Hegel H80 Integrated Amplifier Preview

Discussion in 'Amps, Pre-Pros & Receivers' started by admin, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. admin Audioholics Robot Staff Member

    admin
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    Hegel has made a name for themselves with their standalone integrated amps, amplifiers, and DACs. The H80 takes some of the top integrated amp, pre-amp, and DAC technology and puts it in the same box. Hegel is certainly giving you something for your $2000 with the Hegel H80 integrated amplifier. Sporting three analogue inputs (two RCA, one balanced), four digital (two optical, two coax), and a USB to your computer, Hegel is breaking from audiophile tradition by including so much functionality in one box. Can you get more for less? Yes. But you can also get less for a lot more. We applaud Hegel for breaking the audiophile mold and branching out into digital files.
    [​IMG]

    Discuss "Hegel H80 Integrated Amplifier Preview" here. Read the article.
  2. Andreas Audioholic Intern

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    An integrated Amp with a built in DAC is on my short list for my 2 channel setup.

    They seem to be the rage. McIntosh, Bryston and Naim all have there high end versions as well.
  3. panteragstk Audioholic Chief

    panteragstk
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    Just wanted to point out that Ubuntu is Linux.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Ole-Henrik J. Audiophyte

    Ole-Henrik J.
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    I own Hegel H200 amp and Hegel HD20 DAC, they use the same systems in H80 as well. The DAC works of course on a Windows PC as on Linux (which Ubuntu is) and Apple products. No drivers needed at all, except from if you want to use 24-bit/192kHz (where this is supported over USB) over 24-bit/96kHz (which is both nonsense as you don't need anything above 16-bit/48kHz)

    The remote controller goes thorugh the USB connection and inputs a complete standard keyboard set to play/pause, stop and skip/prev the tracks. The commands are identical to any USB keyboard with the same buttons, so if your USB keyboard is working, the (built-in) DAC is working.

    Else Hegel says all their amps handle impedance down to at least 2 ohms.
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  5. cpp Audioholic Field Marshall

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    That H200 is a nice unit.
    cpp,
  6. Ole-Henrik J. Audiophyte

    Ole-Henrik J.
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    It sure is :) It's powerful, has non-colored sound, and what I like a lot: it has HomeTeatre-input, which means I can connect it as a power amp to my pre-outs at Denon AVR-X4000 surround amp :) But also be able to use it as full analog stereo system with my record player :)
  7. Boomzilla Enthusiast

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    I find the Hegel H80 to have a recessed sounding midrange that seems to be an artifact of the Hegel's DAC. The Hegel does a nice job with lots of apparent detail, but it isn't the most accurate amp I've heard. So what's wrong with the Hegel sound (in addition to the apparent "back of the auditorium perspective on voices?" Well, there's the bass... To say that the Hegel makes my system sound like a boom-box would be an overstatement, but not too much of one... The bass is extended, but also overly emphasized. Some (most?) apparently like the effect, but I don't.

    The other thing that the Hegel does that I don't like is to emphasize lower treble detail. The treble isn't bright, per se, but it has more of an edge to it than do more neutral amps. Although initially appealing (Wow! Listen to all that detail!), it is ultimately less accurate, bordering on irritating.

    I can see why audio show presenters like to use the Hegel amps to demo their speakers. Like the TV store where all the screens are calibrated for excess brightness and far too much contrast (for a picture that "pops" as compared to the competition), the Hegel amp presents a sound that similarly "pops." But only for a short time... Just as your TV picture improves significantly when you calibrate the black levels and reduce the contrast from factory settings, the Hegel would improve similarly if you could flatten the perceived frequency response and reduce its "contrast." But unlike a television, you can't alter the Hegel's sound once you get it home.

    Don't get me wrong - I can see how many folks would prefer the Hegel's sound, especially if their speakers were somewhat bass-shy and forward in the vocal ranges. The "Hegel sound" isn't completely unpleasant, but it isn't completely neutral, either.

    It speaks volumes that so many reviewers find the Hegel amplifiers to be "high-end." Yes, the Hegel is better than some other integrated amplifiers and receivers that I've ever heard, but when compared to even modest separate components, much less exceptional ones, the Hegel just doesn't measure up. Of course, in the "high end world," the list price of the Hegel is peanuts, so perhaps the reviewers are actually meaning to say "it's good for the price?" I'd disagree with that assessment, too, but that's a discussion for another day.

    The more accurate the rest of your system, the less I think that the Hegel will satisfy. That said, I think that the H80's integrated amplifier is a far better product than the H80's internal DAC. Even so, I expected better for the money, and especially after reading all the "rave" reviews.

    So am I keeping my Hegel? Yes, I am. Why? Because it makes a good alternative for some speakers, because it is light and compact, and because sometimes i want a different "flavor" for my listening. The Hegel provides those things, and, having bought mine used, it is pretty fully depreciated already. But I can predict now that the majority of my listening will continue to be done with more accurate components.

    Boomzilla (moniker NOT indicative of listening preferences)
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  8. KEW Audioholic Ninja

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    I know it is not very relevant, but what speakers did you happen to be listening to when you experienced these characteristics of the H80? Were you A-B'ing against another amp, or were the differences so obvious that wasn't needed?
    KEW,
  9. slipperybidness Audioholic Ninja

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    And, how can you have so much confidence that the DAC is the culprit?????
  10. PENG Audioholic Warlord

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    I am somewhat familiar of the H80's sound as I listened to it a couple times. To me it sounded like the speakers it was driving. I stopped taking reviewer's description of the so call sound signatures of various well designed/built amps seriously long ago.
    PENG,
  11. Boomzilla Enthusiast

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    My speakers are Axiom M-80s, but I'll be adding some ProAc Studio 118s to the mix soon. Regardless of speakers, I suspect that the amp's characteristics will be consistent.

    The differences between the Hegel and my "reference rig," (Emotiva XSP-1 preamp and Emotiva XPA-1L Class-A mono blocks) were very plain.

    Boom
  12. Boomzilla Enthusiast

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    Because I also bypassed the Hegel's DAC by running the analog outputs of my Oppo BDP-105 into the analog inputs of the Hegel. Using the Hegel DAC - more recessed vocals, using the Oppo DAC - less so.
  13. Boomzilla Enthusiast

    Boomzilla
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    Your loss...
  14. PENG Audioholic Warlord

    PENG
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    I fully agree, lost too much on amps and DACs (including the 95,105, HA1 and more..). Should have focused more on speakers, placement and room sooner. After investing heavily on speakers I can finally settle down and just enjoy the music. For those who can believe what they want to believe, that's good too as long as it works for them.:D
    PENG,
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  15. PENG Audioholic Warlord

    PENG
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    http://www.soundstagehifi.com/index...el-music-systems-h80-integrated-amplifier-dac

    http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/hegel-h80-integrated-amplifier/?page=2

    http://www.the-ear.net/review-hardware/hegel-h80-integrated-amplifier-dac

    http://www.hifichoice.co.uk/news/article/hegel-h80--pound;1350/20614

    http://www.hegel.com/images/reviews/H80hifiplusuk.pdf

    I went to give this thing a listen after reading a couple of subjective reviews. As I said I stopped taking them seriously long ago but I did enjoy reading them mainly for fun and for information. This thread reminded me of this product so I thought I should do another search for subjective reviews and found tons including the 5 listed above.

    The last one (hifi plus) said

    "I play a little game with myself during reviews. Where possible, I try to avoid discovering the price of a product until the end of the review, and I see if I can guess correctly. Usually, I’m in the right ball-park. With the H80, I got this spectacularly wrong. I put this at about the £5,000+ mark, in among some serious top-end integrated amp peers. It’s why I happily drove this amp through a pair of Raidho D1, completely unconscious of just how much of a ‘mullet’ system I had created in the process. The thing is though, the H80 is so ‘right’ sounding, with such good bass control and so much in its favour with such a partnership, it seemed the most natural thing to put this little amp with a pair of speakers that cost more than 10x as much. I can’t think of a higher recommendation than that."

    If you have time, read the others as well and I bet there is a chance that you may not take those subjective reviews too seriously either, other than for fun, but that is not a bad thing.:D
    PENG,
  16. Boomzilla Enthusiast

    Boomzilla
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    I don't base my opinions on what others think, but rather on what I hear. This isn't the first time I've stated that "The Emperor has no clothes!" and it won't be the last. The Hegel H80, in my opinion, lacks the quality to deserve the "high end" reputation that it has. I've owned Class-D Crown amps that sounded much differently but equally flawed. Should THEY be considered "high end?"

    The "cult of high end" considers itself the arbiter of what constitutes good sound and of what equipment is qualified to produce that sound. I disagree. Each and every one of us can tell the difference between live and recorded music, even a noisy block or two away. That "instant recognition" is sufficient to tell good components from bad. And you don't even have to read a single review to achieve it!

    Boomzilla
  17. Goliath Full Audioholic

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    Yes, hear/peeking, but small distinction really. Your perceptions are your own. Enjoy them.

    Yea, I know what you mean? What's "high end" mean?

    Possibly, depending on ones definition of "high end", but that's usually a moving target...
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015
  18. Boomzilla Enthusiast

    Boomzilla
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    Yes - My opinions ARE my own (unlike some commercial reviewers, I suspect). Without opinion, a test suite would provide a sufficient review - showing you frequency response, sensitivity, impedance, cabinet resonance, etc. Do you think that the average consumer (or even the average "audiophile") would understand what the speaker sounded like by those metrics? I seriously doubt it.

    Therefore "opinion" IS the default metric of how a component sounds. Which is more informative, a frequency vs. THD curve or a description saying that the amplifier sounds like a TV with the brightness and contrast set too high? What distinguishes reviewers from each other is how honest their opinion is and how well they describe what they hear. For the past decades, subjective opinion has been the currency of audio reviews and manufacturers live or die by it.

    You may dismiss ANY reviewer's commentary as "Your perceptions are your own. Enjoy them." Why are my comments less valid than those you pay for? I said EXACTLY what I heard. You're free to agree or disagree. Your same dismissive language applies to your opinions as well (but never invalidates them).

    Cheers - Boomzilla
  19. Goliath Full Audioholic

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    It would help if the subjective commentary had some connection to audibility as opposed to daydreams and imaginations as a result of critical long term peeking, what you read in the magazine, expectations etc, the usual. ;)

    Sure, assuming people used just their ears while listening as opposed to the chronic peeking that goes on in magazine reviews with priori knowledge of the component, expectations, price, brand, etc, the usual. Of course, reviews are often casually done, without controls in place, etc - good for entertainment purposes (ie a good laugh now and then) but otherwise destined for bin and fireplace.

    On that note, reviewers are subject to the same biases as the rest of us simpletons, unfortunately. Honesty would involve using just the ears, ie blind listening, absent any knowledge of the component, swapping, non-audio cues etc etc. However sometimes it's just more fun to read colourful prose instead ...

    Yes, you heard what you heard. However what you heard may have been a result of :

    *Expectation bias
    *Placebo
    *Change in auditory focusing
    *Change in mood
    *Non-audio cues
    *Visual cues
    *Priori knowledge, expectations etc

    Hearing something as a result of sound waves impinging on the pinna, ie something physical in the soundfield and hearing things in your mind are two very different things.

    As I said, enjoy your perceptions for what they are. It's as far as it goes. Just don't make any claims of objectivity.;)
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015
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  20. Boomzilla Enthusiast

    Boomzilla
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    Oy vey... A "measurer."

    Measurements prevent rather than enable clear and accurate assessment of any component. Why? I'm so glad you asked (not that I'll be changing your mind, nor you mine, but for the edification of anyone interested):

    You can match component volumes all day long. Would that make the review pair equal in terms of volume? Yes. Would it make the listener(s) qualified to determine which was "better?" No.

    If you're comparing components at one volume, you're not getting the measure of them. Yes - having one component slightly louder than another on the same music will cause a preference for the slightly louder one. But listening over a range of volumes for both components gives a truer assessment of each's capabilities (and shortcomings).

    In short, I'm calling BS on the entire idea of "matched listening levels." How an amplifier behaves for its first watt may sound significantly differently than how it behaves at higher output. Magnepan speakers, in particular, were famous for years for sounding significantly more dynamic above a threshold level, below which they sounded flat. A pair of Klipschorns can sound dynamic at a fraction of the volume that most cone and dome speakers do. The technologies involved make for significant performance differences at different volumes.

    Matching listening levels masks these differences, period.

    Varying the listening volumes for BOTH components under test continuously, and using a variety of known recordings to listen for specific features gives a far more accurate evaluation than matching levels. This is my main objection to level matching.

    It lies.

    Not only does it lie, but it leads the "meter reader crowd" to believe that because a preference (or no preference) was found at a specific volume that the result is statistically significant. It isn't. You are not measuring the full range of things that need to be measured. Yes, you COULD level match at various levels, but the tedium and irritation to the listeners would invalidate the test anyway.

    If you're comparing two components with recorded music, you can be fooled more easily than if you were comparing recorded to live. Small differences in volume can, initially, make you prefer one choice over the other. But if you listen for even fifteen minutes, you can easily decide which sounds more "real" to you without needing to measure ANYTHING. Your false loudness preference on one song is likely to be reversed for the next, since you change volumes between each recording, and between each component switch. The differences even out, and within 15 minutes, you've a valid preference for one over the other.

    Is it "scientific?" No.

    Is it more accurate than anything that you could get by "level matched comparison?" Yes, it is!

    Is it accurate enough to tell with absolute certainty a valid preference? Every bleeping time!

    Just because bad sound is louder doesn't mean that you'll prefer it over good sound played softer. Otherwise, we'd all be living with boom-boxes strapped to our heads and be happy as clams.

    So in summary, let me say bluntly, measurements SUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

    Bomzilla
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015

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