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Hegel H95 Review (Streaming Amplifier)

DSJR

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Just like the ASR folks here who needs scientific evidence. I would like scientific evidence that two amps measuring the same will not be discernable by a blind ABX test.
At the very top of the state of the art amplifier tree nowadays, as long as the power output levels aren't exceeded, volume levels are matched, the speaker impedance curve isnt altering the response unduly and you cannot see what's playing, I think you'd find these amps would sound basically similar if not identical to our ears.

The thing is, every time I 'hear' a modern Luxman integrated, with its luxury feel and high weight, I still feel they have a gentle, slightly soft tone to them - I've only seen measurements of one of them and there's nothing there to suggest anything 'odd' or 'different' about it.. Visuals DO play such a HUGE part in audiophile sensibilities I feel.
 

gallantus

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At the very top of the state of the art amplifier tree nowadays, as long as the power output levels aren't exceeded, volume levels are matched, the speaker impedance curve isnt altering the response unduly and you cannot see what's playing, I think you'd find these amps would sound basically similar if not identical to our ears.

The thing is, every time I 'hear' a modern Luxman integrated, with its luxury feel and high weight, I still feel they have a gentle, slightly soft tone to them - I've only seen measurements of one of them and there's nothing there to suggest anything 'odd' or 'different' about it.. Visuals DO play such a HUGE part in audiophile sensibilities I feel.
I do believe that the power of visual is very powerful and it affects your perception of sound, no doubt about that.

However, if you look at most respectable amps, they essentially measures virtually perfectly flat on the 20-20k frequency response (perhaps that is different with true speaker load?). And many have SINAD, THD and other measurements are beyond audible levels. So are you (not you but the hardcore objectivists here) saying all of these amps should sound identical? Which is why, these hardcore objectivists are saying, there is no need to audition, you just need to look at the specs, and get the spec that measures the best and buy the amp and be done (period). Amir is saying this, so are many other hardcore objectivists are saying.

I don't buy it, I need to audition the amp first, even if they measure well. And I have returned amps in the past that measures well and I didn't like the sound. Maybe all in my head? Maybe, but I looked at the measurements first before the audition so you would think the confirmation bias would make me think I like it, instead, I didn't.
 

JiiPee

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That's fine, but I don't get the comparison to audio gear.

The whole point is that (some) expensive audio gear is a scam because - while it looks pretty - it actually underperforms. Or at best it doesn't outperform something way cheaper. Or in some cases (cables or audiophile routers - it amuses me to even write this) it does nothing.

Therefore if, for example, you were to buy a Porsche Carrera 4S and discover that a Golf GTI is faster, handles better and has better brakes, it would be a valid comparison. Or worse, imagine it's a Toyota Yaris. That would be an scam. However, it's not the case. By far.

Or if you were to buy an IWC watch and discover it's actually flimsy, scratches easily, has something loose inside etc., it would be the same. But these things don't do that, they're really well made, with quality materials, and (subjectively) beautiful. No scam.

I'm not going to comment on whether it's worth paying for luxury on an essentially exponential price curve - this is up to the individual, his or her preference, priorities and buying power.

But the audio gear comparison just doesn't hold.

Otherwise I agree with you, clearly SINAD has diminishing returns and I don't think anyone says otherwise. There's some bickering around the point at which it doesn't matter anymore.

Now this Hegel amp I think is rather poor as measured. I would stay away from it.

And I wish that @amirm would test some Primare stuff.
I understand Your point regarding the performance, and how it can be understood as a kind of scam if a product does not perform in every way at the level that the price suggests it should. My point was based on assumption that we are already talking about the level of performance where the improvement does not matter in practice anymore . Like You said, there are different opinions regarding where that point is.

I just wonder about those underperforming brands/products. If the purchasers were not happy with them, then surely they would complain? Return the product and demand a refund? How can those "scammers" survive and flourish in the market place when internet gives opportunities for unhappy customers to complain so that the whole world hears it?

BTW, I have spend much more money on IWC watches than I ever will on audio equipment, even though we both know very well that cheap quartz watches are more accurate ;)
 

Doodski

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I do believe that the power of visual is very powerful and it affects your perception of sound, no doubt about that.

However, if you look at most respectable amps, they essentially measures virtually perfectly flat on the 20-20k frequency response (perhaps that is different with true speaker load?). And many have SINAD, THD and other measurements are beyond audible levels. So are you (not you but the hardcore objectivists here) saying all of these amps should sound identical? Which is why, these hardcore objectivists are saying, there is no need to audition, you just need to look at the specs, and get the spec that measures the best and buy the amp and be done (period). Amir is saying this, so are many other hardcore objectivists are saying.

I don't buy it, I need to audition the amp first, even if they measure well. And I have returned amps in the past that measures well and I didn't like the sound. Maybe all in my head? Maybe, but I looked at the measurements first before the audition so you would think the confirmation bias would make me think I like it, instead, I didn't.
In my experience of daily accessing a mid-fi sound room for ~9 years with switchboxes and ~40 pair of speakers and ~30 different receivers and integrated amps both large and small to choose from I have not found any substantial difference in sound quality between Luxman, HK, Sony(not the entry level receiver models), Yamaha and Pioneer amps. I was able to switch my attention from one to the other with peeps changing the selections for me and matching the volume as accurately as possible. About half of the staff would not take a blind test because they where adamant that amps sound different and they simply said the test means nothing/proves nothing. Notice I made a disclaimer for the entry level Sony STR-AVxxx receiver model that sounded inferior. It used a low budget power supply and a IC amp that actually does sound worse then the average amps in the similar price range.
 

gallantus

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. . .I have not found any substantial difference in sound quality between Luxman, HK, Sony(not the entry level receiver models), Yamaha and Pioneer amps.

No substantial difference or no difference at all? I have heard subtle differences between amps, but I don't have A/B switches to quickly switch to do a blind test. If I was one of your staff, I would absolutely do the blind ABX for my own edification. I have done ABX tests between DACs and I have gotten 5/5 right (albeit probably not the most scientific and legit test, but the best I can do given what I have).
 

Suffolkhifinut

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I've always wanted to see some digging into Hegel products, but they do seem to generally get good user comments otoh....but never tempted me in terms of value/use.
The review answers a lot of questions I’ve had regarding Hegel Amps. You see so many of them up for sale second hand along with Devaliet Amps. Both of these manufacturers have slagged off superseded products, yet these products were always well reviewed.
 

DSJR

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I do believe that the power of visual is very powerful and it affects your perception of sound, no doubt about that.

However, if you look at most respectable amps, they essentially measures virtually perfectly flat on the 20-20k frequency response (perhaps that is different with true speaker load?). And many have SINAD, THD and other measurements are beyond audible levels. So are you (not you but the hardcore objectivists here) saying all of these amps should sound identical? Which is why, these hardcore objectivists are saying, there is no need to audition, you just need to look at the specs, and get the spec that measures the best and buy the amp and be done (period). Amir is saying this, so are many other hardcore objectivists are saying.

I don't buy it, I need to audition the amp first, even if they measure well. And I have returned amps in the past that measures well and I didn't like the sound. Maybe all in my head? Maybe, but I looked at the measurements first before the audition so you would think the confirmation bias would make me think I like it, instead, I didn't.
All I can add as an old hand is to repeat what I found. The Hegel 120 and 190 I used 'sounded' absolutely fine to me (I used Harbeth 30.2-XD, C7-XD and SHL5+-XD models along with the small floor standing PMC 20.25's, none of which have demanding loads I gather but which seem livelier and 'clearer' than past models, the latter two Harbeths especially - the PMC's are downright unpleasant in my dealer pal's room). I did use the dac in the 190 and couldn't fault it, which as I suggested before, may be my deteriorated hearing as at 3m listening distance, I didn't detect anything obviously 'wrong' with it.

Reading through the early to mid 1980's HiFi Choice books, the well sounding 'subjective' amps usually had distortions in the ~70dB region with IMD in the ~60dB area (the revered ones offered 40 - 50dB distortion levels), some had meagre current output and others didn't clip well. Noise on the line stages could also be an issue and I believe it's been shown (can't point to a test) that reducing separation at higher frequencies can sound more pleasant to some listeners. The listening panel (and especially the reviewer's future wage packet I suspect!) gave 'reference levels of recommendation' to some pretty dire performing gear, ARC and CJ being two makes in particular, which were beloved of the then burgeoning High End fraternity, with the 'merely solid state' Krell portfolio just a little behind, with distortion measurements no better if not as good as the Hegel tested here - power outputs aside, have a look at the Stereophile measurememnts of the mid 90's Krell KSA 50S to bring things into perspective, it's a fine 'sounding' amp able to drive itself up the side of a house I suspect, but it's no stellar performer today apart from power reserves into a 2 ohm load. I was just suggesting that today, the top tier amps have performance considerably in excess of these and heard blind and properly matched, well above our mediocre hearing limits (you don't think we humans have 'good' hearing do you, compared with others in the animal kingdom?). Still don't believe me? You'd really need to be subject to such comparisons, and then you may well 'see the light' here.

P.S. Obviously, if your speakers have difficult reactive loads and odd response and dispersion characteristics, you may find some amps deal with these compromises better than others - I mean, a Naim Statement amp with matching expensive Naim digital source power-supplied to the hilt into Dynaudio Confidence 60 speakers gave me a headache after half an hour at various volume levels, yet the same speakers in the same room, sounded much more relaxing and to me 'tonally natural' fed via top-line (so silly high money if not as ott as the Naim) Chord Electronics gear source to amp output. No way these amps and digital sources will be properly reviewed in an unbiased way, but I still think the measurements would be telling...
 
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Doodski

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No substantial difference or no difference at all?
The test(s) involved ~40 amps & receivers from ~CND $300.00 to ~CND $1500.00 The test involved setting the volume level(s) as accurately as possible without using a O-scope. The tester chooses any speaker from a range of about ~CND $200.00 to ~ CND $1500.00 including JBL, Paradigm, Celestion, Yamaha, RFT, MB Quart, Energy, Mission, Infinity and B&W. Then the blind test(s) begins. Determine the best sounding amp in the mid-mid-fi priced room. Everybody failed the test except when listening to the the entry level Sony receiver. The Sony model had weak bass, the top end was not very accurate and generally it sounded like a lame amp. So the difference was non-existent for near every amp except that Sony.
 

gallantus

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All I can add as an old hand is to repeat what I found. The Hegel 120 and 190 I used 'sounded' absolutely fine to me (I used Harbeth 30.2-XD, C7-XD and SHL5+-XD models along with the small flor standing PMC 20.25's, none of which have demanding loads I gather but which seem livelier and 'clearer' than past models, the latter two Harbeths especially - the PMC's are downright unpleasant in my dealer pal's room). I did use the dac in the 190 and couldn't fault it, which as I suggested before, may be my deteriorated hearing as at 3m listening distance, I didn't detect anything obviously 'wrong' with it.

Reading through the early to mid 1980's HiFi Choice books, the well sounding 'subjective' amps usually had distortions in the ~70dB region with IMD in the ~60dB area (the revered ones offered 40 - 50dB distortion levels), some had meagre current output and others didn't clip well. Noise on the line stages could also be an issue and I believe it's been shown (can't point to a test) that reducing separation at higher frequencies can sound more pleasant to some listeners. The listening panel (and especially the reviewer's future wage packet I suspect!) gave 'reference levels of recommendation' to some pretty dire performing gear, ARC and CJ being two makes in particular, which were beloved of the then burgeoning High End fraternity, with the 'merely solid state' Krell portfolio just a little behind (with distortion measurements no better if not as good as the Hegel tested here - power outputs aside, have a look at the Stereophile measurememnts of th emid 90's Krell KSA 50S to bring things into perspective, it's a fine 'sounding' amp able to drive itself up the side of a house I suspect, but it's no stellar performer today) I was just suggesting that today, the top tier amps have performance considerably in excess of these and heard blind and properly matched, well above our mediocre hearing limits (you don't think we humans have 'good' hearing do you, compared with others in the animal kingdom?). Still don't believe me? You'd really need to be subject to such comparisons, and then you may well 'see the light' here.

P.S. Obviously, if your speakers have difficult reactive loads and odd response and dispersion characteristics, you may find some amps deal with these compromises better than others - I mean, a Naim Statement amp with matching expensive Naim digital source power-supplied to the hilt into Dynaudio Confidence 60 speakers gave me a headache after half an hour at various volume levels, yet the same speakers in the same room, sounded much more relaxing and to me 'tonally natural' fed via top-line (so silly high money if not as ott as the Naim) Chord Electronics gear source to amp output. No way these amps and digital sources will be properly reviewed in an unbiased way, but I still think the measurements would be telling...
I just want to add, for the hardcore objectivists here, who believes measurements is the end all and be all, then you should only have this combination below and nothing else, otherwise, you are not practicing what you preached and you ought to be ashame of yourself.

1) Benchmark AHB2
2) LA4
3) Topping D90SE

These are the best sounding Amp, Preamp and DAC, absolutely the BEST sound. THE BEST. They are the best sounding because they are the best measured; therefore, they will and must sound the best (period). And you are not allowed to deviate from this combination, because anything else outside of that, will not sound better(period) You do not need to audition them, you do not need to try them, because they measure the best and will 100% sound the best (period)

I sincerely doubt all the hardcore objectivist here has this exact combination (I'm sure some do). (I at least have the D90SE.)

(Yes, this is an extreme message, just trying to make a point if measurement is everything why is it that not everyone has this combination.)
 

BDWoody

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I am not being a jerk nor trying to stir things up.

Really? Then why post a slight variation on the same theme over and over, while throwing in a heaping helping of disingenuousness to top it off.

A little late, but let's get back to posts appropriate to the actual review.

Posts that belong in a new thread or to whine about the unfairness of it all will be deleted and the poster will receive a thread ban.

This kind of exasperated trolling gets old quick.
 

gallantus

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Really? Then why post a slight variation on the same theme over and over, while throwing in a heaping helping of disingenuousness to top it off.

A little late, but let's get back to posts appropriate to the actual review.

Posts that belong in a new thread or to whine about the unfairness of it all will be deleted and the poster will receive a thread ban.

This kind of exasperated trolling gets old quick.
I be happy to move this discussion to another thread and will not post about this topic (if measurements is the one and only indication on the quality sound) on this thread.
 

DSJR

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I just want to add, for the hardcore objectivists here, who believes measurements is the end all and be all, then you should only have this combination below and nothing else, otherwise, you are not practicing what you preached and you ought to be ashame of yourself.

1) Benchmark AHB2
2) LA4
3) Topping D90SE

These are the best sounding Amp, Preamp and DAC, absolutely the BEST sound. THE BEST. They are the best sounding because they are the best measured; therefore, they will and must sound the best (period). And you are not allowed to deviate from this combination, because anything else outside of that, will not sound better(period) You do not need to audition them, you do not need to try them, because they measure the best and will 100% sound the best (period)

I sincerely doubt all the hardcore objectivist here has this exact combination (I'm sure some do). (I at least have the D90SE.)

(Yes, this is an extreme message, just trying to make a point if measurement is everything why is it that not everyone has this combination.)
I'd love to own that combination although my leanings (should I be forced to give up my s****y gear-stash) would be back to active monitors. With plenty of output and 32-tone distortions well below audibility, why *should* the 'sound' be anything but totally transparent? Properly designed dacs usually sound 'brighter' than the enhanced but necessarily flawed 'musical sounding' alternatives (been there and dun-it guv'nor!).
 

Chrispy

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I just want to add, for the hardcore objectivists here, who believes measurements is the end all and be all, then you should only have this combination below and nothing else, otherwise, you are not practicing what you preached and you ought to be ashame of yourself.

1) Benchmark AHB2
2) LA4
3) Topping D90SE

These are the best sounding Amp, Preamp and DAC, absolutely the BEST sound. THE BEST. They are the best sounding because they are the best measured; therefore, they will and must sound the best (period). And you are not allowed to deviate from this combination, because anything else outside of that, will not sound better(period) You do not need to audition them, you do not need to try them, because they measure the best and will 100% sound the best (period)

I sincerely doubt all the hardcore objectivist here has this exact combination (I'm sure some do). (I at least have the D90SE.)

(Yes, this is an extreme message, just trying to make a point if measurement is everything why is it that not everyone has this combination.)

Why would I even need that particular gear? So limited....
 

Chrispy

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I be happy to move this discussion to another thread and will not post about this topic (if measurements is the one and only indication on the quality sound) on this thread.

Start a thread!
 
OP
amirm

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OP
amirm

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Rottmannash

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I just want to add, for the hardcore objectivists here, who believes measurements is the end all and be all, then you should only have this combination below and nothing else, otherwise, you are not practicing what you preached and you ought to be ashame of yourself.

1) Benchmark AHB2
2) LA4
3) Topping D90SE

These are the best sounding Amp, Preamp and DAC, absolutely the BEST sound. THE BEST. They are the best sounding because they are the best measured; therefore, they will and must sound the best (period). And you are not allowed to deviate from this combination, because anything else outside of that, will not sound better(period) You do not need to audition them, you do not need to try them, because they measure the best and will 100% sound the best (period)

I sincerely doubt all the hardcore objectivist here has this exact combination (I'm sure some do). (I at least have the D90SE.)

(Yes, this is an extreme message, just trying to make a point if measurement is everything why is it that not everyone has this combination.)
I swapped the Benchmark amp w/ a Purifi and the preamp with the Freya+ but the D90SE is there and it is a truly transparent system that I can live with for the rest of my life. Period.
 
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