Streaming with the Hegel H390

I recently acquired an H390; pairing it with Wilson Sabrinas. I stream directly with the H390. It works seamlessly with all the working parts in one unit. Frankly, I can't imagine getting more for what I spent. 

While the digital setup in the H390 is top notch, I have noticed that many of the reviews of the H390 pairs it with a separate streamer/DAC. So my question is, at what level of upgrade would it be worth the squeeze to just let the H390 be an amp and invest in a separate streamer/DAC?

Thank you for your input.



Generally, based on my extensive experience, stand alone DACs always seem to out perform integrated DACs.  I use an Ayre Acoustic QX-5 Twenty DAC with my Hegel H390 with stunning results.  Using the internal DAC that came with a component is usually, as with you, a cost saving measure.       

I also have the H390 and used the USB input from my Innuos Zenith/PhoenixUSB source quite happily for a year or so.

However, I had the itch to upgrade, so took a risk on the Denafrips Pontus 12th DAC, plus Cardas Clear Reflection XLR and an old Ecosse power cable.  

Having thoroughly allowed the DAC to settle I have been doing a little AB comparison, and can confirm that the Denafips is a step-up from the Hegel's internal DAC.  Deeper bass, more resolution and detail without fatigue are the most obvious benefits.

Of course, the combined cost of the Pontus and Cardas is not insignificant, and I could quite happily have lived with the H390 by itself.   

Another consideration here is the new big brother, the H600 which early reviews indicate it has a much improved DAC.  Comparing the H390 and DAC with the H600 without external DAC would be interesting

DACs rely almost entirely upon a persons cognitive dissonance to perform, thats why the recommendations get better and better as they go up in price.  If you really want to find out for yourself buy a few streamers and DAC models at various price points off Amazon.  Make sure they are models that offer free returns and have yourself a big old shootout.  Load up the analog inputs on the 390 so you can test a few at the same time. With free shipping there’s no risk or cost and you can decide for yourself rather then rely on someone else’s opinion.