In 2016, the Godfather of studio consoles, Rupert Neve, took aim at the home listening market, turning audiophile heads by transplanting the headphone circuit from his 5060 Centrepiece Desktop Mixer into a standalone, 3-input, 1-output headphone amplifier: the RNHP. We previewed it at its RMAF debut here and reviewed it here.
Two years on, I still have an RNHP on my desk. Not only does the Neve amp have more micro-dynamic sparkle than the Schiit Jotunheim but its volume rotary offers a reassuring firmness found nowhere else at its sub-US$1000 (€539) price point. Tactility matters.
This week comes news of a Redux. The RNHP has been reskinned and renamed. Under the umbrella “FIDELICE by Rupert Neve Designs”, the Precision Headphone Amplifier offers all of the circuitry and features of the original but comes home housed in a chassis that nods heavily in the direction of mid-Century modern furniture. On this, Rupert Neve Designs’ General Manager Josh Thomas says, “I ran into an amazing industrial designer just up the road, and we just synced up. I told him I wanted a combination of our console and a piece of Danish modern furniture that wouldn’t look dated in fifteen years, and he came up with that on the first pass!”
Single-ended headphone drive insufficient for your needs? The FIDELICE isn’t one product but a range: the second unit in the new line-up is the Precision Digital-to-Analog Converter that adds Pentaconn and XLR balanced output to an all-new circuit design that features AKM decoder chips armed with “precision clocking”. Sample rate compatibility extends to PCM 384kHz and DSD512. On inputs, we note coaxial, TOSLINK and USB for digital sources plus balanced XLR/TRS and single-ended RCA for analogue.
Analogue sources like a turntable. And all phono cartridges require phono staging. That brings us to the third product in the Rupert Neve Designs’ FIDELICE line where the Precision Phono Pre-Amplifier aims to bring the “sound of Rupert Neve” to vinyl collections. The promo says the new unit is “Based around the classic amplifier topologies that have made Rupert Neve’s microphone preamplifiers the consistently obvious choice for the world’s recording engineers since the early 1970s”.
Featuring both MM (47kOhms, 110pF or 220pF) and MC (100 Ohms, 220pF) inputs – that offer 40dB and 60dB gain respectively – the Precision Phono Pre-Amplifier’s stages are built around Class A circuitry with high-performance JFETs and BJTs. A second front panel switch dis/engages the unit’s 11.4Hz rumble filter.
Both the full-width DAC and phono pre-amplifier come wrapped in the new (and strikingly handsome) chassis design. All are made in the USA.
The headphone amplifier and phono pre will begin shipping at the end of August 2019, the DAC at the end of September. Pricing remains TBC.
Expect an update over the weekend as the new range sees its first slice of daylight at CanJam London.
Further information: Rupert Neve Designs