The Alessandro MS1i, like most Grados, is a forward-sounding headphone. One of the traits that make it such a forward sounding headphone is its soundstage, which is very small. The general feel of the sound is the same as if you’re standing on stage in the middle of the performers. You hear sounds coming from different directions, but the source of each sound is very close to you. This seems to aid in the MS1’s ability to sound very good with rock music, more on that later.
Overall, the MS1 has a pretty good tone with enough body. The bass has good presence and is clearly bumped up; fortunately, it is pretty well controlled with a good and swift slam, although it’s not yet that deep bass punch into your gut. The swiftness of the bass is a blessing for fast complex rock songs, as smearing can be avoided while maintaining the fast rhythm of the music. The mid is also voiced very forward, further proving the point that this headphone is not made for accuracy or neutrality. On the flip side, the MS1i is very good for rock music. Sound of electric guitars always jumps at you with energy, excitement and rawness not many other cans have. I imagine a lot of people doing air guitar poses while listening to the MS1i; it also helps that the MS1i can stay securely on your head free of creaking and microphonic. Like its Grado peers, if you like your music to be immediate and rocking, the MS1i is among the best in its price range. However, this Alessandro is far from a one-trick pony, with the help of its good tone, the MS1i plays all kinds of music quite well as long as you don’t mind its small soundstage. It also sounds particularly good with acoustic recordings, as its tone fits acoustic instruments well. Female voices sound sweet, not the most accurate, but just sweet and pleasant.
The Alessandro is also one of the clearest sounding cans you can have for the price. Although not very 3D sounding, the MS1i is surprisingly detailed. Instrument separation is very good, albeit limited in small soundstage. I also noted that speech legibility is very good; I was able to follow each line of the lyric sang by the singer. This made me interested to try them out with movies, and indeed, the dialogues sounded very clear and legible. Another major selling point of the MS1i is perhaps its ability to sound good out of your average MP3 players. My Ipod Nano has trouble driving headphones like the HD580 and AKG K701 to sound good. But this MS1i is very enjoyable direct, and I don’t feel like I’m missing an amp that much going direct. Off course, when I connected the MS1i to an integrated amplifier, the overall transient attack and bass tautness improved, giving more ‘oomph’ and refinement to the sound even from low volume, but this one doesn’t scream the need for an amp unlike those headphones I mentioned before.
- Frequency Response: 20 – 22,000 Hz
- Impedance: 32 Ω
- Sensitivity: 100 dB SPL/1mW
- Cord: 7ft (2.1m); Straight Plug
- Space-Saving Mechanism: Flat-folding