There are several options to look for when you are planning to add an integrated amplifier to your music system. One of the most reputed names in the Hi-Fi market is Hegel, a Norwegian brand serving music enthusiasts since 1988. It has been producing integrated amplifiers, CD players, and some of the most sophisticated DAC models to cater to varying requirements.
H90 is a powerful integrated amp from Hegel designed to be a complete solution for a stereo or home theatre system. In this review, we take a closer look at the product and discuss in detail its price, specifications, features, and benefits to help buyers understand what they should expect from it. We also talk about its price, performance and other aspects so that you can make an informed decision about the purchase.
Hegel H90 Review – UPDATED 2021
Hegel is known for its simplicity, power, and uncompromised functionality along with its elegant design and signature sound. The brand offers a line of integrated amplifiers designed with contemporary styling, offering sleek lines, high power, and performance to put life into any Hi-Fi system.
The Hegel H90 has been designed keeping simplicity in mind, to be a complete, fully-functional standalone unit. It offers a lot for an entry-level model with dynamic 60-watt power per channel and amazing features that add flexibility and value to your music system. The manufacturer has included a variety of analog and digital connections, Apple Airplay, and network streaming to facilitate superior flexibility.
All the features can be configured to fixed input levels to make it easy to integrate the amp into the home theatre system. Though it is an entry-level amp, the damping factor is up to 20 times higher than the standard. You can expect a powerful bass response even when using smaller speakers. You can also find advanced additions like a bright OLED display and high-quality headphone output to enjoy private listening.
As it is designed with simplicity, the amplifier makes a perfect stand-alone unit. You can connect phones, phono stage, TV, or any other device and a pair of speakers to get a complete package for extra-ordinary sound.
Output power – 2 x 60W
Frequency Response – 5Hz – 100kHz
Minimum Load – 2 ohm
Signal-to-noise ratio – more than 100dB
Dimensions – 10 x 43 x 31 cm
Weight – 11kg
The Hegel H90 is a dense unit measuring 17 x 3.15 x 12 inches and weighing 26.5 pounds. The device is built to be sturdy with a steel case and a powder-coated finish. It is ventilated to never get too hot to touch, even during listening. On the aluminum front panel, you can find knobs for volume and source selection along with an OLED screen and a ¼” headphone jack.
The screen shows information about the selected source, network connectivity, volume level, signal sample rate, etc. The rear panel contains two sets of RCA inputs, a set of RCA outputs and digital inputs.
Hegel H90 can function as a DLNA digital media renderer which means it can readily receive and play media files from a media player compatible with DLNA/UPnP.
You can connect the H90 to a computer using the USB cable and the amp connects itself on most operating systems. In this connection mode, you can use the remote control to play/pause/skip tracks on most media players.
The Hegel H90 amplifier supports AirPlay to let you stream music from an AirPlay-compatible device. You can connect the amp to a local network with an Ethernet cable to integrate it into the home network. All compatible devices can detect the amp and you can start sending streams of music to the H90.
Most integrated amplifiers come with poor-quality headphone outputs, requiring an outboard headphone amp. However, the H90 headphone amp is an integrated circuit implemented perfectly and supported by a decent power supply.
The H90 also comes with a remote control which also controls other devices like amps and preamps as well as media players to eliminate the need for multiple remote controllers. All the basic functions to control the amp are available on the remote for ease. You can use it to turn the volume up and down, mute, play/pause, skip tracks, select inputs, and turn the display on/off among others.
Hegel H90 Price – Is It Worth It?
Hegel Music Systems has a reputation for offering superior-quality components and the H90 brings quality and performance to the budget market. It was debuted in 2017 as a successor to the popular integrated amp H80. It is based on the framework of the renowned Rost ($3000) and works much like H190 with support for AirPlay and uPnP.
Hegel H90 is priced at around $2000 and provides great value for money with a balanced set of features based on advanced technologies and can readily integrate with different equipment on the music system. With the SoundEngine technology from high-end models, the H90 punches above the level you may expect from a DAC at this price range.
Looking at the improvements made by the company between the H80 and H90 integrated amplifier, it can be said that it is one of the first of the refreshed models with improved versions of the popular technologies and features for a performance you would not get from a budget amp. A number of advanced concepts work together to provide a DAC with minimum distortion and outstanding resolution.
Hegel H90 DAC Quality
The DAC in the Hegel H90 is the same as other Hegel converters known for their outstanding performance. The amp has five digital inputs that support 24-bit/192kHz signal conversion and two unbalanced analog inputs. Any one of these can be configured to connect the device to a surround home theatre system.
Hegel H90 also has a USB input to connect to a PC for music listening. The advanced DAC also includes streaming over Ethernet. It features the DualAmp technology that separates current and voltage amplification between two modules while the DualPower supplies current from a smaller power supply to the amplification stage and to the current output with separate taps.
The company’s patented SynchroDAC system follows synchronized upsampling as opposed to the more common asynchronous conversion found in USB converters of the time. This new technology gives lesser distortion and higher resolution, resulting in high sound quality. It is used with other modern technologies to minimize conversion and jitter errors and give cleaner sound at a higher resolution than normal DAC technology.
Hegel H90 Vs H80 – How They Differ?
Both H80 and H90 are Hegel’s integrated amplifier models with analog and digital inputs. While both these are standalone amplifiers, the H90 is introduced as a replacement to the H80, designed to be cleaner yet delivering more power. The H80 is equipped with the patented SoundEngine technology for reduced distortion and improved damping factor, enabling the amp to drive amazing power and dynamics.
On the other hand, the Hegel H90 comes loaded with the improved SoundEngine 2 that reduces distortion even further. This technology improves the bass control better and the loudspeaker grip to offer more with less power. The damping factor is up to 20 times higher than average, ensuring a powerful, dynamic bass response.
While the two amps share similarities in many respects, there are a few notable differences between them. The first is that the front panel is upgraded to composite from all-metal. Another difference is that the H90 is described to be less powerful than the H80. It is a 60W amplifier whereas the H80 achieved 75W per channel. However, the H90 delivers more power in terms of its performance at 60W, partly proved by its high damping factor of over 2000 as compared to 1000 of H80.
Talking about the major changes, a big omission is the XLR input for a pseudo-balanced operation. The Hegel H80 sounded great with single-ended sockets so omitting the connection and having just two RCA inputs and one output does not seem to be a loss at the price point. The H90 shares much in common with the Rost than the H80. It features the same fluoro display and also comes with Ethernet streaming with one USB input, coaxial input, and three optical inputs.
This is quite different from the design of Hegel H80 as Ethernet streaming was not present. The H80 had an authoritative sound that goes to the next level with H90 with an exceptional grip over loudspeaker drivers. Talking about the presentation, the H80 was less bright while H90 is more clean and brisk. The power cut between the two models does not determine the performance because the H90 is anyways more powerful in a practical sense.
Hegel H90 is overall a powerful amplifier that takes the signal and produces a sound that you would expect from the loudspeakers. It is an integrated amp with a great mix of features and the latest technologies one would rarely find in a budget model. It performs above the level you may see from a DAC-integrated at the price. With amazing attention to detail, dynamics and transparency, the Hegel H90 is worth giving a try.