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  • RAAL-requisite SR1a Reviews

       (2 reviews)
    Manufacturer: RAAL-requisite
    Model: SR1a
    Price $: 3499

    True Ribbon™ SR1a.
    The world's first Earfield™ headphone monitor.


    The SR1a by RAAL-requisite is the world's first Earfield™ headphone monitor. Experience mixing, mastering, and home listening with unparalleled accuracy and realism in a soundfield devoid of room acoustics and comb-filtering caused by work surface reflections. Earfield™ technology delivers unheard of program accuracy and a speaker-like soundfield experience.



    Manufacturer's product page: https://raalrequisite.com/sr1a-earfield-monitors/

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       5 of 5 members found this review helpful 5 / 5 members
    One of the virtues of headphones, I'm often told, is that you can easily change one pair out for another for a different sound. Many enthusiasts have preferred headphones for different musical genres, or even different artists. At the low end of the price spectrum, that's a sensible viewpoint. No inexpensive headphone has it all, but some can do some things very well. That needn't be true of all headphones, though, and invariably the models that stand the test of time do so because they refuse to compromise on sound quality. That is where the Raal/Requisite SR1A shines.

    I don't want to give anything up in order to get great bass, holographic voices, huge soundstage, or tonal accuracy. The entire purpose of critical listening is to get as close as possible to the sound in the control room when the mastering engineer steps away from the console. For almost a decade I've relied on the Sennheiser HD800, Stax SR-009, and Focal Utopia to get as close as I could to the sound on the recording, warts and all. I've owned most of their competition, from Audeze LCD4 up to Abyss TC, and not found much that could better those three for accuracy. I love them, and long felt they were end game for me. No longer. Put simply, I don't see myself returning to any of them if I could listen to the Raal instead. There is nothing any of those headphones do this one does not do better.

    Years ago I owned and loved AKG's venerable K1000, but I was always frustrated by the tradeoff between sound stage and bass quantity. The SR1a, while superficially similar, makes a tremendous leap in sound quality by simply including a small pad running along the entire height of the driver and conforming to your face while listening. This pad helps stabilize the headphone when moving your head around, sure, but it serves a more important function. By essentially coupling the driver to your head it dramatically increases the apparent baffle size for the driver, providing you excellent bass that falls off far less when opening the "wings" of the headphone wider. The Jotunheim R amp also includes a "baffle compensation" switch, essentially a bass boost, for use when the drivers are extended further away from the face. This is a nice feature but I'd rather do it in software, where possible.

    The the subjective part, how do they sound, how do they feel, how do they look? They sound unbelievable. An evolutionary leap from anything else I've heard. Obviously you're still playing the same music, but these headphones have an uncanny ability to put each song in its own world. By imparting so very little of their own character, they let each album and track speak for itself, just as it was recorded to do. Each voice and instrument is detailed beyond any other reference point I could name. Listening to headphones is always a very out-of-body experience, with voices appearing as if inside your mind rather than on a conventional "soundstage", but the SR1a brings you several steps closer. Live recordings have identiable height and depth, and studio recordings are immersive in the same kind of way binaural recordings are, with you turning your head at every noise and doubting whether that barking dog is in the song or across the street. It is a near-perfect facsimile of real life, and closer than any other headphone ever made.

    As to feel, it's stellar. They're extremely finnicky to adjust, and I would not be surprised if an eventual V2 of these headphones dispenses with the "handmade belt" height adjustment method they currently rely on, but the frame is extremely light for how bulletproof it feels and the materials are extremely luxurious. Everything that touches your head is beautifully finished leather, and the rest of it is either flawless stainless steel, aluminum, or striking carbon fiber. The only plastic on the headphone itself is the open-cell foam inside the leather head pads, and it's the perfect tool for that job.

    The look is frankly ridiculous, and to anyone else in the room with you they sound as loud as a speakerphone conversation, but you're not wearing these things on the train.

    Raal has been a going concern manufacturing ribbon drivers and loudspeakers since 1995, and I'm confident this will only grow their acclaim. If you have any concerns about buying from a small manufacturer, don't. The Sr1a are bulletproof, you can buy any needed replacement parts directly from the (very responsive) company, and they sound so much better than their competition it's silly. This is the top of the mountain.
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