Best or Most Interesting Speakers

I am starting to think that the best speakers I have ever heard are maybe the RAAL-Requisite SR1a Ear Speakers. The listening experience with these things is incredible. I have some $3k Meze Empy headphones that I really love but the RAAL Sr1a is a totally different animal. The 2 channel like sound right on your ears gives a sound that is so satisfying for someone like me that is room challenged.

I have a 2 channel rig that sounds amazing and maybe better than the RAAL but the RAAL is currently a more interesting listen. The SR1a has uber detail retrieval so that can be a fatiguing sound. The RAAL designer used the Benchmark AHB2 and DAC3 HGC to test and develop the SR1a so I was thinking this is perfect for me since I have an all BM stack.

It turned out that the all BM stack was too fatiguing on the SR1a. However, on my 2 channel system the all BM stack now sounds perfect. The SR1a has so much detail retrieval that fatigue is a problem with the wrong gear pairing.

So here are the things I have tried and learned. I used ROON to stream (using Fibre) and also added some ROON Parametric EQ. The DSP I setup had a slightly lowered treble and I also gave a small boost to the bass. I am waiting on some professionally calibrated DSP for these headphones in the future. I spoke with an engineer about this and he has the SR1a on his road map for DSP using some propriety sauce, I think using Convolution files.

1) The new RAAL-Requiste Silver cable is better than stock cable and you would think would make things even more fatiguing. Not exactly the outcome with all the gear pairings. It was bad with my all BM stack.

2) The RAAL-Requiste HSA-1b headphone amp is excellent with this SR1a. However, it has only 2 source inputs and cannot drive any 2 channel speakers I would be interested in. I cannot rate this yet because I was not able to use XLR sources when I had it in the house. I may try this again in the future.

3) I tried a single AHB2 in an all Benchmark stack was not good, Way too fatiguing even with the DSP enabled.

4) 2 AHB2’s in mono in an all Benchmark stack was not as fatiguing as the single AHB2 but was still a bit fatiguing. The SR1a like a lot of current so maybe that was the reason it was better than a single AHB2. DSP was enabled.

5) 2 AHB2 in mono but this time with the BM DAC3B replaced with the AudioMirror Tubadour III SE DAC (tube). This was not fatiguing at all and sounded very good. It has the uber detail as the DAC3B but softens up the SR1a top end. I tried with and without DSP. I liked both variants but in the future I will likely use DSP with this DAC. I give this combo a 8/10 in terms of sound quality.

6) CODA CSiB integrated Version 1 (first 18 watts in Class A, 150 watts @ 8 Ohm) + Benchmark DAC3B. This is what I was using for a few weeks and it was my best combo until the AMT3SE DAC showed up. There was a tiny bit of fatigue but I was enjoying the heck out of this combo. I give this pairing a 7/10.

7) CODA CSIB + AMT3SE DAC. This was pure perfection. A 10/10 and I crazily sold the CSiB today because I have no more space on m rack for the next integrated that is expected soon.

8) A Krell K-300i is expected soon and it will have 90 watts in Class A and 150 @ 8 Ohm. I hope it is in the class of the CODA.

Whenever I needed to use the RAAL amp interface box I used Audience Conductor SE speaker cable. A long one about 3 meters and then a shorter one about a meter. On the Benchmark AHB2 test I used a 6 foot Benchmark SpeakON speaker cable to the amp interface box. Of course with the RAAL HSA-1b headphone amp I did not use the amp interface box.

Check out these "Ear Speakers" they are something else. They are not like headphones and not like 2 channel. They are sort of in-between the 2. Put in a DAC like the AMT3SE and a clean warmish amp and you are off to the races.
I think the following DACs that I own all sound better than the internal KRELL DAC

- Benchmark DAC3B
- Matrix Audio Mini-i 3 Pro

The internal Krell is good and I would always get it just to get the HDMI parts of that DAC. 
The sale of the CODA fell though so I will now do an extensive test with the Krell to see which one stays  (1 month). I have figured out a way to rearrange my space to accommodate an integrated for both the Thiel CS3.7 and the RAAL SR1a. I know the sound difference with the RAAL SR1a. Now I want to compare with the Thiel. The Benchmark gear will still be the main amps for the Thiel but I will flip them around occasionally with the integrated that stays. The new placement will allow easy switching of amps to the speakers.
My rearranging of my gear turned out better than expected. I can now have 3 sets of amps in this room if I really wanted. Though I will keep only 2. The idea being able to use the Thiel CS3.7 or the RAAL SR1a without having to move any gear. With this new arrangement I can do that. All I need to do is switch speaker wire if I want to toggle the amps hooked to the Thiel.

The all Benchmark system is so unique sounding that it will always stay with me. The interesting thing is that the Benchmark DAC3B with the HPA4 preamp and 2 x AHB2 amps, to the Thiel CS3.7 is not fatiguing at all. Just incredible sound.

However, the minute I put the DAC3B to the CODA CSiB or the Krell K-300i there is some harshness and I can feel with the Thiel and RAAL. I do not understand that but the easy solution is not to pair them up that way.

I took out the DAC3B from the Krell K-300i and now put in the Audio Mirror Tubadour III SE DAC. What a change, so smooth and relaxing. It is a different sound from the Benchmark but something I think I will want long term. Both are not fatiguing. The Krell sound is like butter as I said earlier. Very smooth with more bass impact than the Benchmark. My Benchmark is not really officially rated for my Thiel’s (2 Ohm). I was given some unofficial advice that it would work with the Thiel. It does work really well except for not matching the bass of the Krell.

I am listening to some Suede on the Krell + AMT and it is a brilliant sound. I have about 4 days before the CODA comes back home so I will have a very long listen to this setup. Then I will replace the Krell with the CODA to compare apples-to-apples. Damn this sounds so amazing.
Spent some time listening to the same tracks as I had with the Krell + AMT3SE, but this time with the internal DAC on the Krell using RJ45 Ethernet streaming. The AMT3SE was streamed to using my best fibre optic streaming.

The Internal DAC is rather good with the Thiel CS3.7. I did not care for it as much with the RAAL SRIa. There is a very tiny bit of harshness with the internal DAC that was not there with the AMT3SE but that is really nit picking. I do think the internal DAC sounds better with the Krell than the Benchmark DAC3B did with the Krell. Likely because it is less resolving or some synergy issue. The DAC3B is a better overall DAC. Just doesn't play well as well with my Class amps as the AMT3SE and now the internal DAC in the Krell.

I am very impressed by the Krell and see my self keeping this long term. The lack of a rotary volume control on the Krell is a problem for me. However, with internal DAC the ROON volume control can be adjust the Krell's volume. This is a great feature. There is also the web server built into the Krell to allow some control of the unit by a web client.

Great bass on the Krell. I can see myself using the internal DAC on the Krell over the AMT3SE to free up the AMT3SE for the CODA CSiB. 
In my previous post I meant to say, "Just doesn’t play well as well with my Class A amps as the AMT3SE and now the internal DAC in the Krell.".

Now listening to the same combo as before, Krell + Internal DAC + Thiel CS3.7, but this time streaming with fibre optic into USB instead of Ethernet into RJ45. That trace of harshness is now gone. A very relaxed sound. Sort like the AMT3SE sound which was also tested with fibre streaming.

Fibre streaming is the way of the future. I am steaming from a cheap DELL computer connected by a TP-Link PowerLine adapter in another room. So nothing fancy in the computer streaming department, except the fibre. i do not think I need anything more fancy for the server since I have fibre.