Today, it seems that no audio company delivers more natural, authentic sound and higher value than Pennsylvania-based Rogue Audio. Their $1495 Sphinx phono-line integrated amplifier was the first product I investigated for Stereophile, and it continues to wow me with its ability to play with more all-around finesse than competing units costing many times as much. It is truly the working man’s amplifier.
In that spirit, Rogue now introduces their first headphone amp/preamplifier, the RH-5 ($2495), which not only looks sleek and timeless in that oval-windowed Rogue way, it features three line-level RCA inputs and one pair of balanced XLR inputs. Used as a preamplifier, the RH-5 includes both balanced and single-ended outputs. Headphone outputs include 3- and 4-pin balanced XLR outputs, plus two 1/4″ TSR headphone jacks, and remote control!
The RH-5 has three faceplate-accessible gain settings and, as you can see, had no trouble driving two of the world’s finest (but difficult to drive) headphones, simultaneously in parallel: the Abyss AB-1226 and the Hifiman HE1000. The RH-5 is a two-tube mu-follower design with high-current MOSFET-buffered outputs. You know I love these new “fusion products,” and this beautiful headphone amp/preamp is also available with an optional ($400) MM/MC phono stage. How much luxurious fusion is that?
During my brief audition, the ease and liveliness with which it drove the Abyss and Hifiman headphones made me smile and ask, “May I please review this crazy-good thing?” They smiled and nodded “yes.” I can hardly wait.