Recommended Reference ComponentHegel Music Systems is best known for its highly regarded integrated amplifiers. The company’s flagship model in this category, the H600, was the subject of a review on this site by Philip Beaudette in September, 2023, which earned it a Reviewers’ Choice award and Recommended Reference Component honors. Five months before the H600 review—in fact, exactly one year ago today—Jason Thorpe reviewed Hegel’s H30A stereo/mono power amplifier, also on this site, declaring in conclusion, “I can’t really find anything about this amplifier that’s even remotely unsatisfactory. This doesn’t happen very often.”

The H30A, which is priced at $19,000 (in USD), measures 9.5″H × 17″W × 25.6″D and weighs 104.5 pounds. In his review, Jason describes the H30A as a “seriously dense unit,” one that is “well built as opposed to overbuilt.” And it’s not the aluminum chassis that accounts for all that weight, Jason writes. “What packs on the pounds is under the hood—the H30A’s dual 1000VA transformers and 270,000µF of filter capacitors.”Hegel

The H30A’s rated power output when operating as a monoblock is 1100W into 8 ohms (power output in stereo operation is unspecified). Jason's review sample, according to our measurements, was just shy of that figure, delivering 1060W into 8 ohms. A rear-panel switch toggles the amplifier between mono and stereo operation, which is how Jason used it in his audition. In stereo mode, we measured the H30A at 296Wpc into 8 ohms, 525Wpc into 4 ohms. Maximum burst power (IHF standard) was 313.5Wpc into 8 ohms and 608.1Wpc into 4 ohms. Under our test conditions, the H30A was stable into 2-ohm loads (Hegel claims stability down to 1 ohm, which isn’t implausible). Whether in mono or stereo operation, the H30A is unquestionably a powerful amplifier, capable of driving most loudspeakers to high volume levels. The H30A has single-ended (RCA) and balanced (XLR) stereo and mono connectors.

“As you might expect, given the amp’s pedigree and Hegel’s engineering prowess,” Jason writes, “the H30A immediately presents as neutral, composed, and powerful.” In terms of tonal balance and general presentation, swapping his Bryston 4B3 for the H30A was “essentially a nonevent,” no matter what speakers it was driving. An interesting comparison Jason made was with the similarly priced and equally large Simaudio Moon 860A v2 amplifier, which he reviewed in November 2021. Comparing the Simaudio to the Bryston, Jason notes that the former was “slightly more reticent in the treble” but also that this “suited his tastes,” being a vinyl lover and having “a soft spot for tubes.” Other differences between the Simaudio and Bryston that became evident later in the audition ultimately convinced Jason that the Simaudio was the superior of the two.


The Hegel H30A, in contrast, was “clear and extended” in the top end compared to the Bryston, Jason writes, exhibiting none of the Simaudio’s “slight softening” in the upper range. The most dramatic difference, however, going from the Bryston to the Hegel, was in the sound of bass instruments, especially acoustic ones:

Near the beginning of the review period, I threw Piano in the Background by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra (LP, Columbia CS 8346) onto my VPI turntable. Right off the top, with the first few notes on “Happy Go Lucky Local,” I got whomped in the chest by Aaron Bell’s bass. At first, I thought the Hegel was just highlighting the bass frequencies, giving more current and control, or maybe just elevating that region a touch. But that wasn’t it. Rather, the Hegel seemed to project an actual instrument, physically correct in size, just to the right of center. Not, I might add, the impression of an acoustic bass. With the H30A taking control of the speakers, my system was now near-as-dammit letting me see the actual outline of the instrument.

Jason didn’t feel that the Hegel sweetened the sound in any way, writing that it was “clear, free of any sense of grain, and true to the signal.” Listening to the abrasive guitar that overlays “In Our Sleep,” from Laurie Anderson’s Bright Red (LP, Music On Vinyl MOVLP2539), he could sense the H30A’s crackling power through the upper bass and midrange, “especially the way the guitar rides atop the huge, rolling bass notes.” The slightly boosted attack on that “snappy guitar,” Jason writes, further solidified its image, making it not only “sound like a real guitar” but also “feel like a real guitar.”


Having described how the H30A “snapped instruments into focus,” Jason proceeds to describe the amplifier’s general imaging prowess with his Aurelia Cerica XL speakers:

The Hegel amplifier literally gripped my Aurelias, forming rock-solid images with astounding depth and focus. When I first threw Astor Piazzolla’s Tango: Zero Hour (LP, Pangea PAN-42138) onto the VPI, . . . right from the start, from “Tanguedia III,” I was riveted and had to listen right through to the end of the side. The piano that anchors the band, right in the center of the soundstage, was so solid, so vital, so real that it took my breath away. Likewise, the violin, which for the most part is a backing instrument, gained vital depth and a sense of woody roundness. So yeah, the H30A forms images unbelievably well.

In conclusion, Jason confesses that looking back over his review and seeing how effusive he’d been about the H30A made him a little uncomfortable. Granted, it is pricy and difficult to move to dust underneath, he concedes, but it also hit all of his “musts, wants, and needs.” With such high praise and the kind of measurements from our lab, the H30A earned a Reviewers’ Choice award when the review was published, a SoundStage! Network Product of the Year award in the Outstanding Performance category at the end of 2023, and a Recommended Reference Component award this month. Most complimentary and telling of all: Jason Thorpe still uses the H30A for his reviews to this day.

Manufacturer contact information:

Hegel Music Systems AS
PO Box 2, Torshov
NO-0412 Oslo
Phone: +47 22-60-56-60
Fax: +47 22-69-91-56