Raal 1995 introduces high-end ribbon headphones
Serbian manufacturer Raal is presenting two brand new headphones with outstanding features. A new brand was even founded for this purpose: The two new headphones, which go by the names IMMANIS and MAGNA, are available under the “Raal 1995” label.
The Ribbon Thing
As with the Raal SR1a, the underlying technology is based on “True Ribbon” technology, but has been further perfected and now enables a classic headphone design – without the drivers floating in front of the ear, but with conventional ear pads.
Ribbon earphones, such as the SR1a, offer a unique sound experience thanks to their entire conductive aluminum ribbon without a separate voice coil. The original challenge of increasing the impedance was solved with special amplifiers. Unlike conventional headphones, ribbons produce deep bass without proximity reflections (because there is nothing in front of and/or behind the driver) and offer impressive dynamics. The next generation, represented by models such as Magna and Immanis, could further intensify these special features.
Raal refers to its speakers as “true ribbon”, thus differentiating them from other manufacturers who also refer to their technology as “ribbon”. However, in contrast to Raal’s technology, these do not usually use truly free-hanging ribbons, but instead use additional voice coils and magnets in front of and/or behind the ribbon and not just on the sides.
Design & Construction
The design of the new models offers an alternative to the steampunk elements of the SR1 and the DIY aesthetic of the CA-1a. Nevertheless, the sound characteristics remain extremely open, with an even better bass.
The Magna weighs 530 g and is made of a 10 cm diameter fiberglass-aluminum composite with a hard-waxed American walnut veneer and anodized finish. The grille is made of etched 3-phase stainless steel, the bridge of titanium aluminum nitride and brushed stainless steel. The skin side of the headband is padded with suede, and the click-stop height adjuster has five levels. The ear pads are made of memory foam, covered with lamb suede on the inside and perforated leather on the outside. The round ear pad opening is 64 mm. The input connections are 3.5 mm TRRS sockets. The twin ribbons are made of corrugated aluminum with a viscous damping skin made of “Silent Metal”, the combined surface area is 16.8 cm². The excursion potential is ±4 mm, the maximum sound pressure level is 115 dB and the impedance is 0.038Ω (0.27Ω with the 1.8 m long S2 headphone cable with XLR4 socket).
The three Immanis ribbons increase the surface area to 25.2 cm², the shell diameter to 11 cm and the impedance to 0.057Ω (0.29Ω with the 1.8 m long Star-8 MkII headphone cable). The maximum sound pressure level increases by 3 dB, the round ear cup opening increases to 74 mm, and the weight to 610 g. The grill is now gold-plated. In comparison, the Magna ribbons have almost 29% more surface area than the CA-1 driver, while the Immanis ribbons are almost twice the surface area of the CA-1 and 1.45 times larger than the SR1. Between them, Immanis offers 50% more surface area than Magna and has a larger front chamber. There are also differences in bridge details, headband stitching and supplied cables.
The interface, designed in the style of a headphone stand, includes a toroidal transformer that converts a voltage-controlled amplifier output into a current-controlled signal for the ribbons. Compatible amplifiers should have a low output impedance of less than 10mV DC offset and are now loaded with 32Ω (8Ω/16Ω on request). The single impedance interface aims to ensure compatibility with different headfi amplifiers. Compared to older models, Magna requires only 2.4 watts and Immanis only 1.5 watts, allowing for higher efficiency and wider compatibility. Suitable amplifiers, such as the Auris Headonia 10th Anniversary 300B or the Trafomatic Primavera with SV811-10, provide full power to the interface. The 100% conductivity of the ribbons allows precise control over the entire cone, resulting in fast response and impressive dynamics. The Xmax of ±4mm for the Raal 1995 foils is exceptional for headphone drivers. The SPL capability of 115/118 dB for Magna/Immanis disproves the stereotype of fragile ribbons and underlines the performance of these Serbian ribbon headphones, both for consumer and professional applications. The curated amplifiers, including the new Auris amplifier, provide the necessary power and compatibility for the interface.
At this point, let’s hear from the developer and founder of Raal 1995. We asked him about the two new developments in a short Q&A:
Q&A with Developer Aleksandar Radisavljevic
Q: Alex, headphone aficionados know you from Raal requisite. Now Raal 1995. Tell us the story behind.
A: RAAL-requisite introduced the true-ribbon technology to headphones, pioneering its way into Head-Fi. Our goal at R-r was to offer great sounding, yet sensibly priced headphones and ancillary parts. RAAL 1995 is here to unleash the full potential of the technology and expand it’s performance to the next level.
Q:The new models look completely different, much more luxurious than the former models, but what’s under the hood? Same stuff, different looks or good news for techies too?
A: The new looks is there to emphasize the refinements in sound quality that new developments bring. Under the hood, everything is new. This is the next generation or ribbon drivers that in certain areas parted ways with the old, but inherited the best features of the previous ones. We now have our new R² and R³ drivers that exploit a new idea that small differences in ribbon segments are benefitial. We tune the segments slightly differently, so they can’t repeat errors in the same way. We call it complimentary tuning. You can’t do that with a single ribbon, or any other single diaphragm, so now we are doubling and tripling them. This not just to get more SPL or sensitivity, the obvious benefits, but to add anothey layer of improvement in sound quality. Imperfections are inevitable. It’s about managing them in a way that doesn’t compromise other areas of sound quality.
Q: The heart and soul of your line-up obviously is ribbons. I was told you have quite a legendary reputation for speaker ribbons too. So the sound we get from these gems is no accident?
A: Well, since my first finished speaker has been publicly shown back in 1995, there was a lot of learning and problem solving that I had to do since. I’ve studies Aplied Physics and Electroacoustics and you can quickly learn the fundamentals of transducers and sound radiation, but in order to make achievements in any field you need to be obsessed with the subject.
I certainly was, so by the time I got to my fifth-gen of ribbon tweeters, I have perfected them enough to feel confident enough to go international with them. To my joy, those tweeters have found their way into several extraordinary loudspeakers of our time. So, yes, there is a large body of work in the world of speakers that brought to this, but this is even more exciting!
We have matured this technology and now is the time to play it against all other technologies. I believe that ribbons are the only thing that can push the boundary further.
Q: In a nutshell, what’s the difference between Manga and Immanis?
A: Magna is the original next-gen ribbon headphone that will showcase the new level of performance, not just in comparion with previous ribbon headphones, but to everything else.
It is a proper TOTL headphone. Immanis adds more of everything, showing that limits can be pushed even further, if there is a will to do it. Breaking the limit is fun. Doing it twice in a row is great fun!
Q: When will you show these gems in public and where are they available?
A: By courtesy of RAAL 1995 distributor for Germany, headphone.shop GmbH, the first public appearance of Magna and Immanis will be at World Of Headphones in Heidelberg on March the 2nd, 2024. I very much look forward to it and I’ll be can’t wait to get there!
Thank you very much, Alex!