I was recently given a RAAL CA-1a to take home to demo. I consider the RAAL SR1a ’earphones’ one of the very best SPEAKERS I have heard at any price. I tend to dislike headphone sound. Read the reviews from Stereophile and anyone else.
The new CA-1a is like regular circum-aural headphones though it is not a pretty headphone. Unlike the Meze Empy which was nice looking and sounded rather good. I had the Meze with the Benchmark HPA4 amp (a perfect match). However, the RAAL CA-1a just kills the Meze sonically, even with a $500 Schitt Jotunheim R amp. With the $7K RAAL VM-1a tube headphone amp, it is the most dynamic sound I have ever heard. Led Zeppelin’s WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS was never as powerful as with the CA-1a and the VM-1a amp on PENTODE mode.
The CA-1a cost $2K, and I do not have $2K, but I will be buying this headphone somehow. It is almost as good as the SR1a (very similar sonically) but it has the advantage of being like the Meze in that I can listen when lying in bed. I cannot do that with the SR1a.
Read the comments on Head-fi from FOCAL owners that bought the RAAL SR1a.