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NYAV12: Amphion, Hegel

Amphion!

I first heard an Amphion at a local dealer, Evolution A/V near Tysons Corner, VA. It was an accident. It was in a room that also featured Magico speakers and I was immediately impressed — enough that it took me several minutes before I figured out that the speakers, I think they were Argon 3 stand-mounts, weren’t actually the big Q5 that were sharing the display space. Yeah. Humbling. But hey, I wasn’t exactly paying attention or anything, the music was just playing … and playing so well … that … ahh. Okay, fine. I’m an idiot. But that doesn’t take a thing away from how fantastic those little guys sounded.

Here at the NYAV show, it was the $6,500 Amphion 7L that were strutting, wired into an all-Hegel suite of electronics, including a big $8k H4ASE amplifier squatting like a tank on the floor. Up on the table above it sat the $4,600 P4A mk2 preamplifier, a $4k CDP4A CD player ($4,000), and the $1,200 HD11 DAC.

I have no complaints about the sound in this room. None at all. Well, maybe one. The big 7Ls might have been loading the room a bit. Not a problem with the gear, just with the room-matching. That MTM array can move some big air, and I was feeling the slam on some of the bass-heavy tracks being played on one of my circuits through this room. Very powerful speakers!

Other than that, I thought the sound open, fast and extended. I didn’t get any heat on the top end, there was no “shoutiness” or “horniness” (ahem), but rather, I found the speakers relatively smooth with nice, but not overwhelming, detail and a clean/fast transient responsiveness.

At this price point, it’s hard to recommend specific products as the competition is pretty stiff. But I’m a fan of the Amphion sound and I could easily see folks choosing a pair of these speakers instead of the more run-of-the-mill offerings from B&W, Dynaudio, PSB, and others — and having not a moment’s regret or second thoughts.

Amphion. It’s not just for your stands, anymore.

Hegel is another of those brands I’m seeing and hearing more often. With good reason, I think — the amps are a ballsy and poised, neatly balancing detail with smoothness, and coupling that to some serious bass response. I like this sound — it’s fulsome and fearsome at the same time, like a middle-weight boxer that’s studied ballet. Very light on its feet, with a cross that’ll lay you out. Not the “fastest ever”, or the most laser-like, but way better than “good”, if that makes sense. Way better.

The aesthetic is probably a bit minimalistic for the taste of some (mine, say) but while it definitely errs on the side of functional, it’s well laid out and very easy to use. Again, Hegel is providing a very compelling alternative to some of the more mainstream brands with this Reference Line. And like I said, I’m finding them in more and more rooms at audio shows, so clearly, the word is getting out.

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