Hegel H90 60w Integrated amp fully balanced w DAC/Streaming/Headphone/Airplay

HL 07 IA H90
NZ$ 2,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Hegel Audio

Natural, Engaging, Dynamic musical experiance

New

Think of the Hegel H90 (it repleces the H80) as the little brother to Röst. The H90 is 60 watts (into 8 ohms) and includes all of the digital niceties of the Röst (Ethernet, USB DAC, Coax S/PDIF, and 3x Toslink in) while keeping Hegel's SoundEngine tech as found in its bigger brother.
In keeping with the Hegel ethos of striving to keep prices low while adding more features and functions (in addition to maintaining great sound, of course), the Norwegian company introduced the H90 integrated amplifier—a replacement for its entry-level H80 model. Unbelievably, it did so at the exact same price-point as the H80. Rated at 60w into 8 ohms, the new H90 contains a DAC, preamp, and power amp, featuring an upgraded Class AB output section. The H90 also features a semi-proprietary version of Apple Airplay (which uses Apple chips but purportedly has far better sound quality thanks to the Hegel engineers’ expert tinkering), accepts basic streaming, and has a headphone output. For added flexibility, input settings are configurable for volume settings and functionality with all devices. 

HEGEL H80 - Excerpt from the Hi-Fi + Review: (now replaced by H90)
"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. 

Hegel is one of those brands that deserve to be better known. Products like the H80 make all the right noises and tick all the right boxes for a ‘now’ product. It’s a well-built, deceptively powerful amplifier with an excellent digital audio stage. ‘It fights above its weight’ is a cliché of the highest order, but it really applies here. Excellent! ".....
....HiFi+ reviewer

In the H90 integrated amplifier replaces previous H80) with digital and analog inputs, technology from the Reference Hegel products has virtually been pouring down. Hegel’s patented SoundEngine output stages, the Reference quality preamp and our critically acclaimed DACs. All in one box. A Music Machine! The H90 features 5 digital inputs with 24 bit technology, 1 true balanced analog input and 2 unbalanced analog inputs (one of of which can be configured to be a Home Theatre direct input). The USB input even allows you to use the supplied remote control to maneuver within play lists on your computer. Skip / Play / Pause the songs. And not only that, it is all plug & play. The DAC inside the H90 is based on Hegel’s stand-alone DACs, which have been recognized by critics as some of the best in the industry. Much thanks to Hegel’s proprietary re-clocking technique and the unique way we implement the digital components. The result of which is less additives to the music. You only hear what you are supposed to, and that makes the sound so much more life-like.

The analog stage is equally as impressive. The pre amplifier comes directly from one of our Reference standalone pre amplifiers. The design bases itself on components brought in from far beyond the regular audio industry, and the benefit is very low noise. This means that all the finer details are preserved, and you can virtually “feel” the room the artist is performing in. In many ways, we could define the sound as “the sum of all things that aren’t there”. But then there are all the things that actually are there. Brought there by our patented SoundEngine technology. This not only reduces distortion, but it also dramatically increase something called damping factor. This is a description of bass control, and gives the H80 a level of punch, driving power and dynamics that is completely unheard of in this price range. This combination of versatility and quality of sound is what gives it the name Music Machine.

Specifications

Reviews

Videos

Specifications

Digital inputs: 2 coax, 2 optical and 1 USB
Analog inputs: 2 RCA unbalanced (1 configurable) and 1 XLR Balanced input
Output Power: 75+75W in 8 ohms
Frequency response: 5 Hz - 100.000 Hz
Signal-to-noise ratio: More than 100dB
Crosstalk: Less than -100dB
Distortion: Less than 0.01% @ 50W 8 Ohms 1kHz
Intermodulation: Less than 0.01% (19kHz + 20kHz)
Damping Factor: More than 1000
Dimensions/Weight: 10cm x 43cm x 34.5cm (HxWxD), 12kg
Dimensions/Weight US: 3.94” x 16.93” x 13.80” (HxWxD), 26.4 lb (shipping weight)

Reviews

That Hegel succeeded in H80, is an understatement......
Lasse Svendsen -

SUMMARY (translated from Norwegian): Dynamic and engaging  - Super Dissolved and balanced sound  - Very good DAC

That Hegel succeeded in H80, is an understatement. It builds on the same basis as the already successful H70, but the sequel is a better repeater on all counts. Not only sounds the better it engage to a greater extent than most we've tested integrated in this price range. The flexible integrated DAC-one makes it perfect in a modern hi-fi system with only digital audio sources. Hegel H80 has everything it takes to sell in spades, it is difficult to see why one should be disappointed.

EXTENDED REVIEW (translated from Norwegian): Even long after the music was digitised, the trend has almost stood still. Today's hi-fi is still analog, from the CD player to the speakers. Perhaps it may seem that the industry resists, but it is more about rational thinking.
 
To date, few managed to make great-sounding digital amps, but the access to digital music on the Internet and via streaming, has exploded. The solution has been small DACs (digital converting), which easily connects to the - analog - amplifier you have.
 
A simple and flexible solution that makes it possible to connect digital audio sources to the system via a small dac. The disadvantage is that one has to visit the DAC one to switch audio source. That may be your game console, cable TV receiver, the TV, an Apple TV - and a laptop. As one user to play music from Spotify, Wimp or iTunes.
 
Therefore, several amplifiers emerged with DAC built. Allowing for better user friendliness. When you switch between audio sources with the amplifier's remote control, release an extra box in the plant, and can potentially get even better sound from your digital audio sources.
 
Norwegian Hegel is among the few to date have replaced all its models with amplifiers that have DAC one built. The smallest of them, Hegel H70 is an analog 70 EW amplifier with USB, optical and coaxial audio input on the back. An amplifier that is so great-sounding and engaging, it was named this year reinforces the year it came.
 
Now is the successor here. The new H80 are all ingredients replaced, and it has gotten a little more power, a new DAC with five inputs and, finally, a display area.
 
High-end light 
 
Since H70 was introduced, there has been a lot of processor development, and H80 has a new digital converter. It works with a 32-bit digital filter, 24-bit conversion at up to 192 kHz sample rate to keep kvantiseringstøy away music signal. USB port can support up to 24/96. Pretty state-of-the-art for an integrated amplifier to £ 10,000.
 
While the DAC one in H80 is a variant of separate Hegel H11 DAC, the analog amplifier circuit is a light-version of Hegel's massive integrated H300 to £ 30,000. Naturally simpler components, power supplies and with much less power. Approximately 80 W per channel. Not the large increase relative to H70, but a far better power supply and output stage, to give H80 even better sound quality, according to Hegel.
 
Shocking fresh and potent 
 
After a few weeks of the amplifier on the test bench, there is no doubt that H80 plays better than H70. That still is an excellent amplifier, and costs a few hundred Euro less than H80. With analog audio sources, I noticed that H80 had almost the same steel control in the bass as H300. A hard cash and bass, with tremendous range in frequency, and better dynamic contrast. Compared with H70, the sound is even more transparent, and particularly deeper.
 
With a wider stereo perspective in addition, created the H80 a more three-dimensional sound. With warmer and fuller sound, which I subjectively found quite seductive. I felt that music had multiple timbres and it gave particular strings, percussive stringed instruments and especially vowels, scary lifelike sound.
 
It does not make much higher than H70-one I compared. It just seemed so because the bass is more potent and dynamic H80. I also perceived distortion at high volume, as lower H80, which gave me cleaner, more refined sound, even when I connected to the efficient and happy playing floor speakers McIntosh XR100.
 
The sound from the amp's DAC, when I plugged into a MacBook Air via USB input, became crystal clear and the music sounded shockingly fresh. Lossless files with, among others, Alison Krauss and Union Station, sounding almost as dynamic and sparkling clear as the original CD. The difference is so marginal that I can easily live with your Mac connected Hegel amplifier most of the time. It has no ethernet connection, let alone wi-fi on board, but as you can read in a separate box, there's an affordable solution that provides streaming right to Hegel amplifier one optical digital input.
 
The sexton home run 
 
That Hegel succeeded in H80, is an understatement. It builds on the same basis as the already successful H70, but the sequel is a better repeater on all counts. Not only sounds the better it engage to a greater extent than most we've tested integrated in this price range. The flexible integrated DAC-one makes it perfect in a modern hi-fi system with only digital audio sources. Hegel H80 has everything it takes to sell in spades, it is difficult to see why one should be disappointed.
........Lasse Svendsen
The H80 sounds natural and mature....very powerful. It’s hard to ask for more. That’s why this amplifier is worthy of our recommendation.
Tomasz Karasiński

SUMMARY: As the listening test came to an end, I wanted to mention some flaws of H80’s sound. The bass? I honestly can't complain about the extent or the speed either. Stereo imaging? The shape and size of the soundstage is just right. Maybe any defects in the high frequencies at least? Nope. I couldn't find any harshness here. Everything is perfectly fine. Maybe I would be able to find some shortcomings if I listened to H80 for half a year. As for the listening test, it was perhaps too short to reveal any flaws of this machine. Or maybe there aren’t any? At least at this price level, there is that possibility.

EXTENDED REVIEW: Hegel products are minimalistic, but also full of innovative solutions. Their design is always very well thought out. The company was not established by marketing experts, instead Hegel was formed by a group of friends. One of them created the scheme of an amplifier, which pretty much eliminated all the shortcomings of traditional circuitries. In his opinion the major problem is the feedback - the main reason of the sound distortion. He also took into consideration that getting rid of any feedback in fact makes an amplifier weaker and more floaty in terms of sound. The man we are talking about is Bent Holter. His idea turned out to be not bad at all, because he managed to achieve high output power and less distortion at the same time. At some point a big telecommunication company - Telenor - became interested in his project. They paid for further development of this technology in exchange for shares of Holter's new company and what we know today as Hegel was born. In the end, all the solutions for improving analog signal transmission quality became needless for Telenor because the telecom industry switched from analog to digital transmission. The young inventor bought all his shares back and thus he returned to the initial idea - amplifiers. Nowadays Hegel offers integrated amps, preamplifiers and power amplifiers, two CD players and DACs. Norwegians have a very interesting approach, because they believe that technological progress should not only bring better performance, but also bring the prices down a bit. That is exactly what happened with the HD11 DAC. It has better technical parameters than its predecessor but the price is noticeably lower. Now Hegel is launching a new product - the successor of the H70 integrated amplifier. The H70 was seen as one of the leaders in its price range, and there is nothing strange about it. Will the H80 be similarly successful?
 
Design and functionality
 
H80 is slightly more expensive than its predecessor, but knowing Hegel’s approach the price difference is not due to the display on the front panel or something equally trivial. Everything becomes clear when we look at the rear panel. People who know Hegel’s products would immediately recognise the layout of digital inputs section, the same as in the stand-alone DACs like HD11. The number of analog inputs has been limited - two sets of RCA and one set of XLR sockets. I think it’s a good decision. Who needs more analog inputs nowadays? On the rear panel we can also find a single set of speaker terminals, previously mentioned digital input section and an IEC power socket. It all looks really professional. Of course some say that the presence of five digital inputs does not mean that there is a serious converter inside. Yes, but we all know that the Hegel doesn’t do such things. Before connecting this new integrated amp we found out that the built-in DAC is almost identical to the one used in HD11. First from unofficial leaks, later from the manufacturer we also learned that the H80 treated only as an amplifier can be even better product than its predecessor. This is because the preamp section uses solutions taken straight from the top models, such as the H300 flagship integrated amplifier. The H80 is also a whole 5 watts more powerful, but it is just a trifle because it was hard to complain about the lack of power in the H70. The new amplifier uses SoundEngine technology, from which we started the whole story. It eliminates distortion by separating the two amplifier sections from each other. This allows engineers to design each section independently and use the most appropriate elements for a given part. According to some listeners, SoundEngine is responsible for the combination of dynamics and natural sound temperature. Build-in converter is compatible with all operating systems. After connecting the amplifier to the computer you also get the possibility to control your playlists with an ultra-thin remote. This solution is very impressive and functional. It was applied first in the HD11. All fans of high-resolution files will be glad that H80 can play 24 bit/192 kHz signals, but only via coaxial and optical inputs. We were also keen to use the Hegel's DAC Loop solution. This means that we use the built-in DAC as a USB-SPDIF converter. Then the signal goes by a digital wire (coaxial or optical) to our external DAC and changes into the analog form. Then it goes back to one of the amplifier’s analog inputs (RCA or XLR). It’s a bit complicated, but it works, except the H80 does not have a digital output - only inputs. Thus, the true PC Audio geeks will have to get a USB-SPDIF converter or the computer sound card with an optical or coaxial input. Unless of course they don't have it already.
 
The design of the H80 is a typical, Scandinavian minimalism. The power switch has been moved from the front panel to the bottom of the box. It was replaced with the display showing active input and volume. The front panel has a distinctive bulge in the central part and it is made of a thick piece of metal. The rest of the box is made of metal as well. The H80 stands on three, high legs, further improving the airflow. Usually I don't like digital potentiometers, but this one isn't so annoying. We have 99 volume levels. Zero is equivalent to mute - there is a quiet click from inside the amplifier. When we turn the sound on again, Hegel doesn't shout immediately. It will go smoothly from zero to the previous level, which is very nice if you had to shut it down when the volume level was high and afterwards you forget about this. A simple, but well thought-out solution.
 
Now it is the part where we complain. The Hegel lacks three things to achieve maximum marks for functionality - a digital output, an output of the preamp and a headphone jack. However, if you are a fan of headphones, you probably want to have a separate amplifier for them and now there is a simple solution - the Hegel SUPER headphone amp with built-in DAC.
 
Sound performance
 
At the beginning, I’ve tested the H80 as a normal integrated amplifier with the Naim CD 5XS as a source. After listening to it for five minutes, then fifteen minutes, two hours, the conclusion was simple - this amp rocks! It is clearly one of the most interesting amplifiers in its price range. Even if we forget about the presence of the DAC. Such performance could be expected from a much more expensive device. Dynamics, energy and the control over the whole sound could be associated with huge integrated amps with heatsinks on the sides and transformers the diameter of a medium-sized pizza. But this one looks like a normal amplifier, it’s very inconspicuous. If there was a big black curtain in the front of the system and I had to guess what kind of amplifier was playing at the moment, I would say that it was something similar to cheaper integrated models of Krell or McIntosh. Maybe a respectable pre/power combination of Atoll or Audiolab as well. It's not just that you can organise a big party with the H80 and fill the large room with sound without problems. For us the true dynamics is manifested by the fact that we don't have to listen loudly to feel the pulse of the music. Here, this energy can be felt even at low or middle volume levels. The display shows 30 or 40, and you don't really need anything more. The combination of H80 with Divine Acoustics Proxima speakers was almost synergic. If you are able to get better sound from hi-fi system worth less than $5000, please get in touch and tell me what it is. The brutal Hegel's power perfectly merged with the directness and romanticism of Polish speakers. I’ve also listened to the H80 with Triangle Signature Delta speakers, but this combination was a bit too sharp for my liking.
The class of the Norwegian amp isn't only heard in the caloric impulses that it sends to the loudspeakers, but also in almost perfect tonal balance. The sound temperature is on the warmer side, but just a bit. The H80 is not one of the strong, transparent but vulgar amps. This new device gives very consistent and elegant sound, maintaining all the dynamics and drive of its predecessor.
After two days of listening with the Naim and the HD11 as signal sources, I decided to turn on the built-in DAC. When I unplugged the HD11, almost nothing has changed. The differences were minimal, on the verge of human perception I would say. So it's true - the built-in DAC gives similar performance as stand-alone D/A converters worth $1500. In a way, the USB port offers even more audiophile sound, because it's perfectly neutral. Probably that’s the heritage of the HD11.
As the listening test came to an end, I wanted to mention some flaws of H80’s sound. The bass? I honestly can't complain about the extent or the speed either. Stereo imaging? The shape and size of the soundstage is just right. Maybe any defects in the high frequencies at least? Nope. I couldn't find any harshness here. Everything is perfectly fine. Maybe I would be able to find some shortcomings if I listened to H80 for half a year. As for the listening test, it was perhaps too short to reveal any flaws of this machine. Or maybe there aren’t any? At least at this price level, there is that possibility.
 
Build quality and technical parameters
 
The H80 is integrated amplifier with five digital inputs and a DAC inside. Two FET transistors give 75 watts per channel with 8 ohm impedance. Audiophiles will enjoy the presence of the power supply built on the basis of a large toroidal transformer and four large capacitors. The inside of the amplifier has been designed wisely. Some may complain about the large number of cable connections, but no important wire lies close to the transformer (the one seen in the last picture goes to the power switch). Information that the built-in DAC is an exact copy of the HD11 is probably a little exaggerated, but the differences between them are small. In the technical data one parameter drew my attention - the damping factor is more than 1000, which is pretty impressive.

Verdict

 
For many people the H80 can be a good amplifier for years. For some, it may be even one and only device in the system, if we don’t count the speakers. Plugging it into a small laptop gives a possibility to create home entertainment system with a handy interface and a remote control. The idea of the H80 is brilliant - a relatively inexpensive, versatile amp with a serious DAC onboard. If that was not enough, the new Hegel is far better in terms of sound than its predecessor - the H70. The H80 sounds more natural and mature, but still very powerful. It’s hard to ask for more. That’s why this amplifier is worthy of our recommendation.
It’s a well-built, deceptively powerful amplifier with an excellent digital audio stage. ‘It fights above its weight’ is a cliché of the highest order, but it really applies here. Excellent!
Alan Sircom

SUMMARY: 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.

EXTENDED REVIEW: The role of amplifier has changed recently. The nexus role of ‘curating’ sources and feeding them to a pair of loudspeakers remains, but increasingly ‘sources’ have become a single computer source. That means increasing onus on the amp maker to become an amp+DAC maker, and few companies have taken that new role to heart as much as Hegel.
 
The H80 is the company’s new hub. Yes, it’s an 75W per channel integrated amplifier, but the overall design quickly shows it’s very much an integrated amp with today in mind. As a line-level amplifier, it’s relatively limited, with just two line-level phono inputs (one of which can be configured as a home theatre direct input) and one XLR input on tap. On the other hand (and on the other side of the rear panel) it has two coaxial digital, two toslink optical and one asynchronous USB inputs. Moreover, it’s indicative of a bold move on Hegel’s part, in that the same degree of importance toward digital audio is echoed throughout the range. There’s a fairly obvious and logical reason for this; the need for line-level inputs is beginning to fade in modern audio (often it now comes down to the output of a phono stage and a tuner) while the need for digital audio connections – potentially for both audio and audio-video devices – is on the rise. It’s possible today that someone might use an amplifier with no line-level sources whatsoever, perhaps connecting the optical link from a satellite decoder and a games console and the USB input from a computer. Line level is not exactly ‘legacy’ and will likely never be consigned to the dump-bin, but it’s interesting just how many sources can be covered with fairly minimal analogue pathway demands now. And Hegel seems to get that change in user demands to a very deep degree.
 
The analogue stage is not an afterthought though, especially as essentially the DAC sits on top of the analogue preamp section. This has been pulled from the company’s P20 line preamp or top H300 integrated, borrowing heavily from those upmarket devices. Similarly, the power amplifier stage of the H80 also borrows from the Reference class products, using Hegel’s own SoundEngine local error cancellation circuit design, which is claimed to deliver Class A linearity in a Class AB design, increasing damping factor in the process. It also uses hand-matched transistors in the input stage and the DAC, of course, bears a lot in common with Hegel’s 32-bit filtering, AKM4399-based 24-bit, 192kHz precision off board converters like the HD11. OK, so putting DAC, pre and power in the one chassis is never going to be quite as good as having them in separate chassis with separate power supplies dedicated to the task in hand, and the small chassis means there’s no room for the kart wheel sized toroidal transformer and power reserves found in Hegel’s 200W and beyond amplifiers, but this appears an exercise in specification reduction rather than sonic sacrifice.
 
Hegel’s products stress the minimalist approach. All black, one knob for source, one for volume, a power off switch on the underside of the amp below the source knob and a big blue LED readout. There’s a credit-card remote that accompanies the amp, and can control the computer’s playlists. It can turn off or even dim the large and bright display, too if you press it for three seconds.
 
But with no preamp output, there’s no upgrade path for someone wanting to add a bigger power amp. More importantly, there’s also no monitor, digital output or headphone socket, so if you want to listen through headphones, not only is it impossible through the H80, but it’s impossible to even take a feed from the H80 to drive headphones, which may be a deal-breaker for some. 
 
Anders Ertzeid of Hegel confided in me that the code name for the H80 within the company was PIGLET (as in the cute one from Winnie the Pooh). But while that’s true from the outside, ‘PIGLET’ bares no resemblance to the sound it produces. It’s more ‘The Little Engine That Could’. It is deceptively powerful; yes, it’s a 75W amp, but it has the kind of grip over loudspeakers that makes it sound more like it’s double that. And it does so in an intrinsically right way. I tried it with a number of speakers (some of which are tested in this issue), but settled on the Raidho D1s as the perfect partners, with Crystal Cable providing the linkage everywhere except USB (one day, I’ll have mugged enough old people to afford Crystal’s Absolute Dream USB, but until then Nordost makes a good stand-in). The front end was mostly Apple-based, but my old Lyngdorf CD-1 was also pressed into service for its S/PDIF connections.
 
Like the H300 we tested in issue 98, the amp takes a fair while to spring to life. It’s a vapid, listless first few days with the H80, and that’s nothing like the amplifier it grows up to be.  Hegel makes a sound that doesn’t draw attention to itself, but that’s what a good amp should do. And the DAC matches the amplifier perfectly. This is not an ostentatious, fireworks sound – it’s in it for the long game, with excellent precision (both in detail and in soundstage width and depth terms), super dynamics and most of all a sense of great poise and integration across the range. 
 
You get the distinct ‘you are there’ feeling with the H80, as if the electronics are out of the way. You put on Schiff or Brendel, and you are in the audience. You put on ZZ Top and you are either in the studio or in the bar. You put on Kraftwerk and you are inside the oscillator. This is not an uncommon impression in the high-end, but it usually comes when components are more divided up than this. 
 
I’m not wholly convinced this is a Class A sound from a Class AB amplifier, but it gets closer than most. Where the H80 wins though it the bass; if it has some of the ease of listening of Class A in the mids and treble, the bass is powerful, deep and satisfyingly ‘chewy’. It grips hold of the drivers to ensure they give good account of their actions, but does so in the kind of way where you just start reaching out for old reggae recordings for the fun of it. There probably won’t be that many Hegel/Raidho combinations that punt out Burning Spear’s Garvey’s Ghost dub remix of the Marcus Garvey album, but it worked. OK, ‘it worked’ is subject to this not being the kind of club rig that can play bass so deep it dislocates knee joints at 30 paces, but ‘surprisingly deep and loud’ for domestic use does it for me.
 
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.
 
Hegel is one of those brands that deserve to be better known. Products like the H80 make all the right noises and tick all the right boxes for a ‘now’ product. It’s a well-built, deceptively powerful amplifier with an excellent digital audio stage. ‘It fights above its weight’ is a cliché of the highest order, but it really applies here. Excellent!
We applaud Hegel for breaking the audiophile mould and branching out into digital files.
Audioholics Mag
Let's talk about integrated amplifiers. The main difference between an integrated amplifier and a receiver is the presence of an AM/FM tuner (receiver). For many of us, we use our home theater receivers as integrated amps. I think I may tune in a station I was listening to in the car once a year - about three years ago. Since then, just about every station streams their shows online so I just pop open my laptop and continue listening there.
 
But in the consumer (and manufacturer's) minds, the two products are completely different. An integrated amplifier is a device for high end users and have features and price points that reflect that. A receiver, on the other hand, is a consumer-level product and has price points and feature sets for nearly any consumer. The odd integrated amp with a budget price point is hard to find. 
 
Hegel is a high end company that has made a name for itself with its integrated amps, processors, amplifiers, and DACs. The H80 is the second in a line of five integrated amplifiers. IThe H80 is a brand new product for the company and incorporates some of the technology from their flagship integrated amp.
 
The H80 has a pair of high quality speaker terminals for each speaker. It has two RCA-style analogue inputs (one assignable) and a set of XLR balanced inputs. On the digital side, it has two coaxial and two optical digital audio inputs. In addition, it has a USB port for connecting to your computer. The digital inputs all can accept 24-bit depth content. On their website, they have instructions for connecting the H80 to an Apple or Ubuntu computer (apparently audiophiles don't do PC or Linux). When connected by USB, you can use the supplied remote to control your playlists (not sure if this is limited to Apple/Ubuntu and which music programs).
 
Hegel has been recognised for their quality DACs and pre-amps (according to their site) for their re-clocking (to remove jitter) and low noise floor. Hegel has a patented SoundEngine technology which promises not only reduces distortion, but it also dramatically increase damping factor. The H80 sports 75 watts per channel into 8 ohms. 
 
Glancing at the front, you'll notice something not usually found on audiophile gear - a digital readout. Other than that, there are two knobs (source and volume) and a whole lot of flat aluminum. This it typical for audiophile great that prides itself on clean lines and single purpose devices.
 
Conclusion
Hegel is certainly giving you something (very good) for your US$2000 with the Hegel H80 integrated amplifier. Allowing a USB connection to your computer with high quality DACs is something we usually don't expect of audiophile gear..... you can also get less for a lot more. We applaud Hegel for breaking the audiophile mould and branching out into digital files.

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