Review: RAAL 70-10 Speaker

Category: Speakers

I own RAAL 70-10 (silver/gold wire) for several years now.

To put it short, this is the best tweeter I have ever heard. It replaced Scanspeak silk tweeter in my speakers (Silverline Sinfonia).
I was sceptical about getting pure ribbon tweter, because of possible negative spatial distribution usually connected with ribbons. After seriously considering many possible alternatives to Scanspeak, it came down to either ribbon or ceramic dome. Now I am glad I chose ribbon.

The sound?

First of all, speed. Everything else now seems slow in comparison. It is not that kind of difference that makes other tweeters sound bad, but it is very noticeable, even in normal listening, without direct comparison. I have 3 systems, the referent one (with RAAL), office system, and car system. Other tweeters are not slow (DALI hybrid, also with ribbon in office, and silk dome in car-the slowest one (but not slow)), but RAAL stands out in speed easily. I have a feeling like every metal cymbal, regardless of how fast played by a drummer, is easily heard and distinguished from other cymbals. Also, every touch of stick and cymbal is heard exactly like it was played.
With a silk dome, sometimes very fast cymbal strikes appear non-separated, like more or less constant cymbal metal background. With DALI, this is lot less obvious, but it is still present.
Not with RAAL. With RAAL, it is all separated notes (whenever it is separated in a recording). It seems like there is no limit to the speed of RAAL, everything it does sounds easy, effortless and fast. Oh, so fast...

Another great improvement after addition of 70-10 was in high-tone extension. I don't know how much of the 100kHz range of 70-10 we can actually hear, or can we at all, but RAAL seems to go high, really high. I only heard similar extension once in my life, with a horned tweeter powered by 1-watt separated SET amplifier. It is from my memory, so there is no A-B direct comparison, but I remember I was impressed when I heard that horned tweeter, although I still have a feeling RAAL is even more extended.

Overall, I am really impressed with 70-10. It was worth the money (it doesn't come cheap).
I deliberately don't write anything about any product, until I have lived with it for minimum of 6 months.
RAAL I have for more than 6-7 years now. It is very high-quality made, extremely reliable and it does what it is supposed to do.
Another positive thing about it, it comes with 4 small pieces of "sponge" which can be used to cover up a part of the ribbon, so it radiates sound from smaller surface. This improves horizontal sound distribution (in my system, no problems at all even before the "sponges"), and also lowers the total sound output. So 92 dB RAAL can be paired with, for instance, 90dB midrange dome.
That is exactly how I use it, with Sinfonia's original 2 inch midrange LPG (Visaton) dome. Together they sound amazing.

Now I will try to answer the questions which Audiogon wants to have answered in every review:

My musical taste - mostly hard rock/heavy metal, and jazz recordings. Also female vocals, Diana Krall, Patricia Barber etc.
Test recordings :
Diana Krall - "Girl in the Other Room" (SACD .iso file)
Patricia Barber - all SACD titles
Manowar - Armor of the Gods (drum solo from "The Triumph of Steel") ,CD.
Many other titles, too much to mention.

Most important aspects of sound for me are naturalness, frequency balance, extension, speed, space..
I don't like digital harshness in a system, or too much of anything.

Strengths : Speed, extension, clarity, accuracy, and still natural sounding despite it's made of metal.

Weaknesses : Make sure it fits in your speaker or project, specifications need to match. Think in advance, sensitivity and resistance of other drivers are very important.

One most common weakness of any ribbon is bad horizontal sound distribution.
However, in my system, it works together with 2" LPG textile dome.I haven't noticed any problems with this. I searched for it, in many listening sessions, but it simply does not exist here.
I usually hear very well, and most problems in most systems I hear within 5 minutes. On few occasions, I have heard ribbons displaying bad horizontal sound distribution.. It's very easy to hear.
In my system, I can not hear any problems with horizontal sound distribution.At all.
I think I just got lucky, because these 2 drivers work very well together. I think RAAL provides speed and extension, and LPG provides spatial distribution. Anyway, this is pure luck, not my smart forward thinking.

If money was no object, would I still own this?
Yes. Money was no object when I chose it.
Have you heard any berillyum speaker? If so how would you compare sonically?
Sorry about the late reply, alfau7.
Yes, I have. Focal, small (bookshelf) and a floorstander Focal also, but not sure about the exact model.
I like beryllium tweeter, it can sound silky and smooth with a right setup. It is a good tweeter, but it is slower than RAAL.
I would say that RAAL is faster and more realistic, more suitable for high-end. Beryllium is a bit smoother.