Grado RA-1 Headphone Amplifiers

4.05/5 (20 Reviews) MSRP : $350.00


Product Description

Headphone Amplifier


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Reviews 1 - 5 (20 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by John a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: September 28, 2016

Bottom Line:   
I've been reading these reviews and based on these reviews I bought a used RA-! for just a little over half the retail price. Prior to this I have been using a Creek OB-11 with Grado 325's.
Since the RA-1 is designed for Grado headphones I figured I'd give it a shot.
Let me start by saying that I really liked the Creek. I was fast, lots of punch, but with some slkight glare in the upper mids that was intolerable if I pushed the amp too much. Which, by the way, was easy to do since the Grado 325's are very efficient. When played with the limits, the Creek did a very respectable job. As soon as I connected the Grado amp I could tell a difference. I listened to several CD's before coming to any conclusion on what I was (or wasn't) hearing. With the Grado amp it had a less forward presentation than the Creek. The bass was deeper and cleaner, vocals were smooth, and highs were higher and more extended and the decay and attack was nicer. Listening to the Creek I was engaged by the music but listening to the Grado I was taken away. By the fourth CD I was lying down and just listening to the music not the amp. Then it hit me, but for this I need to back up a bit. My source is a Rotel 965bx CD player which has served me well since the early 90's when I bought it. I added an outboard d/a converter made by Ack Industries a couple years after I got the Rotel. The Ack dAck is also battery powered. It has a deep cell battery which charges as soon as you turn the unit off. With the Ack in the system the bass was deeper and cleaner, vocals were smooth, and highs were higher and more extended and decay and attack was nicer. Wait a minute this sounds familiar. The creek had altered the signal. Perhaps what some of these cloth-eared nincompoops that gave this amp a bad review are missing is that it's not what the amp does to the music but rather what the amp does so well, and that is to just get out of the way of the music. After all isn't that what we're in this hobby for in the first place? If your system sounds bad, check your source. The amp is designed with Grado headphones in mind after all. (Don't bring your Honda to a Harley rally and then bash Harleys) It is said the magic happens with the RA-1 and RS1 headphones. I have plenty magic with the 325's. Perhaps I'll upgrade to the RS-1 later.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile



Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by finesound a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: November 19, 2010

Bottom Line:   
I went for the AC-powered Grado RA-1based on some of the positive reviews on this site. It was Grado's Reference series cartridge that draws me to Grado's headphone amp. I connect the RA-1 direct to my CD player and listened with a Sennheiser 600 headphone. The sound was no better than listening direct from the CD. The RA-a sure amplifies the sound, but not in a fine way. In fact the sound is finer direct from the CD player to the Sennheiser without the RA-1. Who wants volume without fine qualities? The wooden box probably is the best thing of the RA-1. Other than that, the unit is cheaply made. It seems that Grado just put its name on a piece of equipment in order to sell more. For that reason I no longer consider Grado's Reference series cartridge. I lost confidence in Grado products.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2010



Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:1
Submitted by jseibert a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: June 3, 2006

Bottom Line:   
This is my first offiicial review at Audioreview.com and please keep that in mind. I felt that a review was at hand for this product since it has been getting so much great press. First, I don't come to bash Grado products (I own RS-1 Headphones and a Gold Prestige cartridge and couldnt be happier), but there is something to be said about the the RA-1. The RS-1 headphoens are astounding in every way possible and I also cannot go on about the price vs. value of nearly all of the Grado phono cartridges, but I find it upsetting that Grado would release the RA-1 and demand the price that they do for it. I have the AC version as I didnt want to constantly be changing batteries and wasnt worried about AC interference, as I have plenty of power filtering available.
I initially hooked up my RA-1 preparing myself to be amazed by the astounding difference they would make on my RS-1's, but no go. They did increase the gain somewhat, but I could simply do that turning up the voulme on my source. I thought that Id give it another shot and do some A/B comparisions with my Pioneer Elite PDR-19RW headphone jack alone (which was the source unit used for the RA-1). The headphone jack without external amplification (the RA-1) actually sounded better. The Grado added some shrillness to the CD's that almost made my RS-1's unlistenable.
I recently bought a tube headphone amp from Opera Audio (a small Chinese company) and the differnece between it and the Grado is astounding. I paid around $350.00 for the Opera amp (tubes and all) and it actually does something to the music. I feel more involved and I feel that the money I spent is actually improving my music, instead of lessing my enjoyment of it. I was hoping that the RA-1 would liven up my music, make it sound 'live,' or put me 'right in the center of the action' like so many of the reviews have stated, but I felt that it did none of these.
After doing some research on the web, it appears that the RA-1 is made up of around $30 worth of internal parts. This really disturbed me seeing how the retail of the unit is $425.00. Mind you, the mahogany is very impressive and the unit matches the RS-1 (and RS-2) perfectly. I think it is beautiful in it's simplicity, but it doesnt really do anything other than increasing the gain a minor amount.
Ill stand behind Grado and most all of their ventures, but I really feel they dropped the ball on this one.
Grado has made some outstanding products (Ill probably never buy another pair of headphones that arent Grado), but I feel that they were playing to the emotions of the RS-1 and RS-2 owners out there to have a mahogany matched 'set' when they released this headphone amp and quickly came up with a sub-par product.
I own a decent amount of high quality 'hi-fi' equipment and the RA-1 just seems like it can't measure up to any of my other components.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2005

Price Paid:    $275.00

Purchased At:   eBay



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Kelly a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: October 22, 2003

Bottom Line:   
Ok, I don't write reviews..much, but here I sit listening to my RA-1 and my RS-1's. I mix it up alot with different sources. High end CD players, Tuners, some not so high end when I travel. But I've got to say this is one GREAT sounding product and I've heard alot of what I and I'm sure you would consider high end equipment. I'll find my self just totally into the music, not even trying to find the perfect system anymore. I've given up on that. I own a $10,000 plus system and perfer to listen to my RA-1/RS-1 combo. I know what I like and I'm considered by my friends to have a good ear, and this is what sounds the best to me.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $300.00

Purchased At:   online



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by hop ham a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: June 17, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I usually don't write reviews but I will with the exception that I believe this product is exceptional. Lets start by telling you that I don't have a pair of RS-1's or HD600's...nah, I gots me a cool pair of $95 SR-80's hooked up to a sony dej1000 discman. I have had my headphones for over 2 years now and had them hooked up to a decent sony reciever. The sound was ok but I knew it was limited even though I would never use my SR-80s's without amplification. So anyways I bought the RA-1 and I love it. The reason you are reading this is probably becuase you want to know if you should buy it or not...well, I will try to persuade you. There is no sort of equalizer or tweeking knobs, just a volume but you don't need it, its the way the music was recorded and the way its supposed to sound. Even with my sr80s I can hear the dynamics in the sound...it really changes the way you listen to your music. I listen to all kinds of music but mostly electronic music and I am always constantly paying attention to every little detail in the music and now that I have this amp, I have to listen to all my old cd's again to make sure they were as good or as bad as I previously thought. Don't listen to the idiot that said his amp was messed up because if you buy it from a good site and pay maybe 15 dollars more, they check it before they ship it.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Price Paid:    $350.00

Purchased At:   goodcans




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