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

@marcyun Yes, he explained that the Antileon stands out from the other amps with it’s more colored sound; fuller, warmer with huge bass. He said that the Antileon will stay in their lineup forever. Rune also told us that the D120 is slightly warmer than the D300, a subtle but noticable difference.

I've heard the Gryphon 120 ,it blows compared to the 300,imo...way too many Hegel amps around for sale at any given time so those deals are everywhere...im kind of done with euro amps,service is questionable...for me I'd buy a Pass int 60..their customer service is surpassed by none., and the resale is fantastic 

i currently own the hegel h590 as well as the pass int60, have many hours with each into my modded maggie 1.7i’s and stock 3.7i’s

i have heard the gryphon 300 at some length driving maggies but not in my own system

when i recommend the hegel h590 to buyers wanting a higher power integrated amp, i am doing so on absolute performance and performance for $ spent (call it value)

at $12-13k the hegel competes favorably with $30k dagostino’s, $20k gryphons and so on based on performance (sound quality, ability to drive touch loads effortlessly and so on), but of course, there are sonic differences among these amps and there are ’pride of ownership’ differences too -- exclusivity, bling factor, made in xyz and so on

there is no free lunch in this world, much less in a competitive marketplace, you give up a few things to get the performance with hegel compared to more exclusive competing products -- hegel comes in a plain wrapper, assembled in china

pass is made in auburn california, has a cool meter, dag has bling aplenty, gryphon looks like a piece of industrial art, made in scandivania -- folks with money to buy any of these can choose what they want, what makes them feel good about owning a certain piece of expensive high priced stereo gear

the pass int60 has a warmer sound than the hegel, which is steadfastedly neutral and resolving (not lean, not shrill, but neutral), papa nelson adds something to the sound of his class a units... driven hard, the pass will clip earlier and show some strain earlier than the 590

my observations from actually owning these units, take from these comments what you will

at 12-13K the hegel h590 (and its replacement) is fully competitive in performance to the other names mentioned, at $6-7k used, it is a steal... performance and value wise -- you want other stuff, the others are readily available too

If you throw out the NAD, which really is not in the same category as the Hegel and Gryphon. Then you have to try to understand the seemingly contradictory comments between “they sound the same/similar” and “they are wildly different”. You are getting honest recommendations from different folks. So, one must look elsewhere to understand the difference.

 

My way of looking at this common problem comes from experience. I have been pursuing the high end for fifty years. As I have progressed, I have learned, both in how to listen and evaluate. The reason many folks find this pursuit so fascinating is that it is so nuanced and deep. You can learn layer after layer, for a lifetime. As your listening skills get better, your ability to appreciate and hear nuances becomes much better. Audio equipment is much like scientific instruments… the better they are, the more detail and nuance they get correct.

When you get into audiophile level gear from respectable companies you get what you pay for. Lots of the real satisfaction comes from what you don’t know when you buy it, but come to know after you own it. You learn to listen deeper and enjoy more. This is why you would buy an integrated that was twice as much. Over time you will discover nuances that you had no idea existed when you bought it.

 

I am reminded of a number of components I bought when I started off (used and relatively inexpensive) and suddenly became aware of a shortcoming that I had read about, for instance grainy treble. I remember a week after buying a used preamp that I thought sounded great, and suddenly (think a curtain of red dropping over my face) hearing the horrible grain in the treble… I took the unit back… loosing $250 (in 1978) in the process of trading to a used Audio Research preamp that I loved and cherished for nearly twenty years.

Great audio components teach you what is right, lessor ones show you what is wrong.

 

I am reminded of the Big Bang episode when Sheldon sets off to perfect scrambled eggs… after trying all sorts of variations of sizes of eggs, and ways of cooking, he concludes… there is nothing there… we do it just fine. Kind of the opposite of high end audio.

 

 

 

Hmmm…Sabrina, Jill or Kelly. All beautiful, all capable, but each different.  Which to choose?  Consider the entire package in each case and the correct  choice  will become more apparent.