GRADO RA-1 HEADPHONE AMP (BATTERY POWERED)
From Cnet Review
We're going to let you in on a secret: the headphone amplifiers built into most A/V receivers deliver only so-so sound quality. Brooklyn's premier headphone manufacturer, Grado, has a solution: a dedicated high-performance headphone amplifier, the RA1. The amplifier's electronics are discreetly housed in a solid, real mahogany cabinet fitted with an aluminum volume-control knob. The device is blessedly simple to use: connect it to an audio source, turn it on, plug in a pair of headphones, and adjust the volume level. That's it.
With measurements of 5 inches wide, 5.5 inches deep, and 1.5 inches high, the RA1 is tiny enough to fit anywhere. It weighs just 12 ounces. Connectivity is restricted to a pair of RCA analog line-level inputs and one 1/4-inch headphone jack. Buy a Y cable, and your RA1 will drive two sets of headphones; likewise, an 1/8-inch adapter (also not included) can be used to connect standard minijack-equipped headphones.
To assess the sound, we compared the RA1 to the headphone jack in our old $1,500 Pioneer VSX-27TX receiver using our headphones. The Pioneer actually sounds pretty good on its own, but on the Ladykillers CD soundtrack, the RA1 clearly delivered deeper, better-defined bass, and the gospel singers sounded more natural. Switching back and forth, the Pioneer consistently sounded harsher, brighter, and more aggressive.
On DVDs such as The Matrix Reloaded, the differences between the Pioneer and the Grado were less obvious, but for audiophiles who crave the best sound, the RA1's greater clarity will add a new dimension to the listening experience. To put it another way, the RA1 made the Grado SR125 headphones sound like more-expensive headphones.
We noted two small snags with the RA1: Even with its volume control turned up all the way, it wouldn't play all that loud with other brands of headphones. Our Sennheiser HD-580 and Ultrasone HFI-2000 headphones never made it past moderately loud. That's why Grado introduced a "high-gain" model, the RA1-HG ($425), for use with other brands of headphones. Second: When the amp is turned on or off, you'll hear a pop sound through the headphones. We got around that problem by removing the headphones from our head when we switched the amp on or off.
The Grado RA1 is a welcome addition to any listening station, but even the battery-powered version is a bit hefty for toting around. Listeners on the go can opt for HeadRoom's or headphone amps instead--both are more affordable and portable than Grado's luxurious offering.
From LP Gear Review
GRADO RA-1 RA 1 RA1 HEADPHONE AMPLIFIER BATTERY POWERED
By eliminating AC interference, the battery powered Grado Reference RA1 Headphone Amplifier is designed for state-of-the-art performance specifically to play Grados. It will allow you to hear your Grado headphones like never before. Just like all Grados, the RA1 sounds warm, smooth, full-bodied, rich and non-fatiguing. The amplifier offers 40 to 50 hours of rediscovery and pure listening pleasure.
- Power: Two 9-volt batteries
- Color: Mahogany
- Dimensions: 1.5"h x 5"w x 5.5"d
- Input: RCA (Pr)
- Output: 1/4" headphone jack
- Input impedance: 100k ohms
- Output impedance: 32 ohms
- Output power: 300mW
- Warranty: One-year
The Absolute Sound 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008 Editor's Choice Award Winner
"With a tube-like rendering of timbre and a sweet, relaxed sound, the Grado RA-1 makes extended headphone listening a joy. Although battery-driven, the RA1 is more at home in your equipment rack or on your desk than out on the road. A beautiful wooden case finishes off this gem." - Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound
"With the Grado Reference RA1 handling the amplification, music was rendered truer, clearer, and more life-like than I had ever imagined was possible." - Willie Gluckstern, Audio Magazine
"Listening to my RS1's through the Grado RA1 headphone amp is like listening to a live performance, it puts you right there." - Mark Rivera, Saxophonist with the Billy Joel Band
"This is such a nice job of product engineering by John Grado, I think it earns a nomination for "Dudely Product of the Year Award." - Charles Hollander, Positive Feedback