The Premium RR1 Conquest arrived in what must be the most comprehensively-packaged product that I’ve experienced to-date. Along with its terrific wooden and perspex display case, the RR1 is bundled with a variety of literature explaining Kaldas Research’s company background, product warranty, user manual, along with an individual measurement certificate showing the driver-matching and frequency response of this particular unit, number #000095. It’s an extremely personalised experience, and you really get the sense of the personality and dedication of the person behind the product from a read of the copy.
Looks-wise, the Kaldas Research RR1 Conquest is certainly unlike anything else out there on the market. It has a ‘sci-fi-meets-industrial’ kinda vibe, and it looks all business with its exposed wires on the outside of the cups and overall Spartan aesthetic. Build-wise, the RR1 employs a mix of spring steel for the headband, anodised machined aluminum for the headband assembly, and injected thermoplastic for those signature, large earcups. Finding your perfect fit with the RR1 requires you to get a bit ‘hands-on’. Kaldas supplies a pair of allen wrenches for adjusting the length of the headband, as well as the amount of articulation on the earcup yokes. It’s a little finicky, but it’s certainly in keeping with the RR1’s ‘industrial’ DNA and no doubt helps to keep the RR1’s price-point as sharp as it is. On the head, the RR1 is supremely comfortable after a few adjustments here and there and it’s certainly an ‘all-day’ proposition due to the fact that it tips the scales at only 366 grams. While the replaceable pads themselves are quite thin, the cup size is generous with plenty of room for my ears. Clamp-force is fairly light, but the leather-like suspension headband has to do most of the work.
Firing-up the Stax energiser and feeding the RR1 with a bit of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s ‘Nonagon Infinity’, the Conquest surprised me immediately with a distinctly non-electrostatic dark, warm tone not unlike that of the Sennheiser HD650. Rather than the typical force-fed, hyper detail that you might expect from this kind of driver, the RR-1 actually has a more velvety, organic sound that will appeal to those of you who might be turned off by the ‘fake’ treble detail and sizzle that happens to plague some electrostats. The RR1 has an actual, noticeable low-end (unlike your run-of-the-mill Stax earspeakers), with fairly decent extension and heft, although it’s not going to deliver anything like what you can expect from a typical pair of dynamic drivers. The RR1 has a pretty great sense of headstage for an electrostatic, plus a linear, liquid midrange with decent instrumental and vocal tone that combines for an overall coherent, engaging, and smooth sound signature. After only a few albums it’s clear that the RR1 Conquest is a very pleasant-sounding headphone with decent technicalities, although not being the last word in detail, layering or transparency.
For Kaldas Research’s first product, it’s pretty remarkable. For a hand-made, $500 electrostatic it’s more than remarkable. Time will tell how the build will hold up, but for now, the RR1 Conquest is proving to be simply great for enjoying music, and I’m also enjoying the fact that it’s an entirely different kind of headphone than what I’ve come to expect from the usual ‘big’ manufacturers. Like it says on the RR1 Conquest’s instruction manual, the RR1 Conquest is certainly ‘Not Boring’.