Two weeks with the RS-1 and HD650 +Zu Mobius
Jan 31, 2005 at 7:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16
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So it started about two months ago, I was curious to give the RS-1 a good listen, so I found a local dealer, and carted my DAC1 on over. Everything I played on the RS-1's sounded better than on the HD650's with stock balanced cable which I also carted along for comparison. More detail, more oomph, more PRAT, and certainly a truer representation of the leading edge of notes.

Fast forward another month and I have an RS-1 in the house. Initial impressions mirror those of my audition, and the 650's were not long for this earth at that point. However I had a sneaking suspicion to try the Zu cable on the Sennheisers, if only due to all the quasi-fanatical raving about the combination, and the fact that a certain member who listens to some similarly high-impact music chose the HD650/ZU over the RS-1.

So finally I had assembled the competitors (thanks to nanahachi's quick delivery of the Zu), and with some burn-in of the Zu cable (sounded like a brighter stock cable at first) we were ready for war.

After a couple of weeks of switching back and forth, and listening to a broad variety of my collection, I've come to the following conclusions (all based on the RS-1's with flats and the HD650 with Zu):

1: The Zu cable fixes the stock 650's attack, which was quite slow and lacking detail compared to that of the RS-1's. My favorite track for hearing this effect is Infected Mushroom "Release Me," when the guitar first kicks in around 1:14, the stock cable makes it sound quite muffled and weak compared to the edgier, more detailed presentation of the Zu.
2: The Zu cable makes the 650's significantly brighter than stock, actually with the flat's on the RS-1's the 650's sound brighter, from the mid highs upward.
3: The RS-1 has quite a resonance around 2-3kHz, which the flat pads abate slightly. This resonance can sound interesting at first, but becomes annoying after prolonged listening, as you start to notice the emphasis it imposes on the sound, making the human voice sound quite odd (I can think of no other way to describe it) compared to the purity of the 650/Zu.
4: The RS-1 rolls off the treble far before the 650/Zu, and effect not that noticeable on a fair number of rock recordings, but more noticeable on pieces featuring strings, especially with direct comparison.
5: The RS-1's bass emphasis has the effect of putting some meat on the bones of poorly recorded material, giving it some snap and thwack where there was little to none. However, when a recording has well recorded bass and drums, this effect can drown out the mids a bit.
6: Well recorded songs soar on the 650 to a plane quite higher than they do on the RS-1. By the same token, the RS-1 helps bad recordings sound a bit better than they do on the 650's. In this regard, I find the 650's are truer to the recording, whereas the RS-1 makes everything played on it sound a bit homogenous.

If I were to sum up these headphones in a word each, the 650/Zu would be "pure," the RS-1 "fun." In the end, I enjoy listening to both cans about equally and can get totally lost in the music with either one. That said, financials only allow me to keep one or the other, so it is the RS-1 that is going away, in light of the fact that the 650 is more true to the original sound IMO yet still very enjoyable, and it is quite a bit sturdier, with IMO better customer service and reliability records. If I had the money, I'd keep the RS-1's around because there are recordings they sound better with, and they are quite gorgeous headphones.
 
Jan 31, 2005 at 7:45 PM Post #2 of 16

Jonoh

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Wow. Thanks for posting this.

I have not heard the RS1s but I sure I wish to get that opportunity as I hear they are great. I am getting the 650/Zu combo (coming soon) which I choose for comfort but I am now wondering if I should not have given Grados more time.
 
Jan 31, 2005 at 7:59 PM Post #3 of 16

dano1122

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thank you for the excellent review
 
Jan 31, 2005 at 10:24 PM Post #4 of 16

Bosch

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Your comments are the same as mine regarding Sennheiser vs Grado. I am currently a notch down on the head-fi tree, using a HD600 and SR-325 alternately, and for the same purposes you employ them too. The upper-end Senns (recabled or otherwise) have some naysayers, as do all headphones, but I would not be without both of these flavours of headphone if you have a mixture of musical genres recorded at different levels of 'quality'.
 
Jan 31, 2005 at 11:37 PM Post #5 of 16

NeilPeart

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Are you planning to mod that HD650/Zu Mobius into a balanced configuration?
evil_smiley.gif
 
Jan 31, 2005 at 11:44 PM Post #6 of 16

mikeg

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Thanks for this very interesting comparison, which I also did a few months ago. But, at the end of my comparison, I kept the RS1, and sold the HD650/ZU. IMO the RS1 was just a more enjoyable listen.
 
Feb 1, 2005 at 12:15 AM Post #7 of 16

iamdone

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I just got the RS-1 and liked them so much, I sold my hd650/zu the next day. For my music collection of alternative rock, classic rock, jazz, electronic, jazz, and some classical, I found the RS-1 to be more enjoyable for everything except the classical.

To me, the hd650/zu never got the electric guitar right. It is missing the edge, the jangly, twangy sound. The RS-1 captures the energy of a band playing. It can be a little fatiging but so are most concerts. I want to feel like am standing at the edge of the stage instead of sitting in the back missing the show. For classical, you do need some distance from the stage and thats why the hd650 are better.

To me the RS-1 sounds much more like the bands I've seen live compared to how they sound on the hd650/zu. Bands like the Pixies weren't enjoyable at all on the hd650. This goes for a lot of my music, even the slow stuff.

I guess I made my point. I prefer the RS-1 over the hd650/zu.
 
Feb 1, 2005 at 12:49 AM Post #9 of 16

BANGPOD

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Iron_Dreamer --

See? I told you that the HD-650/Zu Mobius is a very competitive combination.
And yes, I see that you agree upon the brightness that the HD-650 acquires...

biggrin.gif
Bye bye, RS-1's!

BANGPOD
 
Feb 1, 2005 at 2:07 AM Post #10 of 16
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Quote:

Originally Posted by NeilPeart
Are you planning to mod that HD650/Zu Mobius into a balanced configuration?
evil_smiley.gif



Pretty sure of it at this point. The only thing I don't like about the balanced cable is losing "standard" connectivity for times when that is convienient, though I guess I will just whip up a little adapter for those times. I first need to get a longer Mobius to reach behind the DAC1 and still have reasonable slack, and a deal for that is in the works, all I need now is to get "rid" of my shorter one
biggrin.gif


Quote:

Originally Posted by iamdone
I just got the RS-1 and liked them so much, I sold my hd650/zu the next day. For my music collection of alternative rock, classic rock, jazz, electronic, jazz, and some classical, I found the RS-1 to be more enjoyable for everything except the classical.

To me, the hd650/zu never got the electric guitar right. It is missing the edge, the jangly, twangy sound.



If I made a decision on the first day, I also would have sold my HD650, so go figure.

On the point about guitars, I can see where you're coming from, somewhat. There are some recordings where this is true and the guitars sound a bit muted on the Senns, but there are also many where the Senns sound perfectly lively, and the Grados sound a bit shouty (generally the 2-3kHz hump acting up). I think it is just another feature of the good recording/bad recording dichotomy, some need extra life, and some are just fine "normally."

Quote:

Originally Posted by BANGPOD
See? I told you that the HD-650/Zu Mobius is a very competitive combination.
And yes, I see that you agree upon the brightness that the HD-650 acquires...

biggrin.gif
Bye bye, RS-1's!



Well it's not that I'm happy to be getting rid of them, I'd keep them if I reasonably could (like say if I had a job)
biggrin.gif
.
 
Feb 1, 2005 at 2:26 AM Post #11 of 16

GoRedwings19

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Iron dreamer>Judas, Judas, Double agent!!!!!

No seriously thank you for sharing your impressions. Sorry you can't hold onto both headphones. Maybe the RS-1's colouration is too much for you. But don't you find surprising how much the 650+ZU has similar traits to the RS-1's?

I'm about to try a crossfeed unit and see what happens. Never tried one before. See whats happens to the RS-1's
 
Feb 1, 2005 at 2:37 AM Post #12 of 16
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Quote:

Originally Posted by GoRedwings19
Iron dreamer>Judas, Judas, Double agent!!!!!

No seriously thank you for sharing your impressions. Sorry you can't hold onto both headphones. Maybe the RS-1's colouration is too much for you. But don't you find surprising how much the 650+ZU has similar traits to the RS-1's?

I'm about to try a crossfeed unit and see what happens. Never tried one before. See whats happens to the RS-1's



Hehehehehehe
evil_smiley.gif


I think the RS-1 is too colored for some recordings, which end up sounding better with a more neutral presentation. It is funny how similar the two sound once burned in though, they sound far more similar than most headphones, though they certainly have their distinctions as well.
 
Feb 1, 2005 at 2:45 AM Post #13 of 16

av98m2

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I agree that the RS-1s are somewhat colored. That's pretty much why I ended up with them after numerous auditions, I enjoy the coloration and fun factor
rs1smile.gif
. Sometimes I wonder though, is it mostly caused by the wood housing or the driver?
 
Feb 1, 2005 at 3:13 AM Post #14 of 16

BANGPOD

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Iron_Dreamer
Well it's not that I'm happy to be getting rid of them, I'd keep them if I reasonably could (like say if I had a job)
biggrin.gif
.



Iron_Dreamer --

Yeah, not having a job will definitely do it!
smily_headphones1.gif


BANGPOD
 
Feb 1, 2005 at 3:33 AM Post #15 of 16

ServinginEcuador

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Iron_Dreamer
1: The Zu cable fixes the stock 650's attack, which was quite slow and lacking detail compared to that of the RS-1's.


The attack is something that the stock cable does rather poorly. It was the first thing that stood out to me when I switched over to the Equinox cables. It is not a slighty change, and it really makes just about everything sound better when you use an aftermarket cable.

Congrats on the new discovery Iron Dreamer! Enjoy the Senn 650s, they're an awesome set of cans, and when you factor in things like comfort they, IME and IMHO, leave the Grados in the dust. (I can't stand the Grado's comfort, but will continue trying them every chance I get to see if they suddenly work on my noggin.)
 

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