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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. DelsFan
    I read on another forum (headphones.com) that while the MA252 is good in many situations, there are several better options for use with the SR1a headphones.
    In no particular order, and I'd be glad to hear comments, here are several under (or near) $5K options:
    Schiit Vidar
    Schiit Vidar bridged monoblocks
    Linn AK2200
    Phonitor Performer s800
    Chord Etude

    The reviewer at 6Moons liked:
    Pass Labs xa30.5 (most expensive)
    Nord Acoustics NC500 (monoblock, but they make a stereo amp similarly priced for those who want it "all" in one box)
    Kinki Studios EX-M1

    I think for closer to $10K, Spectral offers an amp and pre-amp combo that is "terrific". As it should be...

    Since I don't currently have a "great" preamp, I'm wondering how the Pass Labs INT-25 would do with the Raal headphones. A used one though, if it is to fit in my budget...
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
    Darthpool likes this.
  2. Thenewguy007
    They have a review up on 6Moons?
  3. Jozurr
    XA30.5 and INT-25 might not have enough power for the SR1a if you listen to high volume. I had the J2 with 25w class A wattage and it wasn't enough.
    Torq likes this.
  4. DelsFan
    Two reviews

    This review spans 10 or 11 pages, more than half of them about how the headphones came about and how the writer came to know the designer and US distributor. Or something like that. Still, an informative review.

    This one is just a page or two, extolling the virtues of the Kinky Studio EX-M1 with the Raal headphones

    I could add: although the designer used the Benchmark AHB2 it seems
    a) he didn't try many of the amplifiers others have tried, and
    b) the few people I have read like the five or six or seven options I listed two posts back better than the Benchmark.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
  5. Torq
    I can never quite figure out what Srajan is trying to convey (by which I mean no disrespect). A lot of it is quiet poetic. Interesting meta-physical imagery (in a Dent/Vogon kind of way). But very hard to parse for what things might actually sound like.

    I found @Zhanming057's commentary way more useful (and realistic/grounded).

    Either way, for me the SR1a has proven to be the best headphone I've heard, even prior to pairing it with TOTL amplification (with which it just gets better).
  6. DelsFan
    I never thought about it, was at times in too big of a hurry... read and then go back to doing what I was supposed to be doing! But I agree about both reviewers.

    I'm sold on the SR1a headphones, and with regular (planar) headphones was looking toward tube-based amplifiers. That is probably not going to happen with the Raals, but I wouldn't mind an amplifier that (is powerful but also) has just a little of the tube-like signature I so love.
  7. GuyForkes
    I wouldn't rule out tube amplifiers before trying them first. You can also look for hybrid designs (tubes on the input stage) from PS audio and Aesthetix. The Aesthetix Mimas integrated amplifier was released just this year (~$7,000) and reviews have been good.
  8. Darthpool
    Or pre-amp it with a tube pre-out...Freya+ Is what I intend to eventually use. Currently have the Cayin Ha-1a mkii as a pre-out and volume control into a Vidar (soon to be dual mono configuration). It adds a nice warmth to the SR1A.
  9. Bertel
    I use the Benchmark HPA4 as preamp and AHB2 as power amp and couldn‘t be happier. I totally buy into the reported (and measured!) neutrality, clarity and transparency of the Benchmarks without any coloration and distortion, which in my perception complement the SR1a‘s virtues extremely well. That said, I‘m not a tubes guy and don‘t like the warm coloration, that certainly helps :wink:
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
    DelsFan, Zhanming057 and GuyForkes like this.
  10. Zhanming057
    Thanks :) I try to make my reviews information-dense, the overly fluffy style always bugs me, it feels like wasting both the reader's time and mine.

    I would recommend hybrids over tubes. Tube amps that can reach 100w are seriously compromised, unless you're willing to spend serious money on a tube setup (as in well north of $10k). A hybrid preamp can add flavor back in without breaking the bank, and it'll allow you to turn off the tube-ness selectively.
    Darthpool, DelsFan and dieslemat like this.
  11. Articnoise
    Or an Aesthetix Atlas, their power amp, it is also a hybrid design with tubes only on the input stage. It can be bought in 4 editions: Atlas, Atlas Stereo Signature, Atlas Mono Signature and Atlas Eclipse.
  12. Pastwa
    I think it is intentional, that way no one feels offended even dough the reader doesn't get much help.
  13. themystical
    In terms of the electronics that match the SR1A well, one thing is for certain, cost and sound quality are not well correlated. This is a general comment not just on headphone electronics but HiFi in general with lots of products flourishing on the basis of snake oil and marketing! I use a DIY Hypex Ncore NC500 based amplifier which is not only one of the best sounding but also amongst the top measuring amplifiers in the world. The Ncores modules that are available from Hypex are an absolute bargain relative to high end audio equipment and several vendors that package these modules are pretty reasonably priced too. The SR1A's sound perfect with the Ncores and do not require any EQ in the bass to fill up the sound or make them sound less thin. If one prefers to listen to harmonics and distortion (as many people reasonably do), add a valve pre-amplifier but be prepared to sacrifice some transparency and impact in exchange for the pleasant mids and highs. All imho off course.
    Darthpool, DelsFan and simorag like this.
  14. DelsFan
    I'm back and forth on the Benchmark; but re-reading, in the posts to which I was referring, the amplifiers the reviewers liked better did cost twice as much. The option of two (slightly used?) Benchmarks to use as monoblocks is awfully appealing and can still fit ones budget (compared to many other $6K to $10K amplifier offerings mentioned). Not to mention they are 15% of the weight of a Spectral or Pass Labs (or Anthem).

    Maybe I need to go and take care of some real work, and let all this "cure" for a day or two!
  15. Bertel
    I don't see why you would need two to use as monoblocks, one is absolutely sufficient.

    In my humble opinion, the Benchmark is the most "correct", or I should rather say neutral reference to start with, as it doesn't produce any distortions and colorations. My humble advice would be: give this a go as your starting point, if you like the way it performs in your audio chain then you're set, if you are missing certain aspects then address these specifically in your further trials. In my opinion that would be a controlled, targeted, structured way to get you to your ideal solution, not something others found to their specific taste and liking in their various audio chains and listening perceptions.

    And yes, definitely take your time and don't rush these things :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
    Darthpool likes this.
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