Raal Requisite SR-1A

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by Zhanming057, Dec 31, 2018.

  1. netforce

    netforce MOT: TSAV

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    Swung by the Schiitr since it was along the way on my 80 trek back home. Will see how it goes with just the Vidar. Thinking about trying them at work with some McIntosh/Marrantz and see how that goes. Recently just sold a ton of older McIntosh so that is a shame that I can't get some for the home.

    No pics, it was just at their USA facility so lots of work benches and soldering irons. Really nice of Danny to spend some time out of his day to let me hear it and we talked a lot. Only heard it on the Bryston. Danny caught the shingles that morning and I could tell he was in some obvious pain so I didn't want to keep him too long while I listened.
     
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  2. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Dunning–Kruger effect poster boy

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    I posted some after thoughts in my earlier post and clarified some details a bit.
    Also I tend to post critically only here .
    If there is nothing good to say I rather not rain on someone's parade.
    I could complain about all the new headphones out (as of this date) as I heard them all & none come in the league we talking about with this headphone or the others I mentioned in my previous post.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  3. netforce

    netforce MOT: TSAV

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    Agreed the SR1A doesn't hit as hard as a planar can. Decently balanced overall sound on it.

    Curious to hear it on some more amps to see how it can change up putting it on a powerful Marantz or McIntosh.
     
  4. Pyrrhus

    Pyrrhus Rando

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    What source did you run them on?
     
  5. netforce

    netforce MOT: TSAV

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    I believe it was on the Benchmark DAC3. Used some of his songs and then switched over to my music and played with few different music and file options.
     
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  6. Zhanming057

    Zhanming057 Friend

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    Re: DAC3, it's quite a strong DAC given the form factor and price point. During Canjam I mentioned to Benchmark that if they could fit a battery pack in there, they'd have a very worthy contender to the Hugo 2 on their hands and possibly even achieve better performance by running directly off 12V DC.

    R-R is looking into releasing an official "Benchmark stack" which is the SR1a, DAC3 and AHB2 at bundle pricing. If you're interested in both the AHB2 and the SR1a's, you may want to hold off the purchase for a bit unless you can get a great price on the AHB2.
     
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  7. pavi

    pavi Facebook Friend

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    I've just begun to listen to the SR1a, and it's impressive.

    My chain is Roon -> Yggdrasil A2/Convert-2 -> Phonitor X (balanced preamp) -> Aegir x2.

    The SR1a is certainly the widest, most focused, and realistic soundstage I've heard on headphones. Very detailed and distinct layering of sound. Astonishing resolution and detail. Clear, strong and bright treble; rich, sweet and full mids. Lower registers are clear and natural, and even full - but distinctly different from the Vérité, LCD-4 or the Abyss. Truly delightful.

    Overall, a transparent sound - very comparable to live music (I listen mostly to jazz).

    A bit awkward wearing them - but they're comparatively light and comfortable once you get them situated. They have a weird burnt odor - I'm guessing that's from the foam they were packed in. The design is utterly functional without much regard to aesthetics. They're advertised as "ear-field monitors" and that sounds about right.

    Twin Aegirs in mono seem plenty, though I have no way to compare. The Convert-2 has interesting synergies with the SR1a.

    My preferred chain is still Yggdrasil A2 -> EC Aficionado (300B) -> ZMF Vérité. But this could be right there beside it.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  8. Headcase88

    Headcase88 Rando

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    pavi.... That's very interesting that you are using them with Aegirs in monoblock mode, as I've almost decided to go that route as well. My only concern, is whether they have enough headroom to handle loud passages... I listen to a wide range of music, but mainly to classical & opera? I'd appreciate your thoughts on this. Which DAC / pre are you using?
     
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  9. pavi

    pavi Facebook Friend

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  10. Pyrrhus

    Pyrrhus Rando

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    Right, so its not better than the SR-009 and Susvara ..:(
     
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  11. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    @pavi mentioned nothing about SR-009 and Susvara. I'm not sure why you came to such conclusion, but if it's because you think those 2 headphones are better sounding than Vérité, you should know that there are plenty of people who hate SR-009 (myself included) for its disjointed tonality.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
  12. ogodei

    ogodei Friend

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    I’ve spent a few weeks listening to these. Primary listening chain was Jriver 23 with WASAPI driver over USB to Singxer 1; I2S into a Kitsune Spring DAC; balanced into Benchmark HPA4 as pre-amp; balanced into Benchmark AHB2 amp (100 Watts per channel into 8 Ohms), then cabled with the provided cables into the energizer \ limiter box. Measuring these with a headphone rig was pretty dicey so any numbers below are inexact.

    See the summary paragraph at the bottom if you can’t wait for conclusions.

    Overall the design is utilitarian sheik: Unfinished lambskin leather straps (one side of one strap is aniline), exposed foam and felt, exposed steel frame, and carbon fiber driver cases. There are a couple of very slender stress points on the spring steel frame that hold the drivers on. Specifically, there’s a springy steel piece about 1 x 2 x 45 millimeters long, connected on one side to the frame and the other to the ribbon case. This gives plenty of spring but also worries me. They would probably hold but I hope I never drop these on the floor. I definitely don’t agree that they feel sturdy, as if ‘they’re meant to be thrown around in a busy recording studio’ as stated by @Zhanming057 above. The drivers are all sharp corners, thin carbon wings, and thin steel casing. I fear would snap if they got a good whack. The travel case is a nice accessory for this and probably the best place to store them.

    Fit is different to say the least. Pressure is applied primarily to the temples and cheekbones. Mine weigh 444 grams and with both head straps on it feels like a skullcap. The straps are massively adjustable which is good. I think RAAL should provide some instructions on where exactly they’re meant to be placed on your head, however. The ribbons are 4 ½ inches tall and, without cups to center on or over your ears, the ‘correct’ height adjustment (if there is any) becomes hard to discern. The main thing adjusting the head strap seems to do is adjust the pressure on your temples as opposed to changing the sound. The carbon fiber wings on the back do change dimension from top to bottom and listening at the very bottom of the ribbons noticeably reduces bass. Overall this setup is better than the K1000 for instance, with pressure spread out to more contact points, but still feels like V1 design. If you’re handy with leather and a punch you could probably custom something to suit your own needs.

    Sound signature changes massively when you adjust the alignment of the ribbons to out-of-parallel to your ears. Placing them flat to your head & very close to the ears significantly increases the bass response and the midrange at the cost of adding unacceptable congestion. Spinning them out about ¾ inch gives you a more spacious soundstage but all the sound cues from about 800kHz down completely flatten out and volume is gone. Best for me was just a slight tilt out at the back.

    These don’t image like headphones but neither do they recreate good stereo speakers. With no DSP applied the sound was 20th row out from a perpendicular line of performers. Instruments and vocals came from three places: Directly in front of me, way off to the left, and way off to the right. I think this is due to the isolation of the two ears. Adding cross-feed via JRiver had a noticeable effect of moving centered voices or any instruments further out at a cost of volume. So now you’re 20 rows out and the vocalist has dropped back. This was most effective with the ‘subtle’ cross feed setting and I found myself enjoying these much more with that setting on. Moving it any higher introduced too many slap echoes to the sound.

    Bass sounds like small woofers (6 inchers?) from about 20 feet away. No pressurization or sub-bass obviously as expected from the open design. RAAL rates these down to 33.5 Hz, for me I was hearing nothing below 55Hz and what I did hear was way down from everything else. (See notes about performance on other amplifiers below). Mids are neutral, not pushed compared to treble. Not lush, not golden, actually little thin due to lack of bass. Treble is clean and extended to maybe 7 kHz (?) , not piercing or overly emphasized except when I cranked up volume trying to get bass. Again, I could put the ribbons exactly parallel to my ears to increase it without spiking the treble but then congestion set in.

    Middling to ok dynamic range. Attack and transients are very good, but not precise to a fault. Seems to soften the leading and trailing edge of notes. I often use synthesizers to test this, synth beats seemed rounded off a bit. Changing the DAC \ AMP combo might affect this. Male vocals sound more distant than when listening with closed cans, IMO due to lack of bass resonance. Female voices have the same issue to a lesser degree, with soprano voices affected the least not surprisingly. I saw @Zhanming057 attributed this to mastering of the tracks. Tomato, to-mah-to? If it’s recessed it’s recessed and I can’t have all my favorite tracks remixed to suit my taste.

    As noted above RAAL un-specifically specifies these require a ‘100 Watt Speaker Amp’ to drive them. Presumably that’s 100 watts per channel into 8 ohms, both channels driven. The Benchmark AHB2 I primarlily used is exactly 100 Watts per channel into 8 Ohms, or 190 Watts per channel into 4 Ohms, both channels driven, so it meets the requirements. Somewhere above I think they stated they tested and developed with this amp in the chain. Curious to see what would happen I also listened with some lower and higher power amps.

    FirstWatt F3, 15Wpc into 8 Ohms: Not as much punch, dynamic range is decreased. Volume is main issue, needs to be massively cranked, noise floor is increased. Some static pops (the amp or the headphone reaction? Probably the amp)

    Akitika Gt-102, 50Wpc into 8 ohms: Dynamic range increased from First Watt, volume is good. This is pretty comparable to the Benchmark AHB2 actually

    Classe Omega dual monoblocks, 450Wpc into 8 ohms: Dynamic range is increased drastically, to ‘good but not crazy good’ performance. Still not Utopias. The bass actually has some impact and speed at this power level and probably extends down to the promised 33.5 Hz, all without adding congestion or piercing treble. Actually very fast bass speed with instant decay. I would still categorize these as bass-light. Mids are minutely increased but not pushed or golden, have maybe moved to a neutral line but still a bit thin. Speed at top is same. Over all they have gone from good to very good but still lack the lows and full midrange, soundstage is still pretty far away.

    Bottom line here is 100 watts per channel is not enough to get the best performance out of these. Maybe 200 watts?

    A couple of responses to @Zhanming057’s review above.

    I pretty much agree with his review of the sound, with a couple of minor and pretty much meaningless distinctions (except the last point!):

    Regarding speed and attack, ‘crispness’, I found the SRHA-1 to be very good indeed but not the second coming. Several cans (HEK, HD800, Utopia, etc.) can be faster if that’s the goal. Stax 009 / 007 on my KGHSSV Carbon CC are actually just as fast to my ears. The only place the SRHA-1 exceeded in speed was in the bass when I fed it with the Classe, and the speed didn’t make up for lack of over-all performance there for me. More to the point, these are fast enough without being ‘the fastest’ so, meh.

    While the soundstage is huge it’s also flat and a little distant to my ears. No amount of messing about with positioning fixed that for me. DSP helped some at the cost of power.

    Treble range was good but I didn’t get extreme extension you mentioned I suppose that could be my amps. And there was nowhere near as much air up top as I prefer. I popped on the Stax and and there it is.

    Generally, I didn’t find these to be as unprecedented in sound as you did. Maybe for open-wing headphones? (is that a new class name?) I didn’t think they spanked Stax TOTLs on the better solid-state or tube amps.

    Other random notes:

    These are very susceptible to static electricity, I got slight shocks to my cheeks on multiple occasions.

    The speaker cables provided to attach the energizer to the amps are bargain basement and only long enough for desktop setups.

    In Summary,

    with enough power and $$$ behind them these are great performers but lack the highest top-end extension and, notably, are bass-lite compared to most over-ear headphones (including electrostats). The sound signature is neither fish nor fowl, not quite well-imaging speakers, not anywhere near headphones. Imaging is flattened compared to both good speakers and headphones; applying digital cross-feed helps somewhat but doesn’t completely resolve the issue. These are recommended for the the two-channel guys who already own the massive amplifiers and equalizers necessary to make them sound their best and don’t necessarily want to get into headphones. Possibly for mixing studios or traveling mixers?
     
  13. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    I agree that not even its recommended minimal requirement of 100W is enough to power it loud enough. I have tried McIntosh MA252 (100W) with it, and while it does a better job with Code-X, its began to clip (green LED turns orange) before the SR1a could get sufficiently loud. I have a Kinki EX-M1 (215W) incoming, hoping it will provide better results.

    EDIT: Please ignore everything I wrote above, the MA252 is powerful enough to drive the SR1a to satisfying levels before it starts clipping. I have no idea what I did wrong before, but when properly set up, the MA252 is a very good amp with the SR1a. Read post #79 below for more details.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
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  14. ogodei

    ogodei Friend

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    To me the increased power required was less directly about volume and more about revealing a dynamic range and the presence of actual bass. Interesting sounding bass though, so little decay it doesn't seem to resonate enough to clog the middle up much. Will have to do some more listening on that amp.
     
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  15. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    I’m aware the transformer box of SR1a caps out at 150W in its input, so any extra power beyond that won’t increase volume but boost other aspects (e.g. dynamic range). The problem with MA252 was that despite being rated 100W, it began to clip when the volume was only about 70-80% of the max. Clearly it struggled to drive it, but at least I don’t think I’ll have clipping issues and be able to reach the maximal possible volume of SR1a with the 215W EX-M1.
     
  16. pavi

    pavi Facebook Friend

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    twin vidars serve the sr1a very nicely.
     
  17. allegro

    allegro Friend

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    FWIW @Torq really loves the SR1a ,,, has a long thread at his own forum worth a read. And he also recommends twin Vidars but you can get by with one.
     
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  18. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    The SR1a is legit. I had had my doubts when I found out the 100 wpc MA252 couldn’t drive it loudly enough (@Torq came to the same conclusion) but with the 215 wpc EX-M1, it’s insane. The second coming of K1K but better in every way conceivable.

    More on my impressions later, but at first listen I was utterly disappointed that not even the EX-M1 at max volume had enough power to drive the SR1a to satisfying listening levels. It took me a while to find out that they updated the EX-M1 in line with their new EX-M1+ (same as EX-M1 but has preamp/power amp bypass functionalities), which includes new heatsink, OCC internal cabling, fully dimmable display and most importantly a gain switch. Turns out the gain was set to L out of the box, and when I switched it to H, the SR1a screamed at ear-splitting levels. This time I had to turn down the volume to make it listenable.

    Not only does it throw the most holographic soundstage I’ve ever heard in a headphone (if you could call it a headphone), it’s about as close as you could get to 2-channel stereo when used in conjunction with binaural recordings, Realiser or OOYH. The sound is extremely transparent and clean, and beats my TOTL electrostatic setup Carbon/SR-007A in terms of speed.

    Thanks to the driver unit, it appears that the SR1a only accepts up to 150W because the loudness capped out at a certain point, after which turning up the volume knob did not raise the volume but seemed to affect other aspects such as soundstage. Of course, no one should listen that loudly.

    The K1K was wildly sensitive to the angle of drivers and the SR1a is no different. Widening the angle significantly opens up the soundstage but at the expense of intimacy, imaging and bass heft. The sweet spot for me was about 30 degrees, but YMMV.

    The EX-M1 is the only amp I’ve tried with SR1 with success, so I have no idea how much the SR1a could scale from here. I’m curious about other well-received setups, such as Freya + twin Vidars (400 wpc). Some say that even a single Vidar (100 wpc) was enough, but because of my disappointing experience with MA252, I would always look for amps with at least 150 wpc just to be safe.

    On a side note, I found the EX-M1/SR1a to be quite neutral if not a tad bright (not as much as Utopia), so a tonally sweeter amp could be more up my alley. I’m thinking higher-tier McIntosh amps with 200+ wpc could do the trick, but they’re in a different price league.

    Obligatory pics coming soon.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  19. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    Okay... I made a rather startling discovery today.

    After enjoying some quality time with the EX-M1 and accepting the fact that the MA252, despite its 100 wpc rating, was simply not up to the task of driving the SR1a, I decided to pack it up for sale. Although I knew it would be a fruitless effort, I plugged the SR1a into the MA252 one last time on a whim because I would miss its sound signature. Alas, if only were it a bit more powerful!

    Mother of God. What was I hearing? The MA252 didn't sound like this before. It had clipped on the SR1a before it could get sufficiently loud, which is why I ended up getting the EX-M1. I don't know what I did wrong, but if this is how the MA252 is supposed to sound with the SR1a, then it's a match made in heaven.

    If the EX-M1 was very clean and neutral sounding, the MA252 has a tint of organic tone that results in a slightly smoother treble. As I stated in my previous post, this is closer to my preferences. This is not to say that the MA252 sounds like a classic tube amp; it still sounds more SS than tube, and this warmth is probably attributable to the tubes in the preamp stage.

    The MA252 still does clip if the volume knob is cranked up too high, but it gets plenty loud before that happens. I'm listening to most of my music at 65-75% of max volume now (whereas with EX-M1 it was 30-50%).

    I'll do more listening, but given that both EX-M1 and MA252 could drive the SR1a sufficiently, I'm leaning toward the latter's tonal balance. At any rate, I can say with confidence that both amps are excellent for SR1a.

    I have no idea why the SR1a sounded wimpy on the MA252 on my first listen. As crazy as it may sound, one explanation is that because both the MA252 and SR1a were fresh out of the box, not burned in at all? Although I don't deny the effects of burn-in, it shouldn't make drastic differences like changes in power rating or sensitivity. I dunno.

    Anyway, I'm glad that I decided to listen to MA252 before packing it away, because now, I don't think I'm gonna be packing it away anytime soon. Also, I apologize if my initial impressions of the MA252 persuaded people away from buying it as an amp for SR1a. Lastly, I wonder if @Torq had a similar issue with the MA252/SR1a as I did, because he too had a similar opinion as mine (though he did not get a chance to follow up on it).
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
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  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I can't think of a worse low-value combo pack for the SR1a. That's the last DAC and last amp I would use with the SR1a. I'd opt for an R2R DAC and a warmer amp with heft on the bottom end. The Benchmark stuff is neither of these.
     
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