Hegel comparison

I have the opportunity to buy either a Hegel 390 or 590.  Pricing to be negotiated, and there are no dealerships anywhere in my region that would allow me to hear either one before making a decision.

Does anybody have an opinion, based on live auditioning, re: the relative sonic profiles of these two products?

Thanks for any opinions based on first-hand experience.



My fave was a Krell kav 300il that had a habit of baking itself. I was using an old pair of revel salon 1's when I brought home everything up to $6k price range. My main music was live recordings 1 specifically being 'big head todd and the monsters'. The Parasound A21 was thick in the mids, Anthem 225i, B&K 4420, Peachtree nova 300. sunfire, older Jeff Rowland mono's. The H360 stood out using my radioshack analog db meter to level volume the h360 was the most dynamic and neutral also offering a large soundstage with better image placement and bass. At the time the H190 just came out and while it offered a bit more top end resolution bringing brushes and cymbals into the listening room and more of the audiences cheering into the room I still settled on the h360 for the added 100 wpc thinking I could always upgrade the dac down the road. I would add not all amps have the same impact on speakers. 


i think everyone hears similarly but the Hegels have sounded so different in different systems that a prospective owner really needs to hear it before making a decision.  With the H390 integrated it sounded punchy and dynamic with some Sonus Faber floorstanders but the midrsnge was recessed.  This was the best I heard it sound.  With Harbeth speakers it was so soft and dull.  

The P20 power amp sounded hyper real and threadbare bright powering a set of KEF R11 towers.  They need to be auditioned at home or subject to a generous return policy IMHO.  But why bother, there are plenty of excellent amps available at competitive prices.  


@avanti1960   We simply hear different things.  I believe the vast majority of comments on Hegel amps run to the positive.  I have never read a review of Hegel amps that ran to the negative.  I know many put no faith in reviews but that's another story.  You don't like Hegel amps, don't buy one.  I take all recommendations with a gain of salt as the variables are so many.  Cheers. 

@avanti1960  I'm sure we could do this all day.  Here's what The Absolute Sound had to say about the H30



The Hegel H30 is not just a great-sounding amplifier, it’s also a tremendous bargain. I know I’ll get letters complaining that a $15k power amplifier by definition can’t be a bargain. But what else can you call a $15,000 amplifier with massive output power, unflappable stability, and a gorgeous musical presentation that vaults it into a select league of world-class power amplifiers? Or one that is fully at home in the context of my reference system that includes the $54,000 Basis Inspiration turntable and $94,000 Focal Stella Utopia EM loudspeakers?

As adept the H30 is at all aspects of portraying the music, it’s the H30’s rendering of midrange and treble textures that makes this amplifier a standout. The Hegel coupled a warmth and lushness of timbre with tremendous clarity and resolution, a combination that is rare in an amplifier of any price. The sense of timbral realism and palpability was world-class by any measure. Moreover, it’s difficult to overstate just how greatly these qualities induced a sense of ease and deep musical involvement.

If your amplifier budget is anywhere near $15k, the Hegel H30 should be on your short list of products to audition. You may find, as I did, that this unassuming and understated black box contains a Scandinavian surprise.

I owned three different Hegel amps and loved them all.