Hegel Decisions

To Philip Beaudette,

I was very glad to read your review of the Hegel H360, as right at the moment I would like to upgrade my system. If you were not on a budget and had to choose between the Hegel H360 or the Hegel HD30 DAC and H20 power-amplifier combo, which one would you favor and why? Thanks in advance for your kind reply and apologies for my English!

Ricardo Cremasco

No need to apologize for your English -- it is far better than my Portuguese.

I suppose if money were no object, I would at least look into the Hegel HD30 and H20 option. However, you should know that I have never heard the HD30 or H20, which is why I would never suggest you should automatically buy them simply because you can afford them.

As you know from my review of the H360, I was thoroughly impressed with it, and I’d recommend it to anyone in the market for a high-end integrated amplifier with an onboard DAC. It’s exceptional. What you need to consider, though, is that the H360 is different from the HD30, because even though the latter has a volume control and input selection, it isn’t a traditional preamplifier. With the H360 there are still analog inputs, so if you own a turntable, you can connect it via a phono preamp and play back your vinyl collection. The HD30 only has digital inputs and thus cannot accept analog signals.

For many people, this won’t be an issue because all of their sources are digital. Anybody considering buying the HD30 will do so because first and foremost it is a DAC (and, according to Doug Schneider, it’s one of the best out there, regardless of price). If you don’t require analog inputs, then I think this makes for a very smart solution. Why not eliminate a separate preamp if you don’t need it? But the decision to go with one system over the other is highly dependent on what you will be using it with, and for some people this will ultimately determine which option will work with their source components.

If the HD30 provides all of the flexibility you need in a preamp, I would try to find a dealer that can let you do a comparison of both the H360 and the HD30/H20 combo. I have no doubt the HD30/H20 system would sound good, but you may be just as surprised with how good the H360 is.

Best regards, and please let me know if you have any further questions. . . . Philip Beaudette