Red Wine Audio Audez'e Edition Headphone System

Photo Credit: Steve Guttenberg

You can't listen to a headphone without plugging it into an amplifier of some kind: an iPod, portable device or a maxed out home amp. It's really the combination of the two we hear, so when we talk about the "sound" of a headphone, it's more about the sound of a headphone/amp system.

Lets get started.

The Combination of the Two
I first heard the Audez'e LCD-2 headphone with a Red Wine Audio Isabellina HPA LFP-V Edition amplifier ($2,500) at the 2010 CANJAM at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver. I was totally knocked out by their sound, and later separately reviewed both products. Since that time I've listened to the LCD-2 with a variety of amps, and the Burson Audio HA-160 and Woo Audio WA-6SE, are among my favorites. But the memory of the LCD-2/Red Wine combo was the one I could not shake. Man, they were good together, but now there's something better, Red Wine's new Audez’e Edition Amp. Like all of the company's products, the new amp was designed and built in Vinnie Rossi's small factory in Durham, CT.

The amp shares a number of features with the Isabellina, but the new one is a balanced output design, so you can't use it with headphones with 6.3 or 3.5 mm plugs. The Audez’e Edition Headphone System includes an ALO balanced cable, terminated with a 4-pin XLR connector. The Audez’e Edition isn't just a headphone amp, it also sports two digital-to-analog converters: a high-resolution Wolfson 24-bit/192-kHz and a N.O.S. (no oversampling) Philips "Crown" DAC. Each DAC has its own sonic flavor, and you can choose between them with a flip of a switch. Philips stopped making that DAC in the 1990s, but Rossi still loves their sound. There are three digital inputs -- USB, Coax, and Optical -- but no analog inputs. With the Wolfson DAC you get up to 24-bit/192-kHz resolution over the coax or optical inputs, and 16/44.1 and 16/48K over USB. That input provides “galvanic isolation” to block computer generated noise from the Red Wine DAC chip, and intruding on your tunes. The Audez'e Edition is a fully-discrete FET output design. There are fixed-level stereo analog RCA outputs, which allow you to use the Red Wine Audez'e as a DAC for your hi-fi system.

Photo Credit: Red Wine Audio

The Red Wine Audez'e runs off a state-of-the-art 25.6 volt “Lithium Iron Phosphate” (LFP for short) battery power supply. No need to buy powerline conditioners for this system; the battery-powered Audez'e Edition is off the A.C. power grid. The low-impedance battery pack is manufactured exclusively for Red Wine Audio and is designed for long battery life. The pack features a built-in, custom-designed cell management board that balances individual battery cells, for improved reliability. A full charge lasts approximately five hours, for longer sessions you can run the Audez'e Edition from the A.C. power supply. The battery gets charged whenever you play the amp with A.C. power and when you turn off the amp.

The Audez'e Edition can deliver 5 watts into 32 ohms, and 10 watts into 16 ohm headphones! Rossi can also custom build the balanced amp optimized for AKG K1000 headphones. It has power to spare! The amp also works with Sennheiser HD-800, 650, and 600 'phones wired for balanced operation. The Hifiman HE-06 and HE-500 headphones are also suitable candidates for use with the amp. If you have any questions about compatibility with other headphones, check with Red Wine.

The nicely machined, anodized black front panel and brilliant red volume control look sharp; the unit measures a scant 12 inches wide, 9 deep, and 3.5 high. It weighs 9 pounds, light enough to take with you, but too heavy for truly "portable" use.

Red Wine Audio
51 Ozick Drive
Suite 101
Durham, CT 06422
(860) 398-5385

wnmnkh's picture

...why the amp has battery on it. By the size, they are hardly portable.

I think people who buy 4k USD headphone amp certainly do not want to carry them around. Well, at least I wouldn't.

tubefan kt88's picture

i think the bateries are not associated with portability, mostly they are associated with residual noise reduction wich transformer power supplies have. there are tube amps that have a batery only for the filaments in order to reduce the 60Hz or 50Hz noise

RudeWolf's picture

While beneficial to sound quality they sure do add to the maintenance costs. I think that my one-box will be the HA-160D, good value for the asking price.

P.S. Is LCD-2 really the second coming?

LFF's picture

Wow...looks like I need to listen to this combo sometime soon based upon this review. $5k for a semi-complete system is quite pricey though....

VagabondJ's picture

Nice review, Steve, though also slightly depressing (and I thought the Apex Volcano was out my league/price range...)

One question in regard to your comment re: the Burson getting your highest recommendation for LCD-2 owners looking for a solid state. I had thought from previous posts elesewhere that you thought the Musical Fidelity M1 HPA had a slightly better/fuller sound than the Burson. Has that opinion changed?

Also, which version of the LCD-2s were you using for this, Rev1 or Rev2?

Nakaroxx's picture

this setup must be awesome, how do d7000 sound with red wine amp?

raysclim's picture

Hello Steve

Nice review . enjoy it very much.

I recently bought a LCD2-2 and aiming it to be my last headphone in many years.
therefore , I am determine to have Gear to let LCD2-2 perform at it's best.
I am still waiting for it to reach my doorstep .

I am convinced that red wind Audeze's edition amp. is heavenly match for LCD2-2 .
however , my current system setup are violectric V200 and Audiolab MDAC .
how does this setup compared with Redwine with LCD2-2 ?

My portable rig is CLAS Solo DAC + ALO continental V2 , how does this pair with LCD2-2 ?
upcoming also IBASSO DX100 . wonder if it works with LCD2-2 too ?

Many thanks

simonskyler's picture

The name sounds great. It fits conveniently by those of Messrs. Spill, Sugden, Walker, Grant, Lumley, and others of Britain's most rightly worshipped speaker manufacturers. Actually, when their wholesaler called and inquired as to whether I'd like to survey the most recent enhancer from Croft Acoustics, I acknowledged without really knowing who they are, basically in light of the fact that they seemed like somebody I should know—somebody who's been around for a long time or somewhere in the vicini .