Rogue Audio RP-5 or Hegel Music Systems P20

To Erich Wetzel,

I have been trying to decide which preamp to buy. I have read both of your reviews on the Rogue Audio RP-5 and Hegel Music Systems P20. You liked the Hegel enough back when you tested it and made it your new reference preamp. Last year, you tested the Rogue Audio RP-5 and seemed to really like it too, but you didn’t compare it to your Hegel. How do those two compare in sound, soundstage, and quietness? Would the Rogue be good enough to be your reference, too?

I have been having a tough time with this decision. (The $600 difference is not a big factor, nor is the phono stage.) Thanks for your help.

United States

I did enjoy the Rogue Audio RP-5 preamplifier, but the sound of the RP-5 is different from the Hegel Music Systems P20. The Hegel is essentially neutral in presentation, but has a touch of warmth to its sound. When I reviewed the Rogue RP-5, I found it to have a more relaxed and laid-back sound. It also had warmth, which I found alluring when I reviewed it, which is likely attributable to its “vacuum-tube bump” in the midrange. As I said in the review, though, I didn’t find that the RP-5 had a traditional tube sound across the entire audioband. The soundstages presented by the P20 are wider and deeper than what I recall the RP-5 creating, although I would rate image focus about the same. In my system, the Hegel is quieter than what I recall the Rogue being, likely because the P20 is purely a solid-state design, while the RP-5 has tubes, which are inherently noisier. In the end, although I thought the sound of the RP-5 was very good, I wasn’t tempted to replace my P20 with it.

I want to suggest another option if your taste is for neutral-sounding equipment, I have just reviewed Simaudio’s Moon Neo 350P preamplifier, which I found extremely neutral and able to portray even larger, more spacious soundstages than the P20. It’s just as quiet as the P20 and image focus is just as good. While I wasn’t tempted to move to the Rogue Audio RP-5, Simaudio’s Neo 350P has me thinking of a change. . . . Erich Wetzel