VM-1a: New RAAL SR1a Headphone amp

I heard the new top of the line RAAL SR1a headphone amp, the VM-1a. To say I was impressed is an understatement. This amp was incredible with the SR1a. I have never heard the SR1a sound so good.

I have been championing the 2-channel approach with the SR1a over the dedicated headphone amp since my 2-channel amps sounded better to me. However. the game is over for my 2-channel amps. I used CODA07x preamp with a CODA #8 amp to drive the SR1a. I also had a Schitt Frey+ preamp and Benchmark AHB2 amp to drive the SR1a. Both systems had a Musetec 005 DAC. I had 2 RAAL amp interface boxes to accomplish this.

The new VM-1a amp will cost $6500, which is nosebleed level for me, but I am selling the CODA #8 amp and Schitt Freya+ preamp to buy the VM-1a. I have a NAD M22 V2 as a backup if I have tube issues with the VM-1a. The NAD is pretty good.

Here is a list of all the 2-channel amps tried with the SR1a.

- Schitt Jotunheim R (dedicated SR1a headphone amp, not 2 channel)

- Benchmark AHB2 stereo and mono
- D-Sonic M3a 800s
- LSA Voyager 350 GAN (modded by EVS)
- Parasound A21+
- NAD M22 V2
- KRELL K-300i integrated amp
- KRELL Duo 175XD
- CODA #8

I will have the KRELL 175XD and NAD M22 V2 left after this purge is completed.




What are you using as a source into the DAC?
Sorry if you've covered this in other threads, you have some nice equipment.

Mr. Curious

I use a Musetec 005 DAC. I tried the Benchmark DAC3B which was not a good match, though works better on my KEF LS50 system. A Topping D90SE was also not a good match. The Gustard X26 Pro and Audio Mirror Tubadour III SE were good matches for the SR1a but, for my tastes, they do not scale to the heights of the Musetec 005.

Someone that knows the SR1a well uses the RME DAC with the SR1a. Mostly for cost reasons but he does like it more that the Benchmark DAC3L he also owns.

I should update the first post by saying that I returned my NAD M22 V2. The AutoStart feature was not working properly with my CODA 07x preamp. Until I get the VM-1a RAAL headphone amp my SR1a setup will be the following:

- Magnum Dynalab MD108T tuner

- Musetec 005 DAC

- CODA 07x preamp


Unfortunately, I cannot use the FrontRow speaker cable, with SpeakON termination, on the KRELL. So, I am leaving some greatness on the cutting room floor. I will be using Audience Conductor SE speaker cable instead. The CODA #8 amp that is now boxed up for sale supports the SpeakON terminated speaker cables. They sound so much better than the Conductor SE that I will have to use.

Now that the NAD M22 V2 is gone, I will also have to unplug the speaker cable from my 2-channel speakers to connect the KRELL to the RAAL amp interface box. It will take me about a year to get the Vm-1a, but the setup I described is amazing, just not the very best.


BTW - it feels good to get rid of gear and downsize my audio gear.

YYZ, you post so much informative info on all your equipment. RAAL should just send you a Vm-1a for a few months review purposes.

I am going through gear faster than that the A’gon guy with the amp thread. Though my objective is to get a few home systems together for long term use. If the VM-1a amp was available last year, I would not have bought 90% of the amps I bought, along with the CODA 07x preamp. It was winding journey but fun to make the SR1a sound great with 2-channel gear, but now it is so easy with the VM-1a and sounds better than my best 2-channel gear.

I actually went to RAAL HQ to get some repair work done last weekend (headphone cable). If all their available VM-1a units weren’t already sold out, I would have been given an amp to take home to try. I am definitely a pied piper with the RAAL SR1a because most people have bad rooms (like me), and families that sleep when you want to listen to tunes (like me). They also dislike headphones (like me). I think that could describe a lot of us here.

Haha, one of those VM-1a amps was actually mine. It's being delivered by FedEx tomorrow courtesy of headamp.com. I'm glad you didn't take that one home. I have a brand-new pair of RAAL SR1a headphones waiting for it,

@willywonka I could not take one home since each one in stock was already sold out. Though Danny does realize that if he did left me take one home to demo I would buy it. He wrapped me up into the RAAL ecosystem by letting me demo the SR1a for months.

I have the money today to buy the VM-1a but I decided to invest that money, At the end of this year is when I will order the VM-1a.

My CODA #8 | CODA 07x | Musetec 005 is like a 9/10 on the SR1a. Really incredible and the best I had heard until the VM-1a which is a 10/10.  Congrats, on your new setup. It is incredible, just look out for the reviews which will be glowing.

The amp was delivered today. I wrote up some initial observations over at Head-Fi forums. I have to get better associated equipment before I make any real statements about sound, and I should have that in place in about a month or so. I was very disappointed that this amp shipped with JJ EL34 tubes instead of the Mullards that were in the amp at CanJam. I would think that for $6500 they wouldn’t have cheaped out on tubes although, I don’t know for sure if the Mullards were put in by Headamp or if they were original.

@willywonka When I spoke with Danny at his office he told me he went through a lot of tube combo's and the tubes he was selling the VM-1a with were the best for his ears. Now I have no clue about tubes and I was conflicted about waiting on buying the VM-1a because of potential tube shortages with the Russian war. I would rather have an expert pick out the tubes for me.

The point is mute now because I spent the VM-1a money ($6.5k) on magic beans this morning. I now have to wait now for a while before I can consider the VM-1a

Which one of the JJ EL34 or Mullards is Russian? Danny liked the Russian one. 

JJ tubes are made in Slovakia. Mullard tubes are made in Russia. BTW Danny said the same thing to me on a previous conversation.