R-rated: RAAL/Requisite’s SR1a ribbon headphone (€3500) forgoes traditional earcups to hang open-baffled planar-like drivers right next to our ears. Quoting Transmission Audio, via Srajan Ebaen’s KIH take on the RAAL, “a ribbon is a membrane of very thin corrugated aluminium suspended between continuous rows of magnets at its narrow ends only. The true ribbon’s biggest advantage is the absence of an extra membrane or film to which it is attached; and being a singular strip through which the current flows. This makes the ribbon both diaphragm and voice coil.”
To properly drive the SR1a’s current thirsty 0.018 Ohm input impedance, we bypass the usual headphone amplifier to draw greater go-juice via a loudspeaker amplifier: RAAL supply an impedance adapter box that sits between loudspeaker amplifier and headphones so that the former sees a flat 6 Ohm load. A bit of a kerfuffle and potentially not the tidiest desktop solution.
Cutting the proverbial crap from this scenario is California’s Schiit Audio who today announces the immediate availability of the Jason Stoddard-designed Jotunheim R headphone amplifier that puts the requisite impedance adapter and loudspeaker-type amplification inside a single chassis for US$799.
From the press release: “With 13A per channel at clipping, the Jotunheim R delivers the current necessary for ultra-low impedance ribbon headphones, offering what many listeners have said is superior performance to many high-dollar speaker amplifiers.”
And because the Jotunheim is modular, the Jotunheim’s Mike Moffat designed True Multibit DAC card can be added at time of order for an additional US$200.
More presser info: “Jotunheim R features Schiit’s unique, discrete Nexus™ gain stage, together with an ultra-high-current design and professional-level temperature and overcorrects protection. Switchable baffle compensation ensures compatibility with possible future circumaural ribbon headphones, and switchable passive preamp output offers convenience for integrating with powered monitors.”
A one-box solution where previously we needed two.
The original Jotunheim remains available for owners of conventional dynamic driver or planar-magnetic headphones.
Further information: Schiit Audio
Photo credit: Lee Shelly