- Great balanced sound, Sweet mids, Strong bass, Detailed highs
- Soundstage lacking compared to other models
In the $150 range, and particularly for listening to rock (but all genres sound great) the MS1s are hard to beat.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
Sporting a similar sound signature to the Koss KSC-75s that we loved so much, the Alessandro MS-1s are a slightly enhanced, slightly more expensive option. Their particular sound excels at quick, instrumental music such as rock or jazz, although to be honest it is hard to fault them for most styles. For pure music listening in the $150 range, these headphones are extremely hard to beat.
The MS-1s have quite an upfront presentation that suits a more lively listening session. The music has power and definition. They offer a fairly balanced presentation of the different elements of music, meaning you are not overpowered by one characteristic in particular.
Bass is fairly fast and tight, extending down extremely deeply. It is booming enough to resonate well without sounding dark or too heavy, which is important for styles like rock, metal or hip hop. A headphone can have great sounding bass, but if it lacks impact many people are left feeling unsatisfied, and say their music sounds thin or lifeless. We tested the MS-1s with a number of heavy metal tracks (Some Metallica, Opeth etc) and were extremely pleased with both the quality and quantity of bass.
The mid range and highs are equally well done. The mids sound incredibly sweet, with male vocals really hitting home. The highs are smooth and very powerful, without the typically bright sound associated with Grado models (Grado has input in this model, despite the fact that it is built by Alessandro). Listening to some of the more complex Radiohead tunes, we could pick out background elements that just weren't audible with cheaper models.
The well balanced sound means these headphones are suitable for most kinds of listening. We loved fast paced rock and metal the most, with the tight, powerful bass and flowing mid range really bringing the most out of the instruments.
Soundstage is one area where the MS-1 comes up a little short. Compared to the Audio Technica A300 for example, instrument placement just isn't as three dimensional. That said, because of the awe inspiring quality of the sound, you don't tend to notice it much unless you're listening to concert hall type music, or are using them to play games that require positional audio.
Many people have complained about the comfort of Grado-style headphones as a whole, and whilst the MS-1s aren't the epitome of design that the Audio Technica range are, we found them to be serviceably comfortable. They don't look particularly attractive, but they get the job done. Unlike the full over the ear cups that many other models utilise, this model has two simple pads that resemble the KSC-75. They are connected by a simple leather strap, with an adjustable slider for each ear, and they simply rest on the head. No pressure is exerted, as we found with the high end Sennheiser models, and listening sessions of several hours proved to be no problem.
It is also worth noting that the MS1 is an open model, which means the speaker is exposed. This creates serious sound leakage, so if you listen at a reasonable volume, everyone in the nearby vicinity will be able to hear you. Conversely, it won't isolate you from external sound either, which may be a positive or negative, depending on if you want to drown out the sound of the car engine in the background, or hear the engine of the car speeding towards you.
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