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Rupert Neve RNHP precision headphone amplifier

Average User Rating:
5/5,
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Recent User Reviews

  1. FortisFlyer75
    5.0/5,
    "Legendary R. Neve goes from studio to Audiphile"
    Pros - Nuetral transparent fast tightly controlled musically damp with plenty of detail & headroom.
    Build quality.
    Perfectly weighted and smooth volume adjustment.
    Connection options which are switchable.
    Never runs hot
    Vesa mount plate ready
    Cons - input level set gain not always ideal. Could do with switchable gain control.
    No XLR balanced output
    Awkward shaped power adaptor.
    Rupert Neve RNHP Precision Headphone Amplifier

    June 2017

    Intro...

    I first heard this headphone amp at the Canjam London 2016 show and despite the usual noisy environment encountered at these types of large hall shows from what I heard from my IEM’s I had on me and a pair of smaller Grado’s that were on the table I heard what I could gleam from the brief 15 minutes I spent with this tiny of a footprint headphone amplifier.

    So when the opportunity arose after ordering some modded Kimber cables for my Meze 99 Classics from Russ Andrews Accessories which are based in sunny Cumbria , UK I got talking to Peter who works for their Product Development team who dealt with my order and chatting all things under the sun with hi-fi in general and when we both mentioned the Rupert Neve amp so I asked if I could have a longer demo at home to really listen to it in a quitter environment with my headphones I was not able to take to the show so I was lucky enough Peter been an amical chap let me borrow a demo unit for a couple of weeks so would like at this point to thank Peter for loaning me this so I could chill in the comfort of my own home in peace without 200 head-fi adrenaline junkies all talking shop in a hall to really soak up what you do not unfortunately get to really take in when hearing these at a show to either hear their full potential or actually are as bad as you remember hearing it at a show!


    Design & Build…

    The Neve amp comes packaged in the same minimalist design of the actual amp itself in just a plain white cardboard box with the a sticker on the lid letting you know you have a Rupert Neve RNHP amp awaiting inside the box. Box contents on opening include the power supply which is a 24DC wall plug adaptor and owner’s manual. The RNHP design mirrors it’s studio heritage of equipment in design with a simplistic and minimalist design which is more akin from hi-fi equipment from the 60’s or 70’s which is probably because it is based on the Rupert Neve studio equipment which has been in many top studios with this amp sharing the same output circuit as their 5060 centrepiece desktop mixer.

    This will not be everyone’s cup of tea from the design aspect and I am usually one for a polished design with flashing lights but this is just a clean design with no thrills, just reliable sensible common sense engineering going on with the actual cost going all into the components used rather than trying to dress up the window of the shop on the aesthetics of the unit. The small foot print of this amp is partly down to the decision to have the power supply separate power pack plug rather than an in built linear power supply which I actually do not mind although the actual design of the power plug could have been better as the bulk of the adaptor sticks out sideways so if you use have to use a gangway block set it will encroach onto the plug on the left of it.

    The other advantage to this RNHP amp is it can be powered using either the included 6 watt power supply or a 24V, 0.25A min battery if you wish to go completely clean power into the unit. It is to me reminiscent of something you would find in the DeLorean in Back to the Future as this takes me back to the old days of how hi-fi gear used to be designed with its simple black sheet metal casing top and bottom which has overhang on the back to protect the line inputs. The RNHP is also Vesa 100 mount compatible for various mounting options so can be to a stand as it has the screw holes already in place for mounting and the bottom so can be pole-mount arm for mic stands, pivoting multi-arm desk mount, and wall / surface mount for securing upside-down under a table, music stand or other studio furniture. The bottom of the amp also has four clear rubberized shock absorbing feet for surface support when used on a table.

    The red aluminium volume pot on the RNHP is a nice size and shape which is a joy to operate and has a really solid smooth feel when turning with very good volume step attenuation, probably one of the better analog volumes I have used on an amp. The RNHP has only one output which is a ¼” jack size which will take anything from a minimum of 16 ohms up to 600 ohm although I was only able to test up to 300 ohm in my testing I can confirm it was at home handling the 300ohm headphone I had to hand which was a Sennheiser HD 560 Ovation open back headphone.

    The RNHP sports three inputs which can all be plugged in at the same time ready to switch at any moment by using the input selection buttons on the front. Neve have included the three inputs as follow starting with input A which Line input combo jack which sports a XLR or TRRS plug which is calibrated for 4+dbV signals. Input B is the RCA left & right connection which is calibrated -10dbU Signal then there is input C which is a 3.5 stereo jack input which is designed for hooking up devices like phone, tablets or laptops.

    The only thing that is flashy about this amp is the buttons to select the in line inputs which lights up green to let you know which input is selected although you still see a faint green glow on the other two buttons it not too distracting as serves it purpose to let you know which input is selected at a quick glance. When powering the amp on it will default to input A every time.


    Specification:

    Maximum Input Levels

    "A" XLR I/P: +22.8 dBu @1kHz
    "B" RCA I/P: +14.7dBu @1kHz,
    "C" 3.5mm I/P: +3.3dBu @1kHz

    Output Power:

    As measured with typical headphones, Z=44 Ω: 3.617 VAC RMS @1kHz = 300mW RMS
    16 Ω typical Load: 1.933 VAC RMS @1kHz = 230mW RMS
    150 Ω typical Load: 5.108 VAC RMS @1kHz = 175mW RMS

    Output Impedance

    .08 Ω @ 1KHz, 16-150 Ω load, 0dBu input

    Frequency Response

    +/- .2dB from 10Hz to 120KHz

    Noise

    Measured with typical headphones, Z=44 Ω, BW 22Hz – 22kHz
    "A" XLR Input: -101.9dBV,
    "B" RCA Input: -100.9dBV
    "C" 3.5mm Input: -88.8dBV


    Dimensions

    6.5” wide x 4.6” deep and 1.9” tall

    Power Supply Requirements

    24VDC @ 0.25Amp (6 watt) minimum. Use with supplied power adapter, as this has been carefully selected for best output power and noise performance. May be used with a properly configured 24V battery as well.


    Sound Impressions…

    The first thing that struck me with my first listen at home on the RNHP was how there were obvious cues I could remember straight of the bat from the brief time with them at the show and one thing that stood out was this amp is not a shy amp with presentation and takes you closer into the music so you do not feel too far away from the sound yet it does not shout at you either been such a close presentation.

    It feels like a quite forward upfront approach this RNHP takes that does not hide from showing you whether you have a sublime top recording in your collection or a dire recording it will just be an extension replicating what the source device outputs which is a good start for any amp as it was not much evidence it was trying to metamorphosis the original sound like some amps are capable of doing even dearer model amps have been known to change the fabric of the signature to much from what is from the source into its own interpretation of how the music should sound. Here the RNHP is very honest in trying to stay true to the signal coming in.

    This amp certainly has plenty of detail but not in an over analytical way in detail retrieval like some reference amps out there will do whilst possessing expressive and reactive dynamics with a spacious air allowing the RNHP ability for accuracy in soundstage placement to sound natural and precise making the music flow due to the RNHPs good timing the Neve allows for everything to breath even with more closed in gear like my Meze classic 12’s for example it will open them up on another level with a new sense of soundstage boundaries to play with.

    But here the Neve amp is quite faithful in trying to keep the original source signature in which from the few headphones and IEM I tried with the Neve in my two weeks which I will elaborate shortly on how they all sounded with the Neve amp, this amp just solely aims at been just what it says on the tin on the front of the amp where it has RNHP “Precision” headphone amplifier screen printed along the front and this is how I actually perceive it to be after trying different sources through it from a Chord Mojo and Hugo DAC and Sony WM1A Walkman line out. I think the clean articulate accuracy in reproduction of the source material arises from the studio ethos not giving us a coloured signature to the sound that outputs the Neve amp yet this sounds musical and dynamic to listen to whilst maintaining a evenly balanced neutral presentation in sound.

    It never seems to bleed from one frequency range into the other so is always feeling neutrally balanced as you are getting to hear more information come through because of this with good mid info retrieval even with the RNHP able to provide a strong solid punch in bass response and control never bleeds into the Mids. Even though this amp is pretty neutral in the way it comes across it is far from flat neutral and is a very musical amp which really shows its prowess is in how it manages to handle transients, speed, separation and timing. The Neve is able to sound open and spacious and shows it has as much height as it does in terms of sound-stage width giving a sense of good depth to the music coming to live with

    The higher the source the better this amp scales also and this partly also reflective in which line input you use as good as the 3.5 jack input is it is a shade of what the RCA phono inputs are capable of in sound with of course if you have anything running into the balanced input into the RNHP it will just be able to improve and emphasis better what you get on the already capable RCA phono inputs from what I tried from my time using my only source that could do XLR balanced. The noise floor is impressive allowing subtle details to shine throw like they are just effortlessly suspended in space which can be one of the more rewarding aspects to this neat small footprint of this desktop amp. What impressed me more was how its timing impeccably fast and has an ability to drive the music with good speed in the mid & sub bass with a good tightly controlled focus with a clean powerful delivery to bass notes.

    Placing of instruments and sense of space on the black background is paramount to what makes this amp have a 3D realism of depth with its more than acceptable width in sound-stage and height in conjunction with the ability to place instruments and vocals accurately in the amount of space there is allows for a lot of details to be heard on a soundtrack clearly and easily which makes this good for listening at lower volumes although this amp does get tempting to crank that volume wheel around a bit more the more you get immersed with your favourite tracks so be warned as this amp with its very strong headroom is capable of blowing your ears before it blows your drivers.

    With this impressive headroom on the Neve allowing music to breathe with great expanse whilst even been driven hard this amp will not waiver and will give you a tight controlled punchy presentation that feels like it could take the roof of the Albert Hall whilst plays music with not just great detail but has a way of doing it without the high frequency’s ever losing strength or focus in their delivery been able to hear everything clearly in that range with music that can be energetic and busy in the mid-range on this amp is very satisfying when you come across say Sia- Bird set free you can track her vocals through everything that is going on in the mids with her vocals soaring above everything else to what almost feels like the hearing threshold with the range of her vocal ability. The RNHP does it with a natural flow and smoothness and never sounded spiky when Sia's vocals were pushing the upper frequencies keeping a natural tonality throughout.

    With most of my IEM’s or headphones this amp will tighten up that sub bass with a tight grip and be punchy and impactful when needed which is great for OST scores from like Inception or Interstellar that took me on a journey but when there is a track with plenty of low frequency bass notes it never bleeds into the rest of the other frequency’s staying perfectly balanced. No more so with say my Meze 99 classics or JH16Pros which are both on the bass happy side but on the Neve they sound tight and defined with the detail within those bass notes been very easy and clear to hear. It very much benefited my RHAT20 IEMs’ with their dynamic driver and brought them to live with good timing response and reverberation of the T20’s dynamic drivers with mid and low bass notes.

    The same experience was in abundance on my Pioneer Master SE1’s where the Bass can be almost felt as well as heard yet maintain clarity and control no matter how hard the bass note hits with drums on Creams Toad track Live at Royal Albert Hall sounding taught and controlled still been able to hear small details going on around the main drumming. I tried both combinations of the Mojo and Hugo and both are very good pairing with the RNHP but I did find myself swaying a bit more with the Mojo, only because as already mentioned the RNHP ability to just reflect the original sound with some sub average recordings the Hugo is not as forgiving especially in the top end which could be a bit too bright sometimes which had me going for the Mojo a little more out of the two despite the lesser resolution of the Mojo to the Hugo there was that little extra something just musically in the pairing between the RNHP and Mojo which was an addictive combination.

    Using with IEM's….

    RHA T20

    I decided to start with using my RHA T20’s which in all honesty I was looking for a very good back up pair of IEM’s that did not cost the earth with a good build and only use them once in a while but through the Neve amp the way the RNHP controls bass with that firm grip with plenty of punch and speed that really suit these dynamic drivers inside the T20 to come alive and the treble which can be an Achilles hill with certain sources been to bright and sharp is still on the side of its natural treble accentuated nature but with the Neve it never is over aggressive even with the T20’s treble extension matching the ability of the RNHP’s extension this was still listenable most of the time unless the recording was also too harsh on the treble it was then not an issue. Yet with top recorded material the Neve helped the T20 reflect treble notes to be tonally accurate even on this £170 IEM was quite uncanny at times.

    The Neve made the T20 sound open and spacious and forgot I was listening to an IEM at one stage which breathed life into some of those Pink Floyd recordings to have a sense of open space for those sound cues to come out of nowhere with Floyd tracks was enjoyable on the T20. The RNHP gave me a sense of wanting to listen to these for a long time and had just as much time with the T20’s on the Neve amp as I did with my higher end IEM’s which was helped by the RNHP working in harmony with the T20’s and allowing the dynamic drivers to work to their fullest potential. Have to say with this amp in the chain I think I would listen to the T20’s a lot more often than I do now with treating them as a back-up pair but with the RNHP it gets the very best from these RHA IEM’s.


    Meze 12 Classics….


    These are my cheapest IEM’s I have as they cost only £70 which I had just to see how similar they sounded to my 99 Classics with the intrigue to see if they could compare to the headphone version and on the RNHP the timing and control of the RNHP allows the 12 classics to never sound over bloated on the bass accentuated Classics and the fine resolution these IEM’s are capable of for their price tier have a coherent clear rendering of details and help open the sound-stage up on the 12 classics as they can with a source that is not capable sound closed in a bit and this was probably the cleanest and most open I have heard the 12 classics so far yet retains the original richness and warmth of the 12’s coming through. The RNHP again even with a relatively more affordable pair of IEM’s still gave it scope and air with good sense of detail retrieval to shine making the 12 Classics just like it was with the RHA T20 an IEM I could happily listen to on the Neve amp for a session.


    JH16 Pro…


    With JH16Pros CIEM’s I was expecting there to be a lot of resolution with plenty of articulate detail to be heard on these balanced armatures of the 16’s and again the clarity and depth of a recording added to the extra expansive sound-stage the RNHP was able to deliver to the 16’s allowing those details to shine in an open environment which made the 16’s have a sense of not listening to IEMS at times which I have not experienced on some more expensive amps in the last few years.

    The way this amp was able to drive the 16Pros with more than enough authority with the JH16’s designed to have extra headroom allowed the treble to be airy with plenty of space with strong solid extension with treble and vocal notes. Vocals have a translucent clarity with precise imaging gave Tori Amos plenty of insight into her range as well as the smaller details of breathing into the mic on the piano yet been able to absorb the tonal reality of the Piano keys as much as focusing at the same time on the singing with a slight hint of warmth with vocals that were just in front of the stage although not overly done but enough your focus was maintained when listening to vocal segments. The JH16’s sang on this which was made easy by the RNHP bringing accuracy to stage imaging and depth, strong performance with headroom and good detail retrieval showed the JH16’s are really suited to a good desktop amp like the RNHP as well as just DAPS.


    Vibro Lab Mayas…


    I hadn’t heard any of the Vibro Lab IEMS before and came across them to do a review on and liked it so much I purchased a set from Luke Pighetti and have to say these are still my favourite IEM for musicality even after hearing many other dearer IEM’s in the last year the Mayas have a nice natural balance to the signature yet has mids to die for with a good sense of timing with cues of notes arriving to hit you just at the right time making micro details stand out and on the RNHP I heard what defines the Mayas to be so good but adds to the already natural sense of space the Mayas have adding more body with more control & authority to the lower bass region on the Mayas which is not probably it’s most dominant part of the Mayas signature but the RNHP allows the Bass to sound more dominant or noticeable than when I’ve heard it on a standalone DAP player.

    It’s not adding more bass, rather the power of an amp like this with a pair of efficient IEM’s allows the bass to sound more dynamic in response giving a more vivid and stronger performing sub bass that gives a whole new perspective to listening to the Beyoncé track feat Jack White – Don’t hurt yourself come to live with the sub bass been quick, powerful and dynamic with clear note definition whilst the lower mid bass is still very audible with good cohesion with a present engaging and encompassing mid-range that is neither lost in the spectrum or too far forward the neutral balance matches the RNHP very well from the upper to lower mids and sub bass region has a natural transition between the frequency range.

    The RNHP will let the Maya’s pick out treble notes as if they are floating on air with a gentle precise tonal handling of the treble giving an accurate and easy to listen to on the ear with the Mayas as the RNHP has an ability to breath a lot of air and space for treble notes to making sound as if treble information can be separated on another plane to what you are hearing from the mids giving a sense equally large height and depth coupled with the excellent timing both the RNHP and the Vibro Labs IEM's made the Maya’s a natural suitor with the RNHP.


    With Headphones….

    Sony MDR-7520...

    After listening to the RNHP with my IEM’s it was time to see how it paired with the headphones which it was primarily designed for so started off with a headphone that shares a studio equipment blood line in the Sony MDR7520’s which I had modded to have the original single cable feed turned into a dedicated left/right cable welded directly to each driver for better performance and also changed the original leather pads for velour Beyer which also brought small improvements to the sound as well as comfort.

    The RNHP with the Sony 7520’s allowed them to sound the same signature which is a lively punchy sound with sometimes a slightly bright ended upper treble presentation yet the Neve did not over amplify that bright end and what was already a quite deep bass punch on the 7520’s was not added to anymore in terms of quantity but just gave the bass delivery a more tighter focused approach which actually made it seem easier to follow the low mids and pick up on vocals with clearer tracking. With the RNHP feeding the Sony’s easy to drive 24 ohm 50mm HD angled drivers gives a punchy and lively dynamic presentation of these Sony monitors which like the RNHP which have a studio background they are more musical than analytical approach for monitoring purposes although the mid-range is clean and transparent and with the RNHP bringing out vocals sounding crisp in clarity without sounding to lean in the upper registers.

    The only down side I have found with these closed back Sony monitors is they have a tendency to sound a little narrow and lacking in natural sound-stage width as clear as they sound but again the RHP comes to the rescue here a bit with it been able to steer and expand on the stereo imaging much wider and precise than before giving a little more perception of the Sony headphones having more room to operate lending more room in the mids retrieval to operate and location of information that comes from wider starting points actually feels like it is outside the boundaries of the head than usual on my 7520’s.

    The Sony’s benefit and sing to full potential with the Neve and have a dynamic more roomier approach that brought a fresh perspective to my 7520’s which was most welcome as the only other time I have heard them sing like this on that extra special something level of magic pairings and I have heard these on many an amp was ironically the portable RHA DacAmp they brought out in 2016. In all was more impressed with these on the RNHP as the Sony has some fussy attributes that were no problem with the RNHP and made for an exciting listening session which is not what I’m sure is meant to come from two items made for the studio initially!


    Meze 99 Classics,


    The Classic 99’s by Romanian audio-holics Meze caught on to build itself quite a good reputation since its release in 2016 providing a detailed sound above its price point with a warm signature and plenty of bass presence to say the least.

    For those who already know and like the 99 Classic sound signature in this headphone is made for the RNHP and just flows with music effortlessly showing all the detail the 99’s are capable of with adding for me what is already a generous spatial sound for a closed back the RNHP brings more height and width to the sound-stage having more room for the top end to work with greater clarity as well controls what sometimes can be a slightly more than exuberant bass shall we say is driven now with more control allowing bass strings to sound more refined and drum notes not to bleed or sound loose when been struck.

    Vocals have a more expanded range with that extra height extension which makes for operatic style vocals to soar with a more continuous natural rise or just as equally with deeper vocals there is good separation and clarity it stays separate from the rest of the mix. The Meze sounds good on most things if truth be told but on the RNHP it just tightens it up that much more it really does give it an extra edge in terms of dynamics, control and clarity in the lower to sub bass region and is just a very musical pairing that makes it so easy to listen to the Meze for hours on end with the RNHP.


    MR. Speakers Ethers
    (open back original non Flow version)…

    With the Ether I noticed compared to the more traditional dynamic headphones I had been listening to so far despite these planner magnetic been an efficient 23 ohm seemed to need bit more to the dynamic headphones in terms of the volume dial to get same volume as I had been with the Dynamic cans so in some cases it was around two to three clicks more up on the volume dial with the Ethers.

    This did not change the sound of the more relaxing warmer signature of the Ether which is retained with the Neve amp which like my Vibro Lab Mayas has a similar way of showing the finer details in a polite manner and the timing and layering of the RNHP amp really helped the Ethers here to those nuances of sound just appear to be effortless in their delivery. Listening to acoustic material like Antonio Forcione or Adrian Legg strings even on this warmer sounding headphone have a colder steel edge reverberation to string notes which sound sharp without ever sounding overly aggressive to the ears.

    The Eagles “Fast Lane” track gave a good fast pace tempo to the mids with a punch to lower mids making this song feel funky as well as sound it or Hotel California trailing edge of notes from the guitar with the slow gradual song build up hanging on the blackness of night this noise floor the RNHP operates at gave the song that emotional drive you yearn for like when I first heard this on my Dads old Rega Planner record player for the first time through a Nytech amp.

    The timing and pace of the RNHP does actually add a little more injection of pace and dynamics almost as if it was waking them up into live. It doesn’t turn this into a pair of Senn HD800’s all of the sudden but it is a pleasant welcome as you still get the air and easy going 70’s sound these Ethers effortlessly portray but just adds a nice balance of timing and imaging precision without altering the main characteristics of how the Ethers actually sound.

    The RNHP is another good match with the Ethers long into the night.


    Grado GS1000e…


    The GS1000e some say is one of those headphones that is more suited to classical and acoustic genres of music and have found if the pairing is right it can actually sound acceptable with most genres like for example the Rock or Blues line I like tap too frequently as was the case with my Chord Hugo which has a great DAC but with certain headphones no matter how efficient they were would sound a bit anaemic in the mids with not much body and the highs were quite bright (even with okay recordings) which was the case with my Grados and the Hugo so cured that by strapping a Vorzuge Pureii+ portable amp to the Hugo which transformed the GS1000e into a headphone that would sound good with most music and have lovely full bodied mids that it was capable off with a nicely rounded articulate balanced treble.

    With the Grado’s natural if not different in been revealing with detail galore with the RNHP ability to transmit that detail very well it was never in question on that side of it but did the Neve give that more full bodied mids the GS1000e likes that makes it sound more appealing with just Classical Orchestral works or acoustic sets?... Been honest, not quite but the treble was handled in a very even keel showing you detail with extension served in a manner that was never bright or sharp to the ear.

    With the mids not been quite full as I have heard the GS1000e was again balanced out by the RNHP’s ability to be quick and flexible in dynamics with its expansive sound-stage only accentuating on the Grado’s already massive sound-stage in those big foam bowl cups still made it a pairing I could listen to all day long all though it was not quite like how I idealistically would want the GS1000e’s to sound the Neve just was adept and showing what the Grado’s could do with fine detail picking and the agility it had with notes from impact on delivery of a note to the trailing edge of notes was like you was peering into a worm hole and seeing inside all the information of a note been played you would not normally get to hear.

    It did make me wonder though how the PS1000e which I have heard a few times would be like with the RNHP as I think it would be an even more natural pairing with its more robust rock designed sound over the wooden GS1Ke I have. The GS1000e are special in their own way all though probably my slightly weaker link from what I’ve heard pairing wise on the RNHP they still performed well together despite not having those solid full bloodied mids I know the GS1000e are truly capable of.


    Pioneer Master SE1…

    These are a headphone every time I went to a show over the course of the last couple of years since they released the SE1 I heard them and every time they just had that sound I was looking for in a headphone and finally acquired the SE1 Masters a few weeks before I received the Neve for review and first impressions getting the SE1’s at home were good with my Walkman as they are so ultra-efficient to drive it is not until you have something like the Hugo or Mojo Dac feeding the RNHP amp I was able to see how much they really do scale up to their full potential in terms of details and accuracy in reproduction when you have a dedicated amplifier driving the SE1’s.

    The Pioneers are a very versatile all round headphone that suits any genre thrown at it capable of a very dynamic fluid and accurate sound that is very well balanced and this is what makes the RNHP a perfect match for the Pioneers as they sounded in harmony together from the sound-stage and imaging which sounds seamlessly stitched together with a pace and attack that makes the mids have an amazing transparency which lends to the accurate and pin point imaging which has great depth and width on this SE1’s.

    A track from Kaleo “No Good” really stretches the headroom,, speed and dynamics of a pair of headphones but the RNHP’s control & fast harmonics gives this song so much depth to layering of the music even though it is a loud & lively rock blues song with vocals that scale high in the upper mid-range the RNHP delivers it all in perfect separation and timing it just flows naturally on the SE1’s. From playing tracks like the recently released new Goldfrapp album the track System Magic has so much versatility in range with frequency’s and a changes pace and dynamic shifts very quickly with hard hitting backbeat bass and the electric driven mid-centric synthesizers piercing the soundtrack never over shadow Alison Goldfrapp's smooth golden voice throughout the song which is clear as a whistle to follow her singing something special.

    Another new found album which really is a highly recorded piece of material that really shows of the scope in space and black backdrop these headphones can perform to with the RNHP is the Yello – Toy album which shows how good just normal 16 bit cd quality can sound when engineered to its ultimate best and then played on gear as wide ranging as both the RNHP and the SE1’s. The above was the same story every time I heard the RNHP SE1 combo with any genre of music from Classical sounding equally as good as my GS1000e’s in scale and detail rendering on a black canvas to film scores involving orchestras like Tron with Daft Punk or the Inception soundtrack are immersive with a natural balance and dynamic range that makes it feel like you are listening to an Atmos system in a cinema room with the headroom and frequency fresh hold both seem to be able to go to.

    I have heard these on a few top amps in the times I have tried the SE1’s at shows but the RNHP prowess for musicality as equal to detail retrieval without sounding so analytical it is like a wall paper stripper wit detail which makes the RNHP able to work with a high end headphone such as the Master SE1’s pedigree. The other headphones were all very listenable for long sessions with the RNHP but it was the SE1’s combination with the amp that had me staying up until 2am saying “just one more track” 15 tracks ago!


    Sennheiser 560 Ovations open backs…


    I borrowed my Dads trusty 25 year old Senn 560 Ovation open backs as they are the only higher impendence headphones I could obtain at the time of writing as my collection consists of efficient headphones now days, not intentionally, just the way it has panned out and do regret letting go of my trusty old Beyer DT770 600 ohm cans two years ago also so with these Senn’s been 300 ohm.

    I could at least see how they coped with a semi hard to drive headphone but did seem to hold its own although it was the furthest I had had the volume pot turned up in my time which was also determined with which line input was used with the set gain settings for each input also contributed to where the volume sat on the dial but there was room still left to play with these 300 ohm Senn’s but would be cautious if I was getting a pair of 600 ohm cans and would want to try it first with the RNHP as I am not entirely sure it would keep its control and authority with a pair of 600 ohm cans so for those with monster sucking cans try them together first to make sure this amp will drive a 600 ohm pair of headphones.

    With the Senn 300 ohm open backs though the RNHP still controlled the Senn’s well keeping bass notes tight although the Senn's are probably bass light on the low end the mids are more forward on these with an open airy finely tuned sound with plenty of clarity,

    These are very different in signature before the days of the HD650 designs and is more the Sennheiser sound I remember growing up with this pair of Senn’s showed an honest signature reflection through the RNHP so matched on a musical level as well as power delivery in been able to drive them.


    Conclusion...

    Having first heard this in the corner of the room at a CanJam show back in 2016 and been impressed with it then for what was just a brief 15 minute quick fire round with favourite tracks on my DAP through a Hugo DAC to the RNHP had been wanting to listen to this again and was lucky enough this time around to listen to this in the comfort of my own comfy chair for a few weeks.

    My only worry from that brief initial demo at the show was maybe it sounded a bit too forward and maybe a little shouty which would become monotonous after a period of listening each time… In short and long the answer is no, the RNHP is actually able to bring you closer to the music without fatiguing your ears without sounding shouty nor over analytical in showing you the details in songs and can only conclude after hearing this with my current line up I have of IEMS and Headphones which vary in range across the board they all perform well with the RNHP due to the source remaining uncoloured through the RNHP and just improving IEMs and headphones further.


    It may not be quite perfect but for a first time attempt from a studio great into the home audiophile arena (by accident almost) which is already cluttered to say the least with looks that is like Marmite (you either will love it or hate it) and there will be many loving what this amp produces but will be saying where is the XLR balanced outputs for headphones despite its generous and versatile line in options but what you get for your money is attention to the sound as priority which shines through and thee really won’t be many amps out there for the money and then some that will have this all round performance. So would like to see for sure XLR balanced inputs in future and even to maybe get a big jump on many out there would be the 4.4 TRRS balanced which will quickly be the go to TRRS balanced in next year or so and having a selectable gain switching rather than calibrated line inputs which would be more versatile option.

    Other than that I can safely say my brief impressions of first hearing it the Canjam show having “liked it” was wrong as having it for a few weeks it turned out I LOVED this small simplistic yet amazing amp that does what it says on the tin desktop amp from Rupert Neve Audio.


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    L8MDL and rocketron like this.

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