Raal Ribbon Headphones - SRH1A
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llamaluv

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Sub-bass or bass slam is important to me, so the comment about SR1A giving out at only 80db seems to be a red flag/warning to me - could be a deal breaker.
My apologies for raising a potentially serious criticism without sufficient evaluation time to be able to really stand by it.

One of the tracks where I felt the bass fell down was a Jpop song that is actually mega-compressed, and upon reflection, I'm not sure if the unpleasant bass I was hearing were not in fact the RAAL rendering it all too faithfully, as opposed to "giving out", as I had put it (Perfume - Future Pop, starting around 0:52 and thereafter; Spotify link for reference).

I'd defer to @Zhanming057 or others who could address the bass question with more certitude.
 
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Zhanming057

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My apologies for raising a potentially serious criticism without sufficient evaluation time to be able to really stand by it.

One of the tracks where I felt the bass fell down was a Jpop song that is actually mega-compressed, and upon reflection, I'm not sure if the unpleasant bass I was hearing were not in fact the RAAL rendering it all too faithfully, as opposed to "giving out", as I had put it (Perfume - Future Pop, starting around 0:52 and thereafter; Spotify link for reference).

I'd defer to @Zhanming057 or others who could address the bass question with more certitude.
I do listen to not only Jpop but also Kpop (shamefully covering my face now), and a lot of it is severely compressed. Perfume is kind of new to me but running it through my set the bass does seem like it's been kind of flattened and it's not the headphones.

Theoretically, bass only bottoms out until the drivers are at maximum excursion which is at 150w into the adapter box. I haven't noticed any bass distortion at 100+ db. It's pretty lean bass and the body isn't as large as the Abyss, but extension is really quite good.

The main difference between extension on the SR1A and the Abyss Phi is that the SR1A's stay really quick and well-defined until about 30hz, and then there's not much below that. 15hz is there on the Abyss, but it's not great and in the 30-100hz range the Abyss is not nearly as fast or cleanly structured as the SR1A. If you're listening for sub-bass, you'll notice that there's a bit of a "floor" compared to the best planar bass, but I feel that the speed more than makes up for it.

One other thing is that if you're running an underpowered amp, bass suffers because bass sucks up a lot of energy. You can literally see this on the Nagra, you're listening at 10w and the drums kick in and you're immediately up to peaks of 40-50w. Bass suffers if your amp can't push that extra current through fast enough. I can't imagine it being an issue on something like the INT 150, of course.
 
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llamaluv

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running it through my set the bass does seem like it's been kind of flattened and it's not the headphones.
Thanks, that's very useful.
 
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PeteSTRADAMUS

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No sound changes. Here's what's going to be changed from my preproduction one (which is the one in NYC right now):

- The headband, to a much more comfortable design using only a single metal band and a thicker leather pad.
- Joints now have much more friction
- The driver is now user-replaceable
- The leather straps are lengthened for larger heads and the adjustment range has also been extended.
- The cable is now a stranded one with thinner shielding but with the same wire material.
- Cosmetics, black foam on the outside and a new etched metal logo.

NYC? as in @ Canjam?
 
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travis-bickle

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I have been told that drivers were tested for well over 1,000 hours of continuous operation, and they hold up very well to that level of use, so I'm sure you're fine with bassy tracks and movies.
thats a serious deal breaker for ME. Wasnt aware of this side-effect when using ribbons.
 
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Aleksandar R.

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thats a serious deal breaker for ME. Wasnt aware of this side-effect when using ribbons.
Don't know what you're referring to, but to clarify, there is a 5 year warranty.
 
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travis-bickle

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Don't know what you're referring to, but to clarify, there is a 5 year warranty.
yeah thats great. i am referring to the fact that the drivers are kind of a consumable. not interested in a product which needs to replace a part regularly. even if they survive 2k hours of movie action through the smyth research realiser. after the 5 years of warranty there are periodic costs and who can ensure that i am able to buy a new set of ribbons in... lets say 10 years?
 
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Bill13

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Don't know what you're referring to, but to clarify, there is a 5 year warranty
yeah thats great. i am referring to the fact that the drivers are kind of a consumable.
I sent raalrequisite.com an email asking them to clarify their replaceable-ribbon warranty coverage policy --- after reading the warranty terms/conditions.
I felt that the actual wording of their warranty was vague.

Specifically asked about possibility of the ribbon element stretching over time due to action-movie bass excursion, or bass-heavy music.
Haven't got an answer yet from RAAL Requisite in California..

If Alex of RAAL Requisite reads this, I would like to know how rapidly the headphone bass SPL rolls off below ribbon resonance frequency.
So, for example, is the measured SR!a roll-off slope roughly = -24 db/octave below the ribbon's resonance frequency (33 -36 Hz)?

Would greatly appreciate info/answers from RAAL -thanks in advance.
 
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Zhanming057

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yeah thats great. i am referring to the fact that the drivers are kind of a consumable. not interested in a product which needs to replace a part regularly. even if they survive 2k hours of movie action through the smyth research realiser. after the 5 years of warranty there are periodic costs and who can ensure that i am able to buy a new set of ribbons in... lets say 10 years?
2,000 hours is more than 3 years of used at 2 hours/day.

Just because the drivers here are replaceable doesn't mean that they fail more frequently than dynamic or planar drivers. Surviving copies of the R10, K1000, etc. have drivers that are often in terrible shape because of hours accumulated over time. I had a pair of EX1000's that I probably put 3,000+ hours on over 7 years, the signature was completely different from a new pair, it didn't even sound like the same IEM. It's probably unrealistic to expect any pair of headphones to survive 10 years or 5,000+ hours under heavy use.

Raal has been around for a while, and while I wouldn't be surprised if they stop stocking parts at some point, it would be at least 5 years after they've moved on to something new after selling the last pair of SR1A's. That's just not a time frame I'm inclined to be worried about, and when it happen, I'm going to assume that it's because they've got something better.
 
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Aleksandar R.

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yeah thats great. i am referring to the fact that the drivers are kind of a consumable. not interested in a product which needs to replace a part regularly. even if they survive 2k hours of movie action through the smyth research realiser. after the 5 years of warranty there are periodic costs and who can ensure that i am able to buy a new set of ribbons in... lets say 10 years?
I totally understand your concerns and I think the same way.
I'll explain my view on this.

It is not a fact that the ribbons are more consumable than anything else that vibrates all the time. The fact is that nothing that vibrates lasts forever, though.
Like any diaphragm that moves, the point is not to go over a certain excursion (where elastic deformation becomes plastic deformation). Until that point you can have billions of cycles, but you can stretch it in an instant if you overdrive it.
Follow the recommended power (100W@8Ohm amp) and excursion will remain below that point.
I have a few ribbons that were working for 1k hrs and still remain like new. I also have a few that are totally sagging after I have severely ovedriven them during testing phases of development. They tend to make popping sounds only on loud bass-effect in movies, so I just reduce the volume and continue...It's not like they became unusable all of a sudden. In any case, my normal pair proved to be less consumable than my Audezes that developed buzzing noises really quickly and I can't do anything to fix them.

Anyhow, we've had wonderful experiences with reliability of our tweeters and we have the best customer care ever in the industry:
For 4+ years now, we send free replacement ribbons to RAAL tweeter owners, no questions asked. With more that 12k tweeters out there, we don't send out more than 7-8 pairs per year. The cost of doing that means nothing to us at such insignificant failure rate.

I did the best I could in trying to engineer the same reliability. We will do the same kind of customer care policy if the reliability proves to be similar. Or if failure rates become significant, we could make them cheap enough that replacement after a few years is a non-issue.
That is only related to the manufacturing volume. As we get faster and more skilled in manufacturing of the ribbon cartridges, we will reflect that into customer care. We just want to see how it goes and after a while we'll act accordingly, but we sure won't leave you hanging.
As with ribbon tweeters, we will become the most serious players in headphone industry, as well. We did some outrageous things in the past and we'll do it again.
Even at our start, we are the only ones that make repairable headphones. Not because we expect them to fail, but because I like things that are repairable. This is a dying feature for any product nowadays and I hate that, so I'm fighting it. I like good tools and I like to have the full control over things I use. My Weller soldering stations are not user repairable because they're bad, but because they're good tools and I can't remember when we replaced a heater on one of those. I especially don't like that companies that make things I use have the control over my time. I hate sending things back and waiting to get it repaired as it always takes more than necessary amount of time.
Ribbon headphones are my baby, my life's work. I certainly wont let them become a flop because of reliability issues, if any. The thing is out and there's no turning back now. They must give you a feeling of a good tool. We'll simply do what it takes to make these a legendary product and customer satisfaction is a major ingredient to make it such.

I could go on and on about this, but don't want to choke you to death...
 
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Aleksandar R.

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I sent raalrequisite.com an email asking them to clarify their replaceable-ribbon warranty coverage policy --- after reading the warranty terms/conditions.
I felt that the actual wording of their warranty was vague.

Specifically asked about possibility of the ribbon element stretching over time due to action-movie bass excursion, or bass-heavy music.
Haven't got an answer yet from RAAL Requisite in California..

If Alex of RAAL Requisite reads this, I would like to know how rapidly the headphone bass SPL rolls off below ribbon resonance frequency.
So, for example, is the measured SR!a roll-off slope roughly = -24 db/octave below the ribbon's resonance frequency (33 -36 Hz)?

Would greatly appreciate info/answers from RAAL -thanks in advance.
The roll-off is slower than 12dB/oct.
This is a 2nd order system and as such it rolls off with 12dB.oct, but because of the proximity effect, there is some EQ happening so it's slower than that.
 
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llamaluv

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Well, one of my New Year's resolutions was to lay off the big audio purchases a little, and yet I can tell I'm on the verge... (!)

That being said, does a Schiit Vidar (100wpc) seem like it could pass muster, or at least tide me over until I decide on a higher-end speaker amp a short while into the future? My listening volume is typically 70-80dB, occasionally up to 85dB max.

The INT-150 sounded great to me with the RAAL (plus, when I connected it to my Susvara briefly, it sounded quite similar to my First Watt J2), but it may take a little while before I can find one used...
 
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confused -- In Maxx134's ranking, the SR1A bass quantity looks very good (as I understand it) - could be interpreted to approach the Abyss phi in bass quantity?
Yes sorry I was vague there so I edited that post to show it was overall bass volume.
I also added what I felt was the sub-bass impact.
This headphone would probably do best with live venue or classical.
EDM requiring plenty sub bass would be better served with a closed pad design, but thats obvious.
Not saying the headphones wont shine as the resolve is amazing & a shade more resolving than all the others.
Sonic impression overall is different than others. The least "headphone like" and more like a room.


Bass suffers if your amp can't push that extra current through fast enough. I can't imagine it being an issue on something like the INT 150, of course
I feel that the issue is because of what most users are used to with other headphines having earpads, the Sub-bass impact from earpads is most noticable, while this headphone is a bit like an HD800 in that regard to having "airy" bass..
The bass level itself was enough.

The Susvara is decieving that way as it becomes from an airy to visceral bass depending on amp like on a speaker amp.

The INT-150 amp used on the SRH1A gave it great sound and power for the bass but I was not going to push the headphones as it got louder as it was loud just samnot the type of bass most are used to.
 
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Bill13

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The roll-off is slower than 12dB/oct.
This is a 2nd order system and as such it rolls off with 12dB.oct, but because of the proximity effect, there is some EQ happening so it's slower than that.
Thanks for your reply. Glad to hear that the SR1a sub bass rolls off gradually.
I think that the proximity effect EQ increases with decreased distance from the headphone ribbon to the ear - so the listener should try to fit the headphones tightly -- as close as wearer comfort allows?

Be interesting to see measurements -- like plots of SPL & distortion vs. frequency, etc. Anyway, hope to see this kind of info in future reviews.
I understand that under 30 Hz, ribbon excursion limits maximum undistorted sub-bass ---- so, max SPL under 30Hz may be limited to say, under 90dB or so?
 
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