Hegel H390 or H190 for Focal Aria 926?

D

dukehoops

Enthusiast
@John Parks would you mind suggesting a couple of better-value alternatives to a novice? I looked at Yamaha A-S and Naim but at the same power rating they appear to be significantly more than Hegel...
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Let's be fair, if you look at facts, one might argue that those Hegel integrated amps are relatively cheap, even if compared to those made by the mass amp producers such as Denon, Marantz, Yamaha and Sony.

All 3 below offer much less power output than the Hegel H390 (the Marantz comes close), all are analog only, all have list price >> Hegel H390, 250W 8 Ohms, (not specified for 4 Ohms but likely >400W) and the Hegel is fully digital ready, can function as a DAC and streamer.

Subjective measurements are going to be great but objective measurements will likely show they can't beat the best AVR tested by AH and/or ASR.

Yamaha A-S3200, 100W/150 W, 8/4 Ohms, Analog only

Denon PMA-SX1 Limited, 50W/100W, 8/4 Ohms, Analog only, N/A in NA

Marantz PM10, 200W/400W, 8/4 Ohms, Analog only

All have list price close to US$8,000 (based on today's Yen to USD)

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P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
@John Parks would you mind suggesting a couple of better-value alternatives to a novice? I looked at Yamaha A-S and Naim but at the same power rating they appear to be significantly more than Hegel...
May be John will come up with some suggestions. For me, if you fixed on integrated amps with digital and streaming capability, the H390 does seem like a good choice. There just don't seem to be a lot of choices because of your "power" requirements based on your distance and speakers.

My concern with the Aria 926 is that if its impedance and phase angle vs frequency characteristics are similar to that of the 936, it would need some real high current amps assuming you typically listen to high spl such as -5 dB spl below reference (that is 80 dB average/100 dB peak) or higher. If 70 dB average 90 dB max peak is loud enough for you then even a powerful AVR can do the job reasonably well. I am being cautious, in reality there are much music contents that have a lot of 20 dB peaks, 6 to 15 dB peaks would be much more common.
Album list - Dynamic Range Database (loudness-war.info)

Focal Aria 936 loudspeaker Measurements | Stereophile.com
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Focal Aria 936 loudspeaker Measurements | Stereophile.com
 
John Parks

John Parks

Audioholic General
@John Parks would you mind suggesting a couple of better-value alternatives to a novice? I looked at Yamaha A-S and Naim but at the same power rating they appear to be significantly more than Hegel...
Hey @dukehoops ! Well, all I can offer is my own experience (however valid that may be). There are quite a few members on here that believe an amp is an amp is an amp and as long as said amp is operating within its parameters, it is indistinguishable from any other amp (given it is operating within its own parameters). That is why some feel you would be wasting your money on anything other than a quality AVR. Then there are some members like the esteemed @PENG (I hope I am not speaking out of turn or misrepresenting you, PENG) that enjoy a purist approach: they won't necessarily steer you away from spending money but concentrate on parts quality and measurements and feel that adding things like built in DACs in an integrated amp can take away from sound/build quality because the manufacturer is often "throwing things in" just to have added features. Both of these approaches work well for their respective camps. I guess my view is a bit of a hybrid in that I follow a "form follows function" approach. For me, 2 channel listening requires purpose designed 2 channel equipment (I made a mistake last year, based on advice from some AH members, and inserted a Pioneer Elite AVR in my 2 channel system - it did not go well as the sound was not good). PENG is correct in his view that lower priced integrated amps use parts from the AVR bin and are, sometimes, just pared down AVRs. However, I believe that as you go up the price ladder (this is not always the case) to manufacturers like Hegel (to name just one) the "extras" (the DAC and streaming) are purposefully designed and engineered to "integrate" (pun intended) into the final design.

TL/DR

I think Hegel is an awesome company and, though pricey, offers excellent sound, innovation, functionality and build quality. If I were in the market and had the commensurate budget, they would certainly be one of my first choices. Two other integrated amps in that price range with which I have had direct experience are the Parasound HINT 6 (160/240WPC, $3K) and the Anthem STR (200/400WPC, $4.5K). Both have fine DACs, bass management but the Anthem incorporates ARC room correction. Both are pretty darn awesome with my preference being the Anthem (I demoed it with the KEF R11 and it was a monster combination). I also had an all-too-brief demo with the Rotel RA-1592 (200WPC, $3K) and liked what I heard. Of course there are a plethora of lower priced, lower wattage models from quite a few manufacturers. I am currently employing the services of a Parasound NewClassic 200 Integrated (110WPC, $1200) and could not be happier! Well, I could but I would imagine my outlay would have to be in the Hegel range... ;)

Also, don't too get caught up in WPC/$ as there are many other variables in play!
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Thank you John, just for clarity, I am not against the conventional integrated amps at all otherwise I wouldn't own one myself. My despise is for the likes of the newer Yamaha A-S series up to the A-S801 that shares at least the critical part, the volume control used in their AVRs. That IC is critical because all signal, analog and digital must go through so it doesn't how good the downstream parts are, such as a better DAC won't do much if anything because the volume chip would determine the best case scenario when measured on the bench.

The A-S801's DAC chip is only comparable to the ES9006 use in the mid range AVRs, and certainly not as good as the ES9026 Pro used in the flagship RX-A3080 and CX-A5000 series. So its the attitude and principle that I don't like much, why cheapen on such a cheap IC to begin with? I have to think the answer is, their engineers/designers actually know the well proven trick that most potential buyers have long been indoctrinated by misinformation, hearsay, to believe the following:

1) More expensive gear sounds better, all else being equal (such as Yamaha's vs Yamaha's)
2) The more separate the gear are, the better they sound because there will be fewer things jammed in on box.
3) More expensive, better spec'ed DAC IC sounds better.

Therefore separate dac +preamp + power amp will sound better than integrated amp and integrated amp will sound better than receivers, that, of course will sound better than AVRs. That is of course not always the case because it depends on other factors that need to be considered as well.

Evidence of 1) through 3) are abundant on forums such as this, that people often argued, if the more expensive, better reviewed (subjective ones, no measurements) amps such as Hegel and Anthem's sound just the same as the much cheaper ones such as the Monolith amp, why is it more expensive, like 3 or 4X..? That's just one example.

I suspect manufactures know very well about 1) through 3) so they are not going to worry about bench test measurements and bottleneck analysis because (reference to the 3 things mentioned above):

3) To do bottleneck analysis, one would typically have to have access to the service manuals and have a minimum level of technical knowledge in the related field. Even when 3rd party bench test measurements are available for the public to see, the average consumers may have hard time understanding the differences shown in the measurements, let alone their significance. That may apply to some or possibly most professional reviewers, let alone the average hifi, ht home users.

2) That is an easy sell, most can understand the logic, few will look into whether such benefits and/or effects are quantifiable and/or proven audible, and/or might be offset, cancelled, or over ridden by other factors.
 
Dean Kurtz

Dean Kurtz

Audioholic
So Peng, in you're opinion if not needing a turntable input, but a built in dac, what is better. Hegel H190 or Denon PMA A110? I have a Musical Fidelity Transport for cds and Denon sacd player. Thanks
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
So Peng, in you're opinion if not needing a turntable input, but a built in dac, what is better. Hegel H190 or Denon PMA A110? I have a Musical Fidelity Transport for cds and Denon sacd player. Thanks
If I need the higher output of the H190 then it is an easy decision. If not, then I would have think about it.
 
Dean Kurtz

Dean Kurtz

Audioholic
I know the Denon is only 80 watts, but plenty of current and looks like they didn't spare on quality parts. Also doubles at 4 ohms. I always liked Denon and they last. Not too sure about Hegel, but have been around since the 90's and owners say they have lasted too. If watts don't matter, what do you think?
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
I know the Denon is only 80 watts, but plenty of current and looks like they didn't spare on quality parts. Also doubles at 4 ohms. I always liked Denon and they last. Not too sure about Hegel, but have been around since the 90's and owners say they have lasted too. If watts don't matter, what do you think?
They even claimed "In addition, PMA-A110 has many custom parts such as custom capacitors tuned exclusively for Denon during the development process of PMA-SX1 LIMITED. "

The SX1 limited is listed 2.4X more expensive and only rated 50 W with no DAC so I guess the A110 isn't a bad deal. The DAC implementation in integrated amps typically suck, none seem to be able to play DSD512/22.4 Mhz.

Not that it would matter for sound quality but it would shut you out from many potentially available DSD music of excellent recording quality.

So my choice would be neither, but probably something like the Yamaha A-S2200 that is more like a traditional integrated amp that just amplify, with volume control and nothing else. The you can grab a much better DAC for less.

Between those 3, it boils down to your personal preference, in an apple to apple comparison listening test I do not believe you can tell them apart, without using your eyes.

Hegel claims to have their own sound, so do Denon, but in my opinion, those are just marketing hypes to suck people in. At distortion levels of 0.1% and below, class A/AB design, and flat FR, high DF etc., it is just not possible for any of them to have a sound signature. Someone may argue that measurements were not based on real speaker loads that are reactive blablabla, but while there could be a valid point on lesser amps, but no this guys that are all truly "high current" capable, in relative sense.

So my suggestion, is go for the look, price, perceived reliability etc.

Edit: I meant to say A-S2200, not the 1100.
 
Last edited:
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
A pair of these will do anything you need for a lot less than the Hegel and I highly highly doubt you could hear any audible diferees between them. For that matter I think your Yamaha is plenty.

 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
A pair of these will do anything you need for a lot less than the Hegel and I highly highly doubt you could hear any audible diferees between them. For that matter I think your Yamaha is plenty.

I agree, but he wants an integrated.
 
Dean Kurtz

Dean Kurtz

Audioholic
They even claimed "In addition, PMA-A110 has many custom parts such as custom capacitors tuned exclusively for Denon during the development process of PMA-SX1 LIMITED. "

The SX1 limited is listed 2.4X more expensive and only rated 50 W with no DAC so I guess the A110 isn't a bad deal. The DAC implementation in integrated amps typically suck, none seem to be able to play DSD512/22.4 Mhz.

Not that it would matter for sound quality but it would shut you out from many potentially available DSD music of excellent recording quality.

So my choice would be neither, but probably something like the Yamaha A-S2200 that is more like a traditional integrated amp that just amplify, with volume control and nothing else. The you can grab a much better DAC for less.

Between those 3, it boils down to your personal preference, in an apple to apple comparison listening test I do not believe you can tell them apart, without using your eyes.

Hegel claims to have their own sound, so do Denon, but in my opinion, those are just marketing hypes to suck people in. At distortion levels of 0.1% and below, class A/AB design, and flat FR, high DF etc., it is just not possible for any of them to have a sound signature. Someone may argue that measurements were not based on real speaker loads that are reactive blablabla, but while there could be a valid point on lesser amps, but no this guys that are all truly "high current" capable, in relative sense.

So my suggestion, is go for the look, price, perceived reliability etc.

Edit: I meant to say A-S2200, not the 1100.
What dac with low enough impedance would be good with the A-2200? Thanks
 
O

oupee

Audiophyte
Kinki Studio EX-M1+

Incredible price / sound ratio. The interior is a selection of the best from around the world. High output power, current and slew rate 200V/µs (Axiom transistors). When I change the amplifier it will be this. They do not use any advertising nonsense but only a quality technical description. When I look at the photos of the inside of Hegel, it looks like DIY, nothing against Hegel, they play nicely.

Kinki Studio EX-M1+

"The true universal integrated amp, period".
This is the design aim of the new EX-M1+. The answer for many of our customers who were looking for an End Game integrated amp with preamp output, home theater bypass input, fully dimmable display.

Features:
  • Volume control based on JRC MUSES 72320 resistor ladder with 100 steps increment
  • Dual-mono design based on the British company Exicon Mosfet transistors - two pairs for one channel, fast and dynamic
  • Two encapslated 400VA transformers from the British company AMPLIMO
  • American Vishay BC capacitors (as a curiosity - the same Nagra uses in their products)
  • Two separate low-noise transformers from the Czech manufacturer Talema, supplying preamplifier sections
  • Gold-anodized aluminum heat sinks with drilled holes, we have the same holes in the lower housing as well as the upper, so the amplifier has free air flow
  • Extremely high cost 0.2µm gold-plated printed circuit board (PCB)
  • Furutech FI-03 power socket
  • Neutrik XLR sockets
  • Internal copper cabling OCC, OKI Flat Ribbon and OMRON connectors (made in Japan)
  • Gold-plated connectors for input stage signal and transformer primary stage
  • Aluminum remote control with magnetic rear flap
  • LED display with dimmable option and total blanking option.

POWER STAGE

The power amplification circuitry are mounted directly on a large customs made, gold anodized heat sink. The power stage equipped with two pairs of power EXICON MOSFETs, driven in Class AB.


Two identical power stage modules are arranged on the left and right sides of the chassis, deliver impeccable power for the two channels: 215 watts into 8 ohms, 400 watts into 4 ohms.

HIGH DAMPING FACTOR

High damping factor unleash the full potential of the sonic performance of the loudspeakers. EX-M1+ employes high power rail supplies, delivering fast and high recovery DC supply to the power stage. The ultra high slew rate and DC-coupled (no capacitors in the signal path), yielded exceptionally acoustic excellent - neutral, transparency, details, dynamic and ultra fast transient response.

PREAMP OUT, HT BYPASS
EX-M1+ is equipped with the most anticipated features - Preamp Output and HT Bypass. We did it differently though. The Preamp Output can be enabled/disabled by the completely redesigned Remote Control Unit. It allows you to use the EX-M1+ as a preamp only, or integrated amp where the preamp output can be connected to the subwoofer or to our monoblocks EX-B7 to biamp the loudspeakers.

The same goes to HT Bypass Input. A single press on the Remote Control Unit button enables the HT Bypass Input. The preamp stage is bypassed, EX-M1+ functions as a power amp.

1.1 Preamp Output
The preamp output can be enabled/disabled by using remote control. Modes:

OUT1: EX-M1+ as integrated amp

OUT2: EX-M1+ power amplifier stage defeated, it works as a preamp, output via the Preamp Output RCA jack

OUT1+2: EX-M1+ as integrated amp, and, preamp output activated. This is a nice feature for multiple speakers user to connect the preout to subwoofer, or, to an external amplifier output to biamp a pair of loudspeaker with the EX-M1+ amplifier output.

1.2 HT Bypass Amplifier Input
As the name suggested, with this input, you can use the EX-M1+ as a power amp. This feature can be enabled by the remote control.

Sound characteristics:
Neutrality and musicality were the goals to achieve. Rich tonal quality, vivid sound imaging, details, high resolution and dynamic. The choice of the components, design, and tuning does just that.


Technical specification:

Parameters:
  • Frequency Response: 10-150kHz (±3dB)
  • THDN: 0.0232%; 0.006% (A-Weighted)
  • S/N Ratio: >103dB
  • Output Power: 215W (8Ω), 400W (4Ω), Both channel driven
  • Damping Factor: 2000
  • Gain: Normal Gain 26 dB
  • Max Output Voltage: 55VAC
  • AC Power: 110/240VAC, 50/60Hz (Factory configure)
    Input / Output:
  • Input Sensitivity: 2.25Vrms - 3.6Vrms
  • Input Impedance: 50kΩ
  • Input Connector: RCA x 3, XLR x 1, HT BYPASS x 1

  • Output: Speaker Binding Post 4mm L/R Channel
  • Output: Preamp Output x 1
Dimension and weight:
  • Dimension: 430 W x 125 H x 370D
  • Weight: 25KG
 
Last edited:
adk highlander

adk highlander

pessimistic optimist
I recently tried the Hegel 190 and the Denon PMA-1600. The Denon won hands down. Don't believe those wattage numbers from Denon. Mine is supposed to be 70 @8ohm and 140 @4ohm. I have yet to turn it up past 1/4 and it drives my 4ohm Dali's like nothing I have owned before. If you are jumping up in price toward the H390 then you have to check out the A110.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
What dac with low enough impedance would be good with the A-2200? Thanks
The A-S2200 has very high input impedance so you shouldn't have to worry about the output impedance of the DAC/headphone amp of your choice.

1619628908881.png


Below are some examples of low cost DACs that can play high resolution files up to DSD512 (highest available). Those build in with integrated amps typically can't even do DSD256 or even 128 in some cases and have the lower models of the ESS Sabre, AKM or TI DAC ICs. You can Google their specs for output impedance but it is not always published by the manufacturers. As an example, the $150 Topping E30 apparently is 100 Ohm, that is very good. See post#2720 (Topping E30 DAC Review | Page 136 | Audio Science Review (ASR) Forum )

The Topping E30 was listed at $130 but I guess because of Covid, is not $150.

Amazon.com: Topping E30 Mini Stereo DAC HiFi AK4493 Coaxial Optical Fiber USB Input Converter 32Bit/768kHz DSD512 Decoder for Home Theater Game Music Black: Home Audio & Theater
Review, with measurements: Topping E30 DAC Review | Audio Science Review (ASR) Forum

Amazon.com: [Upgraded] Lavaudio DS600 HiFi DAC &Headphone Amplifier, 2ES9038Q2M XMOS XU208 Receiver Bluetooth 5.0 LDAC USB DAC DSD512 PCM32Bit/768Khz 3.5mm AUX/RCA Out for Home Stereo, DAC with Remote Control: Home Audio & Theater

Amazon.com: HiFi Decoder SMSL SU-8 2ES9038Q2M USB PCM32 768kHz DSD64 DSD512 DSD Balance DAC Decoder: Electronics

One of the reason I suggested the A-S2200 is that I am confident on the test bench it will perform well and its output will likely exceed the specified 90 WPC, based on the test results of the A-S700. Too bad the A-S700 is discontinued, the replacements A-S701 and A-S801 are more like AVRs without the tuners, video and some of the amp channels removed, and put in a different box. Yes I am exaggerating, to make a point.

yamaha-a-s700-australian_hifi_03_10.pdf (excelia-hifi.cz)
 
Dean Kurtz

Dean Kurtz

Audioholic
I recently tried the Hegel 190 and the Denon PMA-1600. The Denon won hands down. Don't believe those wattage numbers from Denon. Mine is supposed to be 70 @8ohm and 140 @4ohm. I have yet to turn it up past 1/4 and it drives my 4ohm Dali's like nothing I have owned before. If you are jumping up in price toward the H390 then you have to check out the A110.
Gene just did a couple of great videos saying that the Denon PMA A110 is a really good integrated amp. Measured consistant even at 2 ohms.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Gene just did a couple of great videos saying that the Denon PMA A110 is a really good integrated amp. Measured consistant even at 2 ohms.
He likes integrated amps, and the A110 may come close to the audio jewelry class, so I guess that helped bias him..:D

If you looked at the measurements though, aside from the ability to deal with 2 Ohms, it really offer no more power than the AVR-X3300W he measured a couple years ago. That is just a fact that integrated amp lovers wouldn't want to admit/face, and it is completely understandable, who wants to use a 7-9 channel AVR for two channel stereo music listening anyway regardless?

Gene emphasized the fact that this little amp is only rated 80 W, yet measured great with low impedance loads. I wonder what he would say if he was measuring the flag ship $8,000 PMA-SX1 limited that is rated only 50 W into 8 Ohms.:D Though it is rated 100 W into 4 Ohms.

I don't think Gene knows that unlike their Marantz cousins, with Denon integrated amps, the more you paid the less power output you get.:D:D
 
Dean Kurtz

Dean Kurtz

Audioholic
He likes integrated amps, and the A110 may come close to the audio jewelry class, so I guess that helped bias him..:D

If you looked at the measurements though, aside from the ability to deal with 2 Ohms, it really offer no more power than the AVR-X3300W he measured a couple years ago. That is just a fact that integrated amp lovers wouldn't want to admit/face, and it is completely understandable, who wants to use a 7-9 channel AVR for two channel stereo music listening anyway regardless?

Gene emphasized the fact that this little amp is only rated 80 W, yet measured great with low impedance loads. I wonder what he would say if he was measuring the flag ship $8,000 PMA-SX1 limited that is rated only 50 W into 8 Ohms.:D Though it is rated 100 W into 4 Ohms.

I don't think Gene knows that unlike their Marantz cousins, with Denon integrated amps, the more you paid the less power output you get.:D:D
But like you said, why have a box full of amps if you are only using two. Look at the two with the top off. One is very crowded. But if you are looking at only specs, very good point.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
But like you said, why have a box full of amps if you are only using two. Look at the two with the top off. One is very crowded. But if you are looking at only specs, very good point.
That's why when I needed an amp for my desktop system that I use JRiver with ext. DACs, I opted for the NAD C326BEE, a real integrated amp, but I waited until it was on sale, so got an excellent price for it. My next best choice on a budget would have been a stereo receiver.
 

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