At last. The eagerly awaited RSA Protector is here. Ray’s post on Head-Fi announcing the development of the RSA Protector was dated 12 December 2009, so it’s only been three months until we received our amplifier. I applaud Ray for such speedy development and delivery.
As you may have already known, Ray utilizes a custom four-pin connector for hooking up balanced headphones. On the front faceplate, it’s labeled as “Balanced Phones”, while the 3.5mm connector on the left serves for regular single-ended duties. While the build quality on the Protector is just as impressive as Ray’s other portable amplifiers, somehow I feel that the silk screening of the Protector logo is not as good as that in the SR71a amp. But that’s fine, as long as I can get balanced drive in a portable form.
While newer portable amps have moved to digital volume controls or stepped attenuators, including Ray’s own RSA Shadow, Ray couldn’t implement the digital volume control for the Protector, and so the Protector is back on analog pots. However I didn’t find that to be a big issue, as my Protector doesn’t have any channel imbalance issues.
If you’re good with a soldering iron, you can order the proprietary connectors from Ray, and you can make adapters to your existing balanced headphones, which are probably terminated in XLRs. If you need extra connectors and you’ve missed ordering them from Ray, you can get it here (Thanks to Audio Addict @ Head-fi for the link).The connection should go as follow:
PIN 1: Left Positive
PIN 2: Right Positive
PIN 3: Left Negative
PIN 4: Right Negative
I happen to have an extra XLR to TRS adapter that I built a while ago, and so I cut off the TRS end and installed the Protector’s connector.
The connector itself feels solid, and they lock into the Protector’s jack fairly well. The connection is definitely stronger than any conventional 3.5mm. They are so good, I feel confident holding on to the cable and leaving the amp hanging. Of course this is with the connector being brand new, so we’ll see how they turn out after a few months of usage.