This product has now been superceded by the improved RNHP Fidelice Precision Headphone Amp - click here for more.
The question has always been whether this expertise in the recording studio could be matched in the living room. Like other reviewers before her, the answer to this is an emphatic 'YES'.
It can never be taken for granted that recording studio expertise will be translated into success in the home audio market - these are to very distinctive and specific fields after all. Perhaps one of the reasons for the success of the RNHP is the fact that it was never developed for the domestic market to begin with so was not born of a constrained commercial brief. Its development was a purely practical one: accurate headphone monitoring.
"The new 24V 6W RNHP headphone amp", writes Janine, "is based on the headphone output circuit in the 5060 'Centerpiece Desktop Mixer'. Headphone monitoring in the studio is sometimes a necessity and Rupert Neve can see the importance of a reliable and accurate monitoring source".
Its genesis is most obvious in the rather 'industrial' appearance of the casework, a purposeful design which allows for VESA-mounting on the mixing desk and protection of the front controls from glancing blows (the metal casework overhangs the front panel creating a buffer). It's never going to win any art prizes then. The flip side of this is that the money has clearly been allocated to the internal design and components, and this certainly shows when you listen to what this modestly priced amp can achieve in musical terms.
"The openness from the [Audio Technica W1000X headphones] and the clarity and depth from the RNHP gave a fullness of sound in Ray La Montagne's "Till Son Turns Black" that I hadn't heard so well on a headphone amplifier anywhere near this price".
The reviewer also chose the album Gravity by Johannes Fischer as a well recorded piece which displayed the "indicate initial transients and decays of percussion sounds" and she was extremely impressed with the manner in which the RNHP handled it. Her observation that "this was getting addictive, and the more I wanted to unplug and get on with other house work, the less I could" is telling. In my experience, the harder it is to stop listening to something, the better it's sounding. Indeed, this is a pretty fool-proof way to assess just how 'right' your system is!
Listening to Jazz Masters Vol.1 from STS Recordings, the small, tight group of musicians brought out the accuracy of the amps rendition. "Being accurate didn't make this RNHP boring", she observed. "Quite the opposite. It was lifelike, and that was far more important, getting me very close to the musicians; more so than most headphone amps I have tried. A sound engineers dream."
"For around £469 the RNHP was far more than just the headphone stage of a mixing desk", she concludes. "This was a far more musical and authentic product than its price point might suggest".
Sound Quality: Detailed, quick, and very good headroom, with a classy bass end and treble finesse. A totally neutral performance with nothing added or taken away.
Value For Money: One of the best headphone amps I have heard, whatever the price. Worth a listen to and if bought from Russ Andrews you get a 14 Day 'Home Equipment Trial' just to be sure.