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)


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. 

@missioncoonery If you are located in the states I fully understand why you choose Pass Labs; easier to get service and lower prices. Here in Sweden the Pass Int 250 and Diablo 300 have the same pricetag, my understanding is that the Pass is quite a bit less expensive in the states. If my D300, against all odds, needed service Denmark is not far away.

As a used Purchase, If there is no rush to part with monies, the following suggestion might have an appeal, as it still works with the idea of not creating too many separates and keeps a preferred Brand in the mix.

Use your ears. There is little value, in my opinion, in all the noise and subjective feedback you will get from others. I have an M33 but I would not be able to tell you what to choose. I love the M33.  Haven’t had a single issue with it; the sound is clean, I like what DIRAC offers, and it works for me with the rest of my equipment and the room it’s in. Who knows if it would work for you? I don’t.