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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. thomaskong78
    Had anybody tried Lyngdorf 2170 on SR1a?

    It is supposed to have 100 watts for 8 ohm and 170 watts for 4 ohms.

    With more than 10 useful pre set of digital equalization, it has a potential to tame bright sound of SR1a.

    It also have very decent Dac .

    I had compared its Dac with Dave and Mscaler.

    Lyngdorf 2170 approach around 80% of the performance of Dave and Mscaler with transparent soundstage, good dynamics and details.
  2. DelsFan
    So, one of many knowledgeable guys here (he had an amp for sale recently) helped me realize what it is I really want: I won't be happy without a bit of the warmth and spaciousness offered by tubes, and (heaven forbid) I'm willing to give up a bit of accuracy to have it.

    I don't prefer to have a separate amp and preamp but it could be done. There is no more room on the rack; but I could just put an amp like the AHB2 (not too large, not too heavy) on a wood platform on the floor leaving room on my rack for everything else (Power conditioner, modem, EtherREGEN, Streamer/DAC, preamp, Raal interface box, CD player). Rack is two shelves, 45" x 18"...
    Another option is a tube hybrid integrated amp. Suggestions? And, are there any truly high-end hybrid integrated amps that will (should) work with the Raals, which weigh closer to 40 lbs than 100 lbs.

    I was reading a bit - I already have a Cary DMS-500 Streamer/DAC - and I ran across a review of the tube-based Cary SLI-100, which does output 100wpc into 8 ohms and (for those of us with Ether 2s or Utopias, etc.). However, with this tube-based design it also outputs 100 wpc into 6 ohms and 4 ohms (and 5.6 ohms). Raal suggests 100 wpc into 8 ohms minimum, but are they really "requiring" 150 wpc minimum into 6 ohms?
    Aside: The SLI-100 is supposed to be a superior headphone amp also (both off the taps and from the 1/4" jack on the front); the signal from the 1/4" jack utilizes the entire circuit path of the SLI-100.

    It seems the Raals respond to current; how do I know if the fully tube-based Cary supplies enough? And, maybe tubes aren't "quick" enough to bring out the best in the Raals? Are there specs in particular I should look at to determine suitability?

    NOTE: If I go the SLI-100 route I would add the Hexfred rectifier option:
    "Hexfreds are high speed low noise rectifiers and replace your existing standard rectifiers in the power supply. You will notice more speed, air, detail, imaging and tighter bass, yet a cleaner clearer sound quality. The Hexfreds help to provide a cleaner, faster DC voltage which shows up very noticeably in the sound quality. There is one more layer of hash and hardness (noise) that is removed so that you can just enjoy the music! Bass is faster with more details and the midrange and highs are cleaner and clearer. You will hear more detail with less bite."
    With the Raals, this seems like an extreme no-brainer? And, I believe the SLI-100 already utilizes Mundorf caps...

    Summing up: For the Cary SLI-100 (and for other enthusiasts considering the Raal headphones, relating to most any other amp they might consider to go with them), what does any of the following mean to me in practical terms?

    100Wpc into 8 ohms (20dBW).
    Maximum gain: 34dB.
    Frequency response: 19Hz–23kHz, ±0.5dB.
    Input impedance: 100k ohms.
    Sensitivity: 450mV RMS.
    slew rate?
    Damping factor?
    Input Sensitivity?
    llamaluv likes this.
  3. GuyForkes
    I'd suggest reading that entire review, including the measurements section before pulling the trigger on the SLI-100.
    Zhanming057 and DelsFan like this.
  4. DelsFan
    OK, I did it. The amp seems to sound good with speakers and great with headphones, although from the measurements it seems there could be (are) better tube-based amplifiers available.
    However, none of this has anything to do with the suitability (or more likely, the lack thereof) of the SLI-100 for use with the RAAL headphones, especially when compared to the AHB2, or a pair of them, or the Linn AK2200. I "wanted" this $4500 to $6000 product to be the solution, but it likely is not. Even if one likes the sound, even if they want to ignore the measurements, I'm coming to the conclusion it would be underpowered and nowhere near quick enough.

    How to get tube-like sound out of an integrated amplifier that will output 150 wpc or more into 6 ohms. That is the question.
  5. biscottino
    I would say that with the Benchmark you are not mistaken, a purchase of great value ... rather, I tried to replace the tail supplied with sr1a with the cable that I use for my ZuAudio, an unknown brand, it is an Italian manufacturer that used to make cables in the past of quality using as a liquid insulator, they are called Shinpy, I had a good increase in performance, the sound is more refined, for example the brushes of the battery presents a better vision and the voices are thicker and a bass with even more body, I would say yes, it's an improvement, at this point considering that it would take only 1 meter I'm thinking of taking something like a good high-end Kimber or something like that, the Benchmark is placed in its place and is immovable.
  6. GuyForkes
    From the Measurements
    "Cary specifies the SLI-100 as offering 100Wpc (20dBW into 8 ohms). Defining clipping as when the THD+noise in the output reaches 1%, my measurements of the SLI-100's clipping power were much lower than this. Into 8 ohms from the 8 ohm tap (fig.6), the THD+N percentage in the left channel's output rose linearly with frequency, reaching 3.2W (5dBW) at 1%THD+N and 22W (13.4dBW) at 3%, reaching its specified power at 10% THD+N!"

    The amp clips at 3.2W, not 100W as specified by the manufacturer. This pretty much tells you that this amp is not suitable for the SR1a, or almost anything else for that matter. The best thing you can do is go and listen to the amps yourself or stick to tried and tested options such as the AHB2 (You can add a tube preamp). I use a 100W tube amp with the SR1a and think it sounds better than the SS options I've tried including the new Krell K-300i but I know it's not for everyone.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
    Zhanming057 likes this.
  7. pthouck
    Late to this discussion. But...

    Along side the M22, I had the AHB2 for a month and sent it back. I really did not like it. I had exactly your experience... "M22 V2 is sounding substantially better". That did not change. I was relieved to send the Benchmark back because I keep trying to figure out what I was missing given the raving about its design and specs. There was no contest - the NAD is beautiful to listen to. The AHB2 is constricted and dead sounding by comparison. It seems that those who like the Benchmark have bridged it to mono. Maybe that helps a lot. But I will not spend $6000 when the distance between its sound and the M22 in stereo mode is so significant. It is as though the ABH2 punched significantly below its weight. My speakers are a benign load with 89 dB efficiency. Even my excellent 25 watt class A push-pull tube amp sounded more powerful.

    I am still puzzled about the rave reviews of the ABH2. I myself was just happy to get rid of it and get back to listening to music.

    I got an RME ADI-2 DAC, and between this and the NAD and my speakers, the transparency is so lovely that I am often stunned an beguiled. Maybe a Purifi-based amp will sound better, but I will bet it won't be by much. I think the combination of electronics I am using is reaching the limits of transparency. Active speakers may be the next technical advance, but I am in no hurry to get there. I bought the RME used and the NAD refurbished (I was supposed to get a v1, they accidentally sent me a v2 and told me to just keep it). For a total expenditure of $2500, I am amazed at the result. Lest you think I don't have experience with ultra expensive gear, that is not the case. I know what the big boys pay for an what they get for it.
  8. pthouck
    Regarding M22 v2 and high gain - nor true in my experience. I use the mid-gain setting which matches the +7 dB reference level on the RME ADI-2 DAC very well. You just get more gain with the M22 High Gain setting in my world.
  9. pthouck
    I use a very good passive preamp in this scenario so that I too can enjoy my vinyl without messing up the digital stuff. It was custom built by a guy at NASA a number of years ago. My phono preamp has plenty of gain. It is a tube design with SUTs and is very quiet.

    I also noticed a post of yours that mentioned mild tinnitus. The reason I picked the NAD M22 v2 over the AHB2 was that the Benchmark hurt my ears. This was in part due to me cranking it up to try to get some real dynamics out of it. I can listen to the NAD at quiet volumes or at dance party volumes and the sound remains clear and dynamic. I never feel fatigued after listening. I have worked in a studio a bit in the past and I think you have to have ears of steel to do that job full time.

    I too enjoy intimate chamber music very much. I probably have 10 different interpretations of the late Beethoven quartets on vinyl and CDs. Being able to appreciate the subtlety of the differences in these performances and recordings is a very deep solace for me in these times.
    Christer likes this.
  10. pthouck
    I was in the same boat. NAD M22 v2 did it for me. I would say that nCore based amps with good discrete inputs (or now the Purifi modules) would probably do. The sound is tube like in the best sense - clear and non-fatiguing. Timbre is natural and accurate. I used to think that tubes produced more satisfying timbre because of second harmonic distortion. But the NAD produces extremely nuanced and natural timbre (depending on the recording of course) and has almost no THD. Go figure.
  11. DelsFan
    Every day I come up with a different solution, assuming I go with the Raals and not the MySphere 3.x headphones. Today'd solution is the Pathos Logos hybrid integrated, 110 wpc into 8 ohms and the "full" 220 ohms into 4 ohms. I'm interpolating that to 165 wpc into 6 ohms; so it should have plenty of horsepower. In addition, the preamp section utilizes the ECC88 tubes (a variant of 6922/6DJ8) that seem to be quite articulate, AND, the solid state amp portion is supposedly quick enough to work well with the ribbons utilized by the Raals. I watched a YouTube video where Kevin at Uptone Audio gives his thoughts about it for a speaker amp; I'm expecting to talk to him next week to get his thoughts about it with headphones. Now, part of his job is selling, but it does seem like, if I want one box instead of a separate amp and preamp (and the associated vibration isolation, power cord, and interconnects that go along with adding another component into my system - I make it $1400 extra, minimum, just for the "accessories"), the Logos has some potential. If not, at the least I love Kevin's enthusiasm!
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  12. themystical
    From what I understand, the M22 is basically a Ncore in a NAD case. I use 500W Ncores and they drive the SR1A’s beautifully. I also use a second one to drive my speaker system and that is in preference to a whole load of solid state and valve alternatives.
  13. pthouck
    That is sort of true. It uses a customized nc400 with a custom power supply and apparently, a custom input buffer. It has some nice features like three different gain settings and a 12 V trigger plus auto standby after 45 minutes. And it puts out more power than a stock nc400.
  14. bluesaint
    In case anyone is looking, I have a 5 month old M22 V2 with warranty for sale ($2095 shipped) its $3300 new and sounds great for my sr1a as well in med gain when matched with idsd pro dac.
  15. FiftyKilo
    Had anybody tried the SR 1a with ViVa Egoista 845 ? My dutch dealer think it could work. The Egoista 845 has 2 x 15 Watt Class A more than enough for the Abyss but enough for the Raal ?
    Thank you for your comments !
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