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Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 - The Most Beautiful, Musical, Studio Reference Planar!?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but the Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 is artistic eye candy for all! There are some things in life that seemly slow down time and everyone stares intently when they enter; the Rosson RAD-0 is one of them. There is no doubt that the RAD-0 is a gorgeous headphone. I do not own a more attractive headphone. The Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 is tuned to be a studio reference monitor.

Is the Rosson RAD-0 the most beautiful, musical, studio reference planar?


About Alex Rosson: (quoting

"Alex has spent his entire life in the sound business. As a musician and engineer, Alex grew up immersed in audio and film production at many of the most notable studios across Los Angeles. Alex worked for nearly a decade as one of Technicolor’s mastering engineers before venturing into entrepreneurship and becoming the co-founder and CEO of Audeze.

Rosson Audio Design distills a lifetime’s worth of work in the listening business with a mission to providing unique experiences that bridge exquisite audio with unique design. Each product in Alex’s portfolio has helped set the stage for the RAD-0 and all Rosson Audio Design products to come."


What do I consider to be "reference"? I believe that a reference headphone should be one that is about as flat, neutral as possible without losing detail and extension. A reference headphone should not add in flavoring or coloring to the sound that isn't natural or realistic.

What do I consider to be "musical"? A musical headphone to me is one that sounds natural and realistic without being bloated or excessive in any of the frequencies. A musical headphone should be an accurate portrayal of the music in the real world that is enjoyable and detailed.

What do I consider to be "neutral"? Neutral to me is not ruler flat but having natural and realistic rises in the frequencies. A neutral headphone portrays correct and accurate tones that aren't boosted, elevated or colored from the natural tone.

What do I consider to be "natural"? Natural is realistic and accurate to everyday tones. A natural headphone presents a sonic bliss that is neutral from sonic alterations with natural, detailed realism and musical, tone and timbre, accuracy.

I am not a professional producer or sound engineer but I do run the soundboard (Allen & Heath QU-24) at my church each week. I don't have any studio experience or training for a professional setting. So the sound impressions are based on my limited usage and whether or not they fill my needs.

DISCLAIMER: I purchased the Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 with my own funds. I have not been paid, pressured or otherwise influenced to spin this review one way or the other. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have to mention that Alex Rosson did upgrade my order from the b-stock headphone I had chosen to a new stock headphone for no extra charge. Alex Rosson surprised me with the color design and I had no clue what to expect. I didn't ask for the upgrade, that was all from the graciousness of Alex's heart. Alex Rosson is a very kind, thoughtful man, who went way above and beyond to share his kindness with me and I am truly grateful and amazed that he did what he did for me.





THD : <0.1%





YouTube Video:

The unboxing of the Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 starts off with a box inside a box. The outer box has the Rosson logo stamped on each side in differing colors, nice touch. The inside box is a normal cardboard box, I miss those colorful logos. After undoing the tape, you slide out the hefty pelican case. Then the fun starts with the unlocking of the latches and the raising up of the pelican case lid. Inside you are greeted with an abundance of foam cradling the RAD-0 and on the other side is a cut out that contains your cable, cleaning cloth, user manual, logo sticker, QR code for registration and the certificate of authenticity. Overall, I find the unboxing experience to be pleasing and the accessories included to be just what you need.


When Alex reached out to me about an upgrade, he mentioned that he had a design picked out for me but wouldn't tell me what it was. I love surprises so I was anxious to find out what he sent over. I have got to say, Alex knows me too well, impressive since we never communicated until the surprise email about the upgrade, this color scheme is perfect for me.

I don't know how he did it but wow! Thank you Alex Rosson, fantastic job!

The RAD-0 is all hand-made in the USA from the headband, housing and transducers. The headband is spring steel covered with a leatherish material. The headband is slightly curved and has a large leather pad in the middle. The yokes, arms, rods and sliders are all made of metal. The pads are a thick, hybrid design that has leather on the outside and inside and a soft fabric for the ears. The stock cable measures in at 2 meters. The cable is an OFC copper braid wrapped in black nylon. The cable is well built, looks nice, behaves without curves, kinks or jankiness but is a tad stiff. But the star of the RAD-0 are the cups. Wow the craftsmanship, these belong in an art museum! Rosson can custom make pretty much any design with any materials inside the cups that you desire or you can purchase one of their own designs. In case you want a RAD-o like mine; sorry you can't get one exactly like it, because all Rosson are unique in that they are a designed individually and each design has its own characteristics. No two RAD-0 look the same, now that is cool! You can get one that looks similar but not the same. I am amazed at the beauty that the RAD-o is to behold; I have never seen such a pretty headphone. There is a depth to the coloring that is mesmerizing. There are small sections that have layers of colors on top of each other and others that shows what looks like a gap.

Pictures do not show the true beauty. I can't stop looking at them!


The RAD-0 fit me very well but that might not be the case for everyone.

The ear pads are the perfect size for my ears as they envelope my ears with just enough room to spare without touching any part of my ears. The headband disperses the weight evenly, removing any worries about the RAD-0 slipping and falling off my head. The intense clamp force has lessened with time but there remains a comforting amount of clamp to hold the RAD-0 in place without being a vice grip on my head.

The weight is the most of any headphone I own and takes some time to get used to for sure. But I find that Rosson has done a good job of balancing and dispersing the weight; the RAD-0 isn't a cinder block brick on my head but it isn't a down feather pillow either but something in between.


Mytek Liberty DAC

Schiit Audio BiFrost 2

Headamp GS-X Mini

Burson Audio Funk

Sony NW-WM1a


Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 - stock 6.35mm

Corpse Cable - XLR balanced

MUSIC: (in order of playlist)

Tingvall Trio “Beat” - piano tonality

Sinne Eeg “We’ve Just Begun” - multiple layer soundstage

Molly Johnson “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” - female vocal tone

Leslie Odom Jr. “Under Pressure” - male vocal tone

Eric Clapton “Change the World” - soundstage, layering and placement

Yo Yo Ma “Ecstasy of Gold” - acoustic instrument timbre

Adam Baldych “Spem in Alium” - acoustic instrument timbre

Pain of Salvation “Stress” - percussion balance

Michael Buble “When I Fall in Love” - orchestral dynamics

Patricia Barber “Code Cool” - sibilance check

Christian Scott “New New Orleans” - shouty upper mids

Tool “Chocolate Chip Trip” - imaging

Hans Zimmer “Why So Serious” - sub bass extension

Marcus Miller “No Limit” - bass control

Dave Holland Quartet “Conference Of The Birds”- bass check

Ilhan Eshkeri “47 Ronin”- orchestra and bass dynamics

Hans Zimmer: “2049” - sub bass extension

Cher: “Believe” - sibilance

Stanley Clarke - “Passenger 57 main title” - percussion, bass, separation and placement

Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra - “The Pine of the Appian Way” - soundstage, imaging and separation

Houston Person - “You are my Sunshine” - tone and timbre

Sound Impressions: This is the area of the review process that I have struggled the most with personal bias, subjectivity and attempting to be as objective as possible. The Rosson RAD-0 is the hardest headphone I have reviewed because it brings out my personal bias and subjectivity in full force and to the forefront.

BASS: The Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 has a linear bass that extends into the deep sub bass regions. The RAD-0 adds in natural and accurate note weight and density, along with authority and control, slams and thumps. There is a sensation of reality with the bass that I haven't heard in a headphone before. The RAD-0 bass portrays meekness; power under control. The bass is an authoritative presence that is calm and collected and never losing control of the moment, no matter the stress level. The extension is far and wide and the depth and layering is mind blowing. Speed and agility is ridiculously spectacular; like Sebastian Vettel carving his Aston Martin Mercedes through the curves of an F1 track. The RAD-0 has an impacting power and percussive slam that lets you feel the moment and the enjoyment, all the while remaining an analytical, critical listening headphone. Details are all present and resolved with impeccable effectiveness.

MIDS: The Rosson RAD-0 is balanced, cohesive and natural in the mids. The RAD-0 portrays mids with clarity and accurate tonality. There is natural warmth without coloring the overall sonics. The RAD-0 mids put you with the action; allowing you to dissect each instrument and vocalist; critiquing each breath, strum, touch, tap and movement with ease. The notes have realistic body and weight and they are full and natural. The RAD-0 reveals each detail, displaying it in a respectful and polite approach with precision and accuracy. The RAD-0 is not forceful or aggressive in it's presentation, instead it allows the music to dictate the force and aggression and it reveals it accurately and flawlessly. There is so much information available and the Rosson RAD-0 resolves it with ease and precision. The RAD-0 is never fatiguing or intense unless the track includes it.

TREBLE: The Rosson RAD-0 has a natural and realistic approach to the treble revealing natural sibilance, harshness, grit and bite. There is crispness, airiness, sparkle, energy and control; the sensation of realism is jaw dropping. The Rosson treks along the line of just enough and not enough and doesn't waiver off it. The RAD-0 is direct and precise with the treble without being overly forceful and intimidating. The details whizz in from all over with precision and accuracy. The definition and refinement of the details is impeccable. The attack and decay is natural and realistic. The Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 treble is perfection to my ears.

SOUNDSTAGE/WIDTH/DEPTH/LAYERING/IMAGING: The Rosson RAD-0 presents with natural and realistic width and depth; allowing the studio/sound engineers to determine where instruments and vocalists are presented without having to lift their heads. Imaging is precise and direct with the RAD-0. The Rosson portrays the music exactly how the studio heard it live. When it comes to soundstages, you can get too wide, too deep and they lose the naturalism; the RAD-0 has the proper balance. Everything sounds realistically placed and spaced. Nothing feels awkward or misplaced, you know what you are seeing on stage or in studio is what you are hearing in your ear. One other thing of note, is the crossfeed capabilities of the Rosson RAD-0. When something is on the right side, the left side has a subtle amount audible and vice versa, Unlike a lot of other headphones that are imaginative venues of live experience; the RAD-0 has you at the mixing controls putting the finishing touches on a recording masterpiece.

TONE/TIMBRE: The Rosson RAD-0 to me has the most natural and realistic tone and timbre that I have heard in a headphone. The tone and timbre of the RAD-0 makes it effortless to determine and follow instruments through a track. The Rosson RAD-0 portrays vocals and instrument distinctness and characteristics accurately in a natural and realistic manner. The Rosson RAD-0 have a perfect balance of note weight and density with tone and timbre that is the best I have ever heard on a headphone.

DETAILS RETRIEVAL/RESOLUTION: With the Rosson RAD-0 there is a proper amount of details retrieved without being excessive or limited. The amount of details retrieved and revealed is a fine line to walk. Excessive boosting of mic gain brings in a false impression of detail retrieval but it isn't natural. There is an over abundance of information that is provided by some headphones that is helpful in the studio but isn't portraying the natural, realistic amount of details. With the RAD-0 there is an accurate and appropriate amount of details presented without being overwhelming. The revealing nature of the RAD-0 does come with a caveat; poorly recorded tracks. If you are looking for a revealing headphone to help you sort your audio library by recording quality then look no further then the Rosson RAD-0. Resolution of all those details is phenomenal on the the RAD-0, crazy good resolution. There is no detail left behind and every one of them is presented in it's best form.


(The pairing that took up most of my listening time was the Mytek Liberty and Headamp GS-X Mini, as they are my benchmarks for reviews along with being my personal everyday listen setup.)

Mytek Liberty DAC: Whether it was the single-ended headphone output on the Liberty DAC or the GS-X Mini being fed by the Liberty DAC the Rosson RAD-0 sounded insanely good. The Liberty DAC had plenty of power for the RAD-0 and their more then enough headroom left, never got close to max volume. I am not going to go into details about the sound as I just described them all above. But this is a pairing made for each other and I am so blessed to own them both. Perfection to my ears!

Schiit Audio BiFrost 2: Pairing the BiFrost 2 and the GS-X Mini with the RAD-0 is another pairing made for each other. Take all that is mentioned in the sound impressions above and add a kiss of warmth and a little more immersive staging but a slight lag behind in detail retrieval and natural air. I love this pairing as well but it gives way to the Mytek Liberty by the slightest of margins.

Sony NW-WMIa: I do not use headphones often with my Sony WM1a but I thought I would give this pairing a try and I am so glad I did. Using the 4.4mm balanced output on high gain and the experience is like nothing I have ever heard from a portable. Yes there is enough power to make the RAD-0 sing from the hilltops. All the sonics experienced from the desktop are mostly present, not much is lacking. For a weekend trip, a work week hotel stay or a work shift in the cubicle, this pairing will suffice. Not only will you have spectacular sound but you will have the prettiest portable setup. If you have a WM1a and are seeking an open-back headphone to pair with it then look no further then the Rosson RAD-0.


(Please see the full written comparison for more details)


The Ether C has less note density and weight then the RAD-0.

The MrSpeakers Ether C has slightly more detail retrieval and better resolution but it is not the most natural and realistic portrayal. The MrSpeakers Ether C lacks in bass slam and thump but excels in extension. The Ether C mids are more dominant and expressive all the while maintaining cohesion. MrSpeakers Ether C comes out holding nothing back; there is a grit and an edge to the treble. The MrSpeakers Ether C are not at a disadvantage because they are a close-back when it comes to soundstage.


The Meze Empyrean tone is excellent but the timbre is less defined as it is on the RAD-0. The Empyrean at times struggles to differentiate between instruments and to show the fine intricacies of an instrument. The Meze Empyrean lags behind slightly with detail retrieval and resolution. The Meze portrays a more accurate and realistic portion of the details for listening consumption but not enough for the studio. The Meze Empyrean has an elevated bass line along with extra note weight and density. The Empyrean has moderate extension but isn't as defined as the RAD-0. The mids of the Meze Empyrean are a warm breeze of naturalism. The Meze envelops the listener with emotion. The Meze Empyrean treble is lush and airy with soft and smooth edges of enjoyment. The Empyrean glosses over the sibilance and harshness of treble for a more forgiving and enjoyable listen. The Meze Empyrean presentation is all about the engagement and enjoyment.


I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to hear many headphones over the years in all sorts of price points, designs and driver types. I am blessed to own three spectacular headphones and to use them all daily; Rosson RAD-0, MrSpeakers Ether C and Meze Empyrean. All of them play a vital part in my review process. I absolutely love all three headphones and I highly recommend each of them. The MrSpeakers Ether C are my benchmark for how a closed-back headphone should sound.

The Rosson RAD-0 are my benchmark for how an open-back headphone portrays a natural, accurate, real-life experience.

The Meze Empyrean are my benchmark for how an open-back headphone portrays an engaging, realistic experience. For those moments of relaxing and being immersed with the music, I grab the Meze Empyrean. For those critical listening moments and comparing to the minutest of degrees, I grab the MrSpeakers Ether C. And for those times of relaxing, immersion, critiquing to the smallest of slivers, I reach for the Rosson RAD-0 the most. I prefer the RAD-0 over the others the most because it is the more refined and defined and better implemented. Don't get me wrong, the Ether C and Empyrean are no slouches they just aren't as finished like the RAD-0. The Rosson RAD-0 pairs with my ears the best of anything I have ever heard and owned. Everything that I seek as an audiophile is on full display with the Rosson RAD-0.

I believe that the Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 would excel in a studio. I asked Alex Rosson if he uses the RAD-0 in his own studios and he answered with a "Yes". I totally understand why.


YouTube reviews:


Twitter: @TalkDbs


The Honest Audiophile research and review process:

Audio Terms and Definitions:

Recommended Gear:

Rosson Audio Design RAD-0:

Meze Empyrean:

Hifiman Ananda:

Sennheiser HD600:

Sennheiser HD660s:

Meze 99 Classic:

MrSpeakers Ether C (non flow version)

(similar to:)

Meze Rai Penta:

Meze Rai Solo:

ADV. M5-12D:

Empire Ears ESR:

Tin Hifi T3:

Tin Hifi T2:

Tin Hfi T5:

Moondrop SSR:

Monoprice Monolith THX AAA 788:

Sony NW-A105:

Sony NW-WM-1a:

Mytek Liberty:

HeadAmp GSX-Mini:

Soekris DAC1421:

Tor Audio Roger:

Schiit Auido BiFrost 2:

Massdrop THX AAA 789:

Grace Design SDAC-B:

Geshelli Labs Enog 2 Pro:

Geshelli Labs J2:

Geshelli Labs Archel 2:

Geshelli Labs Erish:

Music recommendations: (in order of playlist)

Tingvall Trio “Beat” - piano tonality

Sinne Eeg “We’ve Just Begun” - multiple layer soundstage

Molly Johnson “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” - female vocal tone

Leslie Odom Jr. “Under Pressure” - male vocal tone

Eric Clapton “Change the World” - soundstage, layering and placement

Yo Yo Ma “Ecstasy of Gold” - acoustic instrument timbre

Adam Baldych “Spem in Alium” - acoustic instrument timbre

Pain of Salvation “Stress” - percussion balance

Michael Buble “When I Fall in Love” - orchestral dynamics

Patricia Barber “Code Cool” - sibilance check

Christian Scott “New New Orleans” - shouty upper mids

Tool “Chocolate Chip Trip” - imaging

Hans Zimmer “Why So Serious” - sub bass extension

Marcus Miller “No Limit” - bass control

Dave Holland Quartet “Conference Of The Birds”- bass check

Ilhan Eshkeri “47 Ronin”- orchestra and bass dynamics

Hans Zimmer: “2049” - sub bass extension

Cher: “Believe” - sibilance

Stanley Clarke - “Passenger 57 main title” - percussion, bass, separation and placement

Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra - “The Pine of the Appian Way” - soundstage, imaging and separation

Houston Person - “You are my Sunshine” - tone and timbre

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