Raal Ribbon Headphones - SRH1A
Sep 25, 2021 at 10:00 PM Post #4,561 of 4,658

jlbrach

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Probably the biggest surprise (by a huge margin) of CanJam for me was re-auditioning the SR1a today. I heard them a couple of years ago in the same venue through a speaker amp I don't recall, and at the time I was thoroughly unimpressed. Bass was non-existent and I also wasn't hearing the cavernous soundstage that everyone talks about. At the time, I honestly would have bet big that they would end up flopping in the marketplace. So I was frankly blown away when I heard them again today through the HSA-1b and there was convincing bass and a wide open airy soundstage with pinpoint imaging! I was playing rock music and enjoying the hell out of it. First track was Crosseyed and Painless by Talking Heads, and then some other stuff I don't recall now. The amp is obviously doing some EQ, and I think they dialed it in just about right for my preferences.

I then listened to the circumaural version, which was a prototype with makeshift pads and a different gimbal than the production version will use. Other than that, I think everything will be essentially the same. My take was that you gained a bit of bass and lost spaciousness, and it was not a tradeoff I'd make personally given how much I already liked the OG bass. I also think the frequency response was a tad more uneven on the circumaural, which I'm quite sensitive to. So, all in all, the OG would be my clear choice, even at the much higher price. I also like the smaller footprint of the OG.

Keep in mind that these were impressions formed at a noisy show after maybe ten minutes of listening to each headphone, and that I'm a Raal neophyte. Offered for whatever it may be worth. I'm not sure I'm gonna run out and blow $8k on a Raal rig, as I'd have to do much more critical listening in a quiet environment before making that leap, but it no longer seems insane to contemplate. Baby steps... :relaxed:
the sr1a is special
 
Sep 25, 2021 at 11:37 PM Post #4,562 of 4,658

yyzSB

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First track was Crosseyed and Painless by Talking Heads, and then some other stuff I don't recall now. The amp is obviously doing some EQ, and I think they dialed it in just about right for my preferences.
There were no SR1a Convolution filters used on any of the 3 ROON Zones at the show demo. I know since I set that up. The only other place that EQ could have been added was in the RME DAC however, I am almost 100% sure none was used. The HSA-1B amp obviously has some sonic signature that is dialed in for the SR1a.

l have learned through my own testing that the SR1a needs a lot of power from a 2 channel amp. I have tried 4 or 5 amps this year and the more powerful owns were always the ones that made the SR1a come alive.

Even though I normally stay away from tubes I think the big new RAAL tube amp has great potential for me to buy. I was told that the tubes should last a very long time, 5 -10 years.
 
Sep 25, 2021 at 11:56 PM Post #4,563 of 4,658

Ciggavelli

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There were no SR1a Convolution filters used on any of the 3 ROON Zones at the show demo. I know since I set that up. The only other place that EQ could have been added was in the RME DAC however, I am almost 100% sure none was used. The HSA-1B amp obviously has some sonic signature that is dialed in for the SR1a.

l have learned through my own testing that the SR1a needs a lot of power from a 2 channel amp. I have tried 4 or 5 amps this year and the more powerful owns were always the ones that made the SR1a come alive.

Even though I normally stay away from tubes I think the big new RAAL tube amp has great potential for me to buy. I was told that the tubes should last a very long time, 5 -10 years.
5-10 year tubes? :open_mouth:

Doesn’t make sense, but if true, that’s crazy.
 
Sep 26, 2021 at 12:28 AM Post #4,564 of 4,658

cAsE sEnSiTiVe

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5-10 year tubes? :open_mouth:

Doesn’t make sense, but if true, that’s crazy.
All depends on how often the amp is used, and whether or not the amp in question has been designed to be run the output tubes too close to their limits in order to squeeze more power out of them. Input tubes typically last many, many years. Output tubes...another story. I've run the same EL34 output tubes in my VTL IT85 amp for almost 10 years, and I'm still able to adjust the bias on them within spec with little effort.
 
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Sep 26, 2021 at 6:21 AM Post #4,565 of 4,658

ThanatosVI

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5-10 year tubes? :open_mouth:

Doesn’t make sense, but if true, that’s crazy.
Depends on usage, EL34 live ~4000h on average.

1h listening a day -> 10 years.
 
Sep 26, 2021 at 6:44 AM Post #4,566 of 4,658

FLTWS

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Probably the biggest surprise (by a huge margin) of CanJam for me was re-auditioning the SR1a today. I heard them a couple of years ago in the same venue through a speaker amp I don't recall, and at the time I was thoroughly unimpressed. Bass was non-existent and I also wasn't hearing the cavernous soundstage that everyone talks about. At the time, I honestly would have bet big that they would end up flopping in the marketplace. So I was frankly blown away when I heard them again today through the HSA-1b and there was convincing bass and a wide open airy soundstage with pinpoint imaging! I was playing rock music and enjoying the hell out of it. First track was Crosseyed and Painless by Talking Heads, and then some other stuff I don't recall now. The amp is obviously doing some EQ, and I think they dialed it in just about right for my preferences.

I then listened to the circumaural version, which was a prototype with makeshift pads and a different gimbal than the production version will use. Other than that, I think everything will be essentially the same. My take was that you gained a bit of bass and lost spaciousness, and it was not a tradeoff I'd make personally given how much I already liked the OG bass. I also think the frequency response was a tad more uneven on the circumaural, which I'm quite sensitive to. So, all in all, the OG would be my clear choice, even at the much higher price. I also like the smaller footprint of the OG.

Keep in mind that these were impressions formed at a noisy show after maybe ten minutes of listening to each headphone, and that I'm a Raal neophyte. Offered for whatever it may be worth. I'm not sure I'm gonna run out and blow $8k on a Raal rig, as I'd have to do much more critical listening in a quiet environment before making that leap, but it no longer seems insane to contemplate. Baby steps... :relaxed:
Given the noisy show conditions were you able to notice if the circumaural design provided a measure of isolation from the ambient noise. (Obviously it wouldn't isolate as well as a closed back design but...)
 
Sep 26, 2021 at 6:45 AM Post #4,567 of 4,658

FLTWS

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5-10 year tubes? :open_mouth:

Doesn’t make sense, but if true, that’s crazy.
I anticipate getting 5 years easy on my PrimaLuna for the power tubes.
 
Sep 26, 2021 at 6:52 AM Post #4,568 of 4,658

Sajid Amit

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I anticipate getting 5 years easy on my PrimaLuna for the power tubes.
Same here, hopefully 🙂 I have friends who are in their fifth year of owning the 400, easily.
Bye bye LCD-R. I love how aggressive they're pushing the market. Bravo!
Bravo, indeed. I hope they succeed. Year of the Raal.
 
Sep 26, 2021 at 7:29 AM Post #4,569 of 4,658

FLTWS

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P/L's documentation indicates they run the tubes at 17% of max dissipation with a special auto-bias that takes place everytime you fire the amp up, that's why you get less watts per channel with 4 tubes a side than most amps using only 2 tubes per channel but run much harder which shortens life.

I'm an old tube-o-phile. It's funny, I started my audiophile career with Dynaco kit tubed equipment in 1970 and ran through the usual upgrade brands over the 80' and 90's. Always building in my mind a tube amp design that would give me every conceivable feature I desired. 2018 comes along and I stumbled across the P/L brand and lo and behold, the 400 had every feature I could imagine and then some. And at 5 grand it is not that expensive when you look at the competition. The only downside as far as I'm concerned is at 75 pounds it's reached the limit of my ability to safely move it around at my age, especially without handles. So I'd enlist the aide of a helper if / when it needs to be moved. But the sound is glorious, especially with the SR1a and interface even considering the lesser power compared to the mega-watt SS designs that seem to be in vogue at present.

And I'm anxious to hear what the RAAL tube design does with those EL-34's, but it looks like 6 per channel with a driver tube I can't decipher from the photo, and I don't think I've ever seen a design that uses an odd number of EL-34/KT77 or 6550/KT88 for power tubes. But maybe they use 2 of them for some other purpose than output tubes. I remember asking on this thread way back if a tube amp could drive this ribbon design and at that time I think the general thinking was no because folks were talking about 150 to 200 watts into 8ohms minimum. But, as I understand it these ribbon designs are about current delivery and not gross wattage. Of course if watts is your thing you can spice things up a bit with the new manufacture KT120's or KT150's.
 
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Sep 26, 2021 at 9:27 AM Post #4,570 of 4,658

BassicScience

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Given the noisy show conditions were you able to notice if the circumaural design provided a measure of isolation from the ambient noise. (Obviously it wouldn't isolate as well as a closed back design but...)
I think it might have blocked out a few dB, but nowhere near enough to make it any kind of tipping point to the circumaurals, for me anyway.
 
Sep 26, 2021 at 11:56 AM Post #4,571 of 4,658

yyzSB

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Given the noisy show conditions were you able to notice if the circumaural design provided a measure of isolation from the ambient noise. (Obviously it wouldn't isolate as well as a closed back design but...)
I listened to the circumaural RAAL in a quiet room before the show with my kid making noise nearby. The ambient noise was similar to my Meze Empy. That is I could hear noise on the outside during quiet musical passages. The circumaural I heard was a prototype with foam pads so maybe the final build will be a bit better at isolating the outside noise with different pads. I doubt it though. I am going to enjoy the circumaural when I lay in bed. The SR1a just does not work for me that way though I love the SR1a as much as my floorstanders.

I sold the Meze Empy after the RAAL SR1a since I never listened to that again with my Benchmark HPA4 (sold that too though I should not have).
 
Sep 26, 2021 at 1:58 PM Post #4,572 of 4,658

number1sixerfan

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I then listened to the circumaural version, which was a prototype with makeshift pads and a different gimbal than the production version will use. Other than that, I think everything will be essentially the same. My take was that you gained a bit of bass and lost spaciousness, and it was not a tradeoff I'd make personally given how much I already liked the OG bass. I also think the frequency response was a tad more uneven on the circumaural, which I'm quite sensitive to. So, all in all, the OG would be my clear choice, even at the much higher price. I also like the smaller footprint of the OG.

Keep in mind that these were impressions formed at a noisy show after maybe ten minutes of listening to each headphone, and that I'm a Raal neophyte. Offered for whatever it may be worth. I'm not sure I'm gonna run out and blow $8k on a Raal rig, as I'd have to do much more critical listening in a quiet environment before making that leap, but it no longer seems insane to contemplate. Baby steps... :relaxed:

In terms of the listening impressions, I think yours are pretty much aligned with what many of us expected with the Raal C. Outside of the tradeoff of spaciousness, which I think all of us expected, was it essentially a very similar sound in terms of tonal balance? Was it close to the Sr1a in regards to detail, imaging and clarity? Did it sound spacious in general for a circumaural headphone? Fully acknowledge that you only had a bit of time though with each, so I get it if it's hard to say.
 
Sep 26, 2021 at 2:20 PM Post #4,573 of 4,658

BoyNamedSue

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20210925_141557_HDR.jpg
 
Sep 26, 2021 at 2:58 PM Post #4,574 of 4,658

yyzSB

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In terms of the listening impressions, I think yours are pretty much aligned with what many of us expected with the Raal C. Outside of the tradeoff of spaciousness, which I think all of us expected, was it essentially a very similar sound in terms of tonal balance? Was it close to the Sr1a in regards to detail, imaging and clarity? Did it sound spacious in general for a circumaural headphone? Fully acknowledge that you only had a bit of time though with each, so I get it if it's hard to say.
The tone, speed, and closeness to the SR1a sound makes the RAAL C an easy purchase decision. If I could use the RAAL SR1a lying down in bed I would not need the RAAL C.
 
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