Ray Samuels Emmeline II The Raptor Headphone Amp


500+ Head-Fier
Pros: tight bass and good dynamics
Cons: output tubes supply limited(nos only)
 I have had my raptor for two and a half years with no reliabilty issues.The amplifier proper is very compact and lite weight so be aware it does not self anchor itself and is easy to move.The power supply is very substantial and is remotely locatable, it is tethered to the headphone amp by din type connector which securely twists in place on the amp module.
 The amplifier seems to be pretty powerful and is signatured fairly neutrally for a tube amplifier.The bass is pretty tight for a tube amp and the amp has good dynamics.The sound stage is pretty good with good depth portayal and good dimensionality.The noise floor of the amp is fairly quiet and low level resolution is pretty good.
 I have read that some people found the amp to sound more towards the solid state camp.I Could see how some people think that way because the amp sounds pretty neutral for a tubed amplifier.But I find the amp to be more three dimensional than the solid solid state amps I have heard.
 I have akg 701,grado rs1i and audeze lcd-2 phones in my collection and I find at least in my system that raptor seems to be synergetic with the rs1i phones.The match is pretty dimensional(which is apparently from what I have read not a strength of the grado) the raptor seems to produce fairly dimensional sound from the grados.If anyone is looking for good amp to drive the rs1i I think you should check out the raptor I think you would not be disappointed.
 I find the raptor to be less synergetic with the akg 701.The 701 is a fairly difficult phone to drive and I find that even the audezes are easier to drive.
 These days I do not use the 701 phones very much especially since I got my audeze lcd2 rev2 phones.
 I Imho believe that the akg needs a stout amplifier to wrest the best sound out of the 701.I did have some success with a shanling hybid tube amp(shanling ph300) which seemed to pair well with the 701 but I had some reliabilty and service issues with shanling and its distributors music hall so I returned the amp. I think having a solid state amp section with a tubed input stage seemed to balance out the akgs analytical sound signature.The pairing made listening sessions less fatigueing.
 Well I am getting away from my raptor review.
 Using the raptor with the audeze lcd2 rev2 makes for a pretty enjoyable session.The amp has enough drive capabilty but the levels are somewhat higher than for the rs1i.A good level was obtained around 10 to 11 oclock for most recordings.
 The sound with the raptor was somewhat less elicit with the audezes than those phones are with my burson ha160 but the pairing was fairly enjoyable,The burson mates particularly well with the audeze lcd rev2 Imho and at the price is a very cost effecttive match for the audezes.
  I must add that I am using a kubala sosna emotion power cord on the raptor and that I have upgrade the stock fuse in the amp with a hifi tuning gold fuse in my amp.To check for fuse size call ray samuels and he will let you know what the proper fuse value is for the amp.The fuse and power cord upgrade significanty improve the amplifiers performance.The noise floor drops and low level information is more apparent and things just tighten up and the sound becomes more dynamic.The kubala cord is probably way over the top(I just used it because I alredy had one) but may I suggest the emotiva power cord from emotiva on line.I purchased one very recently and have found the power cord to perform way beyond its
modest price.
  In addendum to my previous review I have to reassess my findings about the amp.But my reassessment is much for the better.I have found the emotiva power cable to be much better suited to the raptor than my kubala sosna emotion power cable(amazing considering the emotion costs the dearer end of a thousand dollars and the emotiva power cord costed me only eighty dollars!!!).I have also upgraded the fuse from the hifi tuning gold fuse to the hifi tuning supreme fuse which in conjunction with the change of power cord have greatly elevated my opinion of the raptor otl amp.
 The amp now has much more vivid sound without being overly analytical sounding.The amplifier has a very liquid sound signature that i find very much more palpable than it was before.The sound is very spacious with a large soundstage that is more dimensional.The dynamics are also much improved.The low level detail that I am hearing is so great that I can regularly discern extemely low level information during the most silent moments on audiophile recordings (rustling,shuffling feet, artists joking around etc.)
The sound from this amp especially with my grado rs1i phones is very realistic and very lifelike i have never heard the grados sound so lifelike before.I also tried it again with my akg 701s and it seems to work somewhat better with them now but i still prefer the amp with the grado rs1is.
 I have not tried the amp with my lcd2 rev2 because my headphone cable went bad and while I have received a replacement cable for them i am so utterly rapt with the raptors performance with my rs1is I have been in no hurry to start the cable break in process with the lcd2s.I guess in due time I will eventually start breaking in the audeze cabling and then try it with the raptor once the cable is broken in.
  This is another addendum to my previous reviews. It has as been awhile longer and I recently purchased a cable pro reverie power cable for another component but being curious I thought I would try it with my raptor to see how it sounded. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I thought the raptor was pretty good at sound stage before but it is an entire different league now in that area. I listened to it till almost 4 oclock this morning and I was just amazed at the palpability that this power cord brings to the sound of the raptor. I listened to a vintage  copy of frank sinatras only the lonely cd on capitol and I could swear I was listening to him in the flesh it was that good.
  It has made such a difference that I consider the reverie power cable an essential must have tweak for raptor owners. You simply have not heard the raptor till you upgrade the cable to the cable pro reverie power cable.
  For any owners who take my suggestion to heart there is a thirty day free trial period from cable pro. So what have you got to lose but be patient like all cables they take a while to flesh in but with maybe twenty or thirty hours you should hear a noticeable difference in the raptors performance.
  I would appreciate any comments from anyone who takes my lead and tries the reverie power cord on their raptor. it has been the better part of three years now and I am still finding things out about this exceptional amp.
Thank you for the impressions - been thinking that an 'all out' RSA Raptor could be just the thing for the PS1000 and I suspect that your experiences may just have added weight to my suspicion.
Nice review of the Raptor after using it for a substantial time, and apparently you still love its sound!
I have and love three of of Ray's portable class a amps, and all still sound magnificent. Ray is also
a pleasure to do business with and has wonderful customer service, he even sent me a new power supply for
my Predator after mine disappeared! Thanks for keeping the Raptor in the limelight after owning it for two years!
hot flash I must add I changed the power cord on my raptor amp.I was using the outrageously expensive kubala sosna emotion cord on the raptor which worked very well.But I tried a emotiva power cord from emotiva.com and find that the raptor sounds much better with the emotiva power which costs only about eighty dollars which to my amazement clearly bettered the nine hundred fifty(not sure but pretty close)power cord. The emotiva power cord catapulted the sound of the raptor with my grado rs1i phones well beyond what it sounded like with the much more expensive power cord.If you have the raptor I implore anyone to purchase a emtiva power cord to use with the amp.You will simply be astounded by what this power cord does for the sound from the raptor with the grado rs1is.I have never heard the grado sound better and when i say better it is hugely better.