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Hegel H95 Review (Streaming Amplifier)

JiiPee

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It is possible to see that review somewhere (bought the in200 recently)
It was published recently in HIFImaailma 07/2021 - a finnish magazine dedicated to audio enthusiasts. Written in finnish, and afaik not available online. Regarding the Atoll in200, it had the worst measurement results of the four contenders, but on subjective listening test, the reviewers noted that the Atoll's rather high THD+N did not have a detectable negative effect on sound, and it was actually their favorite of the group.
 

Bogda

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Did you ever look at the feature set of an NAD M10, which has DIRAC integrated? Also the Cambridge Evo is a far better deal
Here where I live, NAD M10 and Cambridge Evo are both significantly more expensive than H95. NAD C700 is much closer competitor.
Powernode is significantly cheaper but it has no display and no volume knob which some people (including me) consider a must.
I am not saying H95 is great deal, just that all those cheap mail delivery amplifiers or power amplifiers are not real competitors to H95.
 

René - Acculution.com

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It was published recently in HIFImaailma 07/2021 - a finnish magazine dedicated to audio enthusiasts. Written in finnish, and afaik not available online. Regarding the Atoll in200, it had the worst measurement results of the four contenders, but on subjective listening test, the reviewers noted that the Atoll's rather high THD+N did not have a detectable negative effect on sound, and it was actually their favorite of the group.
Huh... interesting. Thanks a lot for your reply.
 

DSJR

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Not sure how long the new wave of high-performing amps have actually been around (baby chip amps, Benchmark and Bruno P's designs)... I have a collection of the original HiFi Choice A5 size review books from the 70's and 80's and looking at THD and IMD findings for a wide variety of amps, -70 to -80dB levels of distortion was regarded as very good indeed, -60dB was commonplace in smaller amp maker's products and with very few exceptions it seems from my scans, far eastern amps with -90dB routinely achieved didn't seem to 'sound' so good. Highest rated confections from ARC (SP11/D110 in one test I read just now) had apalingly bad performance yet won the highest praise, although if you read numerous Martin Colloms' reviews, you need to read between the lines for comments on rich bass ("Too much unless you know better") or 'traditional valve amp qualities' (a CJ pre-power combination) while lavishing praise. I think reviews such as these plus US and other international equivalents basically started the subjective based audiophool brainwashed market (ignore measurements as you don't listen to test tones) and turned the gear selection into an art in itself, properly performing equipment being regarded as bland, characterless and often thin toned too, totally disregarding the fact that many rock based studio recordings didn't really have a proper homogenous 3-D soundfield with long reverb tails and are basically multi-mono with added reverb.

I'm minded of the different Schiit Yiggy dacs available now, th ebest performing (and logically most 'honest?') not being liked as much as the one with most distortion and potential sonic 'character.'

When was this Hegel conceived? I suspect even ten years ago, the basic amplifier performance wouldn't have been found wanting! I think 'we' here on ASR have almost certainly been spoiled as regards steady measured improvements in dacs and various amps and I do believe it may take more mainstream companies time to research and catch up. I do take on board the Hegel gent's comments regarding feedback as I understand from experienced engineers that you can't 'just' slap a load of feedback into a circuit willy-nilly without some care, but place it carefully for best results.

Rant over. I miss the subjective side of doing comparisons and dems, but these days I'm more aware than ever how we simply CANNOT trust our ears alone, as we're so easily led astray, at least on the domestic-gear side, by visuals, touch and self esteem if we can afford to pay over the odds.
 
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VoRAT

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@DSJR
After reading your comments earlier, can I ask if getting older plays a part in things? What I mean is, not being bothered to sit down for listening periods, comparing things, and doing the sort of things that some people see as part of the fun. At half a century, I find myself not being too bothered about listening to different cables, and I tend to just pick some I feel are suitable for the system without going overboard or buying something I feel might let the system down. Not wanting to start any cable arguments, just using that as an example. I’d rather just listen to music than spend time switching between cables.
 

DSJR

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I'm not sure how I can respond VoRAT to your post above without another essay. Best I can say is that having been immersed in the dealer mentality for some decades and now almost retirement, the 'hobby' side was got rid of early on as it was my life for so long and now, familiarity is breeding disinterest if not outright contempt with most of what still goes on in high end dealers as well as turning off the 'instant gurus' on Youtube. Reviews here and the steady demolition of established (and once trusted?) makers just shows another side where things ARE moving on out there, but the old school dealer-sold makers are carrying on in blind arrogance in some cases as if this was 1981 rather than today, or they have a good idea going and charge the bloomin' earth for it. I repeat, 'Good Enough' is good enough for these people.

The music rules absolutely and if it's music I know and love, what it's played on doesn't matter now. Having said that, to hear a favourite piece of music through an advanced 'proper' sound system usually brings tears to my eyes, so maybe I haven't lost it completely ;)
 
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AudioX3

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Hegal in general for the "Legacy Audiophile" community is a "good value" all in one that rises to "Audiophile quality". But is it really?

So I looked at Stereophile John Atkins and found a different model review, but essentially the same characteristics. His measurements basically showed the Hegal sucked. His comments were like that of a Stock Analyst though, you better know how to read between the lines, because anything other than Strong Buy really means this thing sucks. This was not a strong buy.

"Hegel's H160 integrated amplifier is a well-engineered powerhouse (BS), though owners should make sure it is well ventilated if they want to play music at sustained high levels (in the body his measurements showed it was unstable, high distortion so much so that he actually shut the device off - sound familiar to what Amir found huh). Its digital/analog circuitry is workmanlike rather than the state of the art (what he really should say is this thing sucks) but a standalone digital processor offering better performance than this is going to cost as least as much as the Hegel's $3500 (sure one can always waste even more money, but he leaves out that one could also buy 10 times the performance for 1/10th the price - and that is a major point).—John Atkinson"

Note: I chose Stereophile and John Atkins as it is a source that the "Legacy Audiophile" community would trust. The conclusion implied wonderful, but the "between the lines" said it is crap.
 
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Firespeed

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Hello Amirm, hello everyone.

I hope my English is good enough to be understandable.

First of all, I would like to warmly thank Amirm for the work done and the quality of the tests performed. Then, I thank you all for the quality of the exchanges and the sharing of all this knowledge. All this has allowed me to grow and to get out of the "idiot fidelity" and to come back to the pragmatic, measurable audio-fidelity that I can hear.

This test and these results on the Hegel H95 really pushed me over the edge! As a H90 owner since 2020, my ego took a hit and I couldn't stand the idea that I was being ripped off. So I decided that if I had been able to put money into this "high-end" amp, I had to buy and test the Loxjie A30 in light of the Amirm tests. After all, I had nothing to lose even if it is not an easy thing to accept!

I wanted to verify with my own ears and in my environment that all this was still possible: to be fooled by pure and simple marketing and that there were much better (without the unverifiable concepts that Hegel sells), simpler and more effective for the pleasure of our ears.

I pass you the details, but I have subjectively but nevertheless in a very real and effective way heard the reality of the scientific tests published by Amirm here! While passing on the Loxjie A30 this week, I note how much it is just incredible and very pleasant to find such a definition and such a spectrum reproduced with quality, transparency and dynamic . I don't miss anything and I hear now a lot of elements that had disappeared or that were attenuated by the H90 or the integrated DAC. It's really really great!

My speakers express themselves completely and deliver a richness of sounds beyond what I had known, while being soft, open, precise, fast and absolutely not tiring. On this subject, I can say that the manufacturer of these speakers (https://jm-reynaud.com/) did not lie and I find well the behavior described on its site and its data sheet (French manufacturer which produces the results of factual measurements and which knows how to describe the behavior of its speakers).

I can also confirm what I read: the Hegel was eating all the low frequencies and the pre-out doesn't work well. My Sub now expresses itself very well and all low frequencies are reproduced very well, with punch and clarity in all different low frequencies.

All this to say thank you again and that in the light of this forum, I now plan to go up in range. Indeed this experience (transformed into a good one thanks to you), pushes me to explore further the possibilities of certain materials tested here: I thus consider passing on Topping PA5 in amplifier and Topping E50 in DAC... yes, of course, with the money recovered from the very quick sale of the H90, I have largely what to please me with these 2 future elements!

You will find below some pictures of my installation, in case you are interested. Modestly and if I know, I am at your disposal if you have any questions.

Thanks again to all of you and especially to you, Amirm! Good listening sessions to all.
 

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naish

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Wow, good story.
I own a Hegel H80 for years now and I already discovered that the dac in the Hegel wasn’t that good. So, out of curiosity I ordered a Loxije D50 dac. I was really surprised. What a sound and details!!
But now I like to go further, sell the Hegel and buy a Topping/SMSL/Loxije/Audiophonics amplifier. But I still have to get used to it that those boxes are so small.
Suggestions welcome..!
 
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smithynz

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I was directed to this review by someone in a hifi forum, just as I was about to purchase a Hegel H190 (which shares the same digital circuit as the H95) for an extremely good price. As a result of reading this, I decided against it and bought a different amplifier (Cambridge Audio CXA81). I hope I've made the right decision.

I did audition the Hegel at home, and while it sounded good to me on the whole, the DAC was most definitely the weak link in the system. It was muddy-sounding and overly warm. As soon as I connected my SMSL SU-8 v2 via the balanced input, I gained a whole lot of clarity in the sound. But the idea of buying it was tainted after reading all the hate in the review.

BTW, the power button is not difficult to find at all! :)
 

gallantus

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@amirm - These measurements are just God aweful disgusting.

I know equipements needs to be measured to make sure that the manufacturer knows what they are doing and to keep them honest. I actually brought the Topping D90SE because of it's impeccable measurement and it sounds terrific (if it didn't I would have returned it).

I have 3 questions for you.

1) Our human hearing can only hear so much SNR, THD, etc etc. At what point do we say anything above that threshold it will make no difference, unless we have hearing of a bat? That said, if equipments hits that threshold, should we not rate them based on their measurements any longer, instead rate the equipement based on their features and one's impression of the sound?

2) Can a equipment sound good, if they don't measure as good as another equipment, especially you can't hear the diffrence if you hit a threshold of what human hearing can hear?

3) Does it makes sense to audition the gear then write down what your impression is, publish it, then measure and publish the measurements? The reason why I say that is because one may be prone to confirmation bias.

Thanks for taking these questions!
 
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amirm

amirm

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1) Our human hearing can only hear so much SNR, THD, etc etc. At what point do we say anything above that threshold it will make no difference, unless we have hearing of a bat? That said, if equipments hits that threshold, should we not rate them based on their measurements any longer, instead rate the equipement based on their features and one's impression of the sound?
Impression of sound is assessed using these measurements. To the extent frequency response is flat to 20 kHz, SNR is suitable for playback level and sensitivity of the speaker, and distortion below audibility, then there is no impression to assess.

Fortunately these types of complex questions don't need to be answered because in most cases, better engineering costs nothing. It simply requires that the designer measure, find flaws, fix them, measure again to confirm, etc. Such refinement hardly ever cost money. The DAC chip in Hegel for example could perform a lot better than what I measured.

But yes, features, look and feel, support, etc. are extremely important. In that regard, there are a ton of gear I have reviewed which ace the transparency card and let you choose as such.

2) Can a equipment sound good, if they don't measure as good as another equipment, especially you can't hear the diffrence if you hit a threshold of what human hearing can hear?
I have never seen this after testing nearly 1000 products. Impairments are either not audible or degrade the sound. I think vast if not all of the people who think equipment has some flavor due to distortion are wrong. They are not performing controlled testing where all variables other than sound is removed. If they do this, the difference they think they hear disappears.

3) Does it makes sense to audition the gear then write down what your impression is, publish it, then measure and publish the measurements? The reason why I say that is because one may be prone to confirmation bias.
Only if you want less reliable information from me! Why would you put your faith on my pure subjective opinion? With measurements, I am far less liable to say wrong thing. For example, if I measure a speaker and has rolled off highs, I know not to say, "this speaker is bright."

Let's remember that if equipment measures superbly transparent, that you think it sounds better than something else is harmless. The reverse where you buy a poorly engineered gear and think it sounds great, especially when it comes with a price premium, there is a lot of harm done.
 

gallantus

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Impression of sound is assessed using these measurements. To the extent frequency response is flat to 20 kHz, SNR is suitable for playback level and sensitivity of the speaker, and distortion below audibility, then there is no impression to assess.
Thanks for the reply @amirm .

This is a very interesting comment and not the first time I heard it. Let me make sure I understand what you mean by this first. If one were to buy an amp, all they have to do is look at the specs and if it measures well, that in itself is the sound impression, there is no need to audition it.

Assuming I understood you correctly, when I first heard this comment, I was confused because I'm torn over it, the engineer in me (I'm a trained but not practicing EE) said duh, this makes 100% perfect sense; if a widget is built to spec then it should be performing to spec, but then the HiFi hobbyist in me said, then why am I in this hobby?

Here is why I say that. If that comment is true, then there is no need for anyone to audtion any amp, they simply just have to go online find the best spec'ed amp (in this case, it would be the Benchmark AHB2) and the sound will 100% sound the best when compared to any other amp. You are now done, nothing else to do. It also means all of these HiFi makers should just close their doors, because everyone should just buy the Benchmark preamp and amp, and the Topping DAC.

Dammit, I hope this is not true, because if it is true, then this is just one stupid, boring hobby to be in!
 
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BDWoody

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Dammit, I hope this is true, because if it is true, then this is just one stupid, boring hobby to be in!

If the hobby is buying solid state gear in search of sound improvements, then yes.
 

gallantus

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If the hobby is buying solid state gear in search of sound improvements, then yes.
Dammit, is it time to sell everything I got and just buy the Benchmark Preamp, Amp, Topping DAC and a pair of Revel speakers? Those are the best measuring equipments out there afterall.

Good news for me, I already have the Topping DAC (and a LKS DAC) and a pair of Revel bookshelve, with the F226Be coming in (originally the F228Be, but the wait is just too long)!
 

BDWoody

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Dammit, is it time to sell everything I got and just buy the Benchmark Preamp, Amp, Topping DAC and a pair of Revel speakers? Those are the best measuring equipments out there afterall.

Good news for me, I already have the Topping DAC (and a LKS DAC) and a pair of Revel bookshelve, with the F226Be coming in (originally the F228Be, but the wait is just too long)!

People can't have different aesthetic or other tastes?

Edit:
For me, it made the hobby a lot more fun, because understanding what is or isn't going to matter to the sound opened up the door to a lot of older gear I wouldn't have thought worthy of my finely tuned audio sensibilities before.

I would put my Krell KAV250a/3 up against the current crop of latest and greatest, in terms of its performance in the real world. I have an older Luxman Preamp that I am not wondering about what I'm missing from behind all the veils that must have been removed from the new gear made in the last 35 years...

It convinced me to send the multi-kilobuck DAC I bought back, and buy some Damn nice speakers (9xJBL 7 series monitors...thats 4500 watts of amplification, 9 DAC's, built in eq and amazing sound) instead.

So, I guess boring for one may not be for another. I haven't saved a dime from the site, but I've allocated my resources very differently.

Just another way to look at it, once you realize the freedom it gives.
 
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