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Article: Review | RAAL-requisite SR1a Earfield Headphone Monitor

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2 hours ago, isquirrel said:

I have a SR1-a and the matching amp the HSA ordered and arriving in the next 2 weeks. My current favourite Headphones are the Abyss Phi TC's driven by a custom MSB Dynamic HP amp, with an MSB Select DAC and the Taiko Extreme. After having read your review and being a Wilson guy myself I cannot wait for them to show up!!

 

I will report on the sound of the matching HSA amp when they arrive. Better start a Thread on this ASAP, thanks Chris.

 

PS Also getting a custom set of DHC (Double Helix Cables) made up for the SR1-a's they need to be the same impedance as the standard cables.


what dac will you be using to feed the HSA amp?


- Mark

 

Synology DS916+ > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > Netgear switch > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > dCS Vivaldi Upsampler (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 Dual 110 Ohm AES/EBU > dCS Vivaldi DAC (David Elrod Statement Gold power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > Absolare Passion preamp (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > VTL MB-450 III (Shunyata King Cobra CX power cords) > Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker > Kaiser Kaewero Classic /JL Audio F110 (Wireworld Platinum power cord).

 

Power Conditioning: Entreq Olympus Tellus grounding (AC, preamp and dac) / Shunyata Hydra Triton + Typhoon (Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron umbilical/Shunyata King Cobra CX power cord) > Furutec GTX D-Rhodium AC outlet.

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9 hours ago, isquirrel said:

I have a SR1-a and the matching amp the HSA ordered and arriving in the next 2 weeks. My current favourite Headphones are the Abyss Phi TC's driven by a custom MSB Dynamic HP amp, with an MSB Select DAC and the Taiko Extreme. After having read your review and being a Wilson guy myself I cannot wait for them to show up!!

 

I will report on the sound of the matching HSA amp when they arrive. Better start a Thread on this ASAP, thanks Chris.

 

PS Also getting a custom set of DHC (Double Helix Cables) made up for the SR1-a's they need to be the same impedance as the standard cables.

This thread will work perfect - 

 

 


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10 hours ago, isquirrel said:

I have a SR1-a and the matching amp the HSA ordered and arriving in the next 2 weeks. My current favourite Headphones are the Abyss Phi TC's driven by a custom MSB Dynamic HP amp, with an MSB Select DAC and the Taiko Extreme. After having read your review and being a Wilson guy myself I cannot wait for them to show up!!

 

I will report on the sound of the matching HSA amp when they arrive. Better start a Thread on this ASAP, thanks Chris.

 

PS Also getting a custom set of DHC (Double Helix Cables) made up for the SR1-a's they need to be the same impedance as the standard cables.

 

 

That Taiko Extreme is... extreme...  While understanding this is a relative thing, is it worth that much money?


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16 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

 

 

That Taiko Extreme is... extreme...  While understanding this is a relative thing, is it worth that much money?

Worth is of course relative, but we’ll have a full review very soon. As in about a week or so. 


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20 hours ago, KDinsmore said:

Chris!!!!!!!! I just bought Meze Empyrean+Chord Hugo TT2. You're supposed to give me a "heads up".

Dying to experience these. 

Excellent review. Honestly I want to read superlatives if its warranted.


At least you could still use the great Chord TT2 to feed the required amp for the SR-1a.  😉


- Mark

 

Synology DS916+ > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > Netgear switch > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > dCS Vivaldi Upsampler (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 Dual 110 Ohm AES/EBU > dCS Vivaldi DAC (David Elrod Statement Gold power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > Absolare Passion preamp (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > VTL MB-450 III (Shunyata King Cobra CX power cords) > Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker > Kaiser Kaewero Classic /JL Audio F110 (Wireworld Platinum power cord).

 

Power Conditioning: Entreq Olympus Tellus grounding (AC, preamp and dac) / Shunyata Hydra Triton + Typhoon (Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron umbilical/Shunyata King Cobra CX power cord) > Furutec GTX D-Rhodium AC outlet.

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I think if I bought these I'd get an old Mark Levinson 332 to power these up. something big and bad.


Furutech GTX-D>J River 26>Curious USB>Chord Hugo TT2>Meze Emyrean Copper Cable>Meze Empyrean Headphones>my ears>audiophile brain

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I had my pair for about a week.  They were awesome, just as Chris reviews.  But the dynamics that Chris notes towards the end of his review were too much for me--the speed combined with the range was often like an explosion.  I was constantly fidgeting with the volume to avoid a headache, and I thought I would hurt my hearing over time.  It was like owning a Ferrari for a week.

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Really now more than ever think I need to give these headphones another try.  I seem like the only one who didn’t like them on a short initial listen at CanJam NYC with the Schiit amp using the built in dac.  I wonder if my initial unfavorable impression might have heavily been influenced by the dac inside the Schitt amp???  Maybe the amp is good and the dac is so-so (or worse)??  Has anyone listened to these headphones with the Schitt amp using the built in DAC and/or done a comparison using alternate DACs?  

 

I think my use case would likely involve a Hugo2, but it would be interesting to go balanced into the HSA amp (or rca into the Schitt) using a very high quality dac or a set up using high quality tube amps into the amplifier resistance adjustment box.

 

Does anyone know how a potential buyer can get a demo?  Guess I can just email the company in the first instance unless someone knows a quick source (e.g., The Cable Company??).  Plenty of time to test headphones these days 😂


- Mark

 

Synology DS916+ > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > Netgear switch > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > dCS Vivaldi Upsampler (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 Dual 110 Ohm AES/EBU > dCS Vivaldi DAC (David Elrod Statement Gold power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > Absolare Passion preamp (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > VTL MB-450 III (Shunyata King Cobra CX power cords) > Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker > Kaiser Kaewero Classic /JL Audio F110 (Wireworld Platinum power cord).

 

Power Conditioning: Entreq Olympus Tellus grounding (AC, preamp and dac) / Shunyata Hydra Triton + Typhoon (Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron umbilical/Shunyata King Cobra CX power cord) > Furutec GTX D-Rhodium AC outlet.

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9 minutes ago, MarkS said:

Really now more than ever think I need to give these headphones another try.  I seem like the only one who didn’t like them on a short initial listen at CanJam NYC with the Schiit amp using the built in dac.  I wonder if my initial unfavorable impression might have heavily been influenced by the dac inside the Schitt amp???  Maybe the amp is good and the dac is so-so (or worse)??  Has anyone listened to these headphones with the Schitt amp using the built in DAC and/or done a comparison using alternate DACs?  

 

I think my use case would likely involve a Hugo2, but it would be interesting to go balanced into the HSA amp (or rca into the Schitt) using a very high quality dac or a set up using high quality tube amps into the amplifier resistance adjustment box.

 

Does anyone know how a potential buyer can get a demo?  Guess I can just email the company in the first instance unless someone knows a quick source (e.g., The Cable Company??).  Plenty of time to test headphones these days 😂

Listening to them now as I type this. Using the same APL DSD-SR DAC that I used for much of this review and the Schiit Jotunheim R headphone amp. The Schiit amp I received doesn't have an internal DAC. I can say that the sound is very good and nothing like your experience at CanJam NYC. Sure, it's a bit different without the built-in DAC, but the major difference is likely the environment.

 

I'm going balanced out from the DAC to the JR amp. All powered via 512 Engineering transformer. 

 

Getting a good demo is difficult during normal times, but now you're kind of on your own. Have to hope someone will ship to you and accept the risk of having it turned into B-stock if you don't like it. 

 

As much as we want to listen to flagship headphones, DACs, and amps at an audio show, and get results that mean something outside the show, the environment just isn't like our homes. it leads us to conclusions that may not be valid outside show conditions. 

 

I've long thought that CanJam exhibitors should contract with a soundproof booth company to bring in a bunch of booths to use as listening stations. I've taken a couple hearing tests in these booths over the years at audiologist's offices. They are great and really keep out the noise. There are portable versions as well. not sure if it makes financial sense, but it would certainly lead to great demonstrations of their gear. 


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16 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Listening to them now as I type this. Using the same APL DSD-SR DAC that I used for much of this review and the Schiit Jotunheim R headphone amp. The Schiit amp I received doesn't have an internal DAC. I can say that the sound is very good and nothing like your experience at CanJam NYC. Sure, it's a bit different without the built-in DAC, but the major difference is likely the environment.

 

I'm going balanced out from the DAC to the JR amp. All powered via 512 Engineering transformer. 

 

Getting a good demo is difficult during normal times, but now you're kind of on your own. Have to hope someone will ship to you and accept the risk of having it turned into B-stock if you don't like it. 

 

As much as we want to listen to flagship headphones, DACs, and amps at an audio show, and get results that mean something outside the show, the environment just isn't like our homes. it leads us to conclusions that may not be valid outside show conditions. 

 

I've long thought that CanJam exhibitors should contract with a soundproof booth company to bring in a bunch of booths to use as listening stations. I've taken a couple hearing tests in these booths over the years at audiologist's offices. They are great and really keep out the noise. There are portable versions as well. not sure if it makes financial sense, but it would certainly lead to great demonstrations of their gear. 

 

I am sure you are correct on the demo.  Incidentally, I did reach a dealer within 1.5 hours of NYC (my home), and can likely demo in a few months (Covid issue) with the Schitt amp, then sometime thereafter with the HSA-1a, which the dealer anticipates ultimately having in store.  I’ve done a lot of reading since your review, and folks who own the HSA-1a speak very favorably about it as exceeding other amps (with and without the impedance box) by a substantial margin.

 

I am also interested in effecting some EQ for low bass and sub bass frequencies, which seems to work with these headphones. Aside from Roon and HQ Player, I am not sure how to do that, which is not ideal for me because I would be using this setup with a transportable rig (Hugo2 and 2Go as source) so no Roon server and no computer to run HQ Player.  Any ideas??

 

Bottom line is that if these things made you like headphones, they must be good 😂


- Mark

 

Synology DS916+ > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > Netgear switch > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > dCS Vivaldi Upsampler (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 Dual 110 Ohm AES/EBU > dCS Vivaldi DAC (David Elrod Statement Gold power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > Absolare Passion preamp (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > VTL MB-450 III (Shunyata King Cobra CX power cords) > Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker > Kaiser Kaewero Classic /JL Audio F110 (Wireworld Platinum power cord).

 

Power Conditioning: Entreq Olympus Tellus grounding (AC, preamp and dac) / Shunyata Hydra Triton + Typhoon (Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron umbilical/Shunyata King Cobra CX power cord) > Furutec GTX D-Rhodium AC outlet.

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On 5/3/2020 at 5:13 PM, MarkS said:


what dac will you be using to feed the HSA amp?

MSB Select II DAC, with dual power supplies and the Femto 33 Clock


Music Sever - Taiko Extreme, (4 sale Aurender W20 MQA) 

DAC's - MSB Select II + Femto 33 Clock + Dual power supplies + Pro USB Module

Amp's - Raal HSA-1aMSB Reference HP Amp, MSB Select Estat Headphone Amp Woo 234 Mono's Elite, Takatsuki 300B, 274B

Headphones - Raal Requisite sr1a, MySphere 3.2, Kennerton Thror's, Stax SR-009 & 009S, Sony MRD-Z1, Abyss Phi TC, Audeze LCD-4, 24 & 4Z, Focal Utopia, HiFiMan Susvara

Cables - DHC OPUS HP, Stage III Gorgon XLR's + Xphynx USB

Power - Shunyata Triton V3 & Typhon QR + Sigma PC's Isolation - HRS SXR Ref Stand + MX3R Isolation Bases

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I recently received a pair along with the Jot R amp and they are a revelation! I absolutely love them and they are addicting in a way. There are still times when I prefer the Meze Empyreans, because the SR1a earspeakers require your attention at all times, but most of the time it's the SR1as. They are so transparent and so musical; a clear window into the performance and instruments. 

 

They might replace my speaker listening when I really want to listen to music because my room is not optimized. With the RAALs I just sit down, put on the music (Roon) and go. Deep bass is the only thing lacking (i.e. Daft Punk), but otherwise bass is clear and fast and real. My Harbeth P3ESRs also can't go deep, but they are musical in a similar way. 

 

I read another review that included a prototype Jot which they described as "brittle" sounding at times. I have only heard the RAALs on the Jot R and I'm curious top hear other impressions vs amps. I can only imagine that introducing the "middle man" converter would take a slight edge off of transparency, but perhaps better amps have their own qualities that are appealing. 

 

Like I said, a revelation! There's no going back. 

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How many “stars” were awarded by the reviewer, 4 or 5?  The qualitative comments suggest the latter, but the header only shows four  s...

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3 hours ago, Quadiffusor HK said:

How many “stars” were awarded by the reviewer, 4 or 5?  The qualitative comments suggest the latter, but the header only shows four  s...

The header accepts votes from anyone scoring the review. I know this is confusing. I would’ve given these 6 stars if possible. 


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It would be good to get an indication as to how far away one needs to be to not hear the "leaked sound" from SR1a played at normal listening levels. (I am considering these for late night lightening when cranking up the speakers will disturb the family. The plan is to set-up in a separate room, with a closed door, which would be several metres from the nearest bedroom.)

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3 hours ago, aps said:

It would be good to get an indication as to how far away one needs to be to not hear the "leaked sound" from SR1a played at normal listening levels. (I am considering these for late night lightening when cranking up the speakers will disturb the family. The plan is to set-up in a separate room, with a closed door, which would be several metres from the nearest bedroom.)

Is there a standard measurement for this? Something like dB at X meters + construction materials :~)


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Question for Chris, have you heard the MySphere headphones paired with a fairly first-class amplifier (like, Pass Labs HPA-1 or Apex Teton or MicroZOTL MZ3)?  

 

As for leakage, I had the MySphere headphones for a week and totally loved them; the only reason I haven't bought them is I would like to hear the Raals (with superior amplification) and then "jump in", one way or the other (super nice amp that will power other headphones too vs. direct drive amp which, like electrostatic amps, are good for one thing and one thing only).  With the SR-1a headphones, it seems any amplifier paired with the interface box can be bad, good, or great - but not "best".  Even spending $20K on (for example, Spectral) amplification (and pre-amplification) doesn't seem to allow the headphones to out-perform a Raal powered by the reasonably priced Jot-R.  I could be wrong, but my thought is: Until the HSA-1a becomes available, perhaps no one has a clue yet just how good these headphones can be.  (Is there really an HSA-1a in the wild yet?)  Several reviewers whose opinions I respect think the Raal headphones have no peer, and many of these haven't heard the SR-1a headphones with the Jot-R (and maybe none have heard them with the HSA-1a).   I DIGRESS, sorry.

 

On Topic: Leakage.   At the same db/listening level, I'd suggest the difference between leakage while listening with the MySpheres vs the Raals would be none, none at all.  As in: Each will leak sound about as much as any headphone can!  When I was enjoying the MySpheres, I found simply closing the door to my study was sufficient to keep any unwanted outside noise out, and whatever music I was listening to, in.  At the very worst, one might choose to put a rolled-up towel up against the bottom of their door to the outside world/house, because of the, normally, 1/2" to 3/4" gap between a door and the floor.  After doing this, I'd think a person in an adjacent room might remotely possibly be able to hear something faint, in the middle of the night, when all else is perfectly quiet.  Maybe.  More than one room away, with the towel if necessary, I'd be shocked if at louder-than-anyone-should-listen levels anyone trying to sleep would possibly have any clue that someone else was listening to music.  After listening for a while and realizing a utilization of the towel would be best, the cost to put on a mostly soundproof threshold might run you $30 to $70; a small price to pay for convenience if it would be compatible with your door/floor surface.


Who would have thought Idiocracy would turn out to be a documentary!?

 

Mapleshade Samson V.5 equipment rack, 4" maple platforms and brass vibration isolation, DH Labs 12ga Silver Sonic Power Plus dedicated power line, IsoTek Sirius EVO3 Power Conditioner, EtherREGEN, CAT8 Supra Ethernet cables, Linn Genki CD player (transport), Cary DMS-550 streamer/DAC, Pass Labs HPA-1 amplifier, Mr. Speakers Ether2 headphones, various Omega-Micro analog and digital interconnects and power cords. 

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2 minutes ago, DelsFan said:

With the SR-1a headphones, it seems any amplifier paired with the interface box can be bad, good, or great - but not "best".  Even spending $20K on (for example, Spectral) amplification (and pre-amplification) doesn't seem to allow the headphones to out-perform a Raal powered by the reasonably priced Jot-R. 

Not my experience. 


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1 hour ago, DelsFan said:

Question for Chris, have you heard the MySphere headphones paired with a fairly first-class amplifier (like, Pass Labs HPA-1 or Apex Teton or MicroZOTL MZ3)?  

 

As for leakage, I had the MySphere headphones for a week and totally loved them; the only reason I haven't bought them is I would like to hear the Raals (with superior amplification) and then "jump in", one way or the other (super nice amp that will power other headphones too vs. direct drive amp which, like electrostatic amps, are good for one thing and one thing only).  With the SR-1a headphones, it seems any amplifier paired with the interface box can be bad, good, or great - but not "best".  Even spending $20K on (for example, Spectral) amplification (and pre-amplification) doesn't seem to allow the headphones to out-perform a Raal powered by the reasonably priced Jot-R.  I could be wrong, but my thought is: Until the HSA-1a becomes available, perhaps no one has a clue yet just how good these headphones can be.  (Is there really an HSA-1a in the wild yet?)  Several reviewers whose opinions I respect think the Raal headphones have no peer, and many of these haven't heard the SR-1a headphones with the Jot-R (and maybe none have heard them with the HSA-1a).   I DIGRESS, sorry.

 

On Topic: Leakage.   At the same db/listening level, I'd suggest the difference between leakage while listening with the MySpheres vs the Raals would be none, none at all.  As in: Each will leak sound about as much as any headphone can!  When I was enjoying the MySpheres, I found simply closing the door to my study was sufficient to keep any unwanted outside noise out, and whatever music I was listening to, in.  At the very worst, one might choose to put a rolled-up towel up against the bottom of their door to the outside world/house, because of the, normally, 1/2" to 3/4" gap between a door and the floor.  After doing this, I'd think a person in an adjacent room might remotely possibly be able to hear something faint, in the middle of the night, when all else is perfectly quiet.  Maybe.  More than one room away, with the towel if necessary, I'd be shocked if at louder-than-anyone-should-listen levels anyone trying to sleep would possibly have any clue that someone else was listening to music.  After listening for a while and realizing a utilization of the towel would be best, the cost to put on a mostly soundproof threshold might run you $30 to $70; a small price to pay for convenience if it would be compatible with your door/floor surface.

Ok I’m back. Had to run earlier. 
 

I haven’t heard the MySphere yet, but am interested. 
 

WRT leakage, I’m in agreement. 
 

I have the JR as well as the interface box and some very good amps. The experience is different with each solution. The JR is certainly the simplest but that doesn’t mean everyone will like its sound the best. My full review is coming soon. 


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