Best headphone under 10k$

thomask

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2018
642
515
170
61
Washington State, US
raal-requisite-sr1a-true-ribbon-earfield-headphone-monitors-bloom-audio_1200x1800.jpg

https://www.rivieralabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Review-RAAL-REQUISITE-SR1a-DOC.pdf

The author claimed that Raal Sr1a give more details than Stax 009s.
He prefers Sr1a to Abyss 1266 TC(p13) on overall performance.

“You can argue about the rustic look of the SR1a, but not about the tonal qualities. The SR1a is therefore not only the best headphone I’ve heard to date, but also the new heir to the throne in my personal olymp. He replaces the ABYSS AB1266 PHI TC accordingly and from now on of course takes first place in my TOP10 on Musicalhead. And of course this decision wasn’t easy for me.”

Although, I pulled the trigger for Sr1a early this month, I am out of town travelling in Asia now.
I will find out whether Sr1a give more details than Stax 009s next January after I am back to my home.
 

Gregadd

WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
7,801
506
650
Metro DC
Better than Stax? High praise indeed
.
 
  • Like
Reactions: thomask

thomask

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2018
642
515
170
61
Washington State, US
I received Sr1a on Jan 2nd.



Amplifier with more than 100 Watts for 6 ohm is recommended for Sr1a.

But I started with Marantz PM5003 which got a favorable review from Stereophile.

https://www.stereophile.com/integratedamps/marantz_pm5003_integrated_amplifier/index.html


Even with 50 Watts available at 6 ohm, this one has no difficulty driving Sr1a with crisp high and reasonably tight bass.



But soundstage is not that wide or deep as I had tried with Chord Etude amplifier on last November.



I played "Autumn Leaves" sung by Eva Cassidy, " I am so lonesome tonight" by Elvis Presley

"Sound of the West and William Tell Overture " in Roundup Telarc CD and Schumann Piano Trio played by Pierre Fournier, Henryk Szeying. Arthur Rubinstein.

Also I played some old K pops that I am familiar with.

I used ripped CD's stored in SSD of Cocktail Audio X30 and Dac is Chord Dave and HMS.



Then I played same list of music using Rogue Cronus Magnum II fitted with Nos Telefuken 12Ax7 and Amperex 12Au7 (100Watts for 8 ohm)

Now Sr1a really sings with wide and deep soundstage with more refined treble.

This amp seems to work with Sr1a very well.


Then I moved to Crown XLS 2502 (This one has 775W for 4 ohm ).

I got this one to drive two 18 inch subwoofers of Scaena 3.2 speakers.

Wow this PA amp impressed me with lot of headroom and snappy transient but without hard edge.



Of course, Rogue sounds sweeter than Crown but latter does sound neutral not on the dry side.


I went back to Stax 009s driven by Kgsshv Carbon amplifier to play same list of music for comparison.

Stax give more relaxed and nuanced details although the absolute amount of details are on par with each other.

But Sr1a give much faster and open sound reminding me of Apogee Duetta Sig that I had used from 1989 to 1999.

Soundstage width is similar but Sr1a has an edge on depth of soundstage.

I think Raal Sr1a may be the best headphone under 10K$ overall although Stax 009s is musical with relaxed presentation.


Rogue Apollo monoblocks with 250 watts may work better with Sr1a with more headroom.

Also, Schitt will market "Jotuheim R", the dedicated amp for Sr1a forgoing interface early half of this year.

I will try it out with Sr1a after it is released.
 
Last edited:

Joe P

Well-Known Member
May 11, 2019
300
232
45
40
Even with such rave review, it did not get good response from Head-Fi.org which is the largest headphone community.
I'm very happy with my TIN HIFI T 3s and look foward to getting the T 4s.
 
  • Like
Reactions: thomask

thomask

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2018
642
515
170
61
Washington State, US
https://www.stereophile.com/content/gramophone-dreams-32-raal-requisite-sr1a-headphones-page-2

Nice review on Sr1a by Stereophile's Herb Reichert .

He also made comparison between Abyss 1266 Phi and Sr1a.


Are the $3500 SR1a's better than the $4999 Abyss AB-1266 Phi's?

A: No.

But they are not inferior.

The Abyss AB-1266 Phi's remain my reference headphones. When powered by the Pass Labs XA25 amplifier, the Abyss 'phones deliver the most natural, lifelike audio reproduction I have experienced. The Abyss headphones are also quieter and more transparent than the SR1a's.

The RAAL-Requisites are more conspicuously open and dynamic than the Abyss 'phones. But . . .

Please understand . . . the Abyss and RAAL headphones sound more alike than they sound like any other headphones out there


I got the similar impression between them when I tried them side by side with courtesy of Torq last November.

Abyss sounds more accurate while Sr1a sound more open and exciting.

Herb noticed clipping with Rogue Stereo 100 which I also experienced with Rogue Magnum II while playing full volume of Pink Floyd's Wall.

He must be playing pretty loud since I did not notice clipping very often with Magmum II.

It is too bad he could not try Jot R on it.

Nevertheless Herb gave highest rating A+ on Sr1a.
 

the sound of Tao

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2014
2,617
2,772
565
I received Sr1a on Jan 2nd.



Amplifier with more than 100 Watts for 6 ohm is recommended for Sr1a.

But I started with Marantz PM5003 which got a favorable review from Stereophile.

https://www.stereophile.com/integratedamps/marantz_pm5003_integrated_amplifier/index.html


Even with 50 Watts available at 6 ohm, this one has no difficulty driving Sr1a with crisp high and reasonably tight bass.



But soundstage is not that wide or deep as I had tried with Chord Etude amplifier on last November.



I played "Autumn Leaves" sung by Eva Cassidy, " I am so lonesome tonight" by Elvis Presley

"Sound of the West and William Tell Overture " in Roundup Telarc CD and Schumann Piano Trio played by Pierre Fournier, Henryk Szeying. Arthur Rubinstein.

Also I played some old K pops that I am familiar with.

I used ripped CD's stored in SSD of Cocktail Audio X30 and Dac is Chord Dave and HMS.



Then I played same list of music using Rogue Cronus Magnum II fitted with Nos Telefuken 12Ax7 and Amperex 12Au7 (100Watts for 8 ohm)

Now Sr1a really sings with wide and deep soundstage with more refined treble.

This amp seems to work with Sr1a very well.


Then I moved to Crown XLS 2502 (This one has 775W for 4 ohm ).

I got this one to drive two 18 inch subwoofers of Scaena 3.2 speakers.

Wow this PA amp impressed me with lot of headroom and snappy transient but without hard edge.



Of course, Rogue sounds sweeter than Crown but latter does sound neutral not on the dry side.


I went back to Stax 009s driven by Kgsshv Carbon amplifier to play same list of music for comparison.

Stax give more relaxed and nuanced details although the absolute amount of details are on par with each other.

But Sr1a give much faster and open sound reminding me of Apogee Duetta Sig that I had used from 1989 to 1999.

Soundstage width is similar but Sr1a has an edge on depth of soundstage.

I think Raal Sr1a may be the best headphone under 10K$ overall although Stax 009s is musical with relaxed presentation.


Rogue Apollo monoblocks with 250 watts may work better with Sr1a with more headroom.

Also, Schitt will market "Jotuheim R", the dedicated amp for Sr1a forgoing interface early half of this year.

I will try it out with Sr1a after it is released.
Congratulations on the new Raals Thomas, fantastic. Will you give the ribbons a try at all with the LM508IA?
 

the sound of Tao

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2014
2,617
2,772
565
No worries, congratulations anyway.
 
  • Like
Reactions: thomask

thomask

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2018
642
515
170
61
Washington State, US
No worries, congratulations anyway.
Thanks a lot for your kind word.

I have had a lot of fun with Stax009s, Sennheiser HD800s and Raal Sr1a during last one year.

But now I am done with it.

It has an advantage of intimacy and playing music while wife sleeping.

But it has a limitation of dynamics compared with speaker.

Sr1a is close to speaker but way short of Lansche 4.1.

No more purchase of headphone.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: the sound of Tao

the sound of Tao

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2014
2,617
2,772
565
Nice conclusion Thomas, you have great speaker setups. Headphones are handy but I figure being handcuffed to a cable is always the downside. I have some Audeze HPs and only use them very, very occasionally.

I think the idea of headphones is for me sometimes more attractive than the reality of headphones... that said you certainly have some of the very best examples of the great headphones available. Awesome.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: thomask

Alrainbow

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2013
1,964
593
370
NYC , USA
I cannot see how a ribbon can approach the speed of an ES.
I can see them bring good. As for power needed. More power can in effect achieve a faster dynamic response I feel.
Having planners , diaphragm, and stats each have there sound. But an stat has the least sound of its own. i don’t feel there is any headphone that approaches the space of speakers. Nor do they excite me as my massive IRS do , but they are a good tool to know what’s going on in odd sounds in some recordings.
Of all the headphone the abyss for me seem very neutral. But I do like some color in my sound. I think the abyss even shows some color in my stax 009. but in absolute speed and details I feel stax 009 rules.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Uk Paul

thomask

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2018
642
515
170
61
Washington State, US
I cannot see how a ribbon can approach the speed of an ES.
I can see them bring good. As for power needed. More power can in effect achieve a faster dynamic response I feel.

In reality regardless of theoretical consideration, I am getting the impression that Sr1a(ribbon driver) has more speed than Stax 009s(ES).

On retrospect, Apogee Duetta Sig had more speed than Martin Logan CLS.

Thus I chose the former about 30 years ago.
 
  • Like
Reactions: the sound of Tao

Alrainbow

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2013
1,964
593
370
NYC , USA
You maybe correct and as I have not heard them I cannot comment on facts only my speculations thus far. I’m looking to see in the Tri state who has them to hear
 
  • Like
Reactions: thomask

Alrainbow

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2013
1,964
593
370
NYC , USA
Yes I agree to this. As I have ribbons the speed is very apparent to my stax. They do look awesome
 
  • Like
Reactions: thomask

thomask

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2018
642
515
170
61
Washington State, US
Yes I agree to this. As I have ribbons the speed is very apparent to my stax. They do look awesome
I just got 600lb (270kg) package of Scaena 3.2 speakers with ribbon drivers yesterday.

But it will take several days to assemble it.

The fastest transient that I had experienced is from my plasma tweeter of Lansche 4.1.
 

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. This is THE place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss vintage, contemporary and new audio products, music servers, music streamers, computer audio, digital-to-analog converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel-to-reel tape machines, speakers, headphones and tube and solid-state amplification. Founded in 2010 What’s Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals, we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people, and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing