I will re-post this final thought on the VM-1a that I posted on head-fi.
The VM-1a and SR1a has been an extraordinary setup for me. It is as good as my 2-channel office system, which I love, and also costs 3x more. I was thinking that the VM-1a + SR1 does not sound like headphones, nor 2-channel. It is a different class of sound. The sound is so thick and incredibly detailed. I tend to open the flaps on the SR1a a bit further out than with my 2-channel amps (AHB2 and KRELL DUO 175XD). The amount of engagement I have with the music (singing, toe tapping, totally distracted from work) is really unsurpassed with the VM-1a + SR1a. I was telling Danny that I spent a long time trying different gear to make my SR1a sound great. I think I reached a great level with my best combo being,
Musetec 005 DAC | CODA 07x preamp | KRELL DUO 175XD | SR1a + silver cable | optical streaming
The new setup I have is about 25% better than my previous reference 2-channel setup.
Benchmark DAC3B | VM-1a | SR1a + silver cable | optical streaming
Recently, I have gotten into the pattern of listening to Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run song to hear the reverb on that track. I had never noticed it until the Mustec 005 DAC | KRELL Duo 175XD | SR1 combo. I knew the song for decades but never knew that reverb was there. When I tried with the Benchmark DAC3B | VM-1a | SR1a I heard that reverb at a higher level of clarity. Today I was listening to the DAC3B | VM-1a | CA and that reverb is even louder than on the SR1a. I believe it is because the CA is closed, and I have the flaps open a bit wide on the SR1a. Nevertheless, I think I can say the CA is incredibly revealing like the SR1a. No fatigue from the listen nor any discomfort. I am wearing reading classes as I listen (no problem, maybe better than the SR1a for that).
The sound on the CA is not as wide nor projected forward in my brain as the SR1a. It is similar to the Meze Empy (with Benchmark HPA4) but the quality of the sound is off the charts better with the CA. The RAAL ribbon is likely making it an unfair fight. I do not like the CA as much as the SR1a because I like the open aspect of the SR1a. However, this CA is a great headphone. I do not love regular headphones, but the CA is heading to highly like level for me. Let me put it this way. If I never heard the SR1a I would say the CA is the best of the limited number of headphones I have ever heard.
I think I will skip doing my work (with the JR) and just listen with the Vm-1a tonight.