Dave’s Faves – Hegel H-80

Hegel H-80 Stereo Integrated Amp 80×2 (135×2 @4ohms) , $2000

Hegel H80

The word is spreading fast. Hegel makes among the best sounding integrated amps on the market- regardless of price! It’s a pleasure to sell such transparent & muscular sounding electronics at competitive pricing. Hegel of Oslo, Norway, has exquisite build quality and sound to match.

At $5700, H-360 is as good an integrated as you can buy. At $3500 the new H-160 is not far behind, another super value.

As with its bigger brothers, H-80 has a damping factor over 1000. That means it hits like a middle linebacker. Boxers of the same size don’t all punch the same. H-80 delivers a ferocious left hook! Its bass performance is deep and solid. Its dynamic range is effortless. H-80, even with hungry speakers like the 4 ohm Magnepans, lets you hear detail from the speakers- no other amps of the weight class challenge.

H-80 shares the clear, undistorted sound of its bigger brothers. It’s the kind of sound you get from a Bryston preamp and amp for $12k, throttled down a notch. Hegel lifts the veil off the music. It cuts away the grill cloth. You hear fine recordings without the cloud or haze. It really is uncanny how immediate the performance is when depicting a female singer for example. You expect this from Bryston for $12k. You don’t expect a big slice of this level of performance for six times less. Yet here it is. Impressive!

When we threw H-80 into the mix, I knew it would drive the efficient Quad line well. It does, without breaking a sweat. Even for very loud listeners, H-80 gives you plenty of gusto with the new Quad S-5s ($2700pr). Hegel also drives the Bryston speakers well. The Brystons are a bit hungrier than the Quads. They have ultra smooth timbre and subterranean bass. We’re finding H-80 even drives the Bryston Middle T ($5700pr) comfortably! We have this combo out there and earning raves already. H-80 also grips the slightly tilting-mellow GoldenEar speakers beautifully- bringing an improved level of definition to the party that isn’t there with amps of the far east.

As always, the real acid test for an amp is how it does with the crystal clear Maggies. Magnepan is on a fabulous roll. Just out is the MG .7 at $1400pr. Just tuned up is the MG-1.7i at $2200pr. Also in the line-up is the recently tweaked MG-3.7i at $6k per pair. These three models of Maggies offer the most revealing look at music you get for their price points. It takes amps of refinement & gusto to get this out of the Maggies. H-80 is up to the task!

Like its bigger brothers, H-80 has a massive, dual mono toroidal transformer. It uses Hegel’s DualAmp feed forward design. It uses 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 as its bigger brothers. The on board AKM DAC shakes hands with your digital sources. It even has balanced inputs for a great sounding XLR source. All told, for $2k it’s just impossible to beat the H-80!