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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. biscottino
    the j2 is just a final, you have to see which is the pre, I had a Yamamoto pre and the couple was very nice for my ZuAudio, but not exciting for he6, imho!:ksc75smile:
  2. Jozurr
    @Aleksandar R.

    This amp obviously needs 100 watts into 8 ohms to shine - however, nowhere near the power to go "loud" enough - so essentially it seems the wattage is needed for the phones to have the dynamic swing and not feel stifled. Now the question is, do you think these would benefit by going Pure Class A 100 watts, or amps with 10-20 Watts Class A and shifting to Class B (up to 100watts +) are sufficient. I understand of course the make, model, topology, all play into it, but assuming all other things being same, I'm wondering if pure class A helps significantly with the dynamic swings much or not, as they can be loud enough in amps that have 10-20 watts class A (and switch th AB for the swings). I might be oversimplifying this, so if there is no straight forward answer, that's understandable. Any guidance is appreciated.

  3. llamaluv
    This may be a useful data point. I found on the Pass Labs X150.8 that it stays in class A until the SR1a output exceeds 80 dB. According to this page, the X150.8 stays in class A for 13 watts.

    What I did was play pink noise through the headphones while measuring the headphone output with an handheld SPL meter as I gradually increased the volume. The bias meter on the X150.8 -- which only starts to move when the amp begins to transition out of class A -- only started to nudge upward when the headphones exceeded 80 dB SPL. At the 80 dB level, when I toggled mute on and off, the needle didn't move at all. Only at about 86-90 dB SPL did the movement of the needle become more than negligible.
  4. Aleksandar R.
    Class of operation shouldn't matter at all. Just rated max power.
    Zhanming057 likes this.
  5. Mystel
    Finally received my pair today , just when im back from a business trip :)
    Thanks to SLT for being accommodating even on a Saturday!
    And also , thanks @Aleksandar R. for such an amazing earspeakers

    Still in the burn in phase , but so far impressions within the first 1 hour (lmao) have been extremely favourable
    Sound is pretty much what i remembered from when i heard them at canjam , bright, rich sounding , spacious as heck.

    Gotta clock more burn in hours but in the meantime, am extremely pleased thus far.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
  6. Aleksandar R.
    There is a few "audio myths" still surviving
    One of those is that Class A is special in some ways. The truth is that it only eliminates a so-called crossover distortion, but so do the non-switching Class B and feed-forward error correction.

    Another myth is that a Tube amp somehow sounds louder that what it's rated power is. This one is half-true only because tube amps have soft clipping, so you can drive it deeper into clipping without hearing nasty clipping artifacts.
    It doesn't mean that the musical peak came out without damage and in full dynamics, it only means that you chopped it off without creating HF artifacts.
    Basically, you can drive a tube amp about 2-3dB deeper into clipping, making the average level of music that much louder, creating an impression that it has 50-100% more power. However, the peaks will be chopped off just as if they would be with any other amp of the same power, driven at the same level...only not sounding like something dramatic is going on, but more like a limiter turned on.
    OTL tube amps will clip as hard as any well behaved SS amp so this "sound like twice the power" myth doesn't work with them.
    So, who is looking for clean dynamic peaks, power has no substitute.
  7. onlychild
    Found this on Instagram and trying to get my ears on it in the next couple of weeks.

    Might be a super pairing:

    Mscaler —> DAVE —> Chord Etude (150w at 4ohm) —> SR1A

    Mscaler should bring that analog sound without having to go to tubes, keeping all the upper level details intact
    0C19DDCB-EC74-4F10-85F8-6B2C2D86F307.png 3A649ADA-2019-46DD-96EA-54C016E38CBF.png
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
  8. llamaluv
    Two minute mod:

    1. Remove the black vertical pads.

    2. Cut out two strips of foam (though anything will do, really), and place them like this, on each side:


    3. Hold the foam padding in place while you put the headphones on. Notice how they're not making contact on your head anywhere below the temples.

    Yeah that's me, so what?

    4. Increase the volume a little, and experiment with the EQ, giving it a downward slope.
  9. songmic
  10. biscottino
    remarkable your McIntosh amp, even if the front reminds me a lot about the food vacuum machines...
    Thenewguy007 and ctemkin like this.
  11. Zhanming057

    If anyone has been curious about how a well-driven SR1a stack compares to the HE1...well, keep reading this post :)

    Before I talk about the HE1, I just want to thank Stefan at https://www.headphoneauditions.nl/ for offering me time on the HE1. His Amsterdam-based shop is one of the most impressive showrooms I've been to in the world, and has a wonderful selection of high end head-fi and 2-channel gear (Airtight, Sennheiser, Abyss, Audio Technica, etc.).

    Stefan wanted me to mention that he offers small-group evening audition sessions from 9pm to midnight, with your choice of liquor (Japanese whisky, wine, G&T's), for 150 euros for up to 3 people, deductible on any purchase of 1,000 euros or above. I took advantage of this and while it's not cheap, you get access to an amazing selection of gear, with no pressure to buy, and the opportunity to chat over drinks with Stefan, who is extremely knowledgable and just a great guy to be around with. He is interested in carrying the SR1a as well, and I hope that he can add those to the showroom in the future.

    I tried the HE1 on the Dave and TT2, both on an Mscalar. The internal DAC of the HE1 is not good, even by ESS DAC standards. It's certainly nowhere as good as the Manhattan DAC which is probably the reference point for a ESS design (and which also uses better, newer chips). I'm not a fan of using 9018's, or putting a DAC inside such a high end integrated headphone system at all. It unnecessarily cheapens the experience, and takes cost away from other components. If you can swing $60k for the HE1, you can definitely cough up $4k for a TT2.

    On the Chord stacks the HE1 is, well, better. It's an incredibly smooth and composed system, and bass impact tops the Shangri-La and is substantively better than any 009 system I've heard. The staging is coherent if a tiny bit small compared to other super flagships, with natural dropoff at the edges, and the system presents itself well with only a moderate touch of tube-ness, mostly evident in the treble rolloff and midrange. The midrange is rich and very dense, and lends itself surprisingly well to female vocals. It's a definite step up over the HE90.

    And that's it. The resolution and staging is unspectacular if you're putting it up against super-powered planar systems (e.g. the ATM300+1266 TC setup in the same room). The HE1's technical performance cannot hold a candle to a $20k SR1a system. Dynamics are great by high end Stax standards, but bass doesn't quite punch down as energetically as the exceedingly well-driven Abyss TC or Susvara. Fundamentally, when you're spending that much on a head-fi system, there is a certain level of expectation involved in terms of performance, and while this absolutely does not preclude other cans - I can achieve those expectations on the Abyss Phi, the Mysphere 3.2 or even the Utopia with some trade-offs - the HE1 clears that bar by so little that I cannot in good conscience say that, at $60,000, it's a good buy for any person with any type of taste.

    I tried and I couldn't really think of a $20k headphone system that I've heard that I would not prefer over the HE1. Just as the Shangri-La might be a good system at $10k, the HE1 might be a good choice at $15k but not a single dime more - and that is if you are a fan of E-stats to begin with. For $60k you can buy a pair of SR1a's, run them off an Absolare Integrated, put a Linn Klimax DSM3 in the chain, book business class tickets to Amsterdam and spend an evening at Stefan's showroom, and still have enough money left for a good bottle of scotch.

    I'd take that deal. And it's kind of sad to think that when Sennheiser had virtually unlimited resources to build their interpretation of the ultimate expression of personal audio, this is the best that they could come up with. The HE90 was truly groundbreaking for its era, a pinnacle of engineering a decade and a half ahead of its time. The HE1 doesn't sound like much more than a barely adequate and grossly overprice super-flagship feeding off the company's former glory.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  12. Aleksandar R.
    Good news!
    BreadMaster, lithiumnk, Torq and 3 others like this.
  13. BreadMaster
    even the samurai's of Japan recognize the SR1A as their new emperor. :scream:
  14. Tugbars
    can anyone compare the performance of RAAL SR1A to DIY T2 + STAX 009s? Thanks.
    BreadMaster likes this.
  15. Thenewguy007
    I think a few people in this thread compared the SRH1A to the 009 with the Blue Hawaii & Carbon amps. There seems to be a general consensus that the SRH1A is faster, has better bass & better transparency.

    Not sure if anyone owned a T2 though.
    Zhanming057 and BreadMaster like this.
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