Whether you’re tracking, mixing, or just listening to music, your headphone amplifier is as important to the final sound quality as your headphones – yet the world is full of headphone amps with compromised sonics, headroom, and power. To address these shortcomings, Rupert and his team at Rupert Neve Designs have developed the RNHP.
Based on the headphone output circuit in the 5060 Centerpiece Desktop Mixer, the RNHP is a dedicated 24V reference-quality headphone amplifier with specifically-calibrated +4dBu balanced line, unbalanced RCA and 3.5mm (1/8”) inputs, housed in a rugged VESA-mountable steel chassis. With effortless, wide-open sonic performance and the ability to drive any pair of headphones without compromise, the RNHP allows you to perform, mix and enjoy your music with a new level of clarity.
Dedicated vs Integrated Amplifiers
For much equipment, the headphone output is an afterthought. Most products with integrated headphone amps have large feature sets, small footprints, and relatively low price points. This leads to comprised power and audio quality of the headphone amplifier itself, which can lead to a number of issues in real world usage such as low headroom, unreliable performance, and a lack of focus.
The RNHP was made to accomplish one simple purpose: making any headphones sound their best. As a dedicated design, the RNHP is tailored to deliver extremely high quality, powerful amplification, with precise calibration for any source input. This exceptional level of quality can be the difference that inspires an artist to give their best performance, lets an engineer make better choices in mic and placement, gives a mix engineer reliable translation of EQ and dynamics adjustments, or lets a music listener appreciate the full depth and detail of a recording.
Specially-Calibrated Inputs For All of Your Devices
In addition to being able to drive a wide variety of headphones without sacrificing performance, the RNHP is also capable of receiving a wide array of signals with its 3 inputs, calibrated for optimum level and impedance. Check the Application notes for how the RNHP can be utilized for different purposes.
Here are some common device examples:
Input A: +4dBu Line (XLR or TRS) Devices
Studio Audio Interfaces (Line or Monitor Out)
Headphone Mixers (Line Output or HP Out)
Mixing Consoles (Line, Aux or Monitor Out)
Professional Turntable Mixers (Line or Monitor)
Professional Stereo Digital to Analogue Converter
Professional Cameras Studio Monitor Controllers
Input B: RCA Devices
CD / DVD Players
Prosumer Recording Devices / Cameras
Input C: 3.5mm (1/8”) Stereo Devices
Portable Music Players
Handheld Recording Devices
Any 3.5mm headphone output
The RNHP is designed for mounting with any VESA 100 compatible mount. These may include pole mounts, wall mounts, table mounts, or articulating arm mounts. These mounts can help to ensure the RNHP is always in the perfect position.
In some situations where you only have one set of outputs but need to simultaneously feed the RNHP and another device such as speakers, a second headphone amplifier, or a 2-track recorder, we recommend using splitter cables from the Left and Right line outputs to feed both devices from the same stereo pair.
Unconscious Adaptation and Why Monitor Feed Integrity is Important
Great performances come from a connection between players and instruments, often at a deeply psychological level. One of the most critical roles of the RNHP is to encourage these great performances by providing the best possible monitoring experience, enhancing the connection to the instrument.
A little appreciated consequence of a non-ideal monitor path during tracking is the phenomenon of unconscious adaptation. When speaking or performing, the brain continually responds to cues from the environment without consciously being aware. Some examples of this phenomenon can be seen in how people speak louder with headphones on, or how slightly delayed auditory feedback can disrupt the speech pattern of even seasoned performers (Note to engineers: research and try out a speech jamming techniques if you ever want to be especially cruel to a performer). Although the effects of non-linear frequency response, high distortion, or low headroom in the monitor path can be subtle in comparison, the mechanism of unconscious adaption is essentially the same, and these auditory feedback anomalies disrupt the subtle emotional nuances that often separate sensational performances from all the others. As fellow music lovers and creators, our goal with the RNHP is to empower artists to perform with and react to these nuances by giving them the most unadulterated monitor path.
Another aspect where the RNHP has been designed to aid in the very best performance, is that most high-impedance studio headphones are quite difficult to drive – especially in loud tracking sessions when high monitoring levels are required. Whereas integrated headphone amplifiers lack the sufficient means to perform well under these conditions, the RNHP goes far beyond the necessary headroom and power required to ensure consistently ideal performance from all headphones – even with loud transient spikes.
The RNHP can be fed with either a traditional stereo cue feed derived from a mixing console / DAW, or in tandem with any of the readily available headphone mixers on the market to significantly improve the feedback path to the musician.
Health and Safety Tip: The flip side of the RNHP’s high headroom and power is that it can make your headphones very, very loud if turned up too high, and that could cause permanent hearing damage. Please be kind to your ears when using the RNHP, and be aware of the time limits for exposure to higher SPLs. Whenever possible, try to work at quieter levels. The RNHP will still give you a preferable listening experience at these lower levels.
Clarity and Translation You Can Trust
For modern engineers who frequently work in different spaces, use their “control” room for live tracking, or rely on a non-ideal room for mixing, headphones can be an undeniably important mixing solution. They can minimize acoustic anomalies, provide a reliable reference for critical listening choices, and function without the high SPL of loud monitors (often known to disrupt neighborly / marital bliss). In short, mixing with headphones is sometimes vital.
However, unlike static loads, the reactive load impedance that headphones present can vary greatly depending on frequency – far more so than loudspeakers. The result of this reactivity is that the frequency response, noise and distortion of many amplifiers will suffer when compared to the same amp with an ideal resistive load.
While using headphones for any form of critical listening – making decisions regarding mic placement, for example – these shifts from lesser amplifiers can provide a false account of the source material. The RNHP is designed with a near zero Ohm output impedance to minimize these issues in both individual headphones and when comparing multiple pairs of headphones. This performance is imperative for those who need to trust the decisions they make with headphones.
Your Headphones Have Never Sounded Better
Whether you’re a professional engineer surrounded by expensive studio equipment or a music lover with just a laptop on your desk or your phone on the go, the RNHP can make a huge difference in the performance of your headphones. While many people have expensive headphones that they use with their Hifi system or mobile device, those headphones are incapable of reproducing all the dynamic range, detail, and spacial information within your music without the help of an exceptional amplifier. With the direct coupled, painstakingly crafted topologies, the RNHP will give you a level of performance you have never experienced with headphones before.
Wide-open, extremely detailed sound quality allows you to get the most out of your headphones
High-power, high-headroom design can effortlessly drive high-impedance (up to 600 Ohm) headphones even during the loudest, most dynamic tracking sessions
The near-zero output impedance (.01 Ohm at 1kHz), direct-coupled amplifier design provides for excellent translation with any pair of headphones
Precision Stereo Potentiometer
The highly damped stereo potentiometer is designed to give you precise level control and maintain perfect left-right balance
Professional Line Input
The calibrated +4dBu line input is selected with the “A” switch. The combo jack accepts either XLR or TRS inputs for balanced professional devices.
The unbalanced RCA input is calibrated for -10dBV signals and is selected with the “B” switch. The RCA jack is commonly used with home stereo devices or Prosumer equipment
Stereo 3.5mm input specifically calibrated to work with mobile devices like phones, computers and digital cameras
The VESA 100 compatible mount enables you to mount the RNHP wherever it needs to be. Common mounts are 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
Steel Clamshell Chassis
The RNHP’s rugged, solid-steel chassis is built to a high industrial standard with an overhang to protect the connectors and main level control from glancing blows, as well as shock-absorbing rubberized feet
24V DC Input
The RNHP can be powered using either the included 6 watt power supply or a 24V, 0.25A min battery (not sold by RND)