What about soundstaging and instrument separation? If I listen really hard, I can tell that they both have identical soundstage size and both has a fairly good instrument separation. However, if you’re just sitting down and enjoying music without being critical, the RS1’s soundstage sounds smaller to the MS-Pro. Again, I think this is due to the more frontal mids getting in the way of other things and giving a congested impression. Not only does the soundstage sound smaller, the RS1 also sounds less open than the MS-Pro. Though this is not a crucial drawback for Rock and Jazz (given the strengths of the RS1 for those genres), but for playing classical music, you feel that RS1 shrinks the size of the concert hall.
The RS1 and the MS-Pro share so many traits, but they are voiced for different music. Given that the MS-Pro is only better with classical explains why the RS1 is more universally praised. Honestly, the competition for the MS-Pro is tough. There are so many other options for classical: HD600/650, the AKG K1000, the HD800, and the Stax Omegas, whereas the RS1 sound is unique only to Grados, with the RS1 being on the top. The other Grados like the GS1000, PS1000, PS1, and HP1000 have a different sound, and most people comes back to the RS1. When you are reading this, you may think that I’m biased toward the RS1, but actually I’m not. My music is mainly classical. I own the MS-Pro for this review, and I have no interest in obtaining an RS1. Writing a review, I have to be as objective as I can, and I do think that most people will be more happy with the RS1.
Here comes the kicker: I do think that the recently released, slightly cheaper, Grado HF2 is better than the RS1 in playing RS1’s own playlist. It has a more full bodied sound, a smoother and more seducing mids, and a very very musical bass. Luckily I don’t have to buy the HF2, cause I know, now that it’s discontinued, its used price is about to go up.
Maybe we’ll try to do a RS1i review and see what improvements come with the “i”.
System for auditioning:
Headphones: Grado HF2, Alessandro MS-Pro
Source: CEC CD5300 CD Player
Amplifier: Beta22 3-Channel
Thanks to Dayak for making this review possible.