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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. P.Car

    Thank you for helping all of us out with your impressions and answering our questions.

    I am waiting to hear back from my friend who will give me his impressions next week.

    In the mean time, it sounds like we have a winner...

    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
    HoloSpice likes this.
  2. Thenewguy007
    That the only amp you tried the SRH1A with?
  3. anach
    Thank a lot for all the answers @Maxx134! Very exciting.

    I wonder what will be the availability and price in Europe.
  4. Bill13
    I wonder if perhaps you feel that the Mysphere might be preferable to the SR1a, overall, for general-purpose listening. The Mysphere midrange is euphonic, and forgiving of music recording shortcomings?
  5. Bill13
    I looked at the terms of the RAAL SR1a 5 year limited warranty, and also noticed that the user-replaceable ribbon cartridges are $350/pair. Also, replaceable foam pads are listed at $99.

    Could it be that the ribbons in the drivers actually might not be covered by the limited 5 yr warranty? For example, If a customer watches movies having some bass-slam (cause the aluminum ribbon to stretch & loose tension?) maybe the warranty doesn't apply?
  6. WilliamWykeham
    Thanks all for impressions of these headphones - I've moved to speakers (Sierra 2 with Raals) and am looking to acquire one headphone with the most speaker-like qualities - in particular soundstage. Mysphere? Abyss? SR1a? Or should I just give up because none of these will have as open a soundstage as my HD800?
  7. Zhanming057
    The Mysphere's have more color in the midrange and are definitely more forgiving of recording quality. I still use both regularly and I just find myself avoiding the relatively less well recorded files when I listen to the SR1A's.

    Both can be great for general purpose listening, the Mysphere's have less bass and less treble, and is a bit "sweeter", the SR1A's are totally neutral and has more energy and dynamics across the FR.

    You'll have to ask Danny for the final word on that, but my understanding is that unless damage is deliberately caused (e.g. somehow plugging them into an amp directly and blowing out the drivers) the driver replacement is under warranty for the first 5 years, and you won't be charged for drivers. After the 5 year warranty period, the standard pricing for driver cartridges will apply.

    I have been told that drivers were tested for well over 1,000 hours of continuous operation, and they hold up very well to that level of use, so I'm sure you're fine with bassy tracks and movies.
    Bill13 likes this.
    I'm also interested in hearing it, If possible.
    BreadMaster and HoloSpice like this.
  9. bozebuttons
    I stopped by Cradons house to have a listen to Sra1 phones out of his Passlabs 150 intergrated,I also brought my Susvara with Dana cable ultra cable & Stephen audio adapter cable with spades I had for my K1000 so I could hook up the Susvara to the speaker outputs of the 150.THe Carbon HV 009 combo was also there to compare.
    Most everything said about the SRA1 is true it is very quick & transparent,High quality recordings Are truly amazing .
    The Eagles Hotel California which is not a great recording & Simply Red Holding back the Years tracs did not fair so well on The Sra1
    which was a little confusing since there was no issues with the susvara or sr009s
    The Sra seems to excel on instruments ,sound real & works well with intimate settings like Jazz or acoustic settings.
    I like to listen to Vocals & here is where the Sra falls short of the Susvara or sr009 ,the vocals have more presence & body & definition.

    I also feel Bass definition is better on the Susvara.
    What the SRA1 does with the right recordings is truly amazing but lesser recordings suffer.
    Depending on what type of music you listen to IMHO the SRA might just be the one,But I feel it would need another Headphone to compliment It.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  10. Zhanming057

    There was a time when I thought that I'd never get to try a 300b amp with the SR1A's...

    ...and then there's the Thrax Spartacus, which dumps out 50wpc at 8 ohms through a whopping 12 EML 300b tubes and has more current than solid states with 3-4x the rated output. And yes, the combination had a damn magical midrange. Practical? No. Less expensive than a tricked out Mercedes? No. Do I now want one? Yes.

    Thank you @FredSD for letting me try out his absolutely insane setups!
    Lord Rexter and bozebuttons like this.
  11. llamaluv
    More impressions on the RAAL as heard at @cradon's on his Pass integrated amp. Nothing very different to add really, but...

    - Resolution pretty much blew me away. Easily one level above anything I've heard from a headphone. Loved this aspect above all other things. Full of nuance, air, all of it. After two days now since hearing them, it's still nagging me how detailed they sounded.

    - Imaging was really interesting and easy to appreciate. In the one vocal track I tried, the vocals in the 'center channel' literally floated in front of my face, and sounded very convincing and lifelike. Easily the most compelling out-of-head headphone moment I've ever experienced.

    - Bass was fast and tightly controlled, and definitely has a different kind of presentational style that what I'm used to, but in a good way. On two bass-heavy tracks though, I felt they gave out too quickly (listening at about 80dB). I'd want to verify this with more headtime though. But even if my initial impressions remained intact, I could see living with one or two important shortcomings due to what they do so well.

    - The tonal balance of the mids to me remain an open question, as they sounded recessed in the lower half of the mids, a little like when you hold headphone drivers away from your ear (which I guess makes sense since that's what these are). However, after a couple minutes, I didn't notice it as much as my brain made adjustments. I imagine that EQ could mitigate this somewhat, and that there's probably a sweet-spot in the "yaw" adjustment that could minimize this. Would definitely want more head time to be able to form a better opinion on it.

    My one take-away, echoing what @bozebuttons mentioned earlier, was that at the very least, they would make for a very, very interesting secondary headphone (Whether they could pass muster as a "primary" headphone, I don't have an opinion on yet).
  12. Maxx134
    Unfortunately yes, although I do have another amp to try, I feel it would not gain anything over the amp tested because it is only a 120w amp.

    Most probably change in signature but not resolve.

    I would like to know if the performance of the pre-production model will be changed with the production model?

    I am of similar opinion, that @bozebuttons mentions the headphones having amazing clarity on some tracks, but the low end is not like the other top units.

    It's bass end impact seems to dependsl how close it rests to your ear, and also the angle, so it can vary person to person.

    I preferred the position with the headphones front pad to rest very close to the ear entrance for maximum bass impact.

    Also, I ended up angled them a bit closer, maybe 30° outward instead of 45°, which affected greater low end, but also reduced soundstage width a bit from huge to large.
    It's bass is very speaker like yet slightly more reminiscent of an HD800.

    For those that like planar bass timbre & bass impact, I hope that they would also offered a closed pad design in future to compliment this one.
    Bill13, Zhanming057 and llamaluv like this.
  13. Zhanming057
    There's definitely a sweet spot where the vocal presentation is neither garbled nor recessed. I only figured that out after I had them for a couple days. It's easy to go into the "recessed" range on the prototypes because the driver pivots are pretty loose and when the drivers are too close to your ears, there's an obvious amount of imaging overlap at the center, so you tend to slightly over-adjust every time you have them on. The production version is much tighter and less susceptible to knocks.

    Bass bottoms out at a tad under 30. That's an unfortunate side effect of the design. It's also possible that the amp was running out of instantaneous power but at 80db that's not very likely.
    Bill13 and llamaluv like this.
  14. Zhanming057
    No sound changes. Here's what's going to be changed from my preproduction one (which is the one in NYC right now):

    - The headband, to a much more comfortable design using only a single metal band and a thicker leather pad.
    - Joints now have much more friction
    - The driver is now user-replaceable
    - The leather straps are lengthened for larger heads and the adjustment range has also been extended.
    - The cable is now a stranded one with thinner shielding but with the same wire material.
    - Cosmetics, black foam on the outside and a new etched metal logo.

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  15. Bill13

    I'm considering the SR1A and the Abyss phi as candidates for my next TOTL headphone purchase.

    Sub-bass or bass slam is important to me, so the comment about SR1A giving out at only 80db seems to be a red flag/warning to me - could be a deal breaker.
    I wonder, how did the SR1A's sound change when the heavy-bass hit 80dB SPL -- did the bass simply refuse to get any louder, or did it the bass start to distort? I doubt that the amplifier was the problem because 80dB would only require less than one watt amp power into the SR1A's 6 ohm load.

    I'm confused -- In Maxx134's ranking, the SR1A bass quantity looks very good (as I understand it) - could be interpreted to approach the Abyss phi in bass quantity?

    Looks like SR1A is king of resolution, yet giving out at only 80 dB heavy bass, should only be considered as a curiosity/secondary headphone?
    Maybe the recordings had way too much SPL under 30 Hz resulting in the ribbon bottoming out?

    Need clarification, or maybe will have to do that 14 day trial from Requisite.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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