Most people say that Grados are very uncomfortable. Personally, I may have become adjusted to the Grado fit over the years, and I find them not as bad as people think. They are not as comfortable as big circumaural headphones with verlour pads like the Beyer DT770 or DT880, but the Grados wins in size and weight. I also like their “semi-portable” size, and I can still take them outdoors, as long as I am not in a very noisy area.
Among the small-bowl grados (SR80 to RS1, or MS2 to MS-Pro), the wooden models are the most comfortable. They have a really light wooden housing, a thick leather headband, and somehow a better fit than the plastic and aluminum housing models. To make fit even better, you can always bend the headband to accomodate you better. In this respect, the RS1 and the MS-Pro should be identical in fit and comfort, seeing that their construction is identical, other than the RS1 button on the grill.
The Grado RS1 and the Alessandro MS-Pro share so much similarities in outward appearance, and upon brief listening sessions, many people can’t distinguish the difference in their sound. We suspect that the drivers are identical on both cans, only tweaked slightly differently, and the cable is probably 100% identical.
The similarities are very striking. They are both just as detailed, just as transparent, just as fast, and just as extended. Yet when you listen to the two cans, the difference is clear: the presentation of the mids. The MS-Pro has a very neutral presentation, but the RS1 have a more forward and slightly colored mids added with a small bump in the upper bass. This difference may seem small, but when listening to music, small differences can make or break the experience.
I really wanted to know which music would work with which cans, so I listened to a wide variety of music for this review: Beethoven, Michael Buble, Muse, Coldplay, Radiohead, Norah Jones, Puccini, John Legend, Alicia Keys, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, and Stan Getz. 9 times out of 10, playing a random playlist, the RS1 wins. The forward and agressive mids just makes songs very engaging and toe-tapping, whereas the neutral presentation of the MS-Pro tends to sound less engaging. Anything that is not orchestral music is better played on the RS1. Its mids works with everything from Stan Getz to Norah Jones to Coldplay. Even Andrea Bocceli’s vocal on Puccini’s Boheme prefers the RS1. Another trick that the RS1 has is a slight bump in the upper bass that adds body and groove to just almost every music. This is the kind of bass that makes Jazz and Rock alive, though it may not work with heavy, low frequency bass in Hip Hop or Dance. Keep in mind that the MS-Pro is far from a boring cans. We compared it to the AKG K701 once, and the MS-Pro just sounds so much more musical to the K701. But next to the RS1, the MS-Pro reminded me of the K701.
If it wasn’t for classical music, there probably be no reason to own the MS-Pro. The RS1 just rocks with rock and grooves with anything else. But put in a classical track, a concerto from Mozart or a symphony from Beethoven, and the RS1’s strength becomes its weakness. First of all, the aggressive mids is very obstructing for orchestral music. It’s too forward, it messes with the composition of the different instruments playing together, and things sounds mixed and congested. In contrast, the neutral mids in the MS-Pro presents notes clearly and beautifully, without any bumps in the frequencies. Again, the small upper bass bump on the RS1 that really makes you move with Jazz and Rock, becomes an odd sound, like a frequency out of tune when playing a Symphony. You know that the bass bump is not neutral, and that it shouldn’t be there, and it really becomes a nuisance with classical music. It’s also through listening to violins that I realize that the mids on the RS1 is colored, and though it works wonders on vocals, it makes your string instruments sounds unnatural. Clearly, the MS-Pro is voiced for classical music, while the RS1 is for everything else.