The history of Hegel Music Systems can be traced back to 1988, when the company’s founder, Bent Holter, conducted his thesis work at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, focusing on what he saw as the transistor’s No.1 enemy: harmonic distortion. That work led to Hegel’s patented SoundEngine technology, which, they claim, “will cancel high frequency distortion components found in normal types of audio amplifiers. The Hegel SoundEngine technology is not using any kind of global negative feedback, it is using local and adaptive feed forward technology if there should ever be any need for cancellation of distortion within the audio amplifier stages.”
Only recently has Hegel made significant inroads into North America, but since then, in the US and Canada, it has been nothing but full steam ahead. The company has regularly released new models that have routinely won critical praise for their ideal combinations of great sound quality and high value. Some of that praise came from our own writers: Roger Kanno, who recently reviewed the H80 integrated amplifier-DAC for this site; Hans Wetzel, who reviewed the H300 integrated amplifier-DAC (and then purchased one) for SoundStage! Access, and whose review of the H160 integrated amplifier-DAC will soon appear there; and Jeff Fritz, who recently wrote about the HD12 DAC for SoundStage! Ultra. I reviewed the HD10 DAC for this site in 2011, and blogged about the Super headphone amp on SoundStage! Global in 2013. So when I considered reviewing another Hegel product, I thought, “Let’s go for the most expensive thing they make” -- the H30 power amplifier, which retails for $15,000 USD.
The H30 is not only Hegel’s most expensive model, it’s the largest and heaviest -- it measures about 17”W x 9.25”H (with feet) x 21”D (not including binding posts), and weighs about 100 pounds. The H30 conforms to Hegel’s minimalist, understated styling -- on its gently curved front panel are only a large power button, a blue LED, and an engraved Hegel logo. Since the heatsinks are inside, the H30’s side panels are flat and clean. The smooth surfaces are otherwise interrupted only by ventilation slots in the top panel, and rows of small bolts along each top edge. My review sample was the same black as every other Hegel product I’ve reviewed, though silver is an option for this model. (Hegel’s integrated amps and DACs are available only in black; their preamps, power amps, and CD players can be ordered in black or silver.)
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