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Raal Ribbon Headphones - SRH1A

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by once, Oct 7, 2018.
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  1. WilliamWykeham
    @Zhanming057 - good point - I'm trying our pal's new 150.8 Pass Labs amp this week
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
    Zhanming057 and llamaluv like this.
  2. Bill13
    Thanks for the great idea for adding extra de-emphasis/EQ.

    Like the idea of using toggle switches. However, perhaps using one DPST On-Off toggle switch should be OK (use only one switch to turn the added de-emphasis on or off).

    Question about mod of the SR1a amplifier interface box: Would drilling a single hole to mount a DPST On-Off switch on either the front or back panel void the warranty?
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2019
  3. Zhanming057
    My SR1a review has been posted under head gear:


    I need to update a couple things since Alex has been very responsive in the mean time - I don't want to modify the original review, but I will mention the new "treble dampening" adapter box mod as well as the possible development of the R-r current drive amp at the bottom of the review.

    Feel free to post your impressions to the link as well!
    HoloSpice likes this.
  4. Christer
    Hello I tried to post my impressions but failed.
    I will try here instead.
    Interesting to read that you like them a lot.
    But ,but, when you say neutral and transparent fast and resolving and all those things you say.
    You don't even once mention anything about the ACTUAL music you used more than Metal and other electronically amplified genres where there is No WAY to know these things for anyone else than possibly the guy who produced and mastered it.And then only how its sounded to him or her in the studio via that equipment.
    And the same applies to all the different amps you mention. Without any references to how close to a known reference to live acoustic music it becomes just a name game to me.
    If on the other hand one uses UNAMPLIFIED ACOUSTIC MUSIC and the human voice, it becomes possible to compare things in real HI FI terms.
    If you know how the music sounded LIVE in the hall when recorded and can have that as a reference you can base SQ evaluations in MUCH less subjective terms than with ANY electronically amplified music genres.

    Since I don't listen to ANY of the electronic genres you mention, all I can guess after reading your long enthusiastic review of the RHA1 that you like them a lot.
    Luckily we seem to have at least one thing in common you and I, we both like to finish the day in bed with some music via headphones.
    Unfortunately the SRA1 don't seem like a good option for that. But both my trusted old HD 800 and my HEKV2 work very well for me lying down and at least the HD800 is still such a neutral headpnoe that quite a few Classical Acoustic music labels use them as monitoring headphones at classical recording sessions.
    That is how I got to hear the HD800 for the first time and was hooked enough to buy a pair of them in 2009.
    But I'll give the SRA1 a listen with my HI RES acoustic music reference tracks,for sure.
    Cheers Controversial Christer
  5. Christer
    Thanks for your review which unlike some others here on these forums it contains things and musical genres I can relate to and which have bearings in real actual HI FI terms.
    If you know how for example a string quartet sounds live ,or how your favourite orchestra sounds live in their hall you have an actual reference point.
    You can compare both how close to or far from that reference both different recordings and chains in a reproduction system comes to the only real reference point there is in HI FI.
    Unfortunately many so called audiophiles lack any real reference points and tend to prefer coloured sound over neutral transparent sound.
    Your review really makes me want to audition this headphone.
    Cheers Controversial Christer
    protoss likes this.
  6. Zhanming057
    I find it kind of funny that you'd go to the assumption that I didn't try the headphones with a extremely large variety of music, just because I didn't mention what I listened to.

    The specific type of music I prefer - which is mostly electronic, but more on that below - and even the type of music I use to test headphones is entirely irrelevant to the performance of a headphone. Waxing poetics about a particular piece of vocal or acoustic music is orthogonal to the point of a headphone review: telling people how good (or bad) a headphone is, relative to its price point, and relative to its peers. Compared to me saying "the SR1A's have a wider soundstage than the Susvara and better treble control than the Abyss 1266 phi", the sentence "I tried the headphones with Caprice 24 or Fleetwood Mac" has essentially no meaningful information. The first sentence has something useful to say to the person who might be on the hedge between the headphones. The second sentence is just fluff unless you're familiar with those exact tracks.

    And when you say acoustic or "unamped" music - keep in mind that just about any piece of music that you've heard through headphones has been recorded with a microphone and extensively processed and edited to suit the taste of the production engineer. If you've seen a team mic a modern large ensemble, it's an incredibly sophisticated and involved process. There's no "reference point" there because even you're one of the best pianists or vocalists alive, your stuff can still be improved in post.

    I did room-scale acoustic design work for a couple of years, using powerful workstations to simulate optimal designs for music-hall scale acoustic systems, and running "what-if" scenario's that stress a room's ability to handle various performers and instrument combinations. And I have to admit that I would not be able to pick apart the work of a good production engineer and get at what the music would sound without his or her processing.

    That's why I don't care to tell people what tracks I listen to. Neutrality of frequency response is easy to establish - try a good number of headphone systems, and you can figure out what's hot, what's neutral, what's fast and slow pretty easily. But neutrality of the production workflow is basically a fantasy. And for actually gauging how good headphones are, I do prefer to run a larger portion of synthetic music because well-mastered, modern synthetic vocals don't have sampling or production issues. It's mechanical, but it's also consistent and when you hear flaws, you know it's the headphone and not the recording itself.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2019
  7. protoss
    @RAAL requisite Alex

    I am curious about the Modularity of the SR1A. It got me thinking about the Ribbon cartridge and the future of advancement of the ribbon tweeters?

    Maybe I am taking the philosophy of your company to the next level here but I want to see if it is possible that if a person buys a SR1A base headphone at present time.

    Is it possible maybe in the near future there might be new advance Ribbon cartridge that enhance or change the sound to the person liking? What I mean is, it will be absolutely futurist if new upgrades be all base Ribbon Cartridge!?!! And the individuals just "ONLY" buys ribbon cartridge to be used with the base model!!! ?

    Hope this making sense? I will reiterate again.
    If a person buys a SR1A Base. He or she can easily down the road buy advance upgraded ribbon cartridge to stay modern and with the times. I hope this might be your plan? or I just spoil the Fun?!

    P.S Thank you I will take credit :)
    Zhanming057 and HoloSpice like this.
  8. Christer
    Thanks for your response, but I fail to see the logic behind your reasoning.
    I still maintain that the only reference in strict HIFI terms is and can only be acoustic music.
    But yes I am fully aware that far too many production teams use excessively many mics and post process far too much even within the small section of the recording industry still recording classical music.
    And with the "biggies" the guys doing the final mixdown for release to the masses with boombox systems or cheap IEMs and an iPhone were often not even there in the hall and don't have a clue what it sounded like LIVE.
    But I am not referring to those here.
    I have personal at sessions experiences with several smaller labels that still try to get as close as technically possible to how acoústic music sounds live in a real hall.

    And for me HI FI is still about trying to get as close as possible to the real thing.
    But in order to do that there has to be a reference point a real thing to compare the recorded output against and that is only available with acoustic music.
    The one, and only true reference in HIFI terms.
    Cheers Controversial Christer
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2019
  9. Aleksandar R.
    No, of course not. Drill away! But, you won't be able to mount a toggle-switch at the front panel because you would have to mill a recess hole on the back of it. Toggles are OK for up to 1/4" panels and this is thicker.

    I did it on top cover. This unit must stay on top of everything for good cooling, so since nothing will be on top of it, switches can live there.
    Zhanming057 likes this.
  10. Aleksandar R.
    Currently, we are exploring how much of added de-emphasis makes sense and in how many steps.

    For that, I made myself a 3-switch unit, that can leave all de-emphasis resistors on, or take away up to 4, in increments of 1.
    For that, I had to break the copper trace connection on the frame in 4 places fro both channels.
    Toggling any switch makes the change on both channels.
    Switching is additive, so if I want 3 resistors off, I turn off 2R and 1R switches together.

    This was needed so I could easily explore all the available options.
    In my system, it turns out that I can take off one resistor, as it's a small difference, but don't want to do more.

    We'll probably keep -1R as a default and then use 1 or 2 switches to offer options.

    So, while we explore the future options, if any, you are welcome to do your own trials!

    3-switch de-emphasis options.jpg
    3sw bottom cover off.jpg
    Bill13 and Zhanming057 like this.
  11. Zhanming057
    That's a cool picture! Any chance that the design can accommodate more treble energy (+1db for example)? Or is the approach restricted to deemphasis?
  12. Aleksandar R.
    Nope, we can't get "changes to liking" with different parameters for the ribbon. It's natural response is linear and I can't do anything to change that.
    I could kill the top and slow-down the midrange with using thicker ribbon, but those are not advantages.
    We're not withholding anything for future fun :)

    We will make different models of headphones, though, like smaller open-baffle and smaller circumaural....
    Bill13, ToroFiestaSol and Zhanming057 like this.
  13. Aleksandar R.
    Yes, we could lift up, but resistors would have to be changed.
    Zhanming057 likes this.
  14. llamaluv
    As someone with zero skills when it comes to working with my hands, I'd be very interested if these modifications were to ever become "productized".
  15. WilliamWykeham
    @RAAL requisite Alex

    Understand if you cannot give a timeframe, but I would be interested in when you think a modified box might come to market - I like the current flat response for most recordings - but some recordings are little on the hot side and I'd love the flexibility to switch. Unfortunately I have never picked up a soldering iron -- but my attitude with most things, is, "can't be that hard right?"
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