Raal Ribbon Headphones - SRH1A
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Aleksandar R.

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Thanks, Chris!
Just keep 'em Vidars safe, don't let my lack of farsightedness to damage them and I'll be grateful!
 
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cconnaker

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Thanks, Chris!
Just keep 'em Vidars safe, don't let my lack of farsightedness to damage them and I'll be grateful!
One question Aleksandar, is there a user manual for the SR1a? I saw a PDF about an interface box modification from you guys but that looks a bit over the top for me. I just want to make sure I’m getting the best out of these.
 
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5WS, or 5 W small housing.
The resistor influence in sound is a discussions as old as hi-fi and I'm in the wrong camp to carry on discussing that.
My camp is better measured results + better subjective results= better. Personally I don't like to voice my system with Johnson noise. I do agree with you on MoX. Only better than wirewound if your budget is 5 cents instead of 10. And performance isn’t priority. Foil are required when top performance is required. But not just any foil. Some are drastically better than others. However the best foil resistors are a poor choice if trying to hit a price target rather than performance target.

Foil resistors are just like ribbon tweeters. Some are junk and some are excellent. On the low and we have the Fountek's. And on the very upper end we have the Viawave's. But just like with ribbon tweeters, the best choice requires extensive research, measuring with high end analyzers, and listening.
 
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It never occurred to me that the two connectors will touch and thus, trip the bridged amp protection.
I’ve noticed that, every time I hang my SR1a on a Woo Audio headphone stand, the connectors seem to “find” each other. A little electrical tape goes a long way.
 
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FLTWS

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Presently I'm using and old Oppo stand or BendyHead.
Can't decide which I prefer.
Oppo puts pressure at top and bottom of vertical pad deforming it a bit.
BendyHead applies equal pressure along all 4 pads.
 
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Final Thoughts on SR1a & Jotunheim R With and Without EQ & Live vs Recorded Jan 30/2020

My follow up to https://www.head-fi.org/threads/schiit-happened-the-story-of-the-worlds-most-improbable-start-up.701900/page-3755#post-15441946 post 56523

After taking Tuesday off from any listening after last Monday’s marathon I just cooked the Jotunheim R all day and I returned yesterday (Wednesday) and spent many hours listening and re-listening to two fairly good recordings of the Rach 3 that I had just heard at the concert on Sunday.

I’m about 75 to 80 hours play time on my “R”at this point. The difference in sound loudness level between balanced and SE is notable so I use a sound level meter and 300 Hz test signal on CD to get loudness levels as close as I can, usually within 1 tenth (0.1) of a db for comparison listening to those two modes on the “R”. I use thin wedges cut from Post-It stickie’s to mark same levels of loudness for both balanced and SE positions on the front plate around the volume knob. While I’m pretty good at getting levels close by ear, my OCD compels me to at least give the appearance of some qualifying instrumentation, LOL!

The first recording is by the Philadelphia O., no less, with Dutoit, and was recorded 1990 by Decca in the Philadelphia O.’s usual recording venue at that time, Memorial Hall in Philadelphia (in the days before costs drove so many orchestra’s to start releasing “live” recordings culled from a series of recent consecutive concert performances made (or so I believe – I stand to be corrected). The other recording is by the Baltimore Symphony under David Zinman on Telarc and was recorded in 1994 in their normal performance locale, The Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Both recordings are DDD.

By the end of Wednesday’s listening sessions with the SR1a I found myself thinking about what it was that made live versus recorded a different experience, specifically.

For whatever reason I seemed to have a clearer aural recollection of the live performance just attended while listening to these recordings with SR1a then usual in the past when I’ve prep’d before and followed up after live concerts with listening sessions of the same work(s) on CD (and LP’s prior to 2004). Perhaps because of the “rightness” this ribbon design displays at reproducing the entire frequency spectrum at all but the lowest frequencies. I’ve always been partial to ribbons done right over other methods. Carver’s Amazing IV’s ribbon / cone hybrids are my all-time, all-around favorite, followed by Quad ESL 63’s with subs being my 2nd choice for an ultimate speaker solution – wish I still had them both, and the rooms to play them in.

What is it specifically about live concert sound that makes it so different aside from being a part of the event, compared to electronically reproduced sound?

When I go live;
1.
The immediacy and sense of body to the sound is so beyond the term “transparency” as we apply the term to electronically reproduced sound.
2. Dynamic range, the difference between the softest and loudest sounds seems so much wider and finely graded compared to what speakers and electronics can manage. However, some digital recordings can manage sounds so low in volume level I want to turn it up to hear it better, but then loud passages are way too loud. This doesn’t happen to me listening live.
3. The ambient air sound of the hall itself, its acoustic signature, is more apparent and can be somewhat unique to that venue and is not captured all that well on recordings.
4. Sound comes out of a silent background when live that is unlike the silent background produced by electronic components (audience noise aside). The concert hall is alive with a sense of air, recorded background is generally dead quiet but sterile. There are times live when a silence following a crescendo can be just as startling as the crescendo.
5. Transient attack seems, somehow, more precise and more impactful. And decay characteristics vary with the different acoustic properties of different halls.

These individual qualities may not be significantly beyond the capabilities of reproducing systems but adding these characteristics together makes it very easy for me to tell the difference between live and Memorex. It may fly in the face of technical measurements, but that’s the way I hear it.

So, on to the SR1a. How do my different driving options for it fair against my aural recall?
The equipment lineup used: Emotiva ERC-3 both AES and Coax out to Yggdrasil 2 inputs, and out to Jotunheim R in both balanced and SE direct modes, and then also with Loki inserted into the SE leg that I can engage or bypass. All analog interconnects were Straight Wire Symphony IIC for consistency, (I like the sound I get and they are not expensive, are well built, and come with nice connectors). Note: I leave Loki “ON” when in bypass mode per Jason’s suggestion.

Results were kind of what I anticipated.
Running balanced into the R came closest to defining some of those qualities I experience in the concert with the exception of the deepest bass sounds (not that the bass was better with the interface). SE direct or with Loki “in” or “bypassed” inserted was about or almost exactly the same, maybe a hair less pure sounding but certainly nothing to stress over or a reason to proclaim balanced a superior approach for home listening (but I do like XLR connectors over RCA connectors, personal preference). If balanced has an edge to my way of hearing its perhaps the potential for a slightly better crosstalk performance (speculation on my part) and any effect that may have on imaging and soundstage, but the recording quality also determines a lot of that as well. The balanced input did, on a few occasions, add a slight amount of edgy-ness to the highs with some recordings but it improved significantly with additional hours of burn-in. The improvement in the highs was the most notable change to the sound of the “R” with increasing hours of playing time. Otherwise the sound is as clean and clear and detailed as can be on either balanced or SE inputs through the “R”.

Then I insert Loki on the SE leg, engage it, and things changed.
Inserting Loki (and the additional meter of interconnect required) didn’t seem to lessen the transparency much if at all. But when I engaged Loki at 20 Hz, “wow”, the push of air, the oomph at the very bottom, so right, so seductive, and so addictive. The sounds character now was of slightly softened, especially in the highs, and it had an overall relaxed, luxuriant, involving sound that was still nicely detailed and resolving to go along with that “wow” bass. I’ve tried Loki with my other phones and amps in the past but the result was usually a tendency towards too much of a good thing in the bottom end. And in truth, I don’t feel my Utopia or 1266 Phi, or even HD800S get any benefit from Loki in the lows, they sound fine to me as is with the right amps driving them. My HD800 did benefit a bit but still, in top to bottom sound, the SR1a couldn’t be beat for me with just a bit of help with that 20Hz knob. The SR1a works very well with a little EQ’ing on the bottom end and continues to sound clean and undistorted. I found no need to play with Loki’s other frequency settings but as I think about it, could a balanced version of Loki or some other balanced equalizer……hmmm? (Can’t just leave well enough alone, can I?). I noticed the same improvements to the deepest bass with my chosen tracks from the Chesky Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc and others, with Loki and the SR1a. It’s not that the SR1a by itself doesn’t do bass well; it’s just that in my case and with my music and for a few instruments, I like a little more weight on the bottom end. Again, that’s my personal preference. And I want to be clear, the differences I mention above (with the exception of deep bass) with respect to balanced vs. SE, with or without Loki, and other characteristics are extremely slight.

[Sidebar on EQ’ing: From 1970 when I started down the Hi-Fi road to sometime in the early 90’s there were numerous hi-end brick and mortar audio stores to visit. A recession or two closed up many except some in mostly urban settings. Coupled with the new-fangled flat screen TV stores with cheaply priced and even cheaper sounding surround systems and subsequent incursion of Big Box stores followed by moves toward direct internet sales, they all combined to spell the death knell for many audio only Hi-Fi shops. During that earlier period it was not unusual for me to spend a Saturday a month hobnobbing with owners and sales personnel and other regular denizens at those stores. One of my favorite past times was sitting quietly on the sidelines when a new prospect came in to the store. Their inquiry was typically along the lines of “I want to put together a system that is accurate, neutral”. Turns out in most cases that’s not what they wanted at all, they were really looking for “crisp highs and lot’s a bass” to get the sound the way they liked it best. Of course audiophile purists eschewed the use of tone controls or equalizers. Over time my position on EQ developed into “if I can do without fine, if it can help get the sound more to my liking without fouling up the sound in some other way, why not”?]

The improvements to deep bass with EQ and the “R” were similar as when using my Ragnarok 1 or PrimaLuna with Loki and the SR1a with interface, but results are even a little better with the arrival of “R”.

I suspect pushing the volume and Loki’s 20Hz setting too high at too high a volume could do some damage to the ribbon but I don’t listen at levels that might do that (or so I hope).

It is possible that more play time will improve the deep bass without EQ , but I kind of doubt it, or my brain will reset itself to accept what I hear as more correct, maybe. If it sounds like I’m waffling on the subject of whether the SR1a needs EQ to meet my preferences, you’re right, I am. Sometimes yes, and sometimes no, boils down to almost a recording by recording decision and not surprisingly many analog sourced recordings benefited the most, many all-digital recordings required little or no EQ at the bottom. Fortunately, with the “R” I can switch from balanced to SE, with or without Loki engaged, as quickly as I can move two toggle switches and adjust the volume.

It’s probable that different electronics will lead to different results. Different interconnects might as well. I have several significantly more expensive cable sets I can try at a later date; they could make a positive or negative difference, or no difference at all. I’m not really in a rush to put myself thru that gauntlet.

Now, what about that interface box? I found it less transparent than the “R”. But, I thoroughly enjoyed the sound of it for 90+ days with either my Ragnarok 1 or my PrimaLuna EVO400, and Loki when I felt it was needed. This headphone was a keeper for me with the interface before I was aware of the possibility of “R”. But pitting the interface against the “R” made it clear to me that the “R” was the way to go. The “R” is both refined and forthright in its sound capabilities with the SR1a. I also wonder, as other posters have mentioned here and elsewhere, does / would the interface compromise the sound of conventional high power amplifiers, even those costing mega-bucks? But listening to the SR1a with the interface was still a fully satisfying experience for me.

February 2, 2020 (after a few more days of listening and burn-in)
Rather than listen to 10 hours of talking heads repeating a lot of hot air about today’s Super Bowl, I’ve decided to wrap up my first week with Jotunheim R plus SR1a and revisit my initial thoughts and recordings until kickoff. I was around 125 hours at the end of today’s session on the “R” and well over 300 on the SR1a due to my accelerating burn-in on the “R”, and I don’t believe things will change sound wise at this point.

My take at the end of this week is the same as at the start except for the previously mentioned improvements in the highs with playing time that has also been noted by other posters. While SR1a + Jotunheim R combo may not be the best solution for all listeners and all genres of music, it is for me with classical, Classic Rock, and Jazz. EQ’ing at 20Hz with Loki gives me the ability to tailor the lows to my liking on a disc by disc basis. The sound of stringed instruments on this combo is unparalleled for texture, smoothness and a very realistic sound (if the recording is honest). And piano sound, one of the most difficult instruments to record and reproduce, is about as good as I’ve ever heard. Voices come across as extremely life-like, and I could go on and on but…

[Another Sidebar: I played piano and violin (and still have it) as a youngster and my father was a classically trained pianist. But the allure of the baseball & football field & basketball court and other sports ended what would most likely not have been a promising career for me as a musician anyway.]

All things considered and speculated upon the direct drive “R” appears to be the current best option for me, with or without EQ, for my SR1a. And, at $150.00 the Loki is not really a bank account breaker. Also, we now know RAAL|requisite will release their own direct drive amplifier soon and while certainly not in the mega-buck category price wise it will apparently be 4 times more expensive than the “R”, but like the SR1a itself, it is being built for the pro recording market more than consumer audio market and that may have something to do with the design, build, and cost.

In closing, the biggest issue I have with the SR1a is its naming. I keep transposing the “S” and the “R” when I type them probably as I’ve also got “R”AAL|requisite buried in the back of my head. Such are the trials and tribulations of an audiophile, LOL. And so;

1. Does the SR1a replicate the concert hall experience for me? No. But neither does any other transducer and collection of electronics & cabling I’ve heard with the music I listen to. But with the “R” and Loki it comes satisfyingly closer for me than several other options I’ve experienced to date (not that I’ve heard or owned all of the best available headphone and amping options).
2. As to whether To EQ or To Not EQ the SR1a & Jotunheim R combo with Loki? The answer for me is…………Yes!
finis
Can you explain in more detail what the Loki is?
If I run the SR1a with the JOT-R amp and use the CHORD DAVE /HMS as my DAC /source how can I dial in more base via EQ. I don’t know how to do that with the DAVE.
 
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FLTWS

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Can you explain in more detail what the Loki is?
If I run the SR1a with the JOT-R amp and use the CHORD DAVE /HMS as my DAC /source how can I dial in more base via EQ. I don’t know how to do that with the DAVE.
Loki is Schiit's little analog EQ box;

https://www.schiit.com/products/loki

I've never had any chord products so I couldn't say how or if it will integrate. I can say that Loki is a single ended , not balanced, device. I place my Loki between my Yggdrasil 2 and Jotunheim R.
 
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Kelowna

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I think the issue will remain, because of amps being bridged, depending on the signal symmetry between left-right channel and on volume.
To me, it is very common that 3.5mm jacks with metal shell, the shell is a GND.

For the specified power handling, bridging amps is not necessary, so I wasn't thinking much about issues with bridged amps, sorry about that.
Anyhow, insulate them as I don't think the issue is gone by using ins. transformers.

It just dawned on me that one of your headphone clients who is using my Icepower 1200AS2 based amp would have the same issues if these connector housings connected. Because all Icepower amps are BTL designs. So the negative lead is not a ground. Instead it swings in negative voltage equal to the positive voltage. And these amps will also go into protection mode if this occurs. So a heads up for anyone using Icepower amps with your Raal headphones. If you're using Hypex or Purifi based class D amps it's not an issue. As they're single ended.
 
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tunes

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Loki is Schiit's little analog EQ box;

https://www.schiit.com/products/loki

I've never had any chord products so I couldn't say how or if it will integrate. I can say that Loki is a single ended , not balanced, device. I place my Loki between my Yggdrasil 2 and Jotunheim R.
So I guess the Loki works in the analogue domain just before feeding the DAC signal to the amplifier?
 
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FLTWS

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So I guess the Loki works in the analogue domain just before feeding the DAC signal to the amplifier?
Yes, that's the way I have mine setup.
 
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Here's the actual headphones with the cable that shipped with them. The interface box a bit different from the usual one in photos as well.

Just noticed how the rear of your interface varies from mine as well. Mine is like this;
1581957450224.png
 
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Aleksandar R.

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My camp is better measured results + better subjective results= better. Personally I don't like to voice my system with Johnson noise. I do agree with you on MoX. Only better than wirewound if your budget is 5 cents instead of 10. And performance isn’t priority. Foil are required when top performance is required. But not just any foil. Some are drastically better than others. However the best foil resistors are a poor choice if trying to hit a price target rather than performance target.

Foil resistors are just like ribbon tweeters. Some are junk and some are excellent. On the low and we have the Fountek's. And on the very upper end we have the Viawave's. But just like with ribbon tweeters, the best choice requires extensive research, measuring with high end analyzers, and listening.
The situation is that equal dissipation in Vishay foils would cost me around $1800-1900, plus I'd need substantial heatsinks and much larger chassis for all that....Then I'd have to make money on it...
All in all, it is out of the question to introduce a new technology hedphones that are burdened with additional $4k resistor box.

Instead, direct drive amps are a better option, and those have already emerged and there's more models to come.

In any case, even with the existing Inerface box, in most aspects they sound better than many existing TOTL headphones, so It is obvious that resistors aren't the weak link here.
I certainly agree that everything can be improved and so on and so forth, but if it's too expensive then the point is lost.
 
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The situation is that equal dissipation in Vishay foils would cost me around $1800-1900, plus I'd need substantial heatsinks and much larger chassis for all that....Then I'd have to make money on it...
All in all, it is out of the question to introduce a new technology hedphones that are burdened with additional $4k resistor box.

Instead, direct drive amps are a better option, and those have already emerged and there's more models to come.

In any case, even with the existing Inerface box, in most aspects they sound better than many existing TOTL headphones, so It is obvious that resistors aren't the weak link here.
I certainly agree that everything can be improved and so on and so forth, but if it's too expensive then the point is lost.
Refreshing take on this Alex. Thanks for the post.
 
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Aleksandar R.

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One question Aleksandar, is there a user manual for the SR1a? I saw a PDF about an interface box modification from you guys but that looks a bit over the top for me. I just want to make sure I’m getting the best out of these.
There is one, and it should have been posted on our refreshed website under Support section, but it hasn't been. Probably Danny and Nick somehow missed that, so I just dropped them a note about that, thank you for the reminder!
 
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The situation is that equal dissipation in Vishay foils would cost me around $1800-1900, plus I'd need substantial heatsinks and much larger chassis for all that....Then I'd have to make money on it...
All in all, it is out of the question to introduce a new technology hedphones that are burdened with additional $4k resistor box.

Instead, direct drive amps are a better option, and those have already emerged and there's more models to come.

In any case, even with the existing Inerface box, in most aspects they sound better than many existing TOTL headphones, so It is obvious that resistors aren't the weak link here.
I certainly agree that everything can be improved and so on and so forth, but if it's too expensive then the point is lost.
I totally understand the reasoning for your decision. If you used the best resistors you would price the interface box out of the market after dealer margins are taken into consideration. But from my point of view, some folks are using $20000-30000+ worth of electronics to drive these headphones. Add $100K to that when @Pale Rider has his MSB Select 2 hooked up. And spending a total of around $700 in BOM to use the worlds best resistors for the application, pure silver OCC wire, and Furutech binding posts, may be worth it to provide them with the best possible way to hear your headphones. Plus replacing the passive BSC components with completely transparent Roon DSP alone is big step up. also reduces BOM as well. Spending that much on resistors is not necessary. The best resistors are not $1800-1900. But I'm not about to give away all my research. It's against forum rules to endorse any products.
 
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