Hegel Audio was on hand to premier the brand new H80 integrated amplifier/DAC ($2,000), the replacement for the H70. The H80 offers some significant improvements over its predecessor, with more digital inputs, more power (75W as opposed to 70), a slightly smaller footprint, and 24/96 over USB (as opposed to 16/48 on the H70). This is also a nice example of the “trickle-down” effect, wherein technology from more expensive gear makes its way to the entry-level — in this case, the preamp circuit from Hegel’s H300 flagship integrated ($5,500). The H80 will be shipping in November.
I didn’t get a chance to try it out, but Hegel has also gotten into the USB dingus game with their brand new Super headphone amp/DAC ($399). This pretty little ingot of milled aluminum handles 24/96 and would nestle nicely in a pocket.
In spite of the new product launch, Hegel had an array of their products in rotation throughout the weekend, and it was actually the H300 that I heard when I visited this room. Digital audio was sourced from a MacBook Air and fed through the HD25 DAC ($2,500). The H300 powered the Magico S1 speakers ($12,500) via Nordost cables with an ease and smooth surety that was both impressive and energizing. The music was uncolored, but didn’t strike me as sterile or hard-edged in the way supposedly neutral equipment sometimes does. Instead, it gave the Magicos all the oomph they needed and then got out of the way of the music.