NAD M-33 or Hegel H190

I love the convenience of my NAD M-33; it is the Swiss Army Knife of integrated amps. But ignoring the convenience for a moment, I feel I'm missing something in the music. Sound stage and imaging to be exact. The NAD is technically amazing, but the music somehow sounds "grey". I'm told the Hegel H190 will provide what I'm looking for but there is no way for me to preview the Hegel at this time. Should I trade my NAD M-33 for the Hegel? The complication in trading means I must buy a streamer for Tidal and the I/O on the Hegel is very minimal when compared to the NAD. For instance, I have two sets of speakers and the Hegel has only one set of speaker connections which means I must find some way to split the signal... Any thoughts on these issues would be appreciated. 


I have only seen the M33 compared to the Hegel H390.

Based on price, that seems more logical.

13th note audio reviews did such a comparison, if I remember correctly.

Also those guys in Canada -- Audio Excellence?

Look for both on YouTube.

I can’t advise you re: the wisdom of using one amp for 2 speaker pairs.

Maybe others can



I am always hesitant to trade on product for one of similar price. Typically you end up trading one set of strengths and weaknesses for another. At a minimum I would suggest the H390. You are probably correct that the warmer sound of the NAD will be less so and have more detail and imaging with an equivalent Hegel.

It would be a good idea to do some driving, and see if you can listen to one.


As @stuartk pointed out… two sets of speakers is a questionable configuration. This feature is not found on high quality integrated amps. If really great sound is required, typically it will be to one dedicated location. There are switch boxes… although they tend to have a sonic cost.

I honestly don’t think the amp will give you the imaging and sound stage, The speakers will do that. (I believe)
You have other threads about other amp questions so you seem to want a different amp for sure.
The Hegels for what they do are overpriced. Maybe they are superb, and bring out sounds and details you haven’t heard - with expensive cables and speakers, I would love to have one but they are definitely a step up from the NAD.

You can order a Hegel online for 30-60 day trials easily paying for a measly $20 shipping.

If you are to stick with your speakers, my feeling is that the raw power and hardware inside your NAD doesn’t work with your speakers well. It’s not the most musical sound. I would look for synergy, read a lot of reviews. Your budget affords you great choices.


I tend to agree with @grislybutter -- soundstaging and imaging with the H390 don’t disappoint me in my system (keeping in mind that I have stand-mounts) but I’ve yet to read or watch a review of the H390 (and I’ve checked out a lot of them) that lists these factors as particular strengths.

Maybe look here for some ideas?


Are you just tied to the Hegel specifically? Lots of stuff in that price range. I’ve heard the Hegel can be kinda sterile as well so maybe look for something more “robust” sounding. Tubes? Also didn’t say your speakers. 

Curious, have you tried the Dirac Room correction with the M33? If not that’s absolutely the 1st thing I’d do. Room correction in my room makes waaay more a difference than small amplifier differences in my room with my Lyngdorf. 


I’ve heard the Hegel can be kinda sterile as well so maybe look for something more “robust” sounding.

While the Hegel is not lushly romantic, I definitely don’t find it "sterile".

I don’t know what you mean about lacking in "robustness" -- that it’s "thin" , "dry", "wimpy" "lacking in authoritativeness" ??? Certainly not.






Thanks for all the replies, folks. The reviews I’ve read and have listened to as well as advice from several people who have owned both say the difference in sound between the two amps is significant - significant enough to ignore all the features you don’t get on the Hegel that come standard on the NAD, and that’s saying something! The Hegel looks very naked compared to the NAD!  For the price, the Hegel should at least accommodate two sets of speakers or perhaps offer a sub out, but the Scandinavian ascetic rules. Of course there is no streaming except Air Play which, let’s face it, isn’t Tidal. So one needs to spend still more money to plug that hole and I’m not sure how to overcome the I/O issues mentioned earlier. Despite all these issues, sound is REALLY is the point. It’s what I seek. I should do exactly what @Grizlybutter mentioned and just buy one and return it if doesn’t live up to the sound claims. 

The m33 with room correction applied should leave little if anything to want.

@Mapman I use Dirac. And I failed to mention my speakers. I purchased them new in 1984. They are a set of KEF 105.4’s and a set of KEF103.3’s. These vintage KEF speakers are warm and beautiful. They represent the original sound KEF was known for. KEF was purchased and the sound was forever changed, to my mind for the worse. Regardless, the NAD works well with my speakers, but I’m lead to believe the Hegel will make them sing. I should also attempt to hear other, less known amps, but time and money are always an issue. 

As one moves up in higher quality audio equipment, the extra functions disappear. The emphasis becomes sound quality. Extra functions negatively impact sound quality. Tone controls, multiple functions in one box, and unnecessary functions are the realm of mid-fi. Twenty thousand dollar preamps do not have tone controls, or amps do not multiple amp outputs. So it is a question of what is important. Nothing wrong with having lots of functions, but there is a large cost to sound quality. Sound quality is secondary for 90 % of the folks out there. If you want great sound quality… then you are not going to get dual speaker outputs, tone controls, and lots of other stuff. It’s just a question of priorities..

You may be at the boundary of sound quality vs convenience. If you want to go forward, you may need to decide if the extra hassle of effort, cost, and research is worth it to achieve greater sound quality. I have been at this for fifty years. I have been reading, listening, and investing in single purpose components, increasing the sound quality of my system for decades. Perhaps this is just not your cup of tea. There is another way, Linn produces extremely high quality systems in a box. You can get a streamer, preamp, amp and even a phono stage all in one box (up to $34K… for a really high end solution). But, only two speaker outputs. Multiple speaker outputs is a low end feature.

I know little to nothing about amp design but I second @ghdprentice : the number of functions they jammed into one box is not conducive to better sound. 

we have sold both 

it depends on what youare looking for 


both are good if you want anaxremely musical integrated look at the unison research due plus a seperate streamer the due is a hybrid design so you are getting the warmth and musicality of tubes


Dave and Troy 

audio intellect nj

nad and unisin research dealer

I'm not sure I agree with your statement about I/O on high quality amps or combining multiple speakers @stuartk. Take a look at MAC and every other amp over $30,000 and you will find a huge number of options for multiple speakers, e.g. subs, midrange, etc. While less is sometimes more, agreed, it is not necessarily in this case a clear sign of superiority. 


You assert that "sound is really the point" yet you keep circling back to the need to run two speaker pairs. If in fact this is non-hegotiable, I don’t see how any amp will win you over on the basis of sound alone.

Why not simply search for integrateds that provide for two speaker pairs and then research their sonics? This seems the most logical course to me. Why make this more difficult than it has to be?


@stuartk Cost, simply put. Separates cost a lot and with cables, add up fast. However, a gentleman above just solved my problem with the Unison Research Due. Italian sound and heart, A/B amp with plenty of I/O and at the right price point. Done.   

I recently picked up a M12 and M22 used. For the system I’m using it in - movies & streaming - it’s fantastic, and I really enjoy it. When I tried them both in my #2 pure 2-ch rig (not the main 2ch but still nice): the M22 fared extremely well, paired with a VAC tube preamp and tube phono. It’s not an amp that will add sweetness, but it’s super dynamic, punchy, and powerful. The combination with upstream tubes & vinyl is great. I might actually "borrow" this amp once in a while for the 2ch, when I want a different sound.

The M12 didn’t fare nearly as well. It’s clearly "solid state" sounding (or is that "digital" sounding?). This unit can’t hack it in one of my pure 2ch systems. That said, I absolutely love the thing in my living room system for its convenience and rich feature set.

So while your M33 is newer and higher class than my M12 + M22, I think the pre section of your M33 (newer M12) might be what’s holding the amp (newer M22) back. And I think I understand why you might say this sounds "grey". Unfortunately, I don’t think the pre section’s influence is bypassable in your case - it converts all inputs, even analog, to digital and runs it through the processor and DAC :(



I hope the Unico works out for you. I'm assuming you've yet to actually hear it in your system.

Yamaha  R-N2000A    ?

2 sets of speakers