Hegel P20 Preamplifier fully balanced

HL 13 PA P20
NZ$ 4,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Hegel Audio

Natural, Engaging, Dynamic musical experiance


The P20 is our entry into serious quality preamplifiers and offers an affordable door into the Hegel Reference line of products.

Designing the P20 was not a task we took lightly. Many of the ideas and concepts were taken from its bigger brother. Although scaled down, many of the good characteristics remain: the enormous soundstage, the deep rhythmic bass response, the perfect timing... In short, the sense of being there with the performers.

The P20 comes with a high quality system remote control, milled out of one solid piece of aluminium. It has the same bead blasted and anodised surface finish as the preamplifier itself. You can really feel the quality each part of the P20; not only hear it. There is a total of 5 regular inputs. Both balanced and unbalanced. In addition, a special Home Theatre input allows integration in Home Theatre systems. Finally, there are both balanced and unbalanced outputs as well as a fixed line-level output.

The idea behind the P20 was, as mentioned, to offer a more affordable entry into our line of separates. But most of all, it was to set a new standard of price and performance in preamplifiers. Something we think we have achieved. The preamplifier is perhaps the most delicate unit in a sound system. Because the signal levels are so low, even the tiniest levels of noise or distortion smear the image and mask the small details that enliven the music. In designing the P20, we achieved the highest quality of sound at such a low price point by using brand new technologies, such as Silicon Germanium transistors. In addition we implemented high frequency components that were not originally designed for audio, and use them in ways that had never been done before. The result is an open and natural sounding preamplifier at a very competitive price


SUMMARY REVIEW: during the time I had the Hegel P20 in my system, two other preamplifiers were available to me. My longtime reference preamp, an Audio Research LS15, did a bit of time in and out of the system feeding its amplifier cousin, the D300. The LS15’s sound had the usual tube nuances: a little plump in the midrange, in a beautiful way, as is often the case with tube gear. I was surprised by the P20’s midrange -- it outperformed the LS15 in the sweetest range of the LS15's capabilities. The Hegel was more accurate than the ARC, but without sounding thinner. The LS15’s bass performance has been a point of modest concern to me over the years -- assuming that the D300 was doing its job properly. My B&W 801 speakers, with their 12” woofers and big cabinets, should have considerable punch, but really didn’t until the P20 joined the system. The LS15 sounded thinner and definitely weaker than the P20 in the deep bass.

When I compared the P20 with the Benchmark’s preamp section, the Hegel’s larger soundstages and greater accuracy bested the Benchmark. The P20’s sound was bigger, and tonally more natural than the DAC2 HGC’s. The sound of the Benchmark was in proportion with its physically smaller size -- it sounded a bit flatter and created smaller soundstages than the Hegel. Higher-pitched sounds and transients sounded slightly more sharp-edged and less natural through the Benchmark when compared to the full size, natural sound of the P20. Adding cost to the debate does not make for a more difficult choice. The P20 has a beautiful, natural sound that I feel justifies its place in a system built around separates, and is a reason to consider that step if you are able.

I’ve used the words real and natural interchangeably here, and have discovered that I agree with Hegel’s description of the P20. I like that there’s no hyperbole on their website. Self-aggrandizement is not becoming.

The Hegel P20 was neutral in its sound. It allowed for beautifully clear separation of sounds, voices, and instruments; and the vivid depth of its bass was a revelation. This preamplifier allowed singers and instruments on the best recordings to sound natural and almost fully real. The buyer gets far better sound than the P20’s economical rice suggests.



Volume, source and mute controlled by the Hegel RC8 remote
1*XLR balanced, 4*RCA unbalanced and Home Theatre inputs
Selector for 6 input sources
1*XLR balanced, 1*RCA unbalanced and 1*RCA recording outputs
Crosstalk: Less than -100dB
Distortion: Less than 0.005%
Intermodulation: Less than 0.01% (19kHz+20kHz)
Dimensions/weight: 8cm x 43cm x 30cm (HxWxD),
weight 10kg
Available in black and silver finish