The Grado RS-1 Is an Excellent Set for Classical Music
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scrypt

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Last Saturday, I visited a pricey hi-fi den in which hard core addicts audition new shipments of the pure stuff. (Apparently, the best always hails from England.) I was there to A/B various diminutive What-Hi-fi-hallowed speakers for a bedroom part-time surround sound setup. While there, I happened to don a pair of Grado RS-1s to listen to Shostakovich's 8th and Strav's Petrouchka glee. I did so through the new Music Fidelity CD player and was I ever gleed.

Granted, the Music Fidelity player is a glistening and liquid 24-bit machine that will upsample the slice marks off any early 80s remaster. Even so, I was amazed at how thrilling the RS-1 sounded -- I wasn't even in the market for another pair of headphones. If Grados sound that good without the MF CDP, then I'll probably prefer them to Senn 600s for classical music.

For contrast, I tried a pair of lowly Grado-60s as well. Those, too, sounded sweet, though not as by any means. It made me wonder -- why does everyone characterize these as best for rock when classical music can benefit from a bit of their brightness? Big mistake, to characterize classical music as subdued. Some people haven't listened to enough Penderecki on Grados.

The salesman was an ebullient silver-haired beach ball. Everything I liked seemed to excite him a bit too much and he whipped his hair around like a corpulent Leonard Bernstein. But when he saw me with the Grados, he tilted one brow and said, "You know, Sean 'Puffy' Combs bought a pair the other day. . . . "

Which was precisely what I needed to hear. Sure, I'll pick up a pair of RS-1s -- from Headroom. But not this month, i'faith. Diddy's been there already -- he's probably enjoying his Penderecki right now.
 
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RickG

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Oh that "Puffy". Dress him up and you still can't take him anywhere!

 
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NotoriousBIG_PJ

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Geez that Puffy, I bet he used the money from my record sales to pay for those phones. :p

I found classical to be a bit ear peircing on the rs-1's. I couldn't picture something better for rock though..

Biggie.
 
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kerelybonto

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Dammit, it's "P. Diddy," you ebullient, silver-haired beach ball.

kerelybonto
 
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scrypt

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Quote:

Originally posted by NotoriousBIG_PJ
I found classical to be a bit ear peircing on the rs-1's. Biggie.


Yeah, but, see, the source has a lot to do with that "piercing" quality, and so does a recording's vintage. My point was, with the Music Fidelity CD player, or even with an NAD 541i, the 16-bit shrillness is softened but you still get the highs. Which worked really well with the RS-1 for those few moments of uninterrupted pleasure.

Also -- and here's the thing -- classical music isn't always meant to be pleasant. My problem with a lot of radio fare is not that it's loud or shrill but that it's tame and meaningless. On the other hand, Penderecki's _Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima_ is not meant to soothe anyone -- any more than Guernica was meant to be pretty wallpaper.

Shostakovich's Eighths -- both the symphony and the string quartet -- are meant to express anguish, and I mean jail-cell, fascists-pounding-at-your-door, slaughter-in-the-snow anguish. That's why the bows bite close to the bridge (sui ponticelli) in a lot of places.

Meanwhile, the WTC falls, people die horribly and what do we get? A park concert by Jewel. A lot of reassurance and little music of lasting value. Seems like we're afraid of feeling it to the hilt, like we've no tolerance for difficult art anymore.

Not that I'm slagging you for listening to Mr. Combs. But you have to admit -- that salesman trying to impress me with "Puff Daddy's" headphone preferences was a bit off, considering what I was listening to then (and in the demo room with him earlier). The salesman was telling me all about his own studio experience, too -- which turned out to be playing drums with a member of Billy Squier's backup band (if you even recognize hideous 80s trivia like that -- and I hope you don't! -- then I'm sorry you had to know). And the other thing is, Combs isn't even an artist. He's an A&R executive who managed to live the dream of all A&R execs and publicity people -- to eliminate the artists and be out there himself.

You'd probably be horrified by the rap I consider good. I still like early CDs by A Tribe Called Qwest. And I don't listen to Dre's Chronic any more, but I still respect it for evil word-play.

Anyway. Ancient history all.

Quote:

Originally posted by kerelybonto
Dammit, it's "P. Diddy," you ebullient, silver-haired beach ball.

kerelybonto


Actually, I did say "Diddy," so maybe you were talking to somebody else. But how do you know he hasn't changed his name again? He's shouted out enough OJ-respect to Smalls and his possession trial's over, so maybe it's back to name-recognition and demographics for the savvy exec.

But you're right -- my Feria Black Night's growing out and I do need to lose a few tons!
 
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kerelybonto

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I was talking about the salesman. I wouldn't have known you were an ebullient, silver-haired beach ball if you hadn't just told me.


I'm glad someone finally decided to say something about the RS-1 and classical. I haven't heard them, but from what I hear they have incredible detail and clarity, which I think would be all the better for acoustic instrumental music. And it's good to know that not all the classical fans here sleep to their music -- for some reason when I think of classical I like, it's always stuff like out of A Clockwork Orange. I might have to get some recommendations from you, scrypt.

kerelybonto
 
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The Quality Guru

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Scrypt, I have not yet heard the RS-1 with orchestral music, but it is a very versatle headphone in my experience (far more versatile than the somewhat picky W100, though I still love this 'phone) so it wouldn't surprise me that it fares well with orchestral. I plan to get a pair soon, too.
 
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NotoriousBIG_PJ

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"Damn these hoes
You're stepping on my toes"
- Sean Cones

Biggie.
 
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scrypt

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Quote:

Originally posted by kerelybonto
I was talking about the salesman. I wouldn't have known you were an ebullient, silver-haired beach ball if you hadn't just told me.


Ac-shewl-leh, I am a svelte and diminutive gent of not-yet-silver distinction (which is a good thing, since I'm single). But in theory, why couldn't I be wild-tinsel-haired oval of hi-fi breathlessness, the Chris Farley of the RS-1?

Quote:

I'm glad someone finally decided to say something about the RS-1 and classical. I haven't heard them, but from what I hear they have incredible detail and clarity, which I think would be all the better for acoustic instrumental music.


The only reason I hadn't heard Grados earlier was because people always talk about them in conjunction with rock and also about how people over 40 like them because that's when your hearing changes. Since rock is a form of personal torment to me and constant shrill sound translates to fear of tinitus, I had no reason to think Grados would sound as beautiful to me as they did.

Quote:

And it's good to know that not all the classical fans here sleep to their music -- for some reason when I think of classical I like, it's always stuff like out of A Clockwork Orange. I might have to get some recommendations from you, scrypt.


I don't even know where to start (except to say that I loved the soundtrack to Clockwork Orange). More than any other director, Kubrick seemed to have nearly-infallible taste in music. Tell me: Did you like the music in Kubrick's version of The Shining? Because I consider that to be the best use of classical music in any film I've ever attended. Watch the scene in which the boy says to Nicholson, "Daddy? Would you ever hurt Mommy [or words to that effect]?" The entire scene is orchestrated to Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste -- I'd imagine Kubrick made the actors listen to Bartok in the scene, because it's all one cut and the rhythm of the scene and score are in perfect sync.

The psychological contour of music is one of tension and release. This applies to harmony, rhythm, melody, the number of countrapuntal voices, modulation to distant keys (if the music is tonal), timbre, dynamics, everything. You could bang your fist in two places on the piano and I could tell you what the tension-release contour is, whether you were going to a root or from one, etc. That's how deep the concept really is.

What I can tell you about lots of early-to-mid 20th century classical music is that the level of tension is greater than in earlier times on virtually every level. Personally, I happen to love the sound of dissonance when it's intelligently and sensitively applied. To paraphrase Andre Watts, I hate painists [sp intended] who play the Schoenberg Suite like lawnmowers.

Pieces to listen to, if you liked Clockwork (get them from the library, don't buy them until you're sure you like them):

Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste;
Concerto for Orchestra (if you've ever seen 50s Ernie Kovacks footage on PBS, you've heard parts already);
Arthur Honegger: Pacific 231 (rhythmic techniques meant to create an abstract "portrait" of a locomotive); Symphony No. 5 (di tri re);
Hindemith: Mathis der Maler (the symphony, not the opera),
Ludus Tonalis;
Webern, Symphony, Op. 21 and Six Bagatelles for String Quartet (possibly the most formally compressed music ever written -- listen to the most recent DGG conducted by Boulez, who literally idolizes Webern);
Middle-period Penderecki:
I've already told you about the Threnody;
Passion according to St. Luke;
Hans Werner Henze: Double Concerto for Oboe and Harp (get the version conducted by Henze himself -- Heinz Hollinger's on Oboe),
Essay on Pigs, Being Beauteous (warning! vocals- version with Edda Moser);
Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms, Septet;
Shostakovich: See above; but see also his Fourth Symphony, if you want a taste of what he could have been without censorship;
Stockhausen: Gesang der Jugend, Kontrapuntke (Gesang was the first music I ever heard in my life)
Schnittke: Symphony Nos. 1 and 2, Psalms of Repentance, Third String Quartet;
Schoenberg: Listen to Verklarte Nacht and then to Pierrot Lunaire to understand how constantly-modulating post-romantic music led to expressionist atonal music (do this at least once in your life)
Berg: Violin Concerto and Wozzeck (possibly the greatest opera of the 20th century and certainly one of the easiest to take if you hate opera vocals -- this one's like a suondtrack to a Kafka story).

PM me and I'll give you more names and pieces, but something tells me this should hold you for now.

Must go to work now. Can't post from there as Tweerternelle account's verboten until further notice. Talk to you soon.
 
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Cap'n Dan

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Scrypt: you're completely right about that... we're so soft that we get emotional over candy-pop trash accompanying memorials of our most devastating events instead of meaningful and truly forceful music.

I HAVE YET TO HEAR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM DURING A 9/11-related CEREMONY!! THAT'S DESPICABLE! America the Beautiful may be nice, but come on... it's rather sappy... but The Star Spangled Banner is POWERFUL MUSIC!

The worst part about that is the fact that along with all the sappy music, no one gets angry. Come on folks, we're supposed to be angry because Americans have been killed... but no, we've got to sing happy songs. Right. Call me back when we do something serious.

HEY-that reminds me: October 3rd will be 9 years since the Mogadishu raid. I'll be watching Black Hawk Down as a memorial, and hope other people acknowledge the day as well.

Semper Fi.
 
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kerelybonto

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"The Star Spangled Banner" is a drinking song, Cap'n Dave, though I like it too. I guess F. Scott's lyrics make it somewhat more serious sounding.

Thanks for all the recommendations, scrypt. I'll check them out when I can -- I don't own any classical music right now, mostly because I've not known where to start finding stuff in the style of the little I know I like. I might PM you with some questions.

I have not seen A Clockwork Orange. I was talking about the music mentioned in the book ... I just went and looked up the soundtrack and it looks like Kubrick stayed pretty close to the music Burgess mentioned in the book, so we're talking about the same thing. I've only seen The Shining once, and I don't recall the music very well. Too bad I don't have a TV or I'd go watch these.

Thanks.

kerelybonto
 
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scrypt

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Ten minutes before I have to leave and I just realized why the beach ball mentioned "Puff Daddy": despite my ostensible interest in classical music, he probably thought I *looked* like old-skool hip-hop. Funny trait, that, of many aging-but-buoyant beach devices who expect 30-somethings and down to be properly *labeled* musically by their attire. Wasn't putting the lie to that stereotype rather the point of the Kronos Quartet and various 80s classical musicians who looked like sidemen for David Byrne? Didn't multiculturalism teach people that the guy who gets taken for ghetto will turn out to be a youngish professor of, say, Asian Studies at NYU? Wonder if I'll be as transparent when I'm of beach-ball vintage?

BTW: Anyone who wants to PM me for suggestions should feel free to do so. And now so long for real.
 
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Quote:

Originally posted by kerelybonto
Dammit, it's "P. Diddy," you ebullient, silver-haired beach ball.

kerelybonto


The piff diddly artist formerly known as pouf daddy.
=======

I find the Grado 325 very nice for chamber music and piano. A bit too forward for larger scale classical. I can easily believe the woodies are much nicer based on my short headroom tour listen.
What amps were you trying, Scrypt?
 
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redshifter

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signs of the apocalypse #7: scrypt mentions billy squire.

Quote:

Tell me: Did you like the music in Kubrick's version of The Shining? Because I consider that to be the best use of classical music in any film I've ever attended. Watch the scene in which the boy says to Nicholson, "Daddy? Would you ever hurt Mommy [or words to that effect]?" The entire scene is orchestrated to Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste -- I'd imagine Kubrick made the actors listen to Bartok in the scene, because it's all one cut and the rhythm of the scene and score are in perfect sync.


i agree 100% with this. i always thought kubrick's classical music processing in "the shining" was the horror movie equivalent of "mickey mousing" in cartoon music. that's were every step the character takes is orchestrated. the scene you mention between danny and jack is perhaps the scariest in the film.
 
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