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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. Bill13
    Yes, I have an M-scaler which is now considered indispensable, IMO.
    It's because the finest headphones in the world benefit from the very best digital-to-audio DSP (Evidently, only the M-scaler implements a sync function to better than 16-bit accuracy).

    See my earlier posts in this thread.
  2. Zhanming057
    Former utopia and HD800 owner here. The Utopia is something that trades off a bit of performance for drivability. It's still one of the best cans that money can buy, but you do get the small soundstage, a bit of treble hotness and on the whole, while you can get excellent results from a strong desktop system, something like the 1266 phi or LCD4 (not to mention the SR1a) will scale up better on those systems.

    The HD800 is an excellent can but more than a decade old at this point. It cannot compete with modern super flagships on resolution or control. There are certainly things to like about the HD800 and it scales extraordinarily well on high end systems, but it's not in the same weight class anymore as modern summit-fi planars (or modern takes on DD's, e.g. Mysphere 3.2).

    The 009/009s is the one option that stays competitive with the SR1a's insofar as you price match top tier electrostatic amps with new speaker amps. You can drive those with a BHSE and get extraordinary technical performance along with the unique "electrostat" signature, and someone might prefer that signature over the SR1a's own flavor of neutrality. I tend to think that none of the 009 systems I've ever tried delivers nearly enough bass extension, and that's a bit of a structural flaw with electrostats that even the likes of the Shangri-La only address marginally better, but it's something that people may or may not prefer. The SR1a's also scale better at the very highest level of sources (Spectral, Nagra, Accuphase, etc.) and that's a realm that normal headphones simply don't have good access or synergy.

    So yes, coming from the HD800 or the Utopia there's definitely a point in going to the SR1a's. If you have a top notch 009 setup I do agree that you should at least try the SR1a's, but I think it's not unreasonable that someone would decide to stick to electrostats, and I do know people who listen to nothing but Stax and Shure KSE's.
    Jones Bob, llamaluv and HoloSpice like this.
  3. Zhanming057
    I don't own a TT2 but I have tried one with and without the Mscaler. It depends on whether or not you already have the TT2/Mscaler. The Mscaler does elevate the TT2 to the point where you would be hard pressed to distinguish the combo with, say, the Dave+Mscalar. But you're also dumping $10k on a DAC system where there's a very small (current) used market.

    If you're starting fresh, a Linn Klimax renew (or even a used Nagra DAC) would be my choice for $10k, depending on your tolerance for an audio over Ethernet solution (I have none, and run the Nagra because I didn't want to deal with Linn's setup issues). But if you have the TT2 and enjoy it, I would absolutely recommend adding the Mscalar and the improvement is quite substantial.
    Articnoise and HoloSpice like this.
  4. protoss

    What dose decade old headphones even mean? The 009 will be a decade old soon. So, should we brush that aside and call that old tech? I see some bias here?

    I heard the utopia. Heck no its not worth 4K when it was release. The most 2k. And this utopia is suppose to be modern tech. Some headphones in the 1K range is way better than the utopia. The only thing good about utopia is the name "Utopia". And thats all! LCD4? really? Just awful modern tech. Again another 2k headphone or even lower.

    Anything can scale up the chain of your gear. Heck even a HD600/650 will scale high if people give it a chance to do so. HD800 has millions of reviews and impressions here. People are always scaling that that item to the next highest gear. And getting great results.

    Are you sure its not the speaker like cups blasting into your eardrums giving you guys a placebo effect of perception of enjoyable tinnitus? I am not questioning the Srh1a. Maybe your point of views of how you judge and compare headphones? I can name 5 or more 30 years old headphones that have super high resolutions. And way better sounding characteristics than these so called flagship modern headphones of today! Decades old headphones can easily dance with the flagships headphones of today.

    That's my rant.
    kn19h7 likes this.
  5. lambdastorm
    I see in your profile that you have the TakeT T2 and H2+ combo. If you don't mind sharing can you tell us a bit more about this headphone and how it compares to the likes of HD800 and STAX 007s? I was on the fence about getting these until Takei-san informed me that a new piezo phone is in development.
  6. Zhanming057
    Five 30-year-old headphones with super high resolution? Can you give us a few examples? Because nothing I have ever heard from the 90s is even in the same ballpark in terms of resolution as the Abyss 1266 phi, and the SR1a goes even further in terms of pure information.

    The 009 is pushing on a decade too, but nobody thought that the HD800 could compete in resolution against the 009 when the 009 came out. Electrostats have a big inherent edge over DD's in terms of resolution, and even older Stax cans will readily outclass the HD800 if resolution is the sole criteria for headphone quality. I've owned the HD800, I like the HD800, and I have put the HD800 on systems that are world-class by any metric - the WA234, the Mass Kobo 406, my own Nagra Integrated, and the DNA Stellaris, to name a few. But the HD800 is severely limited by 2019 summit-fi standards, and even if you drive it with the best systems on the planet, it won't match the Abyss Phi or the Mysphere 3.2 in terms of resolution or control. And if you put that kind of money into a speaker amp for the SR1a's, there is simply no aspect which the SR1a's aren't substantially superior.

    In my previous post, I mentioned that the Utopia traded off peak performance for drivability. And while you could drive an HE6 or even something like the K1000 fantastically on a speaker amp, those cans underperform on portable and weak desktop systems. The only headphone that does better across the entire range of sources that the Utopia's will work well with is, to my knowledge, the Mysphere 3.2 - and that's an entirely 21st century design with lots of driver innovation behind it. The LCD4 is aggressively dampened and the tuning might not be to everyone's taste, and I personally don't love it, but you can't say that they're not impressive - if very hungry for and partial to strong sources.

    To quote that Star Wars movie that everyone loves to hate - “Let the past die. Kill it if you have to”. People aren't making worse headphones. There's no lost wisdom about how to build them. There's no value in refusing to see innovation where it occurs. Planar performance has plateaued, but it's barely been a decade since planars were even a thing. Nostalgia is all well and good, but I would say unless you can detach those sentiments from your evaluation of audio equipment, you're not really giving the SR1a's (and other new products, but especially the SR1a's) a fair chance.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
    514077, bidn, lithiumnk and 6 others like this.
  7. protoss

    This is all semantics and word play and also sadly manipulation in this discussion which will happen. I know where this will be heading. But I will play for a bit.

    Super high resolution in the Abyss? Really? Yea, sure good in resolution. I actually dont consider anything super high resolution. I felled into your trap by mentioning it. But good resolution sure the Abyss phi has it. And so its only the Abyss you consider having this super high resolution? Every headphone around $300 has super high resolution! Just walking by best buy you can read these headphone boxes, mentioning this headphone has 'super high resolution', in them.

    So what defines 'Super high resolution'?

    Sure here is a list.

    Sony MDR V6 - I just want to mention this 40 years old headphone. Resolution. There. Thats it. All anyone needs for super high resolution blah blah. Basically any monitoring cans. Every rock-star producer in the world used for the last 30+ years used the MDR-V6 or something similar has this resolution you speaking of.

    I have the V6. Paid $60 and will keep it for the rest of my life. It has all this super high resolution sound of any headphone can muster up. But what it dose not have is euphoria! And euphoria is where the secret holy grail of endgame is all about!


    Omega 1993,
    lambda pros,
    more older staxs cans,
    He60 ,
    soooo many Sony cans! 1700, 2000, 3000,
    Grado HP1000,

    And sadly telling the truth i cant remember more....sorry i was only to mention 5 right.
  8. Aleksandar R.
    Everything is old-tech. The latest is MEMS Speaker from 2009 and before that are Kynar foil piezo and Heil's AMT, both about 50 years old.

    As far as implementation of working principles and choosing parameters goes, True-ribbon SR1a is the first to combine very lightweight diaphragm with very low resonant frequency, lowest yet in headphones. For several reasons, this allows them to have better dynamics than anything else made to date.
    Add to that the cleanest possible impulse response with the least amount of energy storage (lower than e-stats) and it will become clearer why they are not placebo.
    It's not about the HF or LF extension and linearity, as these mundane things can be achieved in many other ways, it's about the lack of dynamic compression and clean impulse response, and these two things are unique properties of true ribbons.
    We also have the best control of structural resonance of the diaphragm, also better than anything else including thinnest of e-stats, as we use viscoelastic damping in our dual-metal-layer ribbon. Our diaphragm is quiet, fast to accelerate and decelerate, which is not an easy combo to make.
    This is a genuinely novel take on working parameters of headphone transducers and it is easily heard in listening.
    It's not our fault that the language used to describe great sound has all been used-up by now and you'll read the same superlatives used again to describe the sound of SR1a, so they doesn't seem that much different when reading about them :)
    Just wait for some Show where they will appear and listen to them, preferably in quiet environment. The changes in sound are not incremental and the only question will be whether you like their presentation or not...
    514077, bidn, arnaud and 4 others like this.
  9. protoss
    Aleksandar R. and HoloSpice like this.
  10. Aleksandar R.
    resolution is about clean impulse response. Nothing on your list is even close to that merit, so you are in for a discovery :)
    I don't know if SR1a's will produce euphoria you seek, but it just might! We'll see, but you really can't know by reading about them. Experience always beats gathered knowledge.
    bidn, HoloSpice and Zhanming057 like this.
  11. Zhanming057
    It is not semantics or manipulation. The fact the production engineers use the V6 or the 7520 is irrelevant to this discussion - and even at that, studios that I have worked with provide a wide range of monitoring options from high-end headphones to monitoring speakers with varying level of reproduction detail. A big part of the SR1a's professional appeal is precisely that they do this job far, far better than the 7520 ever could. The same job is massively easier on the SR1a's precisely because they provide more details and readily reveal flaws in the production workflow.

    I'll give the HE60 and HE90 - which still goes for $10k and isn't quite as good as the 009 on a BHSE. Neither one is actually 30 years old, although we're getting there. The R10 is even less resolving than the HD800 and not something I enjoy personally - too bassy and indecisive. The HP1000 is a fine pair of cans that is also nowhere as resolving as modern flagships, and the same can be said (to a lesser extent) for the K1000's. I have not owned any electrostatics - they're just not my cup of tea - but I have owned the CD3000 and extensively invested in the K1000, and I will tell you that both are readily out-resolved by a pair of Ether Flow's. Check out my Mysphere 3.2 review if you want that particular comparison.

    I do find it curious that you'll claim that "resolution" - which is very, very real and relatively uncontroversial if a bit all-encompassing - is semantics while "euphoria" - which is one of the most subjective words that has ever been used to describe a pair of headphones, unless specifically used in the context of describing 300b's - is not. To directly address your question about what I would consider "super resolving", the 009S has much better upper-mid control and detail than the 1266 phi, the Mysphere 3.2 has better imaging, vocal emphasis and slightly better treble speed, the Shangri-la (Sr.) is superior in both lower-mid imaging and overall control, and the Susvara pulls out more treble detail.

    As Alex mentioned above - the structure of the SR1A's allow for speed and fine control gradients beyond what modern planars and electrostats can achieve. It's a disservice to Raal-Requisite to claim that headphones haven't been getting better in resolution, because the SR1a's should be compared to the best modern designs (and generally win that comparison) instead of designs from 15, 20 years ago, without the benefit of decades of extra R&D.

    Precisely :)

    While I can't comment on every pair of headphones on @protoss 's list, I have tried many of them, and none can hold a candle to the technical performance the SR1a's, period.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
  12. Aleksandar R.
    Zhanming057 likes this.
  13. protoss
    Well this will be interesting.

    March 31 Canjam is happening. Over there, people are much harsher critics! Hope everything works out.
  14. Aleksandar R.
    Yup! But so far, we're fairing really well there! Our distributor there, Sean Thong from SLT Technologies and his Buddhist friend both exclaimed "Jesus Christ" after a brief listening, so that was a good sign from the beginning! Sean already made some presentations and pre-sales before the show...
  15. protoss

    Guess I'm bored.

    What do you mean the MDR-V6/V7 is irrelevant to this discussion? This is actually what I meant by manipulation and later on semantics!

    You asked me to name 30+ year old headphone and I picked the 'V6' to prove my point and you decided its irrelevant? I know you have to say that, because the V6 is all anyone needs for resolution. A headphone that came out 30+ years ago that today's flagships of today just equals to its resolution! This is a bloody joke! Next you say well the Srh1a is much better now?! Buddy we talking about 30+ years ago headphone that cost $50 to a 2019 headphone that cost $3500. And the resolution is what? 5% better? Okay sure it's 8% better. Whoopie doo! Next you mention that the big part of the Srh1a is it's professional appeal? Okay? And what was the V6/7? The V6 is cheap, has the resolution and is rugged to throw around. I see the srh1a build quality. I will never throw it around like how I do it with the v6/7.

    Next you mention the He60 and He90 is neither 30 years old? He90 is 28 years old and he60 is 26 years old lol. Jeez how picky. Aren't you the one, who said decade old headphones are outdated? So how about a 28 year old headphone? And stop being dishonest. Nothing to this date has the magic of a HE90! HE90 is god-tier. Hence the name Orpheus! Guess, you never tried the HE90 with a Stax adapter and plugged it into a BHSE or carbon?

    How the heck is the R10 less resolving? Some hate the R10 because it's too resolving and too bright and high on the treble. Every-time I always say to my self. Damn how is the R10 brighter, and have equal to more detail than the HD800? I never once heard a R10 sounding muddy! And I heard about 6 different pairs! Every single one was crystal clear, detail and to die for. Never felt it dark or muddy or veiled! The only time I got that it was veiled was using the original steroid Omega. But that was not a fair completion. Because, Omega 1993 is extremely resolving and detailed. Almost unnatural to a sense.

    You mention you never own any electrostatic? Why not? They have all this resolution you love talking about! Your endgame headphones are pretty much Staxs. And you refuse to give them a proper listen. How come you dont like Staxs? But you like gimmicks like utopias and LCD4 as your cup of tea!? Really? You prefer those average sets? Over price, overrated gimmicks?

    Second I am right about your bias. Your mindset is already fixed on Old = 'bad' and 'New' is = only I care about. Not only you go after the legends, but you dismiss staxs and place them to the side. Fine I'll throw garbage utopias and lcd4 to the side while we at it!

    I used to own the Ether C Flows. Loved them. But they were muddy and has distortion levels. Never as bright as the HD800 or detail as them.

    I am not calling resolution semantics. I am calling your word play of what is resolution semantics. Everything has resolution. A 30+ year old headphone can equal the same resolution as todays flagship! This is because like Alex mention, we are still using same old tech! Planar, dynamic and even electrostatics are 40+ year old tech.

    2nd rant ended.... :p

    P.S. this is not about the Srh1a. more about old vs new
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2019
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