One of the most interesting, and unique, recent entrants into the Headphone (RAAL-requisite call them "Earfield™ Monitors) world is the SR1a. They’re the first headphone using a true ribbon-driver (known for being extremely resolving and very fast), which was developed by RAAL, in Serbia - who are probably the most well known, and well regarded, manufacturer of ribbon-drivers for speakers:
To quote RAAL-requisite on the SR1a:
The SR1a by RAAL-requisite is the world’s first Earfield™ Monitor. Experience mixing, mastering, and home listening with unparalleled accuracy and realism in a soundfield devoid of room acoustics and comb-filtering caused by work surface reflections. Earfield™ technology delivers unheard of program accuracy and a speaker-like soundfield experience.
Why is this good, and how/why does it work?
You’ll have to excuse my coarse interpretation of things … you can read up in more detail on their website.
By not using a traditional cup (or baffle), and with the full-range ribbon drivers being held away from the ears, they’re able to bypass a lot of the tuning challenges imposed by both the cup, and the more typical headphone-to-ear driver relationship. At the same time, they’er subjected to the full effects of the external and internal ear structures (which shape frequency and time-domain uniquely - as all our ears are different). The simpler version of which is that they can be tuned to be neutral, and will then be perceived by the listener with the same principal response as a flat-tuned speaker.
There are differences in how the Head-Related Transfer Function works here, as the sound is coming from in front of the ear, not in front of the head, but there is still a natural level of crosstalk between left and right channels, and the result is not only a more natural frequency response, devoid of room interactions, cup interactions and ear-to-driver positioning issues, but also with a much more natural, and dimensional, stage rendering (more depth).
Another unique aspect of these headphones is that they require a proper speaker-amplifier to operate (100w into 8Ω or 150w into 4Ω is the minimum quoted requirement).
The booth for these at CanJam @ RMAF 2018 was perpetually busy. All the listening stations were in use every time I stopped by … so it was pretty clear that interest was very high!
And … this is the spot to discuss them …