dCS Lina and headphones audition adventure

Sharing the below as light subjective reading.

Today I had the chance to audition a lot of top of the line headphones on my own Rupert Neve RNHP ánd on the brand new dCS Lina Dac/Clock/Amp.

I have not read any dCS hype, nor any reviews on this pricey setup. Also, I have no experience to compare it’s performance to. My aim was to audition headphones and this amp just happened to be sitting there. It seems to do what it does very well and I was very engaged in the music, but I am not sure the headphones had more to do with that. The thought that stayed was that I was not blown away. However, it could be that I am used to my Nd5xs2 → 252/scdr → RNHP already being pretty well and I am reaching points of little gain for the higher expense. Also, vinyl blows me away, digital not as such.

Headphones auditioned (open back)

  • Audeze LCD -x and 3
  • Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000
  • HEDDphone
  • Hifiman Arya Stealth
  • Meze Empyrean
  • Spirit Torino Titano
  • T+A Solitaire P-SE
  • ZMF Atrium
  • ZMF Vérité

A close call between the ZMF Vérité, the Audeze LCD-3, with the T&A as a runner up. I will sleep on it, but currently I favour the ZMF for comfort, in combination with the RNHP and design.


I enjoy my ZMF Vérité closed backs with the modest Naim Atom Headphone Edition. Comfortable and not too heavy. The wood is attractive too. dCS Lina is well out of my price range, but it is interesting to hear reference systems and sometimes realise that they are not always astonishing. Comfort is the thing for extended listening on headphones. Thanks for posting.


Thank you. I had auditioned the Audeze earlier and was impressed by the sound, but not by the comfort. The ones I tried today were better, perhaps not all are built equal, but the ZMF sounded very nice as well, but were also very comfortable. You are right, in the end, comfort is very important.

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Head-fi reviewed Lina last week. But I don’t want one. I note what you say about vinyl, I switched to CD over 30 years ago and I fear have never heard my records on a high end system. Though a family friend had orange Quads. I talked about vinyl to my wife and teens and twenties children who were not encouraging. They are happy streaming to the Mu-So! I’ll stick to Qobuz on headphones and be contented for the moment.


I’m taking dCS to court. How dare they use my daughter’s name in a product without paying her billions of pounds! :sweat_smile:


I don’t have the magazine, but what I heard different from the RNHP: more definition, tighter control. Marginally though and I think that might be because we did use the Lina Master Clock and Dac on the rnhp as well.

I think the Atom HE is a wonderful machine btw!

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Head fi is actually a forum with lots of interesting opinions on headphone gear. I won’t link to it as dCS need no promotion from me here! But you can google it. There are many who use valve headphone amplifiers on there too. ZMF in the States promote the Cayin HA-300B MK II. I associate valves with the warm mellow sound of the old radio when I was a child, but I could be completely wrong. The only modern headphone amplifier I’ve listen to is the Atom H.E. I know RNHP has an excellent reputation. I wanted to get away from streaming from a Mac, so an all in one streamer suits me at the moment.

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Got to say my ZMF Verite remain completely beguiling, either from a DAP or Trilogy 933 headphone amp on my main system. I have a few headphones and IEMs now but just keep coming back to them.

Nordost blue heaven added a little top end freshness over stock cable but mine are closed back, may not be as relevant for the open version?

Enjoy your journey.



Thank you (I had to translate “beguiled”, but I now know it’s positive :sunglasses:). The journey is fast, I just put in the order for the Vérité open. Can’t wait!

A nice looking little valve amp is somewhere on my wishlist, but not immediately. First some lucky time with new headphones and enjoy what I have.

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Enjoy your Vérité!

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Vérité means truth in French. Is it a french brand ?

US made I believe. Fancy French words look cool I suppose. However, I heard my oldest son’s name means dust pan in French… :thinking:

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Thank you!

A lot of the warmer sound can come from distortion from pushing the tubes too hard. This is more common in tube amps lower down in the price scale. High end Tube amps can be neutral / transparent sounding depending on the tubes.

I’ve placed an order for the Feliks Envy as I wanted it’s dynamic, natural, neutral tones as it pairs very well with the Meze Elite and Empyrean. Basically, some solid state amps sound like tube amps and some tube amps sound like solid state.

Edit. Just to say, the Atom HE is probably one of the best sounding headphone amps I’ve had. Love mine, from the sound quality to how it looks and feels to use.

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Thank you! I have no experience of modern high end valves. Would you need to use an analogue source to use such an amp? I’m streaming everything at the moment.

Any source with either XLR or RCA out. I’ll be using XLR out of the Atom HE into the Envy but, will also try RCA from the Hugo 2 as well.

I prefer the Atom HE, especially it’s Roon implementation, so that’s what intend to use. Makes it easy to flip over to the Feliks tubes and back again if you fancy a change or you reach the 8hr limit on running tubes.

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There is a limit on how many hours you can run tubes??

With the Feliks and other tube amp manufacturers they recommend an amp should be ran no longer than 6 - 8 hrs at a time. After which it should be rested for 30mins to 1hr before being able to run it again for another 6- 8 hrs. It’s down to managing system wear from heat.

It’s also why I’d always have a solid state amp as well for long passive listening while working etc.

Interesting, must check the instructions on my Allnic!