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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. bagwell359
    I hope I don't regret selling my Pass X-150.
    BreadMaster likes this.
  2. Zhanming057
    Just to be clear, I still think that you can gain a lot by going for a used speaker amp in the $2.5-3k range. Maybe the Rag 2 could be a big step up from the 1, though.

    I guess my position on the issue is that you may as well drive your other cans (assuming that you have planars or something like the HD800) through a speaker amp, rather than fit the SR1A down to an underpowered headphone amp. Something like the AHB2 or INT150 or 4b3 is an objectively great amp for the LCD4 or Susvara, and probably even better than the Rag 1 on these more demanding planars.
    Aleksandar R. and HoloSpice like this.
  3. protoss

    I am trying to get average joes on board with the Sr1a. Yes, dedicated speaker amps from companies like

    Bel Canto
    Red Dragon
    Mark Levinson

    Are all fine and dandy! I am not trying to scare people here!
    HoloSpice likes this.
  4. protoss
    I want a completey simple solution for everyone and a familar headphone company brand to drive this Sr1a headphone. I do not want this to get complicated for people!

    I bet 90% of people have no clue about those TOTL brands
    HoloSpice and Zhanming057 like this.
  5. llamaluv
    I've been using a Bryston 2.5B SST2 (135 watts @ 8 ohms; going used price in the low $1000's) for the last 2+ weeks, and it pairs very well with the SR1a. There have been moments while listening to certain tracks where I've thought, "I can't imagine this song sounding any better than what I'm hearing right now..."

    I agree with this approach a lot (getting something beefy and letting it do double-duty with your "secondary" :) planar headphones). I was using the Susvara with a "low powered" (25 watts) First Watt J2 power amp for the past few months, and at the point, found the it to be a revelation compared to the headphones amps I'd previously run the Susvara on. I couldn't believe it when the Bryston 2.5B SST2 made the Susvaras sound even better (more detailed, dynamic, controlled, moar bass). And on Monday I just received a Pass Labs X150.8 which will be displacing the Bryston, and the bass on the Susvara sounds freaking gigantic (and -- as an aside -- better than the bass on the Abyss Phi CC had ever sounded on my system previously).

    One more thing on the topic of using a speaker amp for the SR1a plus a second pair of headphones. I currently have the SR1a connected to the X150.8 speaker terminals using banana plugs and the Susvara connected to the same speaker terminals using spade lugs, and it's working out very well (thanks Zhanming057 for the tip). And I notice no sound quality changes when having both headphones connected at the same time versus just having one of the headphones connected, so that's interesting (though naturally, you wouldn't want the second headphone connected to the speaker taps-to-XLR adapter if running the volume high enough for SR1a listening levels...).

    I'll report later on how I hear the X150.8 vs the Bryston with the SR1a after I do some direct comparisons.
    Maxx134, lithiumnk, joseph69 and 6 others like this.
  6. P.Car
    I also use my reference 2 channel rig for all of my headphones.

    The only problem I have run into is when trying to pair something like an LCD-4Z with my amplifiers.

    In that case I go directly out of my preamp via an RCA to 4-pin XLR adapter. That also sounds so much better than using a portable device, etc.

    There really is no need for 'headphone specific' gear. It's nice to have as an option when money is tight but otherwise...

    2 channel and headphones can coexist nicely together, with even better results than what I thought was possible.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  7. Aleksandar R.
    I wouldn't sell it!
    Maxx134 likes this.
  8. GuyForkes
    I've recently ordered the SR1a which should arrive before canjam Singapore. Problem is I don't have a power amp for it. Due to the very real space constraint problem here, I can't get a big power amp like most of the recommendations above.

    My only two options right now are the TToby or the Mytek brooklyn. Given how much more expensive the TToby is, I'm leaning towards the Brooklyn. Disregarding the stigma associated with class D amplifiers, will the brooklyn be able to drive the SR1a? Will class D amplifiers in general have issues driving it? Also, any recommendations for small powerful (below $3k) amps would be appreciated :)
    HoloSpice and llamaluv like this.
  9. Jerseyboy
    BE PREPARED – I took receipt of the above headphone, connected it to my Bryston 2.5B3 power amplifier as instructed, sat back and listened. Even after 20 years of being a headphone fanatic my ears were not prepared for what they heard. I am not an experienced review writer and I rarely put pen to paper – usually preferring to read and assimilate other people’s eulogies about their favourite pieces of equipment. But this is different.

    I could simply list the clichés that apply to this headphone, silky highs; treble splash; bass slam; speed, accuracy; soundstage; detail; etc, etc. All this is true but in a different context to whatever you may have heard from your headphones before. This headphone is not trying to compete with other TOTL headphones - it is creating its own genre through the innovative and unprecedented use of ribbon technology. To put this in perspective, my usual “go to” headphone is the Stax SR009S running off the fantastic Blue Hawaii SE electrostatic amp. I can honestly say that once I put on the Raal Requisite, I have found myself unable to listen to the Stax in the same way again.

    I will try to elaborate but firstly a word of warning. The Raal is a Monster!! You will not be prepared for the inherent dynamics presented. You will put on the headphone and listen and because of the accuracy and realism you will be drawn into putting the volume to what you think is a comfortable level based on your normal listening experiences BUT the dynamic range is so huge that when the louder sequences kick in you will rapidly be grasping for the volume level to control the assault on your eardrums. I was not prepared for this and after a couple of days listening, I found myself with a mild (and thankfully temporary) episode of Tinnitus. Be assured that this was entirely my own fault by not giving this headphone the respect it deserves – please know that if you want to use this headphone you need to RE-TRAIN your ears. It is a NEW listening experience, I say that even as an AKG K1000 owner and supporter of “earspeakers” in whatever form.

    Also don’t bother trying to do an A/B test with these – the listening experience is so different, almost akin to a live presentation, your ears will not be able to adjust quickly enough to provide any credibility to the findings. The Stax to my ears sounded flat, bloated and lacking detail when I tried to listen directly after using the Raal Rquisite. To compare, you need to give yourself several hours for your ears to readjust before moving on to any comparison.

    It has been said that the Requisite can be a little “hot” at the top end owing to its linear response. I found this to be only slightly true with poorer source material and I am sure this can be adjusted to taste by a change to different jumper cables between the power amplifier and the provided adapter box. I have tried a couple of alternatives and can testify to this fact (IMO, of course)

    All I can say is that all headphone enthusiasts owe it to themselves to listen to a pair of these headphones, whether it be at CANJAM, a friend’s house, or by buying a pair. Compared with the inflated cost of the current range of TOTL headphones the USD3,500 is a snip as the cost of entry into a new world of headphone listening. So much so that I am now enthusiastically looking forward to future upgrades……doh!!!
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
    pavi, BreadMaster, bidn and 6 others like this.
  10. Aleksandar R.
    Srajan at 6moons has just finished his review of SR1a (we got the Blue Moon Award!) and he has a nice suggestion for sub-$3k amps here, at the top of the page 11:


    It is NORD's Class-D with optional upgrades. He wasn't a fan of the previous version, just like I wouldn't be for the same reasons, but he deliberately wanted to find flaws in this MkII version and he ended up being happy with it, so much so, that he happily recommends the pairing with SR1a!
    HoloSpice and Zhanming057 like this.
  11. Focux
    out of curiosity,

    will these sound tolerable and better than a HD650 or even the LCD3 or Ether 2 off a Mojo and Atom?

    (i know this is faaar from ideal..)
    BreadMaster and HoloSpice like this.
  12. Tekunda
    If possible share a few words about the Raal's bass. I am certainly not a bass head, but for me a TOTL headphone must be able to present a double bass down to the lowest octaves while sounding full-bodied, so that you almost can feel the bass resounding in your guts, but without overpowering strength.
    Does anybody know if the Raal will be on display at the Hifi show this spring in Munich?
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
    HoloSpice likes this.
  13. Aleksandar R.
    Yes, if we find a German distributor by then, that also appears at HIGH-END Show, but we're not doing it on our own.
    HoloSpice and Zhanming057 like this.
  14. Zhanming057
    Have you considered finding a demo/used chord etude? The ttoby will be a bit underpowered. The Brooklyn will have enough power, though, and I do like their expressiveness even though the mytek isn't as refined as some amps in its price range.

    No issues with class D. In fact class D amps might have better response speed that compliments the speed of the SR1a's. It does depending on the quality of power delivery into the amp, though.

    You'll need a power amp that goes after the atom. But yes, even on a budget power amp (Vidar, NAD) these will be far, far more resolving and clean than the options you listed.
    Focux and HoloSpice like this.
  15. Jerseyboy
    I find the bass is not exaggerated or overblown at all - it is solid, tight, articulate and with fast transitions. The bass drives the rhythm as it should reaching deep into the lowest reaches you are looking for but without clouding or obscuring other parts of the instrumentation. It is also balanced within the overall presentation. The clarity and realism is what I have found the most fascinating - you can hear tight, solid, structured bass at the same time as the clearest of clear mid-range and top-end - it is this interplay across the whole sound spectrum that makes this headphone so addictive - it is the closest thing I have ever heard to listening to live music. Just one caveat - as has been said elsewhere you will need excellent source material to enjoy the full range of what this headphone can do. Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
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