Rupert Neve is a very well known name in studio equipment design and manufacture, especially components for those eponymous analogue mixing desks over 40 years ago, used on countless invaluable LPs. He himself is now 90 years old, and began in audio nearly 80 years ago! Although his original Neve company was sold way back in 1973, he’s currently involved in Rupert Neve Designs, which operates out of America as a relatively new company specializing in studio plug-ins.
Although most of the components produced by Rupert Neve Designs are essentially Pro-oriented, this £469 ($549) RNHP headphone amplifier is more of a crossover product that will appeal to both professional and domestic consumers. Indeed, while the prime UK distributor is the Pro-oriented Sonic Distribution, our supplier of the US-built RNHP was Russ Andrews, and its price included free UK mainland delivery. It is covered by that company’s 14-day home equipment trial and 12-month warranty.
The description notes a high-power, high-headroom design for driving up to high-impedance (600 Ohm) headphones, combined with a near-zero output impedance: less than 0.1 Ohm is claimed at 1kHz, via the direct-coupled, current-feedback Texas Instruments chip amplifier. XLR or TRS inputs (for balanced professional devices) are partnered with an RCA / phono pair, the latter calibrated for -10dBV signals and selected with the ‘B’ switch. A 3.5mm jack input is also fitted and is ‘specifically calibrated’ to work with mobile devices like phones, computers and digital cameras.
The external plug-top switch-mode power supply operates at 24 Volt, 6 Watt DC, but the unit may also be powered using a 24V, 250mA rated battery (not sold by Neve). Output powers are quoted as typically 300mW into 44 Ohms, 230mW into 16 Ohms and 175mW into 150 Ohms, which are considered to be representative load values.
Maximum voltage is 5.1V into 150 Ohms, from a very low output impedance of 0.08 Ohms. The claimed wide frequency response is 10Hz to 120kHz (+/-0.2dB) with typical (and confirmed) signal-to-noise ratios of better than 100dB. It uses a steel clamshell chassis fitted with shock-absorbing rubber feet, measures 16.5 x 4.8 x 11.7cms (WxHxD), and weighs 0.93 kg.
On the debit side, a hint of grain and sibilance in the mid treble was audible, and the soundstage was presented a little nearer than usual. The sound quality might have had a little more rock and swing, as they sounded a little detached from the primary rhythm lines and not quite as convincing in beat, weight or perspective as the venerable (albeit 20% more costly) Lehmann Linear.
Power Supply Requirements