Grado RS1 Headphone Reviews

Manufacturer Grado Model RS1
Headphone Type Open Supraaural Headband Type Single
Weight (g) 226 Driver Type Dynamic
Enclosure Material Wood Isolation (dB) 0
Impedance (ohms) 32 Cable Length (cm) 200
Frequency Response (Hz) 12 - 32000  
Connector 6.5mm with 3.5mm adaptor Street Price US$695
Buy from Amazon.com  
Average reviewer scores
Bass Extension 7.2 Bass Impact 8.0
Bass Quality 7.4 Mids Quality 7.4
Highs Quality 7.0 Soundstage 4.6
Detail 7.6 Portability 3.6
Isolation 0.0 Comfort 4.8
Durability 5.6 Improvement With Amplification 6.2
Value for Money 4.8    
Overall Score 6.8 Total Reviews 5

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Reviews by our members

Review by Senior Member Iron_Dreamer on 01 Jul 07  12:18
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact9
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality6
Detail7
Comfort3
Durability5
Value5

The current top of the John Grado line exemplifies what he has made the Grado name all about: hard hitting bass and exciting forward midrange, at the expense of extension, smoothness, build quality, and comfort.

The highlight of the RS-1 is certainly the midrange, which is unapologetically upfront, making various music come alive with energy. The midrange may not the be most accurate of lifelike sounding, but it has a coloration that is very easy to enjoy, especially when it comes to electric guitars (John Grado's specialty). The bass also comes to the fore, though not the deepest or the tightest bass, it packs a powerful punch (a bit more so than is natural, IMO).

The treble is not the RS-1's forte, as it is not that well extended, and fairly harsh, in the typical John Grado vein. The soundstage is a bit better than lower Grado models, but still nothing special compared other high-end headphones. It is of average width, but lacks depth, and the imaging is nothing to write home about.

The build quality is a definite step up from the lower Grado models, but again is not particularly high. There is less plastic and more metal, but still a number of basic weaknesses in the design persist. The comfort is good for a Grado, due to low weight, but still sub-par compared to typical circumaural headphones.

I think the RS-1 is at its best on less well recorded rock, giving drums the extra punch they need, and the coloration is not as much an issue as it is on more well recorded stuff. I would keep a pair around if I had the money, as they are beautiful headphones as well, but I don't think they're all-around cans. They are extremely musical, and can suck you in for hours, but you have to be able to ignore their technical deficiencies as compared to other high end cans. Due to their coloration, lack of extension, comfort issues, and sub-par build quality for the price it is hard to recommend the RS1 unless one has other high-quality headphones and money to blow.

My ratings:
Bass Extension: 7
Bass Impact: 9
Bass Quality: 7
Mids Quality: 8
Highs Quality: 6
Soundstage: 5
Detail: 7
Portability: 2
Isolation: 0
Comfort: 3
Durability: 5
Improvement with Amplification: 6
Value for the Money: 5

Review by Senior Member ijan on 08 Jan 07  15:53
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact8
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality5
Highs Quality8
Detail8
Comfort6
Durability6
Value4

Had these RS1 on loan from a friend and this is really a jaw opener. The transparency, details, bass impact and tightness, everything in one whole (expensive) package. Sounds like Grado, very upfront and amazingly it is able to really emphasis on the main equipment (or vocal). Female vocal tracks have never sounded any better, rock guitar instrumental is almost perfect with a captivating sound you jus cant take the RS1 off your heads (until your ear starts to feel discomfort in 3-4 hours time).

My scored on the RS1 is about the same as the average score, seems like a very well made impression. It lacks the durability (still very very much better than the plastic made lower series of the Grado line), comfort issues. I rate portability high because compared to other flagship headphones, this is quite the most portable out of them all. Mids quality is there, but strongly attenuated, giving the Grado sound of thin-ness and also making male vocals sounding a bit bright and has a tad of shrills on them. Its unbearable to start on that and on sum high mixing rap kinda of music for example Linkin Park where the instruments separation are just plain bad.

Other than that, its the almost perfect companion for any headphones other than Grado for listening to instrumental rock and female vocal tracks for me. Price is a let-off, if they were priced somewhere K701/HD650 range, it would be worth its piece of cake.

Review by Senior Member jbunniii on 13 Mar 05  20:40
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact8
Bass Quality8
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality8
Detail8
Comfort5
Durability4
Value5

The RS-1 are wonderful headphones provided they are equipped with flat pads, which is what they were originally shipped with and presumably designed for. They now ship with bowl pads, and I found that these made the sound too harsh and thin. With flats the sound is warm and detailed with good fast bass and a fabulous midrange that excels with vocals and guitars and the like. The highs are also good though slightly hazy or grainy at times.

The RS-1 can be used without an amp, and I find that my portable iRiver drives them quite well, with a slightly soft bottom end and a bit of euphonic softening of the highs as well. It's a nice match. With an amp in my home system, the bass is better controlled and more assured, and the highs a bit brasher and sometimes just a touch of harshness or glare in the lower highs/upper mids.

It's not a neutral headphone, but it has a very pleasing synergy with rock, jazz, and electronica, including source material that wasn't recorded well. It makes most of the music I listen to sound great, and it's hard to ask for more in a headphone.

Durability is questionable: I wouldn't want to throw these in a backpack or drop them on a hard floor.

Comfort is quite good by Grado standards: the wood is lighter than the metal in the other Grados I've used (325, HP-1, PS-1), and although the flat pads sit on the ears and feel a little abrasive at first compared with non-Grados, I find them quite comfortable, or at least not uncomfortable, to wear pretty much all day.

The $700 new price tag is too high, in my opinion, but I paid just over $400 used and consider the RS-1 certainly worth that price.

Review by Senior Member amartignano on 28 Dec 04  00:35
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact9
Bass Quality9
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality8
Detail8
Comfort7
Durability9
Value5

I've tried the Rs-1 thanks to a friend. I have to say that i loved this headphone. I've tried it with flat pads. They have a warm, natural, full bodied and very musical sound. The mids are magical. They let flow the music and the emotions in a way that no other headphones I've heard can do. Yes, a Senn HD650 is more neutral, while the Rs-1 is on the warm side, but... they have a very lovely sound. Excellent both with rock and classical (and wathever...). Beautiful mohogany earcups and leather headband. They look wonderful for my taste. There's something magic in the way Grado headphones reproduce music... and the RS-1 is an headphone to fall in love with. :)

Review by Senior Member TrevorNetwork on 18 Dec 04  12:48
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality6
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality5
Detail7
Comfort3
Durability4
Value5

Let's start with the good stuff. The RS-1 sounds generally pleasing as a headphone. The RS-1, despite standing for "Reference Series 1", certainly is not a reference headphone for neutrality. Rather, the headphone possesses a sonically pleasing "wood colouration". The RS1 does vocals quite well if they are given powerful, clean amplification. The RS-1's bass is tight, and quick. The RS-1 has good pace, rhythm, and timing (PRaT).

As far as its weaknesses. I find the treble lacks extension, and smoothness. Cymbals, and higher violin notes in particular sound poor. The soundstaging is poor with both flat, and bowl pads. The sense of "space" between instruments is also not very good. The RS-1's build quality is somewhat questionable, and certainaly comfort is dubious. This is due to their fit, despite their relateively light weight. Aesthetically the headphones are somewhat pleasing, however I find that they look somewhat like wooden doorknobs when worn.

At their street price of ~$550 I feel they are a poor value. Grado as a company also has questionable pricing ethics.

Grado RS1
Grado RS1