RAAL Requisite CA-1a Ribbon Headphone Review

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by purr1n, Dec 26, 2023.

  1. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Any thoughts on the JOT-R [baseline]?

    You're going from DAC -> Head Amp Bal. Out -> TI-1b -> Ribbon HP Out?

    The RAAL website doesn't look like there is a direct purchase option. Any leads on one of them?
     
  2. Rustin Cohle

    Rustin Cohle FKA jazztherapist

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    I reckon there was a run on the Jot-R closeouts on the Schiit site ... I was among that crowd who liked the setup enough to get a backup. Most folks know me here more as a music nerd than a gear aficionado/reviewer, so my lexicon is limited. But I will say that the Jot-R does little to relax the Raal listening experience. It's fairly aggressive in the scheme of amping options and may not be what treble-sensitive folks are looking for. Personally, I can live with a little treble edge because it does showcase the insane detail and transient response, which is why you're buying the Raals to begin with. I had the SR1a and needed a bit more bass and a more traditional fit. The CA1a is not perfect by any stretch (not achievable given the breadth of my tastes), but I have way too much music to keep up with to spend my time cycling through speaker amps etc looking for that better match and constantly being out a bunch of cash. That would be fun, but that's not in this lifetime. The Jot-R is plenty competent IMHO. That being said, I'm building a warmer HP setup for the bedroom for that other experience.

    If anyone has a SR1a or CA1a and is desperate to hear the Jot-R, PM and I'm happy to loan it to any Friends or established Contributors.

     
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  3. nojwe

    nojwe Acquaintance

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    Liked the Jot R, but liked the iFi iCan Pro Signature, which I already had, with the TI-1B a lot more - more plankton, better/wider staging and imaging. Heard good things about the Aegir and came across one for a steal here so grabbed it. The Aegir sounded great - way more controlled sound, more warmth and heft, but still crazy plankton, transients, and resolution.

    I was using the iFi as a pre at this point but found it added some pretty significant hiss to the chain, so I picked up a Freya+. Really thought I’d like the tube stage, but found it to be pretty underwhelming to me. Passive is doing it for me right now.

    I’d be curious to hear impressions on the MJ3 vs Aegir. Based on my reading it looked like the MJ3 was not going to deliver enough power to the transformer interface for more than pretty quiet listening.

    I’ve also had good outcomes with adding a Lokius to the chain. Little bit of a bass shelf, slight ~3k bump and then just a little off the top.
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    That was generally my sense with Jot-R, that the SR-1a lacked plankton from Jot-R. Jot-R was also relentless and didn't do anything to take the hard edge off, which could be good or bad. Basically what @Rustin Cohle said about whether you want it there or not, and that in natural sense that's what a ribbon should be like. Aegir with the passive box was great with the SR-1a and the reason why I recommended the Tyr to @zerodeefex. Tyr has Aegir sensibilities, but with greater refinement and massive explosiveness and control in the lows.

    Will give Aegir a shot with the CA-1a and report back. With the Mjolnir 3, I am running between 12 and 2 o'clock on the volume knob. The CA-1a, as well as many other "power hungry" planar type headphones aren't nearly as horribly power hungry as they claim. I also was thinking the same with using Lokius and bumping up 3kHz, although to be honest, the 3kHz depression doesn't bother me. I don't know why I didn't test it out with the Aegir because that's part of my iFi energizer e-stats rig next to my desk.
     
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  5. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Last edited: Dec 30, 2023
  6. Failed Engineer

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    I found the dac1541 headphone out to TI-1a/b to be a really synergistic pairing as well, better than the JotR with the CA-1a. Timbre was excellent and it did a nice job tempering a little of the brittle nature of the JotR pair while maintaining the character of the headphone.
     
  7. nojwe

    nojwe Acquaintance

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    You know, I forgot to add that tonally it did seem a bit off to me, but Mitch’s filters cleaned that up to my ears. Would love to try the Tyr’s but that’s not in my budget for the foreseeable future and I definitely don’t have space for them on or near my desk.

    Will have to think hard about trying a MJ3…
     
  8. dBel84

    dBel84 Friend

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    Wish there was a way to share the LuFo with you lot, it weighs a friggin ton and I have no doubt that the highly impractical MOVs would break free of their chassis while in transit.

    But it has the voltage swing likely to breath life into these ribbons

    Hopefully they have a pair at Axpona for me to hear.
     
  9. GanGreinke

    GanGreinke Friend

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    The foam on the pads are attached to a thin plastic ring, and the ring clips onto the headphone. While you could just cut all of the foam off of the ring, I wonder how hard it would be to 3D print a ring to allow for the use of conventional pads, like ZMF or Dekoni pads?
     
  10. nojwe

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    Probably a little finicky to measure and get printed well but not impossible. I’d be a little worried about what different size pads may do in terms of fit and alignment against the ear cups and creating weird surfaces/angles that would mess with the sound by creating weird reflections.
     
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    I'm not sure if aftermarket pads would be the answer. Thick well sealed pads will extend bass nicely, but it also seems to kill the transients and make it too normal (as opposed to ribbon).

    In a nutshell:

    Right now, I am really loving the CA-1a with the more open pads and a single ply of TP over the drivers to tame the hard transient edge (preference and I also prefer dark). In fact, the CA-1a has almost replaced the Sennheiser HD600/HD650 and variants. It's like a cross between the HD600/HD650/SR-1a, HD600 lows, lower mids, and highs, HD650 mids and upper-mids, with 85% of the SR-1a's transient response, separation, and detail. A bit cooler and drier than what I am used to, but this is why I've been going with the wetter sounding amps.

    The CA-1a is what people here had been saying about it. A more favorable easy going (lows fill in, depression at 3kHz) tonal signature to SR-1a with the tradeoff of slightly less technical capability. More liquid than SR-1a which is nice. I don't expect all people to like the sound of ribbons, but I do think the CA-1a is worth checking out. It's another tech, like stats, or orthos. I'm smitten with the ribbon stuff because it has the right combinations of attributes. Not as slammy as dynamics or hefty as orthos. Fast like stats, but with stronger harder attacks (maybe too much) and less artificial separation (opinion). Super resolving of details. I expect the CA-1a to be included in my rotation of top headphones. This is a keeper. As I always say, see what reviewers actually use for themselves The SR-1a have been on perma-loan to @zerodeefex as he's got room for the x2 monoblocks for them.

    FWIW, the power demands are not excessive. A very low power Piety (bloom and wet mids) with a cheap classical-sounding R2R type source was sufficient to drive the CA-1a via the TI-1b transformer box with the volume knob cranked up to 80%. Sure, there is a lot better amplification around, but what I'm saying is don't obsess over amplification - and that this is what I would do if I only had $3k to spend on an entire system. (The transducer makes all the difference).

    Anyway, this is going on loaner. I Will set that up in a bit. The is one of those loaners where I will miss sending the gear out.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2024
  12. Orange5o

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    Just to confirm, the LiB was a typo and not a new Yggdrasil flavor, right?
     
  13. internethandle

    internethandle Almost "Made"

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    Yes.
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    LOL, yeah. But knowing Schiit, there probably will be a Less is Better sooner or later.
     
  15. cfisher

    cfisher New

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    Apparently, something new coming from RAAL soon.
     

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  16. haarvi

    haarvi New

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    Going on 20 days later....

    Does anyone know anything about this new ribbon driver?
     
  17. Tchoupitoulas

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    Not particularly, Aleksandar R said on the head-fi thread that he'd provide more info on Feb. 1. The cheaper one has two ribbons, the more expensive one three. The multiple ribbons are designed to complement each other, tuned or designed to counteract or offset the errors in the other (don't ask me how). Both headphones can be driven by the same amps and interfaces as for the SR1a/b and CA-1a, apparently.

    Alas, from the unreadable 6moons site, pricing is said to be 5.7k & 8.6k euros, which would probably translate to somewhere in the region of $6k & $9k+ USD, given the exchange rate and taxes. https://6moons.com/audioreview_articles/raal-1995-magna-immanis/

    I lost interest when I saw they're going for the money-no-object (or more-money-than-sense) crowds with these prices. I'll check them out at CanJam, just out of curiosity.
     
  18. haarvi

    haarvi New

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    Thanks, Tchoupitoulas, for the update.... and the link.
     
  19. Failed Engineer

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    I’m surprised at the pricing given what they accomplished at the prices for their first two efforts, but I am also one of the ones saying the CA1a wouldn’t be out of place as a $4000 headphone. I’m definitely curious about what they are cooking up.

    I’ve also seen speculation that the “naked” pricing will be lower than the $6/9k quoted in the article.
     
  20. JK47

    JK47 Friend

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    BIG thank you to SBAF for putting this on loaner, I've been eyeing this for a while and almost jumped on some of the great deals posted here recently. I was intrigued by the SR1a but it never felt comfortable on my head, even though I dug the sound. The CA1a was a much better fit, but still a lot of room for improvement.

    Pi2AES-> Yggdrasil GS-> Mj3/Gjallhorn-> CA1a

    ...Well I'm glad I didn't purchase a CA1a out of curiosity. I really wanted to like them, but neither set of pads gave me what I wanted. I felt there was too much missing in the upper mid range, B grade LCD2 levels of missing sizzle and snap. It's quite unfortunate because everything under that is really quite good. 80's electro funk like Midnight Star's "Electricity" sounded awesome until the female vocals came in and sounded lost in space, or a maybe a submarine.

    It didn't help I had the Verum 2 on loaner at the same time...

    I rank the CA1a, 3 frosty tallboys out of a six pack. Not horrible, not great, actually had high hopes, but feel let down :(
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2024 at 6:04 PM

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