Hegel H160 150w Integrated amp fully balanced with 24/192 DAC-USB

HL 09 IA H160
NZ$ 5,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Hegel Audio

Natural, Engaging, Dynamic musical experiance

New

New integrated amplifier from Hegel, with a built-in USB-24/192 sound card so you can enjoy audio from your computer with much improved sound quality. 

This is an absolute milestone for us. The project of integrating 24/192 streaming over DLNA, as well as Apple Airplay has been a huge undertaking. A giant project, but an important one.

The H160 amplifier has one purpose, and one purpose only - to allow you to connect whatever device you want and make it sound as good as it possibly can.

First of all, we designed an integrated amplifier with a broader set of connections than any other amplifier on the market, in this category. There is a wide variety of connections, varying from classic balanced and unbalanced analog connections, to Home Theatre integration and onwards to various digital inputs.

You can also stream wireless music to it from devices with Apple AirPlay or DLNA. Secondly, we realized that not all the devices you choose to connect are designed to be high-end music performers. This meant we had to develop a range of unique technologies and implementations to make certain that your phone, tablet or CD-player could reach its fullest potential. The H160 incorporates technology that “repairs” some of the damaged caused by a low quality source.

Finally, we integrated the new with the classic, and included our award-winning and worldwide patent holding amplifier technology, the SoundEngine. This amplifier design completely turns ordinary amplifier designs upside down. The result is a purer and smoother sound with low distortion, as well as ultra dynamic bass due to a high damping factor. And yes, you can also use your headphones, and it uses up to 60% less power than an ordinary amplifier. So, what are you standing there thinking about?

THERE IS NO COMPETITION:

There are no other integrated amplifiers in this category with Apple Airplay inside. Considering the workload and investment needed, we understand why. However, it gives you a very strong advantage over the competitors. This is how we can take positions in the market.

And not only that – our design makes Airplay sound better.

A BIG STEP FORWARD IN SOUND:

While still based on the core principles of our other integrated amps (H80, H300), we are not political. We are always trying to push the envelope in terms of performance. Sonically, the new H160 is simply stunning.......

H160 - AT A GLANCE:

The H160 inherits the platform from the H80, but with significant upgrades. One is the quality of the DAC, which is significant (chips are the same, but the implementation of them is not). Another is the power supply and power output (150 w/pc), but also the quality of the output stages are improved with brand new, ultra-fast, transistors. We have also made upgrades of the pre-amplifier, resulting in less high frequency distortion and therefore and even smoother and more detailed sound.

Functionality wise, there is a very high quality headphone output. It can drive the most difficult headphones, like Audeze LCD3 & HiFi-Man HE-6.

There is a balanced input, an RCA analog input and a Home Theatre input that can be configured in software. There are also both fixed and variable line level outputs.

On the digital side there are 1 coaxial, 3 optical, 1 USB and 1 network input.
The network input is used for DLNA and Airplay.

Specifications

Reviews

Testimonials

Specifications

Power output spk: 150 w/pc into 8 Ohms, 250 w/pc into 4 Ohms
Power output hp: 270 mw/pc into 64 Ohms
Analog inputs: 1 balanced (XLR), 1 unbalanced (RCA), 1 home theatre
Analog outputs: 1 fixed line level (RCA), 1 variable line level (RCA)
Digital inputs: 1 coaxial, 3 optical, 1 USB, 1 ethernet (RJ45)
Headphone output: 6,3 mm Jack (front)
Frequency response: 5Hz-100kHz
Signal-to-noise ratio: More than 100dB
Crosstalk: Less than -100dB
Distortion: 0.005% @ 50W 8 Ohms 1kHz
Intermodulation: Less than 0.01% (19kHz + 20kHz)
Damping factor: More than 1000 (main power output stage)
Dimensions / weight: 12cm x 43cm x 41cm (HxWxD) / 19kg (shipping)

Reviews

he Hegel H160 had no business sounding this pristine, neutral, commanding, and, above all else, unobtrusive...... it achieves an enticing synthesis of sound, combining precise imaging with an extremely relaxed and byssine sound.
Jacob Heilbrunn

REVIEW SUMMARY: the clarity of the Hegel also meant that it captured the rhyth mic drive of the Cheatham/Payton ensemble with estimable fi- delity. There was a jaunty quality to the music, an ability to clearly reproduce the interplay among the instrumentalists, that endowed the entire album with a real sense of drama. You could clearly sense the emotional buildup on the song “Stardust,” (which the liner notes indicate Cheatham liked to call “Stardust Rhapsody”). On “Save It Pretty Mama,” the sonority of Jack Meheu’s clarinet was hauntingly plangent. What all this suggests is that the Hegel was getting superlative microdynamics that create the illusion for that, after all, is what we’re talking about of a live performance, where you’re drawn emotionally into the music enough to suspend disbelief. That is what the Hegel H160 did for me. As a trumpet player myself, I became engrossed by each trumpeter’s technique, tone, and, at bottom, imagination. 

If you’re looking for an integrated amplifier that doesn’t reside in the Himalayan region of audio pricing, then the Hegel fully deserves an audition. To be sure, tube-lovers would be better advised to consider something like the Jadis. But the Hegel of- fers superbly linear, coherent, and engrossing musical playback. It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to detect that this is a very special piece of equipment. 

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story “A Scandal in Bohemia,” Sherlock Holmes receives a note explaining that a gentleman wishes to visit that evening to consult him about an urgent matter. “This is indeed a mystery,” Dr. Watson says. “What do you imagine that it means?” Holmes responds, “I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” 

It’s an observation whose force came home to me as I listened to the Hegel H160 integrated amplifier. At NZ$4,995 incl tax (about the same price as some of the power cables in my system), it would be easy to assume that the Hegel H160 would badly compromise the sound of my pricey Wilson Alexandria XLF loudspeakers. But it didn’t. The Hegel, like a lot of reasonably price gear on the market, provides a potent reminder that nothing can be a bigger mistake than to theorize before you’ve actually heard a piece of gear, allowing your presuppositions to, as Holmes quite rightly put it, fit the facts to your theory, rather than approaching new audio gear in a spirit of impartial inquiry. 

Much as with the remarkable Jadis DA88S integrated ampli fier whose price, by the way, was recently reduced, perhaps as a result of the strong U.S. dollar—I recently reviewed in TAS, I was quite smitten by the Hegel, but in a very different way. Where the Jadis floored me with its superb dynamics and color saturation of timbres, the Hegel brings a different set of strengths to the table, and at an even lower price point. I couldn’t help thinking as I listened to it that the Hegel H160 had no business sounding this pristine, neutral, commanding, and, above all else, unobtrusive. 

Auditioning it helped me to appreciate why earlier Hegel units have regularly received such positive notices in TAS, particularly from my esteemed colleague Kirk Midtskog. I’m almost tempted to say that, in the true Hegelian spirit, it achieves an enticing synthesis of sound, combining precise imaging with an extremely relaxed and byssine sound. 

Hegel itself places a premium on the technology that it calls SoundEngine to reduce distortion in its equipment. It’s not clear to me exactly what “SoundEngine” means, and Hegel itself is rather coy about the technology, though the company does emphasize that SoundEngine doesn’t employ any global negative feedback. Instead, Hegel talks about a “local error”-cancelling system in the audio stag- es that is supposed to produce a purer sound. [See RH’s interview with Hegel founder Bent Holter in Issue 223 for details on Sound-Engine.—Ed.] 

Certainly, the company has kept the unit itself pretty simple. On the front panel there are two knobs, one on the left side to select the source, the other on the right to control the volume. Most of the action takes place on the rear of the unit, where you’ll find a variety of digital and analog inputs—as well a set of balanced inputs. The H160 also has the ability to stream music wirelessly. 

Why did I use the word “unobtrusive” to describe the Hegel? This might sound like a case of damning with faint praise, but it isn’t. The overall presentation was unobtrusive in the sense that, while there was plenty of grip, there was also a relaxed sense of musical flow. Nothing sounded etched, forced, compressed, or grainy this last a trait I strongly associate with gear at this price point from an earlier age. Believe me: If there were some nasties this integrated amplifier produced, they would’ve come through loud and clear with the likes of the dCS Vivaldi at the front end and the Wilsons at the back (with Nordost Odin speaker cables in between). Now you might say the rest of this system consti- tuted overkill, but it also allowed me to hear, to the fullest extent possible, what the Hegel was capable of. Which is a lot. 

On a disc that’s been in frequent rotation in my system, the inimitable Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems, I was instantly and favorably impressed by the capacious size of the soundstage that the Hegel produced. Cohen’s gravelly voice was accurately ren- dered, with each syllable clearly enunciated even as cymbal hits clearly resonated in the background. There was no foreshorten- ing of the soundstage here. There was no smearing, no blurring, pretty much no nothing to disturb the illusion that Cohen had decided to pop by for an afternoon in my listening room. 

Another thing that has to be said is that, while the Hegel likes to play music, it isn’t playing around. Which is to say that its bass definition is stellar. On the Cohen cut “You Got Me Singin’,” for example, the thump and precision of the bass lines were emphatic and linear, as they should have been. 

At the same time, the Hegel skillfully unraveled more compli- cated musical passages with aplomb. In this regard, it performed very well indeed on the SACD From the Imperial Court, which con- sists of Renaissance music composed by Spanish and Flemish polyphonists for the House of Hapsburg. This Harmonia Mundi disc is exceedingly well recorded (no surprise there!); still, there was no doubting that the Hegel did a marvelous job of separating individual voices as well as capturing dynamic distinctions with great fidelity. I was particularly impressed by the luminously reproduced pianissimos in the treble on the song “Magnificat primi toni,” composed by Nicolas Gombert. The Hegel offered a sense that the sound was ascending into the ether with ease and delicacy. 

That sense of delicacy also came through on one of my favor- ites, Doc Cheatham and Nicholas Payton [Verve]. On the cut “How Deep Is The Ocean?” many of the virtues of the Hegel were immediately on display. The trumpets never became pinched or abrasive; rather, their blat was lifelike, and the articulation, par- ticularly the way Cheatham likes to slur, bend, and twist notes, was very apparent. Nor was there any wiggle room on pitch definition. At the outset of “Jeepers Creepers,” for example, the Hegel 160 nailed the opening trumpet flourish, which emerged with a bang. 

The clarity of the Hegel also meant that it captured the rhyth mic drive of the Cheatham/Payton ensemble with estimable fi- delity. There was a jaunty quality to the music, an ability to clearly reproduce the interplay among the instrumentalists, that endowed the entire album with a real sense of drama. You could clearly sense the emotional buildup on the song “Stardust,” (which the liner notes indicate Cheatham liked to call “Stardust Rhapsody”). On “Save It Pretty Mama,” the sonority of Jack Meheu’s clarinet was hauntingly plangent. 

What all this suggests is that the Hegel was getting superlative microdynamics that create the illusion for that, after all, is what we’re talking about of a live performance, where you’re drawn emotionally into the music enough to suspend disbelief. That is what the Hegel H160 did for me. As a trumpet player myself, I became engrossed by each trumpeter’s technique, tone, and, at bottom, imagination. 

Let me say clearly that I’m not suggesting that this beauty of- fers performance on par with the big boys at five or ten times its price. The Ypsilon SET 100 Ultimate amplifiers, particularly after extensive upgrades performed by Demetris Baklavas in March, ascend into the empyrean sphere of musical reproduction. The Boulder 2050 amplifiers, which clock in at close to $100,000, are also in a different sphere. 

What I am saying, however, is that it’s not like I was discom- bobulated by the sound upon inserting the Hegel. Quite the con- trary. The quality of the Hegel’s reproduction of music was most impressive, particularly when you take into account that it is, by high-end standards, a real value. 

If you’re looking for an integrated amplifier that doesn’t reside in the Himalayan region of audio pricing, then the Hegel fully deserves an audition. To be sure, tube-lovers would be better advised to consider something like the Jadis. But the Hegel of- fers superbly linear, coherent, and engrossing musical playback. It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to detect that this is a very special piece of equipment. 

Testimonials

A Very Satisfied Customer -
From a Very Satisfied customer. 
I purchased the Hegel H160 Amp with the Usher Dancer MiniX DMD speakers.

The heartbeat on Pink Floyd 'Dark side of the moon' has an echo I have never heard before.

Simply outstanding.

Thanks Terry for your excellent service.

….Mike