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Hegel H80 vs Arcam A39

Audiolab 6000A Amplifier

Otpidus

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As the upgrade bug bites hard, I am considering the Hegel H80 (or H160 ?) or Arcam A39. Seeking feedback from you on either of these if you own or have auditioned. My personal preference is a little bass heavy with high level of details. My current gear consists of QED Reference Digital Coax -> TEAC UD501 Ref DAC -> Chord Chameleon Vee 3 IC -> Arcam A19 -> Chord Odessey -> KEF Q700. I also plan to go for speaker upgrade in due course of time. Please also provide me your thoughts and/or suggestion about any other amplifiers (Creek Evolution 100A / Exposure 3010 S2 ?) to consider in the similar range.
 
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Otpidus

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Just came back from audition of Hegel H80.

Pros:
1) very fluidic
2) punchy bass (high impact)
3) flawless transients
4) internal DAC is better than many sub 1 lakh DAC
5) extremely good build quality (much better than my Arcam)

Cons:
1) not suitable for less than 6 ohms nominal impedence speakers
2) may sound bright with metal tweeters
3) remote is really cheap

Overall a very nice amplifier, provided care is taken to match speaker. Its damping factor of over 1000 reflects in bass.
 
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magma

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i thought hegel was a KEI product
and carried by all the KEI dealers

guys who will do TANNOY Denon etc

Also you should make a note about the price of the Hegel as comapred to the Arcam

there is quite a differnce
which may or may not be justifiable depending on your personal taste
 

panditji

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Since it is a European brand, the pricing should be the same as in EU and UK as the Indian distributor prices will be without VAT .... It's a shame that people will resort to buying such products abroad because of very high dealer margins....

As per your review, the HD80 seems like a very good buy considering it has a very good inbuilt DAC as well...The Hegel DAC HD12 is getting rave reviews and if you get a similar DAC with a great integrated amp, it should be a no brainer for you...
 

Otpidus

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i thought hegel was a KEI product
and carried by all the KEI dealers

guys who will do TANNOY Denon etc

Also you should make a note about the price of the Hegel as comapred to the Arcam

there is quite a differnce
which may or may not be justifiable depending on your personal taste
Spot on magma. The Arcam pricing is close to UK price but for Hegel its about 20% more than UK pricing. Any idea why so?
 

Otpidus

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Since it is a European brand, the pricing should be the same as in EU and UK as the Indian distributor prices will be without VAT .... It's a shame that people will resort to buying such products abroad because of very high dealer margins....

As per your review, the HD80 seems like a very good buy considering it has a very good inbuilt DAC as well...The Hegel DAC HD12 is getting rave reviews and if you get a similar DAC with a great integrated amp, it should be a no brainer for you...
Rightly so. Panditji, infact I see the price as combination of DAC and Amp.
 
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square_wave

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I will take Hegel any day over Arcam. The H 80 with its inbuilt dac is a great product. From what I know, the high end sound pursuance by Arcam has diminished over the years. The brands current focus is now very mainstream.

I heard the H 80 with a Harbeth speaker a few days ago.
 

shkumar4963

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Otpidus' I was wondering why you have decided to upgrade your amp before upgrading your speakers. Is there some specific reason why you want to upgrade the amp first. Generally what I have found that R series KEF speakers will improve the sound quality much better than going from A19 to A39. So I am sure there is some specific reason why you feel amp will make more of a difference. Is the old amp not powerful enough for your volume levels?
 

ckn

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I would tend to agree with Kumar. This has been my experience. While there is no denying that better amplification can lead to better sound, my personal journey has been to keep the amplification same and upgrade the speakers.

I just got the Bolzano Villetri 780 towers yesterday. Blown away by the all-enveloping sound of equi-polar speakers!

I went thru a string of local speakers, then Monitor Audio RS6, Usher BE718, ynaudio Contour 105, Legacy Focus and now Bolzano. I think each change has been for the better.
I have kept the amp the same (Legacy 250 wpc). I think once you have amplification that is powerful and that you are satisfied with, then its all about the speakers.
Enjoyed all the previous. Expect to enjoy the latest too.
ckn
 

Otpidus

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Otpidus' I was wondering why you have decided to upgrade your amp before upgrading your speakers. Is there some specific reason why you want to upgrade the amp first. Generally what I have found that R series KEF speakers will improve the sound quality much better than going from A19 to A39. So I am sure there is some specific reason why you feel amp will make more of a difference. Is the old amp not powerful enough for your volume levels?
I would tend to agree with Kumar. This has been my experience. While there is no denying that better amplification can lead to better sound, my personal journey has been to keep the amplification same and upgrade the speakers.

I just got the Bolzano Villetri 780 towers yesterday. Blown away by the all-enveloping sound of equi-polar speakers!

I went thru a string of local speakers, then Monitor Audio RS6, Usher BE718, ynaudio Contour 105, Legacy Focus and now Bolzano. I think each change has been for the better.
I have kept the amp the same (Legacy 250 wpc). I think once you have amplification that is powerful and that you are satisfied with, then its all about the speakers.
Enjoyed all the previous. Expect to enjoy the latest too.
ckn

Guys thanks a lot for your suggestions. Really appreciated.

@shkumar, I already had several sessions with R300, R500 & LS 50. Yet to listen to R700. Since my current 50W Amp is not an ideal partner for the speakers I am aiming at, hence its not really useful to carry it, so the Amp + DAC was of the dealers choice which is mostly the Amp currently setup for their demo. .

@ckn, although I like KEF house sound very much but this time I will definitely explore all available options.

Reason 1: The only way to get a proper speaker audition is to carry my Amp, since home demo has not arrived yet. So, my thinking is once I get the Amp, I can carry it for speaker auditions.

Reason 2: In my current setup, I get a distinct opening up of sonic details post volume 35 (45 can be considered to be close to maximum domestic SPL). Such sonic characteristic is usually caused by an Amp being on the minimum threshold of current requirement of the speaker drivers.

Reason 3: I want a keeper Amp which has enough grunt.

These are the aspects which have taken me into my current direction. Do provide me with your valuable thoughts.
 
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shkumar4963

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@Otpidus: I see your point. As you know I listened to all the same speakers and finally narrowed down to three B&W PM1, LS50 and R700. My wife wanted a book shelf so I did not audition other FS speakers. I must say that after listening to the ls50 for a few months I have fallen in love with them. And I still using my old amp that I thought needed upgrade urgently.

With my experience auditioning all speakers, i found that amps make some difference but not as large as people make it out to be. In fact most engineering types (most audio engineers) feel that amp should not and do not make any difference. In short, if you did not like the sound of ls50 with A19 you will not like it with A39.

So my suggestion would be to upgrade the speakers first. Q900 are really not audiophile speakers. And most likely you will love your A19 with a better set of speakers so much that you will not need to upgrade that. I was in the same situation. I was going to upgrade my amp first because I thought it did not have enough power. Then I bought ls50 that are supposed to be difficult speakers requiring more powerful amp. As it turned out my amp was plenty powerful and I am loving the sound that it produces with ls50.
Having said that, I will upgrade but I do not feel the urgent need that I felt before I bought ls50. I am feeling that it may happen with you as well. Besides your amp is much better than mine.
 
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Otpidus

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@Otpidus: I see your point. As you know I listened to all the same speakers and finally narrowed down to three B&W PM1, LS50 and R700. My wife wanted a book shelf so I did not audition other FS speakers. I must say that after listening to the ls50 for a few months I have fallen in love with them. And I still using my old amp that I thought needed upgrade urgently.

With my experience auditioning all speakers, i found that amps make some difference but not as large as people make it out to be. In fact most engineering types (most audio engineers) feel that amp should not and do not make any difference. In short, if you did not like the sound of ls50 with A19 you will not like it with A39.

So my suggestion would be to upgrade the speakers first. Q900 are really not audiophile speakers. And most likely you will love your A19 with a better set of speakers so much that you will not need to upgrade that. I was in the same situation. I was going to upgrade my amp first because I thought it did not have enough power. Then I bought ls50 that are supposed to be difficult speakers requiring more powerful amp. As it turned out my amp was plenty powerful and I am loving the sound that it produces with ls50.
Having said that, I will upgrade but I do not feel the urgent need that I felt before I bought ls50. I am feeling that it may happen with you as well. Besides your amp is much better than mine.
Very very sensible advice. Thank you. Alas, my Arcam has already found her new home and will say goodbye in 3rd week of April. Yesterday I was able to do a side by side comparison of Arcam A19 and Hegel H80, well they are not really competing products. My observations listed below:

1) Dynamics - This is where the A19 lacks most.
2) Details - The A19 has a blanket over the high frequency sound. Its not that I heard new instruments in known tracks but its a much compressed band.
3) Bass - A19 is a bit too bass heavy
4) Instrument Separation - A19 has to reborn
5) Sound stage - This is where A19 has advantage.

I also noticed the upper octaves of female vocals are far more airy and doesn't get prematurely rolled off in the H80 like A19. Please note that I listened to the H80 through its internal DAC.
 
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shkumar4963

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Clearly you have much better ears than I do. I don't think I could have made out the difference between the two amps at reasonable listening volumes especially with Q900 speakers. But I am glad you liked Hegel. Enjoy.
 

Otpidus

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Clearly you have much better ears than I do. I don't think I could have made out the difference between the two amps at reasonable listening volumes especially with Q900 speakers. But I am glad you liked Hegel. Enjoy.
Borrowed a friend's LS 50 for the occasion.
 
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