At this point the mail man rang with a most apologetic demand for a €175 COD. Importing from America into Ireland carries VAT. Then it was time to go sonic. First was my desktop. Never before had I been able to indulge the SR1a here due to their forbidding hardware demands. JR was an instant success simply by moving the Raal where previously they could never go.

My usual setup here are Final D8000 planar headphones in parallel to Fram Midi 150 active speakers. To not have to reset my work station's USB output when switching between headfi and speakerfi—and to unapologetically tweak sonics with extra reclocking/filtering—a Curious USB cord hits a battery-powered Audiobyte Hydra X+ bridge. Its BNC output drives the coaxial input of the active speakers, its coaxial output a COS Engineering H1 DAC/pre with analog volume to drive Final 's planars in balanced mode. JR connected by analog RCA to the COS whose own volume control was bypassed i.e. at 0.0dB. At high noon on Schiit's own control, I had higher SPL than I'd stand for long. So my first session sat between 10:30 and 11:00.

Damn. I realized right off that I'd never get any work done with around-the-head sound this detailed and gripping. JR was preternaturally quiet in operation. That maximized S/NR which the lack of energy storage in these headphones exploits for peak dynamic contrast. It even revives typically compressed Pop by laying bare microdynamic flutters which lesser headphones—that means all others—won't distinguish. Being the total antithesis to elevator muzak, I'd have to invoke very low SPL to hear myself think and do any writing. I remembered a proverb. Nothing fails like total success.

I'd been had by my own greed. On second thought, not getting any work done didn't seem so bad for a change.

The end!

Of course 'the end' is always a false alarm for audiphilia's self-perpetuating lust after newer shinier toys. So you knew that a few more comments on the desktop would come forth. Here I simply couldn't compare JR to giants—the whole point of this gig—whilst comparing SR1a to other headphones I'd already done. But here goes: my rationale for desktopping the D8000 was their warmish bassiness and general planarmagnetic softness. Surfing compressed Spotify or YouTube feeds for new tunes doesn't want max resolution. Whenever I indulge Tidal, Qobuz or locally hosted files for full resolution, it's still for sonic ambience or filler because getting work done demands background levels. Now warm, fuzzy and bassy all meet their mark. And the Final are more comfortable than our 1st-gen Audeze LCD-2 which otherwise are quite similar. It's why HifiMan's Susvara or HE-1000v1 were off the table. Alas, the ribbons still go beyond Susvara on resolution and particularly dynamics. To avoid attention deficit for work, that fact enforces still lower SPL for them than our lower-res planars need.

Now the SR1a without any of the resonant padding which plagues over-ear designs wash out more than them. That'd want strategic LF compensation for the Fletcher Munson curves. Those track how our hearing gives up bass sensitivity at low SPL. Schiit's own $149 Loki would easily and cost-effectively fix that but also pile on the box count. For my particular work-desk purposes then, the SR1a at regular SPL proved completely counterproductive to actually working there; then not as useful for my predominantly ambient levels where the D8000's chunkier bassiness and far less critical detail magnification have their advantages. 0:2 against the Serbs.

My greed had gotten slapped down. Hard. The JR/SR1a combo was far too good for my pedestrian desktop purposes. I'd taken a tuned race car to grid-lock traffic. Any subsequent complaints were stupid. It was time to go upstairs and insert JR into my dedicated most serious headfi rig where it could stretch its legs. Those clearly were magnificently long.