Rupert Neve Fidelice Precision DAC, Phono Preamplifier, and Headphone Amplifier, Rosson Audio Designs RAD-0 Headphones, Focal Stellia Headphones, Massdrop x Sennheiser 6XX Headphones

Rupert Neve Designs, the legendary pro-audio maker of recording studio consoles and other equipment for concert halls and beyond, has expanded its product offerings for the home-audio market—ie, music lovers and audiophiles—with its new Fidelice series, including a full-featured DAC/controller with Neve's analog circuitry and an AKM-based DAC chip inside, a phono preamp, and a headphone amp. The three Fidelice components share a retro-modern look with matte aluminum casings with inlayed mahogany wood on top, red-accented control dials, little throw switches, LED lights, and tiny text that reminded me a bit of my first piece of gear, an oldie-but-goodie Advent 300 receiver. Their form factor is distinctive too: trapezoidal with rounded edges, with the DAC housed in a larger chassis.

The Fidelice DAC/preamp ($4995) is quite a versatile component across sources and connectivity, starting with all the usual inputs: USB (compatible with MAC, PC, iOS, and Android sources), coaxial, optical, RCA analog and XLR analog, and 0.25" balanced analog. Also for headphones there's a reference amp inside with 0.25" unbalanced, balanced XLR, and even balanced Pentaconn outputs. It uses a customized AKM-based DAC chip (reportedly developed after listening tests to at least five different off-the shelf chips) and is capable of DSD playback to DSD512, and up to 384kHz/32-bit in PCM mode—and nerdily enough (yay!) the sample rate of your current PCM or DSD track is indicated by LED display on the front panel. There are five user-selectable filters for tonal tweaking too, though I didn't try these, as well as a high-gain switch for less efficient headphones.

A brief listen to a few familiar tracks via a pair of XLR-connected Rosson Audio Designs RAD-0 planar-magnetic headphones ($2499) yielded spacious and highly resolved yet very substantial sound, with a remarkable sense of soundstaging/instrumental placement I've seldom experienced through headphones. I'd be very interested in hearing this unit in a two-channel system.

The Fidelice Precision Headphone Amplifier ($1195) with RCA, XLR, and 3.5mm inputs . . .

. . . and Phono Pre-Amplifier ($1195), which is suitable for MM and MC cartridge use (40dB and 60dB of gain, respectively), were presented as well. The latter includes low-noise class-A amps in the signal path, passive RIAA filter, and a Rumble Filter. MrSpeakers Aeon ($799), Massdrop x Sennheiser 6XX ($220), and Focal Stellia ($2999) headphones were also on hand for listening.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

All those Rupert Neve Design Fidelice components shown above deserve a review by Stereophile :-) ......