Raal SR1a vs LB MySphere 3.2

I have been doing a lot of listening of two “earfield monitor” headphone systems from Roon: Tidal Masters and Qobuz Hi-Rez

Roon Nucleus > via CAT6 > dCS Bartok/amp > LB Mysphere 3.2
and
Roon Nucleus > via CAT6 > dCS Bartok > Raal HSA1b > SR728 cable > SR1a

I include the complete chain because I have found that it can make a significant difference.

These are two amazing units, each with its own strengths.

  • The Raal stack offers the best reproduction, soundstage, slam, detail, perfect instrument placement, and is probably the most accurate in producing that 3D “lifelike presentation” as if you were in the room with the performers

  • The MySphere 3.2 has everything the Raal stack offers, but with somewhat less impactful presentation, particularly in the bass and sub-bass ranges.

I judge a lot about a system by ear-time; which one do I reach for in a particular situation?

I often listen to music at my desk, for hours on end. For those times, I choose the milder presentation of the MySphere 3.2 which delivers incredible enjoyment for the duration.

But there are times where I want to really drop into a space of deep musical appreciation. That’s where the Raal SR1a/HSA1b combination shines. To me, it is like drinking a really fine wine; I can fully appreciate it in moderation. This effort takes a lot of brain cycles to appreciate every nuance in the musical presentation, and can get tiring after a long session.

So the answer is: I love each of them, but for different listening situations.

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Which ear-cushions do you have on your MySphere 3.2?

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I’ve been interested in this evaluation, and is high praise for the MySphere especially.

I read that as the MySphere is like a Grand Cru and the SR1a is like a Grand Cru from a superlative vintage.

Do you opt to use EQ for either of them?

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I have the “Standard” Ear Cushions. They also offer “Transparent” and “Bass” ear cushions, but I haven’t tried them as yet. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

They also offer an assortment of cables, but I don’t know if they would have any substantial effect on the sound.

MySphere Accessories

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Yes, I am using the following EQ settings in Roon:

Raal Requisite SR1a:

MySphere 3.2

However, I am not completely sold on using equalization. Perhaps I am not a total devotee of the Harmon Curve. The fact of the matter is that the original recording and mastering process makes the greatest difference of all.

But am using a bit of CrossFeed (Jan Meier’s Settings) for the Raal SR1a and/or Expanse 1 or Expanse 2 on the MySphere 3.2 in the DSC Bartok with headphone amp.

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Got it, thanks. I reference the AutoEQ settings also and am not a devotee.

I do have a Schiit Loki EQ (4 knob device) where I tend to have 1 setting per headphone (that I adjust by ear and “blind”), and then I don’t adjust it for the duration of the session (unless necessary, which is rare). I guess I could have opted to get different types of cables.

I wholeheartedly agree.

I’ll write more later, but I have the “Standard” cushions (since they come with the set) and the “Bass” set (purchased later; I think they ran €430).

The “Bass” set only make a difference if you have the SoundFrames turned right in against your ears, otherwise they tend to sound like the “Standard” set. But that difference is marked, and removes the need for any low-shelf EQ for music that doesn’t have a natural acoustic (and thereby doesn’t lose anything from not having the frames set wider).

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Nice comparison. The mysphere is a bit of a forgotten headphone since the RAAL appeared and maybe it shouldn’t be.

Good for you.

For reference, what’s the Bartok’s tonality as a dac or dac/amp?

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It’s the closest one can get to the SR1a’s presentation without needing special amplifier accommodations. Though the MySphere is a lot less adaptable in terms of fit (there are some options there).

There is a lot to be said for an N8, SP2000 or Hugo2 driving the MySphere in (trans)portable scenarios too.

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That’s the most intriguing factor.

I should look into it again. Been awhile since it crossed my mind.

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They are worth the €100 fee for a full audition set (both 3.1 and 3.2 sound frames, and all cable options). You will definitely want to compare both 3.1 and 3.2 with the amps you intend to drive them with!

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I think that Tone magazine’s review says it well:

"dCS does an outstanding job at presenting music with a tonality that is dead center in the middle of the scale. Their products (and the Bartok is no exception) are neither warm and romantic nor overly bright, bleached or harsh. Hitting the tonality bullseye is tougher than it sounds, but they manage to pull it off every time."

I would very much agree. It always seems to hit the sweet spot of audio enjoyment, without calling attention to itself.

Tone Magazine: dCS Bartok Review

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It took me a while to figure it out, but your post about how you made it fit was very helpful. Now I just pick it up and place it on my head, fitting perfectly.

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I recall you mentioning the audition fee in the past. It is something for me to definitely keep in mind. I’ll have to see how it might fit with my current headphone lineup.

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I received the following note from Heinz Renner of LB Acoustics (MySphere manufacturer).

  • “I agree to your impressions, but you should really try the bass cushions as well especially when listening to modern electronic music.”

So based on your recommendation (and Heinz’a), I will order the bass cushions. Thanks!

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