Intg Amps: Hegel 590 vs NAD M33 Masters vs Gryphon Diablo 120


Hi All: I am getting an itch to upgrade my integrated amp from Hegel 190 to something more robust that facilitates future speaker swapping.  And no, I'm not presently interested in separating components that much further (e.g. separate DAC; separate amp; clock; etc. etc).  I mainly interested in the following 3 on a used basis:

Hegel 590 OR NAD Masters 33 OR Gryphon Diablo 120

Max budget is $7500 if I choose to go towards the Gryphon (used), but curious if it's really THAT much better.   I'm particularly interested to hear from people that have had or auditioned at 2 out of 3.  The room correction on NAD is very appealing but I quite like my Hegel and it's tight control, and so something nice about staying true.

 

Current Setup:

* Unideal Brooklyn Apartment living room into Kitchen

* Hegel 190

* Monitor Audio Silver 7G 500

* Pine Tree Audio Cables

* Dual 1216

* Schiit Mani 2 (though I hear the phono preamp on some of above may make this superfluous)

* Spotify/Tidal (main streaming source)

128x128gill_benedek

Many years ago when I lived in Boulder, on Pearl street was a huge used store. Most stuff was buy @ 25%, sell @ 50.   Got a lot of stuff there.  Some special stuff held it's price better. Luxman and Mac amps, Revox reel to reels.  

Just about all stereo stuff has progressed in the last few years in quality and price.  So be careful looking backwards through rose collared glasses.   Also be aware that some equipment does age. Big electrolytics dry out and their ESR skyrockets. Pots and switches get dirty.   Also be aware, about half of what one finds on E-bay has hidden defects. 

It is worth respecting what running a brick and morter costs.  If they can't make 50%, they can't keep the doors open. Middlemen not much better.  That is why a lot of companies have gone direct sales. Thy take the middlemen cut, but save you the retail cut.  IF you know what you want, win-win.  Of course, some hold direct sales at the same price as their retail outlets to protect them.  Otherwise it is like cars. You go to your local high-overhead dealer and cost them time test driving, then go online and buy from a volume seller. 

I had a max for the amp of about 3K, but did not have to spend that. I am hoping the $700 for the Schitt is a safe move.  If not, there are quite a few others. Atoll, Hegel, Denafritps, Anthem, ATI, Acrus, Aragon, Audiolab, Rotel, Outlaw, Soncoz and that is not touching the class D.  ...  

@bigtwin

Wow - I’ve had the H590 for 2 years and haven’t touched all of its many features and capabilities mentioned in the review - I wasn’t even aware of them all.

As I noted, I got it because it was one of the best driving Harbeths.

word to the wise -- savvy buyers would snap up well-cared-for, used h590... now that hegel has introduced the h600

improvements are in the dac section, the amp section is the same (bent holter’s revised thinking on amp design was installed in the h590 when it was introduced, and now carried forth into the 600 without material change)

at the prices that h590’s are trading at, one can obtain truly ’highest tier’ quality of solid state amplification for a silly low price (as such things go... in the sphere megabuck/nosebleed amps like d’agostino, boulder, dartzeel, gryphon et al)...

I think everyone steering you away from the NAD is good advice. Not a bad amp but not in the same class. 

People seem generally happy with Hegel so it seems like a solid choice. I haven't done direct comparisons, but Gryphon will give you a very different sound quality. Not necessarily better, but different. As a manufacturer it is in a very different class from Hegel, and if such things matters to you, it is still handmade in Denmark (vs. having a lot of Chinese-sourced components like most other manufacturers, including Hegel). Personally I have found Hegels rather plain-sounding and not particularly engaging. Different Gryphon models vary in character, and I have not heard the 120, but I understand it is the most "warm and cozy" model in the lineup. One thing all Gryphons have is an incredible solidity and dimensionality to their midrange and bass - not tube-like, but with a comparable density of tone and none of the thinness or grain of most solid state. Somewhat like Pass Labs, but with even more depth. Hegel is good, but still sounds more akin to typical SS to me.  

My journey started as a vintage/listening to vinyl rig and I’ve slowly been updating as my usage/wants have changed. I started with a completely restored Yamaha CT-810/CA-810 amplifier streaming music from a Node n130 through a Denefrips DAC. My vinyl source was a Music Hall 9.3 with a MC cart with a Vincent PHO-701 phono amp. I decided to try to upgrade the amplifier and possibly simplify my setup with the NAD M33 as an all in one. I started streaming some high res music and I was disappointed with the NAD. It truly didn’t sound nearly as good as my vintage Yamaha integrated amplifier. I thought maybe the Denefrips DAC was making the difference but even plumbing the node directly into my old Yamaha it was still way better. I then went to the Hegel 390 and this was clearly better than the NAD for my ears anyway. Funny thing is that in the end both the Hegel and NAD were returned and I ended up with another Yamaha. An A-S2200 now holds down my shelf.🤷🏻‍♂️

 

This was a long way to go to say I didn’t like the NAD right from the start.