RS-1 vs. Headphile HF-1
Feb 24, 2006 at 6:20 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 44

wolfen68

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Thanks to forum member Gorthon, I had an opportunity to spend a few hours comparing an RS-1 (reported at 250 hours of usage) to a stock HF-1 and my headphiled HF-1. In some ways, this is a part two continuation of this comparison thread:

http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showt...highlight=hf-1

I went into this comparison with a lot of anticipation. An RS-1 is one of the four pieces of hardware I have been really "itching" to listen to for some time. All comparisons were use with an iRiver H140 with EAC/Lame (aps) files to an SR-71 amp. Some listening was also conducted through a Hornet which was also available. Most would agree that the H140 with .mp3's is a limited source, but portable equipment is my main interest and what I use the most. All cans used stock Bowls.

As always, everything is IMO to my personal tastes.

I had a lot of bias entering this comparison because I have read so much about the RS-1's. It gets to the point that you've seen so many impressions, you can almost delude yourself into believing that you know exactly what they sound like. I admit secretly wishing that the RS-1's would excel so that I would have a new upgrade path from the HHF-1's that I had been enjoying very much over the recent past.

For starters, comparisons from other members had led me to believe that an HHF-1 and RS-1 sounded very close to each other. To my surprise, at the very first listen, the two cans seemed more distinct and different from each other than any other comparisons I've ever made between two cans. I remember having SR-60's and getting 225's and spending a lot of time to hear the difference....or the difference between my old GoVibe and an SR71. Of course the differences are there, but you grow into recognizing them over some period of time.

Not so here....with the HHF-1's alongside the RS-1's, the difference is immediately apparent.

For starters, the HHF-1's have far more body and general fullness to their sound than the RS-1's. Also, the RS-1's are definitely brighter. The entire range of sound, from top to bottom, is slid upwards as compared to the HHF-1. The RS-1's highs are pretty incredible, but unfortunately I suspect I would not be able to handle it over long periods of time. Over the last several months I have developed some tinnitus in my left ear (not related to any abuse or headphone indulgences....just age
frown.gif
), and the RS-1 had me worried for the first time ever that what I was hearing may aggravate that condition. The highs are delicious, but every once in awhile a note would rise out of the mix and go deeper into my head than I liked. I have owned several Grados and am used to the Grado sound.....so I thought there would be no surprises there. Maybe this is a symptom of my less than stellar source.

The next thing I noticed was how detail was being presented. After listening to several songs first with the RS-1, I was convinced that it provided far superior detail. For example, in Wheezer's "Beverly Hills" the RS-1's revealed what sounds like a woman's voice singing intermittantly down low on the left channel (around the part where the lyrics "preppy school" occur.....she/he then pipes in later for short bits around the chorus. Amazed that the RS-1's revealed this little gem, I put on the HHF-1's and found that I could also hear it with those as well (but never noticed it in the past).

This happened time and time again where I noticed additional detail with the RS-1, but found it later with the HHF-1. I chalked this up to the different overall presentation (brighter) and the better layering/separation of the RS-1.

RS-1 soundstaging is superior. It exhibited improved openness and separation as compared to the HHF-1. With many tracks the improvement seemed moderate. However, after listening to Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of SIlence", I was convinced the RS-1 had the edge as the vocals and instruments broadened very realistically. The HHF-1 sounded good on this track, but more upfront and close.

The real teaser became the bass. The lower end is so different on these. To be honest, I was initially disappointed with the RS-1's bass. I expected tight and controlled.....but not this tight. I have worked hard to avoid the ravages of excessive bass addiction and to appreciate the real thing....but the jump from an HHF-1 to an RS-1 is a long one. The RS-1 has bass without a doubt, and it has bass detail and texture....but I had trouble feeling engaged.

The HHF-1's bass actually results in a sense of air displacement and a pressure to your ear while retaining some detail and some nice "lowness" when needed. The RS-1 did none of this for me. It has the bass detail, but not the 100% impact. Maybe this is because everything on the RS-1 seems to be one notch up the frequency scale from what I'm used to. All I can say is......listen to the White Stripes "Blue Orchid", Sinead O'Conner and the Chieftains "The Foggy Dew", ACDC "Whole Lotta Rosie", and the Wheezer song I mentioned if you ever have an opportunity to hear both side by side....and tell me what you think.

As I went from song to song, the overall observations of performance seemed consistent. I couldn't find songs that sounded better on one than on the other, and vice versa.

As I continued, it became maddening. When I heard an HF-1, I decided it was the best headphone I had heard to date. When I heard the HHF-1 for the first time, I felt the same and have believed for the last few months that it could do no wrong.

What the RS-1 did was show me that the HHF-1 is not perfect........but the RS-1 isn't either. I wanted so bad to take both headphones and squeeze them into one perfect product. Keep the warmer/fuller tone of the HHF-1's, but add the increased detail, separation, and soundstage of the RS-1 (and a touch of the high end sparkle...but not too much).

What a cruel twist of fate.

I am now convinced that modding an HF-1 DOES NOT get you an RS-1 on the cheap (well, not cheap nowadays). What you get is a can with a different signature....like it or leave it.

If I had to oversimplify, listening to the RS-1 reminds me I'm listening to CD's, while the HHF-1 makes me believe I'm listening to my old LP's. Because of this, the RS-1 has dropped off of my radar.

It is now a forum cliche...but the HHF-1 is more fun and servicable for me if not technically the better headphone.
 
Feb 24, 2006 at 6:30 PM Post #3 of 44

wolfen68

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Quote:

Originally Posted by EdipisReks
nice impressions! i think your take on the RS-1 would have been very different if they had flats, but nice post anyway
smily_headphones1.gif



My typing fingers were running out of "ooomph"....but I did try flats as well on the RS-1, but was not impressed with the slight loss of detail and total collapse of the soundstage.
 
Feb 24, 2006 at 7:02 PM Post #4 of 44

robm321

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"If I had to oversimplify, listening to the RS-1 reminds me I'm listening to CD's, while the HHF-1 makes me believe I'm listening to my old LP's. Because of this, the RS-1 has dropped off of my radar.

Good for you finding the better headphone to attach to your mp3 player.

I'll keep the RS-1's - they more better to me with flats or bowls.

To each their own but your findings were enjoyable to read.
 
Feb 24, 2006 at 7:49 PM Post #6 of 44

Jahn

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Quote:

Originally Posted by AsuAmo76
Interesting if ms-pro can fix the problem. According to some posts here, they are more neutral with better controlled bass.


I don't think he would like it. I already finds the RS-1's bass to be too tight - the MS-Pro would go even further in that direction for him.
 
Feb 24, 2006 at 7:55 PM Post #7 of 44

iamdone

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Quote:

Originally Posted by wolfen68
My typing fingers were running out of "ooomph"....but I did try flats as well on the RS-1, but was not impressed with the slight loss of detail and total collapse of the soundstage.


You might try reverse bowls. This still give the nice upper end but adds some body and a little more bass. There is just a slight loss of soundstage. Much better than flats but I still ended up prefering the bowls just because it was the sound already was used to and loved.
 
Feb 24, 2006 at 9:10 PM Post #8 of 44

EdipisReks

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Quote:

Originally Posted by wolfen68
My typing fingers were running out of "ooomph"....but I did try flats as well on the RS-1, but was not impressed with the slight loss of detail and total collapse of the soundstage.


diff'rent strokes, i guess. to me, the RS-1 just sounds "right" with the flats, and sounds all out of whack with the bowls. oh well, still a very nice impressions post.
 
Feb 24, 2006 at 10:17 PM Post #9 of 44

wolfen68

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I have to kind of chuckle at some of your posts. Whenever, a Grado gets compared, everybody has to chime in and say "how about using this other pad" and so on. I've done it on plenty of Grado threads myself.....

I wasn't all inclusive in my original post....so let me add these two points:

1. I have every type of Grado pad at my disposal except for comfies. I've spent a lot of time comparing, flipping them over, modding, dyeing, and generally abusing them over the last couple of years. I am familiar with what they all usually do to a Grado, and I plan on continuing to see if any of them do anything I like to the RS-1 over a longer listening period (if Gorthon will allow me more visitation rights
biggrin.gif
). As of the initial shot, I liked the bowls the best.....plus it is probably the best frame of reference for a writeup like this as it is the most common configuration for the RS-1's.

2. The RS-1's are a fantastic headphone. I had hoped that my post would convey my admiration for them. If I had never heard the HHF-1, I would be scouring the forums for a good deal on one right now. It's not that I didn't like them....I just preferred the HHF-1's. I'm not the first here to state this opinion....and I suspect I won't be the last.

Hope that makes my overall feelings more clear...thanks all.
 
Feb 24, 2006 at 10:53 PM Post #10 of 44

robm321

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Quote:

Hope that makes my overall feelings more clear...thanks all.


confused.gif


Yeah that's pretty much what I got from your original post - what did u clear up?

Summary = u like grado RS-1 and HHF-1 but HHF-1 you like better - you aren't a noob and know all about different pad options. pretty clear

One point of confusion and why I think pads were brought up = "For starters, the HHF-1's have far more body and general fullness to their sound than the RS-1's. Also, the RS-1's are definitely brighter."

with flats the RS-1's have much better fullness and are less bright. Sounds like your dislikes of the RS-1's can be eliminated for $30

Also...

Quote:

RS-1 soundstaging is superior. It exhibited improved openness and separation as compared to the HHF-1.


but your answer to: Quote:

Originally Posted by EdipisReks
nice impressions! i think your take on the RS-1 would have been very different if they had flats, but nice post anyway"


Was "My typing fingers were running out of "ooomph"....but I did try flats as well on the RS-1, but was not impressed with the slight loss of detail and total collapse of the soundstage.


Wouldn't that put things on par with the HHF-1 slightly less detail and a lesser soundstage according to you?

This is just for discussion - no need to get bent out of shape - we know you know what you are talking about
tongue.gif
 
Feb 25, 2006 at 12:36 AM Post #11 of 44

wolfen68

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Quote:

Originally Posted by robm321
confused.gif


with flats the RS-1's have much better fullness and are less bright. Sounds like your dislikes of the RS-1's can be eliminated for $30

tongue.gif



Apparently there is confusion to clear up. The RS-1's with Flats are still brighter and less full than the HHF-1 with bowls IMO.


Quote:

Originally Posted by robm321
Wouldn't that put things on par with the HHF-1 slightly less detail and a lesser soundstage according to you?



The RS-1's with flats would need more evaluation by me to see how the detail compares to the HHF-1 with bowls. However, HHF-1's with bowls have more soundstage than the RS-1's with flats. Once I put the flats on the RS-1's, it seemed to lose some or all of the advantage it had over the HHF-1 in two key areas.

During my initial listen, I listened to bowls and flats. I liked the bowls better on the RS-1 and moved on from there.
 
Feb 25, 2006 at 1:04 AM Post #12 of 44

chesebert

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Quote:

Originally Posted by wolfen68
Apparently there is confusion to clear up. The RS-1's with Flats are still brighter and less full than the HHF-1 with bowls IMO.




The RS-1's with flats would need more evaluation by me to see how the detail compares to the HHF-1 with bowls. However, HHF-1's with bowls have more soundstage than the RS-1's with flats. Once I put the flats on the RS-1's, it seemed to lose some or all of the advantage it had over the HHF-1 in two key areas.

During my initial listen, I listened to bowls and flats. I liked the bowls better on the RS-1 and moved on from there.



wow..looks like HHF is what I need
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Feb 25, 2006 at 1:18 AM Post #13 of 44
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I agree with your review. RS-1 is probably the technical winner, but I love my HHF-1's more. But you really can't think of them like senior/junior in a product line, they're really like different makes of headphone.

Since I've gotten mine, I have discovered my HHF-1's are stellar out of both my super-nice Singlepower and also out of a 5G iPod (unamped). The sound straight out of my iPod with my HHF-1's just blows me away, I can't believe how good this portable setup sounds. (256 AAC VBR).
 
Feb 25, 2006 at 2:07 AM Post #14 of 44

skyline889

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Taking in the current prices for the HF-1 the modded version at $350 for the headphones and $250 for a 2.0m recable and Paduak Woodies is more expensive than even the RS-1 though right? Nice review however.
 
Feb 25, 2006 at 3:08 AM Post #15 of 44

Enverxis

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Quote:

Originally Posted by AsuAmo76
Interesting if ms-pro can fix the problem. According to some posts here, they are more neutral with better controlled bass.


Well actually I dont find this to be so true.

here is a short review from memory that I wrote when I a/b'ed the two
(keeping in mind that my Modded HF-1s are different (blackmax recable, 2" deeper cups)

Quote:

Currently they are not in my posession, I was able to A/B them with the MS-Pro for a few hours before I shipped them to kenny12 for a listen (because I am still borrowing his MS-Pros)

I will write a comparitive review of a sort when I get to A/B them again although ill note a few points here.

(also I didnt have time to take pictures, although they did look silly
biggrin.gif
)

Firstly ill say my overall conclusion first (keeping in mind that the HF-1s and the cable only had a few hours use[burn in])

I felt the MS-Pro was better for more organic music (acoustic, jazz) as the ms-pro just does the acoustic guitar to a tee.
I felt the Modded HF-1 was better for Rock and Metal, especially Symphonic Metal, with that wider headstage, more precise soundstage the vocal placement of the choirs was superb.

Sound Differences
The MS-Pro is forward in nature, on my sytem, vocals can sound infront of your head in some sort of thick image. Sometimes the snare drum will sound like its coming from under your nose, the bass is right up there with it as well.
The MS-Pro is alot thicker sounding than the Modded HF-1, in my opinion this is due to the thickness of the Mahogany wood being used, and the fact that the black plastic infront of the driver has been removed allowing the sound to travel directly from the driver into your ear, and my bowl pads are very worn in and soft, you can get your ear can get as close to the driver as the flats but still have the bowl sound and soundstage.
The Modded HF-1 has a VERY Neutral presentation, the MS-Pro coloration is not present, I believe the coloration works well for string instruments and acoustic guitars although rock and metal can sometimes sound a bit strange, especially the guitars when they are recorded to sound "chuggy" or "chunky" and can sound a bit stressed or slow. The HF-1s are alot faster than the MS-Pro, less decay and more attack, making electric guitars sound just awesome.
The Modded HF-1s had slightly more present bass although it sounded exactly as tight and deep as the MS-Pro, perhaps not quite as warm.
The highs of the MS-Pro and Modded HF-1 sounded very similar, I was expecting the HF-1s to be brighter, but that didnt seem to be the case, I didnt pay too much attention to them but they didnt seem to sound quite as good as the MS-Pro.
The Detail of each can seemed the same, the HF-1s were a little harsher but that was probably due to virtually no burn in.

I have become quite accustomed to the MS-Pro sound and its forward nature and therefore the sound of the HF-1 wasnt of my fancy at first, with vocal placement back in the center of my head and not quite as thick, and the drums sounding further back but more correct in the soundstage, and not as "big" sounding.

I couldnt really choose between the cans, theyre just as good as each other, the HF-1s would probably sound better with most of the music I have because most of it is metal. Although I would miss the Alice in Chains Unplugged, Patricia Barber - Live: A Fortnight in France, Diana Krall - Live in Paris+ MS-Pro combo.


 

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