Hegel H390 vs Krell Vanguard digital integrates amps

Hi Audio fans
Today I need community help me choose between these 3 integrate amps below:
1-Hegel H390 integrates amps.
2-Krell Vanguard digital integrate amps.
3-Krell K300i integrates amps ( newest version).

I just changing my whole new 2.1 stereo systems.I just bought new pairs of  Quad Z2 speakers.and I have good deals on 2 integrate amps above.Did someone’s have experience about these 3 amps and which one suite for my Quad speakers? Any though or suggestions?any different sound from these 3 amps?Thank you and have nice weekend.
i have not heard the newest krell stuff

earlier krell integrateds were poor sounding to my ear, classic solid state sizzle boom with little subtlely or tact... hegel h390 would clearly and significantly outperform, it is one of the best sounding units in its price category and successfully takes on many 2-3x its price with its substantial power and sonic completeness
There was a review by HifiCritic pitting the H390 against the Krell K-300i and the Mark Levinson 5805. Both are much more expensive than the Hegel, but in the review the Hegel easily came out on top. 

Disclosure: we're a Canadian Hegel dealer and I don't have experience with either the Krell or the Levinson in the review, but just relaying the info from the review.
I own the Krell K-300i. It is a very smooth sounding unit with a bit of bass thump. I own the CODA CSiB (again) and it is not as smooth sounding as the Krell but an overall superb sounding unit. I would not say 1 is better than the other. It is hard for me to describe the CODA other than a lot of listening pleasure.

I have the Krell with the digital board. It is only OK. My $750 Matrix Mini-i 3 Pro seems a bit better to me. However, I would always get the Krell with the digital board for the HDMI features.

I was considering the Hegel 390 because I have heard several Hegel's extensively (such as the 360)  and liked them. The Hegel's also have features that I value. I think they are very good gear but I like the Coda and Krell better because they have some additional warmth. Maybe it is the 90 watts in Class A for the Krell and the 18 watts in Class A for the CODA. The Hegel reminds me of a smoother or slightly warmer Bryston.

I thought the Mark Levinson 585 (the old one for $12K) was a excellent integrated. Better than the Hegel and in the same class as the CODA and Krell.

Now if you want to try something totally different. I have 2 Benchmark units that combined are the same physical volume of the Krell or the CODA. They are the HPA4 (or LA4) preamp and AHB2 amp. Put those 2 together and you have the cleanest sounding most neutral sound I have ever heard. The Hegel is trying to be neutral, unlike the CODA or Krell, however, the Benchmark pair are the kings of neutral.
I think I lean on Krell K300i digital version over Hegel H390.I have a chance to audiences Hegel h390 at friends house and I loved the sound crispy clear ,tight bass but not 3D and little bit darker sounds ...compare to my McIntosh MA252...I am confused now because many good amps for me to choose like I saw one brand new Mark levenson 585 for $6500 cash....which is a steal...Accuphase E650 brand new for $9 K.... hard to make decision...?
I want to thank you yyzsantabarbara for helping me very detail post above.it is very helpful for me Audio fan a lot.
yyzsantabarbara Help me one more time.I forgot to let people’s know that mine Quad Z2 speakers is 84-87 dB can handle power up to 200 watts.my speakers is not hign dB like other branch.so what type of integrate amps good for low dB ? I do like AHB2 that you recommended but it’s only 100 watts and I don’t like biamps due to tight space.I am eyeing on these amps below: 
1-Krell K300i (digital).
2- Mcintosh Ma352 ( I do love mine MA252 even it’s not neutral and little color sound).compare with Hegel H390 .
3.Mark Levenson 585 or 5805 
4-Accuphase E480 —E650.
your though?
@luckyrainbow63 I own the K-300i and played it with my incredibly power hunger Thiel CS3.7 over the past week and a half. It sounded great. I think the K-300i was tested by a British mag to have over 400 watts at 2 Ohm. The Thiel goes down to 2.5 Ohm a lot. Unfortunately, I cannot find a link to the measurements that mag did. If I do I will post a link on this thread. Your Quads seem to be an 8 Ohm speaker and 150 watts should be perfect for it.

I am listening to the K-300i as I type this but this time with an Audio Mirror Tubadour III SE DAC and into the RAAL SR1a headphones. I had a shootout with the CODA CSiB | Krell K-300i | all Benchmark stack, to find the best pairing for my tastes for both the Thiel CS3.7 and my RAAL SR1a "earphones".

I sold the CODA this afternoon though I loved that integrated with the AMT3SE and my SR1a. I initially did not like the all Benchmark stack with the SR1a but I today I tried it with the AMT3SE DAC. I believe the AMT3SE was now burned-in properly because today for the first time I liked the HPA4 + AHB2 + AMT3SE as much as I like the Krell 300i + AMT3SE with the SR1a.  I am not 100% so I will give it another weeks worth of listening.

My K-300i sounds great with the power hungry Thiel CS3.7 and also with the power hungry SR1a. It has the most bass of the 3 units I have mentioned. It is also the smoothest of the 3. It is also a very relaxing sound but with great detail. The AHB2 monos sounds a bit crisper but that is lessened a bit today with the AMT3SE on the Thiel CS3.7.

So the winner of my shootout for duty with the Thiel was the Benchmark stack with the AMT3SE. The Krell 300i is now setup to only play with the RAAL SR1a earphones. A lot of money for that single purpose. So I may sell the Krell and get the dedicated RAAL HSA-1b headphone amp for the RAAL SR1a. It is half the price. I was thinking of switching amps every other week but the Krell is too big to do that easily.

Today I also played the K-300i DAC's HDMI ARC output with my TV and the sound was top notch. I heard this only via the SR1a because I do not want a TV in-between my speakers in my office. The Krell was initially bought for another room but my wife did not like that idea :).

I posted elsewhere my thoughts on the DAC module of the K-300i. I said that the RJ45 streaming is OK with my cheap CAT5 Ethernet wire. However, when I put my Fibre Optical streaming gears to the USB of the K-300i the sound was transformed to the level of the AMT3SE. That is a big deal. Especially for a one box solution.

I demoed the ML 585 with Magico A3 and the ML 5805 with some Wilson $16k speaker. The ML 585 for me is the better unit though I am told the internal DAC on the 5805 is a bit better. However, the Krell K-300i is still the one I would get even if they were both the same price. The Krell is about 1/2 the MSRP of the ML 585.

Keep an eye out for a FOR SALE on the Krell in a week or so. My 2 week old unit may go for sale depending on how the AMT3SE test with the Benchmark stack and the SR1a goes. Or I become sane and just get the RAAL HSA-1b for the SR1a.

BTW - if you post on A'gon to someone and use the @ symbol, such as  @luckyrainbow63, the @ user will get an email notification that someone asked the recipient a question.
@yyzsantabarbara after reading your’s review on yours’ Krell K300i .I am so exited with k300i and decided to get it.when will you will post yours K300i on sales? Is this black color which I preferred.I have a very good offer for brand new k300i (digital version)on sale for 7,200 is this good price? Did yours”s Unit plan to sell about that price range or below? I will follow your path way...do I need to buy AMT3SE for External DAC or just used internal dac from Krell is good enough? Which dac perfect pairs with K300i? AMT3SE or DAC3 (Benchmark)?
@yyzsantabarbara Would you do me a favor by please Test your 2 external Dac AMT3SE + Dac3 dgl side by side with yours’ Thiel CS3.7 speakers íntead of RaalHsa-1b head phones to see which Dac is good pairs with Krell K300i amps? I only trusted on yours review because you have own many physical hign end sources to test and do a review.much appreciate for yours efforts Yysantabarbara..

First mistake you made is listening to me not many people who know me do. However, here are my thoughts. The price you are getting for the new KRELL seems good. I paid $7K for a demo unit but I was not going to haggle on this one for a few private reasons. I am pretty sure most dealers will give you about the price you are getting.

Today, after doing some tests, I am now not going to sell the KRELL because I found the KRELL + AMT3SE was better than the AMT3SE + Benchmark stack for the SR1a. I say this however after I bought a new AHB2 amp for my downstairs system last week.  I will also buy a Benchmark LA4 preamp for that same downstairs soon. I just do not love the BM stack with the SR1a. So now I have a $7K KRELL headphone amp. I am a bit of a head case to spend so much. Hopefully in the future I forget how much I spent.

I do not think you should buy the AMT3SE yet. The internal DAC is pretty good when I used it a particular way. First of all the gain on the DAC is a bit too high so that is a bummer (just lower the volume). I found that streaming to the KRELL DAC using Fibre Optic cable directly from my $199 network switch to a $999 OpticalRendu -> USB input on KRELL was very close to the AMT3SE using XLR. The AMT3SE was also streamed the same way in the comparison.

The beauty of the KRELL is that it is an all in one unit that is done at a very high level of excellence. So using the internal DAC is something to try first.

My next test will be to compare the AMT3SE vs the KRELL DAC’s USB using the same OpticalRendu. I have 2 of these OpticalRendu’s so I can do some meaningful tests. I may sell the AMT3SE if the difference is not that great. I will try to follow the same advice I gave in the previous paragraph to you.

BTW - I added my 50" TV to the system in the office. It is rather nice to hear the KRELL HDMI DAC input with the SR1a. The TV brought about other room acoustic issues but I am likely on the way to solving them.
I did test my 2 external DACs with the KRELL and the Thiel CS3.7. I always preferred the AMT3SE with Class A power such as the CODA and the KRELL. However, I prefer the all Benchmark stack on the Thiel CS3.7 overall but when I had the KRELL on the CS3.7 I liked it with the AMT3SE over the DAC3B. It was a bit better synergy.

In a post before I was saying that the Benchmark stack sounded very good now with the AMT3SE (likely after AMT3SE burn-in) . After more listening the last few days I take that back a little and say while it does sound great, the all BM stack (with the DAC3B) is still better for my tastes.

This review sums up exactly how I hear the BM stack. Not everyone likes this type of sound. I do.

I should add that I thought the RJ45 Network streaming on the KRELL internal DAC was not as good as my other streaming options. The optical Rendu was easily better. I forgot if I compared it with my mircoRendu.

If you have not heard Fibre then maybe the RJ45 is sufficient but after hearing the Fibre I totally dismissed the RJ45 streaming. That is a shame because the ROON Endpoint for the KRELL RJ45 has a volume control for the ROON client. All other Endpoints I use to the KRELL do not have volume adjustment. This adjustment is done inside the KRELL, not the client software.
@luckrainbow63 I tested the AMT3SE using XLR to the KRELL K-300i vs the USB on the KRELL. Both of them were streaming using Fibre with the only difference being slightly different USB cables to the DAC and the Linear Power Supply were not the same. The last 2 factors are not that big because I have flipped them around in other tests and I did not notice a difference.

The AMT3SE was preferred by me over the USB on the internal KRELL DAC. It was not a huge difference but enough that I will always use the AMT3SE with the KRELL from now on. I am wasting the internal DAC since I am now only using it for HDMI sources. Maybe also TOSLINK with YouTube but those are not sources I care about for the best sound. I guess the internal DAC will be a good backup DAC if anything goes bad with the AMT3SE.

The AMT3SE with the 2 Class A amps that I had in house has been magic.
@yyzsantabarbara I just order Krell k3000i from Illinois (Chicago) and will arrived on next Wednesday.and I will test. Krell internal dac to see how good they’re.if not then I will followed yours path way to buy AMT2SE. @yyzsantabarbara in 1 to 10 scales.how many scale you gave Krell internal vs AMT2SE? I have no good source like AMT2SE to compare them.But I will compare them with Helge H390 and McIntosh MA252 amps.I appreciated you for good efforts to test them and provide very detailed each Item you have own.
@luckyrainbow63 Problem with asking me is I may influence your decision. You could very well be happy with the internal DAC on the KRELL and not have the reaction I had.

With the tests I did will the 3 DACs and 3 streamers I came to some conclusions about the 3 DACs I have in the office.

To summarize, the DAC3B and the AMT3SE while different in tone both had zero fatigue for me and were wonderful sounding. The DAC3B with both the KRELL and Benchmark stack. The AMT3SE with the KRELL. I likely will re-visit the AMT3SE with the Benchmark stack but my first test with that was not that positive. The AMT3SE may have not been properly broken-in with the pairing with the BM stack. I did that some time back.

The KRELL internal DAC had a slight bit of fatigue for me, even with my best USB streamer. I am very sensitive to this so it may not apply to others. I was a little disappointed in this result. If I did not have these 2 other great DACs I would likely be happy with the internal KRELL DAC. However, since I have these "better" DACs I will use those 2 over the internal KRELL DAC in all cases except watching video for the audio signal via the HDMI.

Congrats on the KRELL and please post your thoughts on it.
One thing that I do not have is an EtherREGEN for the cleanup of Ethernet signal. A somewhat controversial device but the RJ45 steamer of the KRELL is theoretically an ideal candidate for that device.
@luckyrainbow63 I did some more test tonight with the DAC3B vs the AMT3SE on the Benchmark stack. The AMT3SE does not match perfectly sonically with the BM stack with respect to the gain (or some other connectivity issue). The sound is lower than the DAC3B which required me to increase the volume to match the DAC3B. In all instances of music I listened to I preferred the DAC3B with the BM stack. The AMT3SE sounded a little veiled on the BM stack.

On the KRELL, the AMT3SE sounded great and had nice synergy with that unit. However, I am going to spend the next month listening to the internal DAC on the KRELL with my best streamer. The internal DAC may need more hours of burn-in so I want to make sure I have not rushed to judgement on this DAC.

If the internal DAC steps up in quality in the next month then the AMT3SE will go for sale. If the internal DAC is deemed good enough I should consider the EtherREGEN to try the RJ45 network streaming and free up one of my fibre streamers for my downstairs..
Hi @yyzsantabarbara Mine Krell k300i just arrived and I just do set up last night.I do like the Krell very much.and I also have few problems with the Krell set up because it's a first time I own Krell equipment.first of all I hook up both hdmi from my oppo 103 to both krell hdmi on back and number 3 hdmi from krell hdmi (arc) out put  to my 60inches 4k tv.and I also connected analog interconnect from oppo 103 to s2 krell and plug in my mp3 usb (I collect now what I call music fr volume 1 to 65)to back oppo player. Everything seem right but there is problems is when I press krell remote changing to s2 (anolog)suddenly the sound out loud from both speakers very loud like you turn on maximum The volume. AndI I cannot turn down the volume down.I have to switched back to hdmi to turn volume down?that mean I can't control volumes on analog side (no matter u turn volume up or down is not working).have you got that problem?and problem #2 is if I plug in usb to front USB A on screen tell me usb disconnected?(may be krell didn't recognizing my usb.I have to take out usb and plug in back of my oppo players its work? Problem #3 when I turn on power on Krell k300i I hear a clip sound came out from my speakers .there's no clipping sound when turn on off on McIntosh ma252 or Hegel h390? You got same problems like me?
@yyzsantabarbara I just figured out to fixed by set the maximum volume level (from oppo player)on the analog audio out puts from max 100 to 50 and its works. But when I switched back and forth several time between s2(analog)to hdmi 1.its big clip sound from speakers and then the s2 silence no sound at all.but I still hear the clip sound every time I switched between s2 and hdmi mode even no sound from s2?I really don't know what happens to s2,(analog)?ang help?
I was just going to say that your OPPO likely has a preamp with volume so you need to set that to fixed and use the volume control on the KRELL. Looks like you solved that. I actually had the same issue this afternoon with a headphone amp and DAC. When I reverted my DAC to FIXED volume I set the DAC's volume to infinity (or no sound). I am not sure that is needed but I thought that was the correct thing to do.

So now you are not getting any volume from S2 even when you change the volume on the KRELL?

Have you looked at the Menu setting on the S2 input. There is a wealth of settings on the Menu for each input. Take a look at that to see if anything is disabled. I found the menu easier to use with the buttons on the KRELL unit, not the remote.

I was using the same inputs myself and did not have any issue so I am sure we can sort your situation out.

Let me take a look at the manual and get back to you. I moved my KRELL to my sons play area so I only have 1 DAC input being used (the NETWORK input).
Preamp Output

Level Trim – In this menu you can add a volume offset to the preamp output to compensate for gain differences between an external amplifier or subwoofer and the internal amplifier of the K-300i. The adjustment range is +/- 10dB.

Output Mode – The two choices are Variable or Fixed. In Variable mode the output level varies with the main volume control. In Fixed mode the output level is fixed to a standard line level output for driving devices with their own volume control.

Maybe your Output Mode for S2 is set to FIXED.
With regards to Turn On and Off I do get a slight Thud sound and that was indicated on the manual as being expected. However, it is rather low in sound for me.
@yyzsantabarbaraI  my Krell k300i is in break in period approximate 50-60 hrs so far.I don’t know it’s breaks in yet? But sound very good now.I liked it very much.I feel I am lucky to follow your path way without any regreted.I am still have small problems that I can’t used volumes control on krell remote when using s2 (analog) I set out put mode on oppo 103 to FIXED.the sound out louder and I can’t used volume + - on both remotes (krell +oppo).so I have to set out put mode on oppo to VARIABLES Then I can only used remote control volume on oppo only.(krell remote not work)krell remote only works with HDMI mode.There is no way you can control volume on analog mode with krell remote? And sound from s2(analog)is haft way small than hdmi mode? I turn volume knobs from hdmi mode by 20 = 40 in analog mode.Is this normally?I am not sure which dac I can used on s2 because krell +oppo both have internal DAC.so how do you recognize them?
@luckyrainbow63 I am glad you like the K-300i. I was deciding which one to keep last night and decided to sell my another amp instead (sold that amp in 10 minutes). So the KRELL will be with me long term. I need to get a nice speaker for it in the future. It is also so easy for the 2 people that come to take care of my son to use. My 4 year old son loves to listen to music too. It was nice today to hear him pick music over his favorite YouTube marble run videos.

I will send you a Direct Message (DM) on Audiogon and we can continue this conversation on the phone or email once we connect on DM. It is a lot easier to communicate than these posts.