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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. Zhanming057
    - The Voce is better at bass than the 009 but IMO worse is almost ever other regard - neither as spacious nor as finely controlled as the 009. I assume that the 009S is even better than the 009, and I would consider the Voce about half a step below the performance of the 009 on a great system. That said, it's very possible that you find the Voce+BHSE combo more to your tastes. Personally, if I were shopping for an amp for the 009 I would go with either Spritizer's Carbon or the T8000, but that's just my tastes and the BHSE is the stronger amp. And I feel that if anything, the Voce is even further away from the SR1a's signature because it doesn't image as well as the 009 and is nowhere close to the SR1a's.

    - I think that it's perfectly fine for someone to prefer electrostats but you don't need a $6k amp for the SR1a's to beat something like a BHSE+009. That said, tubes are tricky and the point where I felt that a tube system yielded a great performance on the SR1a's was the V80SE which you may be able to find at around $6k. Another alternative is to drive a fairly neutral solid state amp (AHB2, Bryston's, etc.) with a tube preamp. There are also hybrid integrated amps available, although I have not heard anything outside of the (expensive and extraordinary) Absolare.

    But generally, the SR1a's will happily exceed the resolution, speed and staging of E-stats when matched on amp prices. Just because they have the potential to scale further doesn't mean you have to drive them until some kind of limit - and if you were to do that, you'd probably still be contemplating upgrades at $20k or even $30k. If everyone felt the need to max out the potential of their cans, nobody would want to drive the Abyss Phi with anything short of a WA33 Elite or Primavera. Whether a specific system can justify its performance at a specific price point is always a personal matter.
    sean888, BreadMaster, Mystel and 3 others like this.
  2. biscottino
    someone knows the taket h2, I had one a few years ago and even that one had a similar technology to the Raal, and that is it started from a tweeter ..
  3. Mystel
    Ive actually had the VOCE in for a day before getting rid of it almost immediately (thankfully)

    VOCE was really my worst purchase thus far ( just imo )
    To me if youre going for that tonality (Darker and richer) , just get a 007 (mk2 or mk1) and a Carbon.
    It has significantly better layering , imaging. It also doesnt sound congested and veiled. It is also a lot more 'fun' to me while retaining top notch technicalities.
    I tried it with the Carbon and BHSE, and i cannot even get the VOCE to sound decent.

    I cant give detailed comments about how to sr1a will perform in comparison as i have yet to receive mine ( maybe at the end of this month ).
    But from my short audition, its tonality was completely different from the sr1a, which was more on the brighter side. And needless to say , its technicalities far exceed the VOCE which was an absolute disappointment to me.
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
    VandyMan, mulveling, sean888 and 4 others like this.
  4. Aleksandar R.
    TakeT is a piezo foil AMT. It is not similar to SR1a in any way.
    Zhanming057 likes this.
  5. biscottino
    hi Aleksander,
    first of all, I ask you if you've ever had the pleasure of listening to a Taket, I consider it a great experience, even though there may be some flaws.
    From reading the review of 6moons, I understood that the driver had been obtained from a modified tweeter, could you indicate by curiosity the differences between the sr1a and the tweeter used on Taket h2?
  6. Aleksandar R.
    Hi biscottino,

    Nope, I haven't heard the Taket, but I sure look forward to that. I hope to find one somewhere.

    Taket works on a Piezo principle. The Piezo foil bends when you apply voltage at it's surface. It draws no current, except for charging/discharging it's capacitance. The response is inherently rising towards highs as it has a capacitive 6dB/oct response.
    The foil is bent in the manner that resembles Air Motion Transformer, now widely used in tweeters after Oskar Heil's patent expired, (but with planar dynamic kind of drive), so they share the mechanical aspect to some extent, not the drive aspect.

    SR1a is a True-ribbon. It is a conductor foil (Aluminium) immersed in a magnetic field. It is a dynamic drive principle, where the current flows through a conductor and this current makes the conductor move within the magnetic field.
    The ribbon is slightly corrugated to achieve the low resonant frequency, but is basically flat in acoustical terms. No AMT action, just pushing air back and forth.


    Last edited: May 20, 2019
    Zhanming057 likes this.
  7. biscottino
    Hi Alex,

    you are very kind, your technical explanation satisfies me a lot.
    I still have a question, the capacitors that are contained in the box that is inserted in the bundle, specifically what function does it have, perhaps even that of linearizing the frequency response?
    Could a transformer solution be used and if so, what are the advantages and disadvantages?
  8. Aleksandar R.
    Hi biscottino,

    No caps in the box, only resistors to load the amp and a resistor/inductor de-emphasis circuit to correct the rising response of the open-baffle.

    Transformers can be used, and that would reduce the needed amplifier power, but not enough to make them usable with headphone amps.
    An amp with about 10W @ 16 Ohms would have to be used, which is more than usual headphone amps can put out.
    Also, with transformers, when plugged into a regular loudspeaker amps which have more than 10W of power, it would be very easy to blow the ribbons.

    These two things will greatly reduce the amplifier choice that could be used, so we didn't want to use that solution. Not to mention the possible sound penalty when using full-range transformers instead of resistors, as it is certain that they will show more coloration than resistors and one carefully designed Nanocrystalline core inductor.

    As it is now, the resistor loading discards the use of headphone amps, but on the other hand, it allows the use of a very wide variety of loudspeaker amps.

    In short, those were the pro's and con's behind this technical solution.
    BreadMaster likes this.
  9. yates7592
    When listening to binaural tracks with Sr1a, should the drivers be best placed flat against the ears?
  10. Headcase88
    In view of Seth's enthusiastic endorsement of using the SR1a with Schiit Vidar amplifiers, I would be interested to know if anyone has tried the Schiit Aegir, which can deliver 80W into 8 ohms if used as monoblocks? Wondering if they would have sufficient power? Thanks.
    W S L and BreadMaster like this.
  11. Tekunda
    From what I have heard, Spectral amps work wonders with these headphones, but price wise they are in a different ballgame than Schiit amps.
    Zhanming057 and BreadMaster like this.
  12. llamaluv
    20190520_222741 cr.jpg

    Last night I received this imposing custom cable from David @alpha421 at Triton Audio Cables. It uses Neotech Silver 28AWG wire with 8 cores, which has a comparable aggregate gauge as a Lavricables Grand 20 Core Silver or a Norne Silvergarde S3 cable, at least based on my calculations. I told David I was interested in erring on the side of thickness over ergonomics, and well, I got what I asked for; it's as thick as the Lazuli Reference cable, and maybe even heavier.

    After just a couple A/B comparisons and a few hours of listening, I can say this cable makes as much of difference over a given headphone's stock cable as any cable replacement I've ever tried, and maybe more than any other. The quick summary is that it sounds very "silver". So if you like silver, they are very interesting. If you don't, they're still very interesting though possibly undesirable. As for me, it turns out I'm kind of a silver freak, owning three Lavricable headphone cables and two Silver Dragon interconnects, as I can't seem to turn down the promise of greater detail and speed.

    When I moved to a DAVE + M Scaler a couple days ago, my immediate impression on the RAAL was like, "Wow so smooth". Swapping out the stock SR1a cable for this silver one, that immediately changes to, "Wow so detailed." There's a noticeable jump in perceived resolution, layer separation, and clarity. It sounds faster and tighter throughout the whole spectrum, most notably in the bass. Imaging is more pinpoint-like. And overall presentation is more forward.

    Perceived tonality has changed in the following ways: Subbass sounds more extended. Bass tones sound more intelligible and easier to follow. Slightly less mid-to-upper-bass maybe? From the mids to upper-mids, I don't hear any difference, quantity-wise.

    Treble though? More clarity, articulation and sparkle, and I've never heard the RAAL exude this much air. I'm not sure if there's a greater quantity in objective terms or it's just perceptual. Possibly both. This is of course the main watch-out when it comes to silver. I'm not even sure yet if I think it's too much for me personally yet, which is one of those things I feel like I can only know with extended listening, though I'm not shy about using EQ, especially with the SR1a. But it adds more interest to complex, layered electronic music, and re-introduces the sweet shimmer to jazz style cymbals as well as some of the bite to snare drums that I felt like I gave up a little of when moving from a Bryston to my current Pass Labs amp.

    I should also note that the above characterizations apply equally to the custom silver speaker cables I posted about previously, which also use Neotech Silver wire, 18AWG. A couple pals who are on this thread also had favorable reactions when they did a quick comparison against stock. I'd say that the custom headphone cable contributes to 2/3 of the overall effect, and the custom speaker interconnects 1/3.
  13. Zhanming057
    A quick interest check - I could use some funds for other projects, and am thinking about selling my Nagra Classic Integrated, possibly with a power cord bundled in.

    Figure I'd ask here first, since this is a great amp for the SR1a's and it will basically run any pair of cans down to sensitive cans such as the Utopia and Mysphere 3.2. The reason I'm selling this instead of the Spectral setup is that I get good Spectral trade-in prices from my local dealer. Price is going to be better than what you can find elsewhere online. Shoot me a message for details!

    llamaluv, simorag and BreadMaster like this.
  14. WilliamWykeham
    I had written a review of the SR1A on this thread a while back lauding it as a groundbreaking achievement but noting as well a few areas where deficiencies were noticeable. My review - which I've been waiting to post elsewhere on this site until I could conduct a more comprehensive evaluation - now has to be revised. The deficiencies I wrote about simply do not exist; they were an artifact of my setup at the time. For the past several days I've been comparing my Chord Qutest to @llamaluv 's Metrum Pavane, two dacs that are very, very different. The Qutest excels in acoustic music and detail retrieval but can sound a bit congested with orchestral. It has a pleasing tonality and high-end sparkle that brings out the best in many recordings of chamber and piano music. The Pavane, meanwhile, produces an immense soundstage, more than enough low-end emphasis, and a wonderful, easy-to-listen musicality that I find addictive for many orchestral recordings and for pop music. It even makes the SR1A work with hip-hop, quite well. As all things audiophile, these are generalities which don't apply to every recording. I loved the Qutest with some pop, the Pavane with some chamber music.

    And I have a Denafrips Terminator arriving in a few hours :)
  15. Thenewguy007
    If I only had a spare $10k sitting around, I would make you an offer :)
    BreadMaster and Zhanming057 like this.
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