Dave’s Faves – Hegel H-90

Hegel H-90 $2000, 60×2 Stereo Integrated Amp


A great integrated amp just got greater. Hegel has updated its class leading integrated amp to model H-90. The feature set and transparency have ramped up a notch. Happily, the price remains at an affordable $2k.

The main sonic benefit of H-90 is the incorporation of Hegel’s improved Sound Engine technology. SE-2 and other parts changes have raised H-90’s damping factor to 2000. Virtually everyone else
in this price class is about 200. Higher damping factor yields tighter grip and better control. Instruments start and stop faster. The fine details of music are improved. The stick against a cymbal & the breath around the voice are more evident. Bass impact has more slam. It short, H-90 allows your speakers to provide a musical experience closer to the real event.

I listened to H-90 with several GoldenEar speakers first. Driving them is easy because they’re relatively efficient. They sounded great! Then I moved on to the more challenging Magnepan MG 1.7i’s. H-90 has ample control over the Mags. No problem with this combo! You’ll hear the feather light detail that Maggies are capable of.

Please don’t overlook Hegel’s on board SYNCHRO DAC. If you run your digital source into H-90 you’ll likely hear a noticeable upgrade in detail. We’ve compared the analog out of various CD players vs Hegel Synchro DACs over the years. The Synchro DAC invariably depicts more detail and INFORMATION than the analog out of your CD player alone.

I for one, am hooked on CDs. I am willing to stream some things, but due to lousy meta data, CDs are irreplaceable for me. I don’t think Beethoven was ever recorded. But he often shows up as the “artist” when streaming. Beethoven wrote works that contain movements that are presto, largo, etc. The meta data insists on thinking LVB works are “songs” called presto, largo, etc. When you spin a CD, you know what you’re playing and the music plays in the order composed. I mention this to point out that the Synchro DAC Hegel employs is a real value to us CD lovers!

The bottom line is, for $2k, in one modestly sized box, H-90’s performance is right there with separates that are bigger, need cables and cost more.

H-90 has:
-Network streaming with an Ethernet connection, no Wi-Fi for Hegel, not good enough!
-Hegel Synchro DAC on board
-Three digital OPT inputs
-One digital Coax input
-Two analog RCA inputs
-Apple Airplay
-Headphone amp, 1/4” jack
-Variable line out- for subwoofer or power amp