RAAL requisite audio SR1a Review: HOLY MOLY! Buy this now!

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by purr1n, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. Zhanming057

    Zhanming057 Friend

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    Different horses for different courses.

    I did room acoustic research for a couple years, I was on teams who provided input for actual music halls. To me, every small room 2 channel setup sounds weird without a lot of treatment. Some people live in apartments (e.g. me) and can't do a lot to our living rooms. Others travel a lot and need to bring most of their system with them. The SR1a isn't great for traveling (although I've brought mine on a few trips) but you can use them while working, and they're pretty nice for home offices and such.

    The $1,500 speaker needs another $500 in room materials, at the bare minimum, for most rooms to take out standing echos and add enough absorption. If you live with other people, they may object to you using speakers at night, or in the morning, or get a noise complaint from the guy next door. Headphones don't have any of those issues.

    Dust is fine for aluminum ribbons, you're confusing them with Electrostatic membranes which are actually susceptible to dust damage. And since the drivers are user replaceable, even in the worst case scenario, you're out no more than $350 plus shipping. $3,500 is pricy, but that's where the greater headphone market is at these days, and with the SR1a's you get something that's arguably unprecedented, as opposed to more limited and incremental upgrades from just about every other player in the business.
     
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  2. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I do appreciate the user replaceable parts. I honestly expected the ribbons to cost way more than $350/pair for a $3.5k headphone setup.
     
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    $3500 is a steal at the high-end personal audio market, especially for something that doesn't suck. SONY IEMs cough cough...
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
  4. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

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    No one believes me when I say good HP + subs is a solid move.

    Also, everyone temper your expectations when you read @purr1n admit time is needed to see how it does against TOTL dynamics and orthos. These probably rock but I'd recommend waiting to hear and spend time with them before throwing out your systems.

    Forgive me but you change gear so often I have to recommend that anyone reading take this recommendation with a grain of salt. When you own ALL the FoTM and TOTL shit and opine, it becomes clear you haven't had a reference system long enough to be a useful voice.
     
  5. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    I understand where you’re coming from, and yes, I admit buying new gears more than once a year, but allow me to provide some context as to where I'm coming from.

    You and your friends/mods/MOTs hold mini-meets every now and then, where you get the opportunity to audition, to borrow your words, FOTM and TOTL shit, some of which even before they are officially announced or released. Now don't get me wrong, I think very highly of such meets as they reflect the spirit of this community, and appreciate people who have attended sharing their impressions.

    The thing is, when you're living in Korea or other parts of the world, you may not be so lucky.

    I don't know about other Asian countries, but Korea is a tiny country compared to USA, China or Japan with a small pool of audiophiles and even a smaller percentage of headphiles among said audiophiles. While corporate giants that have a network of international distributors worldwide (e.g. AKG, Beyerdynamic, Focal, Grado, Sennheiser) are well known in Korea too, boutique companies that build upon order, sell direct or do not have a distributor here are virtually unknown among the majority of Korean headphiles. I'm talking about many well-respected companies like Ampsandsound, Cavalli, DNA, ecp, Eddie Current, HeadAmp, RAAL-requisite, Schiit, Verum, ZMF, etc.

    In my 8-9 years in this hobby, I've attended many headphile meets and audio shows in Korea, and I've never, not even once, seen a product from any of the aforementioned boutique companies other than the ones I bought and own. The only exception was a micro-meet several years ago, when @SoupRKnowva brought his EC Black Widow over to my place... but he was an American who was temporarily staying in Korea at the time.

    On the other hand, Korean headphiles who bring their $$$ headphones like LCD-4, Susvara or Utopia take a look at my Cavalli, DNA or Eddie Current amps and ask me what they are, telling me that they've never seen such amps or heard of such companies. Most HD800 owners in Korea know nothing about various mods that could alleviate its otherwise peaky treble, and believe that HDVD800 is one of the best amps for it. It's sad, but understandable at the same time... we have our own online headphile communities but such gears are hardly, if ever, discussed, simply because people are completely unaware of their existence.

    I think this is because, for better or worse, most people become familiar with such companies by actively participating in international online communities like Head-Fi. At least I did, long before joining Changstar and later SBAF. On the other hand, most Korean headphiles I know have not joined Head-Fi at all or not even aware of the existence of the website, mainly due to language barrier. I was fortunate enough to acquire English during my childhood in the States, but if your English is not up to par, chances are you won't get to learn much. Even if you do become aware of such companies through other means, for example through me, you would have to contact the companies directly, ask them the right questions and place an order... all in English. International payment is also an issue, as the majority of Koreans do not know PayPal or how to use it. In other words, if you were an owner of, say, an EC ZDS in Korea, you would likely have to be a headphile fluent in English, know how to use PayPal, be able to afford it, and most importantly, have enough experience in international communities like Head-Fi/SBAF to become aware of it in the first place.

    Okay, sorry for dragging on but what's my point? For people who are lucky enough to live in the SoCal area... heck, in any country where CanJams or large-scale festivals dedicated to headphones such as Fujiya Avic are held, it's easy to take for granted the opportunity to listen to gears from not only corporate giants but also boutique companies. Friends bring them, MOTs bring them all the time! For people like me, however, the only realistic way of auditioning a Cavalli, DNA or EC amp is to take a blind leap of faith and buy them with my money. I know people commonly give advice like "audition one before pulling the trigger..." but following such advice is practically impossible in my situation.

    I'm not gear cycling because my sonic tastes shift arbitrarily, nor am I chasing after FOTM gears on hype trains every 6 months calling them the Second Coming of blah blah blah... I'm only buying them because I'm just as curious as you guys are to listen to gears from well-respected boutique companies, but unlike you, there's no way for me to listen to them at a meet before deciding whether to buy them. If I were as lucky as you, I would've attended a meet or a headphone show, satiated my curiosity by listening to everything they had at hand and decided which amp/headphone combo was the best sounding to me. But because I'm not, I buy gears, try them at home, rinse and repeat until I feel I've found a system that surpasses what I already have (the only exception was when I had to reluctantly downgrade from my EC Studio years ago due to an unforeseen financial crisis). At least to my ears, the last 5 systems I've owned (Stratus/HD800 → LG/Code-X → ZDS/Utopia → Carbon/SR-007A →MA252/SR1a) were not sidegrades but consistent upgrades, and I have no regret going up the chain. As for the Focal Clear I recently bought, it's not meant to be a replacement for SR1a but as a secondary pair of cans when I feel like listening to a more traditional, intimate sound of headphones.

    P.S. To provide some further context to my recommendation of the MA252 for SR1a...

    I know I'm nowhere as experienced in 2-channel stereo speaker amps as you are, but I was only recommending the MA252 from a realistic perspective as a headphile. The most expensive, so-called "endgame" headphone amps are in the $7-15K range (e.g. Studio, Stellaris, DIY T2) but when it comes to speaker amps, I know that the sky's the limit with complete systems consisting of discrete preamps and monoblocks that cost above $100K.

    The SR1a may scale higher with such exorbitantly priced setups... but is it a sensible choice for headphiles? If I had that kind of money, I would honestly use that system to listen to actual loudspeakers than the SR1a. Although not cheap, I daresay the $3.5K price tag of MA252 is a reasonable amount of money one could spend on a TOTL headamp. A Stratus with upgraded tubes, EC Aficionado/Studio Jr or DIY KGSSHV Carbon fits the bill. I didn't say that that the MA252 is the "best" amp... I only said it's the ideal amp for SR1a because it provides ample power—100W per SR1a's official requirement—and excellent control over the drivers, and a damn near perfect tonal synergy to my ears, without going insanely overboard.

    I hope I made my point, but please feel free to disagree.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Well stated. Although I would argue that your progression is more a set of sidegrades than upgrades. :)

    When I said "throw away your STAX and BHSEs for the SR1a", it was in jest. LOL, you actually did this, but I understand why.

    I figure you guys know me, and however much I put forth disclaimers such as "more time is necessary..." (which always seems to get ignored), I'm more than happy to indulge in my own playful wicked way.

    This is hobby can be like alcholism. We are all trying to be happy but always end up unsatisfied. Hobbyists either need to hit rock bottom (which we've seen among our friends here, and it's never pretty), or they eventually get to a point where they learn to be content - embodying the knowledge that desire is endless.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  7. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    Yes, I'm aware that my "upgrades" may feel subtle for some people to be considered sidegrades, or depending on one's tastes, downgrades. But the SR1a was the most revelatory, game-changing experience I had in this hobby in recent memory. Less than an hour after listening to a properly driven SR1a, I knew that my TOTL electrostatic setup had to go.

    Wise words. Upgraditis may never be satiated, but we all eventually have to compromise at some point. I don't intend to spend any more money on the amp for the SR1a at this point, so there's that.
     
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  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Oh, I'd love to say that the SR1a is game changing; I want to say this. But experience has taught me better. The most will I say is that these are a legit path to "Summit-Fi" and very exciting.

    I'm always wary of the next pretty girl.
     
  9. randytsuch

    randytsuch Facebook Friend

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    That was a thing with k1000's. I never did it, but heard of others who liked it.
     
  10. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    Looking forward to trying this with BW2 since I'll be running off the DAC1541 RCA outs with the Genelecs off the XLRs.
     
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Seriously, it works. Did this with HD800 to cover 40Hz below. Just a light touch.
     
  12. Ardacer

    Ardacer needs to read more, post less

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    I've been doing this for some time now (hp+subs), thought it's more common. Is really cool.

    Also, these guys from RAAL and that other company are all serbs, we're close neighbours. Very small middle/eastern european country. We had a very nasty war three decades ago, but honestly all Serbs I've met are really great guys.

    We speak the same language basically, at some point in time it was called serbo-croatian.
     
  13. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    Interesting, the MA252 happens to have an output for active powered subwoofers. I have zero experience with subs, any solid recommendations? The bass department isn’t one of SR1a’s strongest suits.
     
  14. Hooncake

    Hooncake Mid-Fi Purgatory Redemption

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    Why does this need a subwoofer
     
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  15. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Because its nature (drivers in the free space) loses bass quantity meaningfully. I do think it better than similarly structured K1000 and MA900 (both from the memory) in bass, but something more to be desired.

    Objectively

    upload_2019-7-14_21-29-54.png

    And subjectively, low bass notes sound rather lean and meatless compared to decent planars and semi-open-ish dynamics. Among my collection I prefer Auteur and Verite (along with Ether 2 from the memory) in this respect -- tested with Partitions (Beyonce), Get lucky (Daft Punk), and Flight of the cosmic hippo (Bela Fleck).
     
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  16. MrTeaRex

    MrTeaRex His head's not fat, he's my brother!

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    After consulting with many associates, I believe this sub to be the best complement to the SR1a and is the one I intend to purchase for headphones. https://www.powersoundaudio.com/products/S7201
     
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  17. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    How will your bulbous dome ever fit inside that box with headphones on?
     
  18. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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  19. sacredgates

    sacredgates Audio-Technica's high priest

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    On a more serious/realistic note:
    did anybody try if a little bass / sub bass eq boost to the SR1A has a positive effect?
    If yes, could Schiit please add a bass boost eq something to their possible future dedicated high current amp?
     
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  20. skem

    skem Friend

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    Hrmmmm.. I’d be looking at open baffle bass, not sealed. Fewer room modes. Curves probably easier to match to headphone using first-order network.
     

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