Dave’s Faves – Hegel H-160

Hegel H-160 Stereo Integrated Amp 150×2 (250×2 @ 4 ohms) , $3800

Hegel H160

I hope you’ve noticed that we have added Hegel Audio from Oslo, Norway, to our product offerings. H-360, their top dog, went right to the top of my list of integrated amps. At $6000, it is a remarkably serious competitor for some pricy separates. What I’m thrilled to report is, Hegel’s new H-160, isn’t far behind and the price is just over half of H-360.

Most importantly, H-160 sounds very much like H-360. When I did my first comparison through Magnepan MG-3.7i, I had to double check that I was listening to H-160 instead of H-360 – because they were in the same rack. The keys to outstanding Hegel performance are shared among the three integrated amps.

They all have massive, dual mono toroidal transformers. They all use Hegel’s DualAmp feed forward design. They all use Hegel’s patented SoundEngine error correction circuitry- which eliminates the need for negative feedback. The parts quality, like hand chosen FET selection, is the same. In a nutshell, as you go up the line you’re getting more top end volume, but the sonic character is remarkably similar!

The Hegel H-160 definitely shares its bigger brother’s prodigious damping factor. The ability to start and stop your speakers on a dime lets you hear the marvellous technique of a great piano or guitar player for example. You can perceive the nuances among drum kits along with impact you didn’t know was there! Everything we like about music gets purveyed in spades when H-160 is driving your speakers. The H-160 is capable of driving any of our top end speakers with authority- despite being a middle-weight in price.

I need to make a special case for those of you with, or considering, Magnepans. Maggies undress a wussie amp in a heartbeat. They are so resolving that they’re unforgiving of mass market amps from the Far East. The cheap D amps in particular- don’t cut it with Maggies.

I promise you’re going to love the performance of Maggies with Hegel integrateds! H-160 is the sweet spot for price/performance and is an absolute natural for MG-1.7i or MG-3.7i. If you’ve only heard Maggies with garden variety amps, you haven’t heard Maggies. We know that not many MG-1.7i owners are going to spring for $12k of Bryston separates. While these fine speakers are totally deserving of such electronics, it just doesn’t happen. But please consider spending $3500 on the H-160.

In the Hegel H-160, we have an affordable integrated with built-in DAC, Airplay and DLNA, that will drive Maggies better than anything we’ve ever heard near the $3500 price point. H-160 brings clarity and beef to the party. Perhaps by spending $3500 on your integrated amp, you might be able to step up a notch higher than you expected in speakers?!

H-160 is an AB design weighing in at 38 lbs built in Oslo. The crystal clear detail with ability to drop barbells on the floor is really fun to hear with any speaker. But it’s a special synergy for Magnepans where H-160 turbos up to 250×2 into the 4ohm Maggie load. Stop in to hear H-160 with Maggies or other fine speakers. You’re going to be as impressed as I am!