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Rupert Neve RNHP Headphone Amp Review

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Rupert Neve RNHP headphone amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member. The RNHP costs US $499. That is beyond the price of some of the best headphone amplifiers so performance better be good.

The casework while DIY-like, has just enough touches to differentiate it:

RNHP Headphone Amplifier Audio Review.jpg

I like the red knob and the graphics around it.

The LEDs are actually buttons you push to select one of three inputs:
Best headphone Amplifier Back Panel Inputs Reviewed.jpg

Nice to see XLR inputs. The external power supply is a bit larger than typical phone charger and comes with sliding adapters for different mains connectors.

The chassis quite heavy and substantial, making you feel like you could drive on it and it would survive.

I did not like the long thumping and pumping sound when you power the unit on. Likely pushing DC into the headphones and not stabilizing quickly either.

Note that there is no gain switch so if you have channel imbalance with the volume control, you are stuck with it.

Headphone Amplifier Measurements
As usual, we start by pumping a super low distortion and noise 1 kHz sine wave into the amp at 4 volts and see what we get out:

RNHP Headphone Amplifier Audio Measurements.png


Noise spectrum as seen in the FFT display is clean. SINAD which is the sum of distortion and noise comes in at 101 dB which is caused by 2nd harmonic. This kind of performance would have been very good a few years ago. But now? It is well below a dozen or more amplifiers:

Best headphone Amplifier Reviewed.png


Noise performance is good and less of an issue than distortion:
RNHP Headphone Amplifier SNR Audio Measurements.png


Most quiet headphone amplifier.png


Frequency response is ruler flat which is excellent:
RNHP Headphone Amplifier Frequency Response Audio Measurements.png


So any tonality difference you hear is most likely in your head especially when you consider its very low output impedance:
lowest impedance headphone amplifier review tested.png


Power output into high impedance load of 300 ohm is good:

RNHP Headphone Amplifier Power into 300 Ohm Audio Measurements.png


Not so good is when you lower the impedance of the load to 33 ohm:

RNHP Headphone Amplifier Power into 33 Ohm Audio Measurements.png


Strange how distortion takes over at just a few milliwatts and stays constant. The worst part is limited output power of just 280 milliwatts. I expect well over 1000 milliwatts in this price category.

Channel balance is not great:

RNHP Headphone Amplifier Channel balance Audio Measurements.png


Headphone Listening Tests
I started using my Sennheiser HD-650 high impedance headphone. Performance here was excellent and I could reach quite high levels with no sign of distortion.

The situation changed drastically when I tried my Ether CX 25 ohm headphones. Above 12:00 o'clock on the volume control the sound would get bright (due to high distortion) and then proceed to drop out and glitch as you turned up the volume even more. For comparison, I went back to my Topping DX3 Pro and it has no such problem driving the same headphones. The DX3 Pro costs half as much and comes with a DAC included!

Conclusions
Unlike a lot of boutique audio products, the RNHP is not particularly broken. With 300 ohm load it actually sounds find and provides good objective performance. Low impedance headphones that are inefficient though give it a very hard time causing its performance to fall apart. At this price point, there is no excuse for this.

If you have it, and are using a high impedance headphone with it that is getting loud enough, then it is fine to keep it. But I would not purchase one new given half a dozen superb sounding and performing headphone amplifiers with more features and lower prices.

Needless to say, I can't recommend the RNHP.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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Penguino

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Did you test the 3.5mm input? It's supposed to have a significant increase in gain, and I'm curious how that affects things.
 

Blumlein 88

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Conclusion it actually sounds find ,,......I believe it should be fine.


I think your description was dead on and perceptive. NOT particularly broken.
 

pavuol

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I think there should be a rule for manufacturers for listing output power for some given set of compulsory headphone impedances like 16 / 32 / 50 / 150 / 300 / 600, for easier comparison/reference. So for example, this model, which they claim can drive any headphone up to 600 Ohm, full set of mentioned values listed (they list only 16 & 150), and another model, with explicit "support" from manufacturer e.g up to 150 Ohm, with listed power for only 16/32/50/150Ω.
 

Rja4000

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Now, for a Pro market device, 4Vrms is probably low.
It is given for 22.8dBu max, which is 10dB more than 4V.
Did you measure it at higher input level, say +19dBu?

Also, Rupert Neve is known for its "RN Signature" preamps. I mean he assumes recreating a typical "Neve" sound for studio preamps.
So it's possible the flat distortion from 3mw is intentional. We've seen another example in the past here. (Was it this one ?)

Lack of power at lower impedance is another story. Its according to their specs, though.
 
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gvl

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Why do you need a 6W PSU if the unit produces less than 1W ?
 

solderdude

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Also, Rupert Neve is known for its "RN Signature" preamps. I mean he assumes recreating a typical "Neve" sound for studio preamps.
So it's possible the flat distortion from 3mw is intentional. We've seen another example in the past here. (Was it this one ?)

If it were intentional then it would manifest itself in the 300 Ohm load as well.
In the Polaris it is intentional (the channel imbalance wasn't :confused:) and isn't 'flat' but rising on purpose to mimic non-overal feedback triode designs.
You will see that in such a case the distortion rises in both 33 and 300 Ohm load.
 

YSC

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My good old auralic Taurus mk II amp was said inspired by the Rupert Neve consoles and sounds great serving me well over the years. So I have had great hope on this performing good but sadly it’s just soso
 

solderdude

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Why do you need a 6W PSU if the unit produces less than 1W ?

Could be because it allows him to use a standard available power supply
or:
As the output current is limited to 150mA peak per channel (so 300mA peak stereo) + some extra current means 0.35A (at 24V) = 8.4W is needed

The used TPA6120A is capable of much more output current though but the used series resistors (20 Ohm which are in the feedback loop) will limit the output current.
 
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Xulonn

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I can't wait to see that measured
Doing by best Maty imitation, here are the specs from the RN website:

Neve HA.jpg


Question: How do you "configure" a battery?
 

Doodski

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Doing by best Maty imitation, here are the specs from the RN website:

View attachment 54245

Question: How do you "configure" a battery?
I'm guessing this implies when using 2-12V DC batteries or 4-6V DC batteries configured for 12 V DC output. I've never seen a 24V DC battery but they may exist and just be very uncommon.
 

YSC

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the output spec is disappointed given the current trend of having quite some planar headphones needing a ton of power
 

Svperstar

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I remember reading Rupert Neve sounds similar to the Gilmore "wire with gain" designs and is very clinical. Always nice to see the classics get measured.

Still waiting on Gilmore Lite mk2 measurments.
 
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Hugo9000

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In fairness to Schiit, let me point out that this product has its power switch on the rear, so let's all complain about Rupert Neve as well for doing that! hahaha! "Who wants to buy this thing with the power switch on the back, where you can't reach it or see what the heck you're doing?" :eek::D

It seems like that comes up a lot in criticisms of Schiit products, so I felt a 'need' to chime in here lol. I personally don't mind, if I wanted the item I'd put it where I could easily get at the switch or I'd just leave it on all the time, but clearly some people feel strongly about it.

@T.M.Noble can thank me if he wishes haha I do try to be fair.
 

Cahudson42

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Can anyone point out a reason to buy this thing over the Geshelli Archel Pro 2.5 @ $180?
 
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