Finally, the integrated Hegel H600 is here!
Hegel themselves say they were a little apprehensive when they launched the H590. Would the market embrace such an expensive Hegel amplifier? After all, we’re talking about a manufacturer that has previously dealt with high-end products in the premium class. Suddenly they were entering a market with competitors like Gryphon, McIntosh and other heavyweights. But the powerful H590 was a success and we at the editorial team loved it.
One problem was Roon support, which Hegel had promised but took months to implement. The processor wasn’t powerful enough, so you had to get very creative with the coding to make it work. But finally, Roon came along and all was well. You could always miss Tidal Connect, but now there was no room for more functionality. Forget about it.
There’s nothing to complain about the sound of the H590. At least not when it first arrived. But since then, Hegel has replaced its trusty P30 and H30 amplifier set with the even better P30A and H30A. With even better sound! And it is precisely the sound that should be the keyword in the new integrated Hegel H600.
“The key word is sound quality. Personally, I think the H600 is a massive improvement over the H590. So much so that I no longer find the H590 particularly pleasant to listen to,” says Marketing Manager Anders Ertzeid confidently in a mail.
According to Hegel, the H600 has a lot of DNA from the P30A/H30A, which should provide an “almost frightening combination of resolution, soundstage and detail”.
The H590 boasted 301 watts per channel into 8 ohms. Somewhat cheekily, Hegel has increased the power output to 303 watts in the H600. As with its predecessor, the damping factor is 4,000 in 8 ohms to provide full bass control regardless of speaker impedance. The dual mono design should provide almost the same performance as two mono amplifiers in one box.
A state-of-the-art preamplifier is built in and the volume control is taken directly from the reference P30A preamplifier. All electronics are designed in-house, according to Hegel, with the highest quality components.
Combined with SoundEngine2 noise correction, it should provide an audio signal that is as close to the original recording as possible.
The DAC in the Hegel H600 has a bit-perfect design with no resampling or upsampling. It shares this in common with the DAC in Viking’s new flagship CD player. A large, dedicated power supply for the DAC ensures the most stable performance, and it is shielded with a thick steel plate to avoid interference from other electronic components in the amplifier. Hegel calls the DAC “groundbreaking” in terms of resolution and timing.
Features and functions
Because great sound shouldn’t come at the expense of ease of use and features, the Hegel H600 is equipped with AirPlay 2, UPnP streaming and Spotify Connect. And – finally – Tidal Connect. This means you can get audiophile streaming directly from the Tidal app on your phone, straight through the air to the amplifier. Roon Ready is also on the way, but still awaiting approval. This time around, Hegel hasn’t given us a time estimate for Roon, which is probably wise. There was a lot of fuss last time when it was delayed by a year…
Hegel promises us that this is just the beginning. The H600 has a highly advanced streaming engine that will ensure the amplifier is always up to date with the latest options for streaming your music. Whether this means future support for Qobuz, Apple Music, etc. remains to be seen.
The amplifier is very similar to its predecessor, but the large control buttons on the front of the H600 are now tactile with touch control, which should make the amplifier more intuitive to use.
There’s probably a reason for this, but Hegel has chosen not to equip the H600 with an HDMI input. We would have liked this so that it could be connected to the TV via ARC/eARC. This would allow you to control the sound directly from the TV’s remote control.
Fortunately, the amplifier can be programmed to respond to standard TV remote controls. But only if your TV has an IR remote control and not Bluetooth. Bluetooth remote control is becoming increasingly common on more expensive TVs, so you may not be able to use yours.
Most inputs can be set as a high-level fixed home cinema input, making it easy to combine the H600 with surround amplifiers and processors. More features will be added in the future via firmware updates. They will be installed automatically when released, just make sure your H600 is connected to the network.
The amplifier has two pairs of genuine balanced XLR inputs and two pairs of unbalanced RCA inputs. On the digital front, it has a LAN network port, a USB 32/384 input (which also supports DSD256/DoP), three optical inputs, a coaxial input and a true BNC 75-ohm input. For analogue outputs, it has a pair of fixed RCA outputs where you can connect a headphone amplifier, for example. And a pair of adjustable RCA outputs for connecting a power amplifier or subwoofer. In addition, it has a BNC fixed 75-ohm digital output.
Hegel H600: Price and availability
The amplifier will hit stores at the end of September. The price is €11,500.
More info: hegel.com
Watch this space: A review is upcoming…