840, and pioneer SE M390.
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bcasey25raptor

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As you guys may be aware I own 3 decent pairs of headphones now. I recently ordered the alessandro ms1 and received it today. Now that I own 3 pairs of decent headphones I will do a review and comparison between the 3.
 
 
 
I will give it a 1, 2, or 3 for a rating scale. 1 means it wins in the category, 2 means it comes in second, and 3 means it comes in last (Quite Simple).
 
Feature SE M390 Shure SRH840 Alessandro MS1
Speed 3 2 1
Bass 1 3 2
Highs 3 2 1
Mids 3 1 2
Accuracy 3 1 2
Enjoyment 2 3 1
Durability 2 1 3
Value 3 2 1
Overall 3 1 2
 
Now that that is over with let's start the review.
 
 
I will start with my Pioneer SE M390 (Not well known around here)
 
Pioneer SE M390
 
Durability/Design
The Pioneer SE M390 is a budget closed back headphone with an MSRP of $60. This remains as my first venture into higher end audio. Being 1.5 years old you would expect some wear and tear and probably broken headphones at this price. But alas it has survived being thrown around, dropped, even a car crash(I wasn't driving). The only wear i see is that there is some chips in the plastic above the driver where the 2 arches arch over the headphones. Also it has a piece of fabric that keeps the headphones in place which is all crumpled up and has pieces falling out. Worst yet it has become hard making it slightly uncomfortable. Finally the jack has had some shredding issues but it's not in any way that prohibits usage. A little electricians tape fixed it.
 
For durability it ranks number 2.

 
Comfort
These are comfortable but are very loose. Be prepared to constantly be adjusting these. I also found that the velour pads became itchy over time.
 
 
 
Sound Quality
Yes here we go. your all wondering what these sound like aren't you? Well now you find out. If I were to give you an example of a pair of headphones that sound like these I will say Beats Studios with more bass. Yes I said it, $60 for a similar sound signature to the Beats Studios with more bass. Then again it's not really more bass but bass that reaches lower into sub bass regions. Beats Studios don't do that.
 
Mids: The mids are masked by the massive bass of these headphones. It can make vocals and guitars hard to hear or make out.
Highs: The highs are recessed and laid back. not up front or enjoyable at all.
Bass: If you want bass look no further. I give you bass champions under $60 (The Sony XB500 may have more bass but I haven't tried them).
Speed: These are slow bloated bass monsters
Accuracy: These are not very accurate but are perfect for masking out bad sounding recordings. Anything will most likely sound good with these.
 
Amped Performance
I found when you amp these They gain a bit of a bass boast. I still don't know weather this is good or bad. It depends on who you are. But overall are very efficient.
I used both a Fiio E7 and Fiio E5 to test this.

Final Thoughts
If you want very bassy headphones under $60 these are a safe bet. They won't dazzle you with details but they are definitely fun. But they will only work with slow bassy genres like Hip hop and electronic.
 
 
Alessandro MS1
 
Durability/Design
Ah yes. The famous Grado headphones. Everyone knows them. Some swear by them, some hate them. Design wise I personally think they are nothing special. They have a hipster look to it though. Kind of like your trying to stick out for being different. I like the retro design but is it practical? Durability on these with my first impression is of so/so quality. The cable under the Y-Splitter is very robust and durable but at the Y-splitter the cable feels cheap and hand made (Well then again Grado is made by a family company in Brooklyn USA). The headphones are made of plastic and feel pretty sturdy actually. But the cord really itches at my worry bone. Better be extra careful. They are open design so they aren't very portable.
 
Though out of this comparison I have to give it 3rd spot for durability.

 
Comfort
These are Comfortable but only for a certain periods of time. Pre quarter mod I found them really comfortable but post mod I found them to get close to my ears and the hard plastic just tended to touch the tip of my ear causing pain. I have gotten used to it though and hardly notice anymore.
 
Sound Quality
When I first received these and opened the box my first response was to try them on and listen to my music (Isn't that everyone's response). At first listen I was amazed. Brilliant sound. It brought a tear to my eyes. The clarity and speed made my music come to life. This is what heavy metal was supposed to sound like is what I was thinking. Unfortunately it didn't last. As I got used to the sound I lost the same appreciation I had when I first tried them on. This doesn't mean it is bad. It is still my favorite can for metal or at home use. But I realized that they are less accurate then my Shure SRH840 (To be expected when those are $200). But what these excel at is speed and enjoyment. They are also less honest to badly recorded music.
 
Edit: After extensive burn in and the quarter mod the bass has decreased. It has settled on a more balanced pleasant sound. I continue to be immensely shocked at how incredible these sound.
 
 
Mids: Very fun, accurate, and are very forward sounding.
Highs: Not very harsh but very forward and fast.
Lows: These seem to have quite a bit of bass. People who think these are bass light like to much bass. I personally think these might have to much bass for me. but they are so fast i won't complain.
Speed: So fast. These make electric guitars sound phenomenal.
Accuracy: Accurate but still colored. More accurate can probably be found at this price. These are more for enjoyment then critical listening.
 
Amp Performance
I find when these are Amped they get more aggressive and gain a bit of lower bass. But overall these don't need to be amp to get the most out of them. They are very efficient and can be run from any portable source.
I used both a Fiio E7 and Fiio E5 to test this.

 
Final Thoughts
These are great for Heavy Metal, Rock, and other fast paced instrumental music.
 
Shure SRH840
 
Durability/Design
Design wise these are closed back so you shouldn't have any issues with noise leakage. They are really big so portability might not be a viable option. They come with a detachable coiled cable and replacement earpads which seem to have memory foam. Durability wise these things are built like a tank. The headband can be stretched this way and that and it will just keep going. Rubber enforced with metal keeps it together well. Detachable cable makes replacement easy. and they are really comfortable. My only concern is the cables jutting out the side. But having owned them for a long while they are actually much more durable then I give them credit for.
 
They earn 1st spot for durability hands down.

 
Comfort
The most comfortable of the bunch. They have very comfortable memory foam pads, and a slightly padded headband. They are very heavy though so some people will find it uncomfortable. I find that if you have hair you should have no comfort issues. But if you do listen for many hours you might feel it weighing down on you which could cause discomfort for some people.
 
Sound Quality
These are really accurate, seemingly slow, and analytical. Not to be a first choice for just enjoying your music.
 
 
Mids: Amazingly clear, forward but not intrusive.
Highs: Better then the pioneer SE M390 but I feel they are recessed after 10khz. On the bright side they are not harsh.
Lows: Mid bass hump, and recessed sub bass.
Speed: Slow, not good for Rock or Heavy Metal.
Accuracy: Very accurate, these excel at details.
 
Amped Performance
When I amp these I noticed a slight improvement in the highs and a gain in the bass department. But overall these gain slightly little from amping.
I used both a Fiio E7 and Fiio E5 to test this.
 

 
Final Thoughts
These are my go to cans most of the time. They work with every genre of music but do light music best. Something like Jazz or Classical will sound impressive with these.
 
 
Winners/Preferences
After writing this I should give my opinion on which wins.
 
Winners
Best overall is the Shure SRH840                                                                  
Second best is the Alessandro MS1
And last is the Pioneer SE M390
 
 
Personal Preference (Enjoyment)
Alessandro MS1 is the most fun
Shure SRH840 comes in second for enjoyment and accuracy in 1
Third is the Pioneer SE M390
 
Amp Requirements
Overall I found all 3 cans are easy to drive and benefit little from amping.
I used both a Fiio E7 and Fiio E5 to test this.
 
 
 
I hope you enjoyed this Review/Comparison.
 
 
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bcasey25raptor

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is no one interested in my review/comparison?
 
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Arnotts

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I am :). Thanks for the review man.
 
I have to disagree with your assessment of the MS1's bass though. They have slightly more bass than my AD700's, to me. Both of them are definitely lacking in the bass area for electronica, and for music with lots of percussion. Tight, punchy bass, but very little quantity imo.
 
Having said that, it's totally subjective. I've heard of people who found AD900's to have too much bass, so it's still a great review even though I disagree with that part.
 
Cheers.
 
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wje

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You based your review of the MS-1i after only using them a few hours?  While the other headphones have had more use time - more time for the drivers to open up and become capable of operating more within their specs.  Put some hours on the MS-1i and then run through the review process again in about 3 weeks to see if the rankings still remain the same.
 
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200poundsofamp

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Decent review, I knew you'd like your MS-1's. But yeah you should have waited a few days at least, your opinion of the 840's since you bought them has been about as steady as 10 rollercoasters falling off a cliff

 
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Quote:
Decent review, I knew you'd like your MS-1's. But yeah you should have waited a few days at least, your opinion of the 840's since you bought them has been about as steady as 10 rollercoasters falling off a cliff


i don't believe in burn in. so there is no changes which would occur over time. i am quite happy with the alessandro ms1. i have been listening all day.
 
 
BUT if anything changes i will edit the alessandro review and comparison. think of this review as a work in progress.
 
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wje

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Quote:
i don't believe in burn in. so there is no changes which would occur over time. i am quite happy with the alessandro ms1. i have been listening all day.
 
BUT if anything changes i will edit the alessandro review and comparison. think of this review as a work in progress.

If you have some free time, take a few minutes to read up on speaker break-in periods: http://www.gr-research.com/burnin.htm
 
 
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Well, sounds like you're officially hooked into the Grado club. I give you a year before you start looking into the 325i's or the RS1i's. Maybe in 3 to 5 years you'll be doing a review on the GS1000i. Glad to hear you liked the MS1's, enjoy.
 
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Chris_Himself

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Welcome to the big-boy club haha. You're lucky you started with the MS-1 and not the SR-60 so the next step up is the SR-225.
 
Good luck trying to hold back the upgradeitis, it took me years of counseling to stop me from going SR-325i and beyond. I really do miss the goldies though :frowning2:
 
I really liked this review and I was rooting for the Grados all the way but I'm glad you kept it realistic.
 
The part that really makes me smile is that you said anybody who says these are bass light ask for too much. It's really dependent on the music you listen to. I've heard hip hop with awesome bass on these (Cyne) and hip hop with terrible asshurt bass on these (crap on the radio). I posted the same thing and people got kind of defensive even though Grado headphones have more bass than a lot of audiophile neutral headphones and those have the perfect amount bass for those audio purists out there. I really like neutral sounding cans too alongside Grados.
 
(obviously much sounds better in cd quality)

 
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Quote:
Welcome to the big-boy club haha. You're lucky you started with the MS-1 and not the SR-60 so the next step up is the SR-225.
 
Good luck trying to hold back the upgradeitis, it took me years of counseling to stop me from going SR-325i and beyond. I really do miss the goldies though :frowning2:
 
I really liked this review and I was rooting for the Grados all the way but I'm glad you kept it realistic.
 
The part that really makes me smile is that you said anybody who says these are bass light ask for too much. It's really dependent on the music you listen to. I've heard hip hop with awesome bass on these (Cyne) and hip hop with terrible asshurt bass on these (crap on the radio). I posted the same thing and people got kind of defensive even though Grado headphones have more bass than a lot of audiophile neutral headphones and those have the perfect amount bass for those audio purists out there. I really like neutral sounding cans too alongside Grados.
 
(obviously much sounds better in cd quality)

i did the quarter comfy mod and it cleared up the sound and lowered the bass impact to a more sane level.
 
 
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wje

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After 5 weeks of ownership, my MS-1i Alessandros sound quite a bit different than they did on day one.  
 
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Quote:
After 5 weeks of ownership, my MS-1i Alessandros sound quite a bit different than they did on day one.  


Update:Day 2
 
these must have been made for electric guitar. if anything sounds best on here its the guitar. It stands out and sounds very powerful. if i had to make a single negative about these headphones it would have to be how it handles vocals. i understand these were probably not designed for vocals and i find vocals to be very forward and aggressive. (for harsh metal vocals it sounds just right but for normal vocals it can sound grating). since 90% of my music is heavy metal i think i found a new favorite. im sold on the grado sound signature.
 
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Quote:
Update:Day 2
 
these must have been made for electric guitar. if anything sounds best on here its the guitar. It stands out and sounds very powerful. if i had to make a single negative about these headphones it would have to be how it handles vocals. i understand these were probably not designed for vocals and i find vocals to be very forward and aggressive. (for harsh metal vocals it sounds just right but for normal vocals it can sound grating). since 90% of my music is heavy metal i think i found a new favorite. im sold on the grado sound signature.
 
Give them more time, my young grasshopper.
 
 
 
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The Alessando aren't harsh?
You're always saying the Shure SRH 840 is.
Looking at FQ graphs of Grados I would think they are since they have more boosted upper mids and treble than the SRH 840 does.
 
But if your enjoying them I guess that's all that matters.
 
I think for hard rock and metal that is unfortunately cursed in artificially boosted volume levels.
If you can speakers are best .
And then Ultrasone headphones with the -4db of sound pressure over other headphones really help take away sharp harsh metallic sound which comes from the artificial volume.
And the bass and percussion sections actually sound good versus other headphones.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Quote:
The Alessando aren't harsh?
You're always saying the Shure SRH 840 is.
Looking at FQ graphs of Grados I would think they are since they have more boosted upper mids and treble than the SRH 840 does.
 
But if your enjoying them I guess that's all that matters.
 
I think for hard rock and metal that is unfortunately cursed in artificially boosted volume levels.
If you can speakers are best .
And then Ultrasone headphones with the -4db of sound pressure over other headphones really help take away sharp harsh metallic sound which comes from the artificial volume.
And the bass and percussion sections actually sound good versus other headphones.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


i think the shure srh840 isn't really harsh it's because it has an honest approach to my music. for example harsh recordings will for the most part sound harsh. these may be harsh but they are not in a way that intrudes on my music. i rather like the aggressive sound of these headphones.
 
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