The RAAL Requisite SR1a headphone is unlike any pair of headphones I’ve ever seen or heard. Well, maybe not heard, as in the two-channel world RAAL ribbon tweeters are all the rage quite a few loudspeaker manufacturers. The RAAL Requsite SR1a headphones almost deserve a classification all by themselves. They blur the (non-existent) line between headphones and extreme nearfield monitors. I may have just invented that line.
The way the RAAL position on your head, the sound-stage they cast is ghostly big and the lack of internal-can-clutter (yes, I made that up too) is missing, leaving behind a congestion free sound that can’t be equalled with canned or open-back headphones. It’s almost as if these headphones are baffle-less loudspeakers that you wear on your head. Hence my urge to classify them as something else.
What makes the SR1a special? The RAAL driver used in the SR1a is an all-ribbon device and with ample power it moves like lightning. This lightning means bass unlike anything you (or I) have ever heard. A definite must hear set of cans if you have the chance. However, be warned that if you fall hardly for these RAAL cans like I did, the amplification needs are tremendous. The SR1a headphones require a supplied amplifier interface for easier impedance loading, and with that an amplifier capable of over 100-Watts per channel.
During our listening sessions, I saw what looked to be two amplifiers on hand. A Benchmark 100wpc stereo amplifier, and a Bryston 100wpc stereo amplifier. That is some serious high-current power for what is supposed to be headphones. Are the RAAL SR1a’s the best new thing I’ve heard at CanJam? Yes. But maybe even more than anything I’ve heard in the two-channel rooms at audio shows as well.
by Eric Franklin Shook