The launching of a new brand into the audiophile world sometimes seems like a weekly if not daily occurrence. Seldom however does this foray into audiophile insanity come from such a respected and treasured name like Rupert Neve, but the new FIDELICE line of three new audiophile electronics devices aims to take over this hobby, community, and industry in short order.
If you’re not familiar with Rupert Neve do yourself a favor and back-tracking through history, starting with my Rupert Neve Designs show coverage from Axpona 2019 linked HERE.
In the HeadSpace portion of the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019, the Rupert Neve Designs booth stood tall, with three new offerings from it’s FIDELICE line; a DAC, a phono-stage, and headphone amplifier. One of their lead engineers was on hand to tell me all about the new trio.
The flagship product, the Fidelice Precision Digital-to-Analog Converter (also preamp and headphone amplifier) features a new topology headphone amplifier, however it uses the same TPA6120 driver with Class-A power as found in the pro-side RNHP Headphone amplifier. All of the analog circuitry leading up to that chip, is completely new and different.
The DAC side of things, include the usual USB, Coax, Toslink variety inputs. Analog inputs around back include unbalanced RCA, and balanced XLR. Specs are DSD512 (22.4MHz), and in PCM mode the DAC is capable of reproducing 24-bit, 384 kHz.
Outputs include XLR and RCA, both fixed and variable, located on the back of the device, along with three headphone outputs on the front: TRS unbalanced, XLR balanced, and PENTACONN balanced. Also included are a high-gain switch to allow the use of higher impedance headphones.
The Fidelice Precision Headphone Amplifier, is more than a reskin of the existing pro-studio-side RNHP. The new Fidelice model features increased gain and higher quality output coupling caps. Each of its three sets of inputs is specifically calibrated for optimal level and impedance, those include: XLR/TRS, RCA, and 3.5mm.
The Fidelice Precision Phono Pre-Amplifier is a new design based around the classic amplifier topologies that have made Mr. Rupert Neve’s microphone preamplifiers so sought-after for decades. Purpose-designed low-noise JFET-based discrete Class-A amplifiers are implemented throughout the signal path for both MM and MC gain stages. Switchable 18dB/octave rumble filter, and the MM signal path also includes selectable capacitance of either 110pF or 220pF to pair with a large variety of cartridges.
Listening to the new Fidelice Precision DAC’s headphone output with the new ZMF Verite Closed-back design, was a revelation. Just moments before I had listened to the Verite on an overbuilt monster of a tube headphone amplifier and was wowed. On the new Fidelice piece I was treated to an incredibly detailed and neutral sound that shown the versatility of the ZMF headphones. Bass was tighter and cleaner compared to the tube sound, gone was the fatness, but I welcomed the greater detail in the low regions. Air and gloss abounded the treble regions and I was hooked.