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rsa sr71a vs mustang p51 vs shadow

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone, I need an amp (not neccessarily portable) for my iems at home and possible future headphones (i intend to keep this one for a while) I heard from Ray that they have the sr71a back in stock (i thought this was originally a limited item). I know that probbably no one has heard all three of these but can someone tell me about their different sizes and battery lire? Maybe someone has heard both the p51 and sr71a. I did hear somewhere that the p51 and shadow are quite close in sound but that person did not hear them both themselves. Are they equal in size? Thanks in advance for any information, Greetings, Anouk,

post #2 of 11

Size of Ray's portable amps in order largest to smallest:

SR71 > Hornet > Tomahawk > Mustang P51 > Shadow.

post #3 of 11

I have the SR-71A & I must say, its awesome. Battery life is dependant on what you put in it (It doesn't have an internal battery like the P51 or Shadow). I get about 30 hours out of 2 rechargeable batteries (I think they are 200mh?)

The amp will easily drive a 300ohm can (I've tried it with a HD650 & was very happy) but I mostly use it with IEMs (I've used it with JH16, UE11, SM3, SE530, ER4S & UE700. Probably a few more) & its great for them too & doesn't produce any more hiss than the source.


Saying that though, I am keen to try one of the smaller amps & from what I've read they are pretty darn good!

The size difference is a fair bit. Look at the pics on Rays site for comparisons. He always puts another one of his amps next to the others for a couple of shots. You should be able to work ut some kind of scale from that..


Actually, just stole this from the interweb:




Shadow is smaller still & a lot thinner...

post #4 of 11


post #5 of 11

I've owned both the SR-71A and P-51. Which amp you might like will depend on what sound sig you like combined with your monitor's sound sig...trial and error is almost a must here. If you plan to use the amp for full size HP above 120 Ohms or so, (also depends on the sensitivity) you would probably want the SR-71A unless you don't like to crank the volume...and don't value a nice dynamic sound with powerful bass. The HP that I used most to test both amps was HD650. The P-51 sounded better with HD650 at low to mid volumes (lets say around 75 dB or so) but trying to get a nice dynamic bass beyond that was useless. The SR-71A really never lacked the needed power. With IEMs, the P-51 will be plenty powerful.


Basically, the P-51 has a brighter sound from what I recall where the SR-71A is more even and has the power to more faithfully deliver a less compressed, dynamic sound with difficult loads.

post #6 of 11

I have both the SR71a and Mustang and have heard the Shadow.  I sold my SR71a last month as I am having too many portable amps.  I kind of agree with GreatDane in that if your future phone choice include the HD600/650 series, or any other harder to drive fullsize phones, forget about the Mustang and Shadow.  Otherwise, the Mustang is the amp that I kept.  It has a SQ that I really like especially with iems.  But there is a new crop of amps that really deserve you attention.  For instance, the RSA Protector, SR71B (both of which I do have at present) can be an amp for all season, for home and portable, for iem and fullsize, and is capable to drive demanding phones.  The new Ibasso D6, D12, PB2, are also good from review, and their price are very good.  And then there is the Meier Stepdance.  And if portability is not a straight requirement, the Lisa L3 should be on your list also. Personally I also like the Pico Slim.  But keep in mind the Pico Slim, Mustang, and Shadow sound very good with iems but really shouldn't be driving fullsize cans.  This is especially true when you intend to keep the amp for awhile and use it for future phones.  However, any of the above amps will make you very happy.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone,

I forgot the sr71a does not have internal batteries and a recharging circuit. That sort of rules it out for me although I loved it in the past when I owned it, it sounded really really good especially with guitars so I would still like to see some comparisons to see if the shadow and mustang can match this. For me midrange and soundstage are the most important criteria followed by punchy but not overpowering bass impact that does not drive into the midrange.

Sorry I am blind so pictures wont do much good for me, this is also the reason I dont like replacable batteries. The stepdance was also on the top of my list but in the end I dont want to do all this stuff with having to get batteries out of the amp and into the charger. I am not considering the l3, i have owned the lisa 3 and it is just too much of a hassle for me with all this recharging and very short battery life.

I am most curious now about the mustang vs shadow but I guess not many people have heard both. I do guess that the p51 MIGHT be a bit more powerful (maybe bigger batteries) but that the shadow has more battery life. This is just conjecture on my part though.

Any advice would be helpful.

I am quite sure I dont want to go the balanced route even if I move back to fullsize cans again so the real balanced portable amps or fullsize amps are out for me. I would consider amps with balanced gound (like the ones by meier audio).

Greetings, Anouk, 

post #8 of 11

Well, if that is the case, I would pick the Mustang over the Shadow.  Like I said before, I like the Pico Slim also but you may want to audition yourself.  If you go to a meet, you'll be the ultimate blind test and I mean it without the slightest disrespect to you.  Please let us know your decision.

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi unfortunately there are not many meets in these parts. There will be one in the near future but I doubt very much wether a lot of portable amps will be there. I do think that I might prefer the p51 sound over the pico slim though.

post #10 of 11


You may have made your decision already. In case you have not, search for Skylab's review of P51 on this site or see it on Ray's site under "Reviews." Skylab was very, very positive re the P51 Mustang. Good luck! 

post #11 of 11

Firstly, apologies to the OP and everyone else for muddying the waters here - I don't normally evangelise for iBasso, but this is a very specific thread.


This is a quote from a post Larry (headphoneaddict) made after Skylab published his review of the D4:


The frightening thing is that the D4 gets even better with a pair of OPA1611A on a 2:1 adapter with class-A biasing (retaining the stock LMH6655 buffers), and it's now hard to tell the difference now between the D4 and the P-51


Given that my only exposure to opamp rolling has been the installation of the Topkit on my D4, and I have never heard the P-51, I admit that I cant verify any of the above, but I value Larry's impressions. Happy to hear from those who have tried both amps, but it may save the OP quite a few dollars. That said, if he is set on an RSA amp, he could do a lot worse than the P-51.


Disclaimer : I like the D4 as an amp, less so as a DAC/amp, and I have been critical more than once of iBasso quality control.



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