CES 2013: Hegel Audio

Hegel HD25

I am unfair to Hegel, it’s true, though it has nothing to do with the company and everything to do with the philosopher. Hegel’s contribution was a voluminous derivation of just about everything from rational thought alone. I remember trying to read Hegel in graduate school and being impressed with the creativity …. His ideas were so inventively baroque, they actually sparked a counter-revolution that is pretty much responsible for the 20th Century unfolding as the greatest century of scientific expansion in the history of our weird little species. Not quite the legacy I think he had in mind, but an impressive one nonetheless.

Ain’t it funny what it is we let rattle around in our heads, like beans in a can?

Bringing this back around to the topic at hand, Hegel Audio is, at least to me, rightly famous for great sound in simple packages (almost antithetical to what my philosophical expectations would have led me to believe) — wandering in to the Hegel Audio demo room here at CES, I was expecting luscious sound — and that’s what I heard. Anders Ertzeid, Hegel’s VP of Marketing and Sales, was at CES demoing a pair of new Hegel electronics, the P20 preamp ($2,900) and the HD25 DAC ($2,500). Video after the fold.

Hegel HD25, rear

The HD25 DAC has a couple of cool features, primarily is the face-plate is also a touch-plate — tapping it changes the selected interface. I think it’s cool, but then, I’m easily impressed. This DAC is able to do 24bit files at up to 192kHz sampling — over all the interfaces, including USB (a USB 2.0 compliant interface — no drivers for Mac OS). Specs here, but pay attention to that noise number:

  • DAC resolution: 32bit / 192 kHz multilevel sigma-delta DAC
    0dBFS signal output: 2,5V RMS
  • Digital inputs: 1*USB soundcard, 2*coaxial and 1*optical S/PDIF
  • Line outputs: 1 pair of RCA unbalanced, 1 pair of XLR balanced
  • Frequency response: 0 Hz to 50 KHz
  • Phase response: Linear Phase Analogue filter
  • Noise floor: Typically -145 dB
  • Distortion: Typical 0,0006%
  • Power supply: Built-in torodial transformer, 30,000 uF capacitors
  • Dimensions/weight US: 2,35″ x 8,3″ x 10,24″ (HxBxD), weight 7 lbs

On the other shelf was a new P20 preamplifier. The preamp has some trickle-down tech from the more expensive preamps, and some new stuff like the Silicon Germanium transistors also used in the HD25 DAC. It also comes with a hefty, bead-blasted metal remote (sha-wing!).

This gear isn’t cheap, by any means, but it’s also not expensive, at least not by comparison to products found in today’s high-end. That said, and I can’t say this strongly enough, Hegel Audio makes equipment that is embarrassingly good. And by embarrassing, I’m pointing my hairy eyeball directly at gear in that sub-$10k price point.


  1. I compared Hegel P30 & H30 to Mcintosh amplification on TAD Reference One.
    To my surprise: The difference was big. The winner was Hegel.

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