ListenUp interviews Anders Ertzeid, Hegel VP Sales & Marketing

ListenUp: Tell me a little about the history and mission of Hegel.

ERTZEID: The mission of Hegel is simple: Using new or proprietary technology to provide ultra high end sound and user- friendly features for a lower price than anyone else. The whole history is based around this, actually. At first, our humble beginnings may sound like the typical audio company. Our founder, Bent Holter, played guitar in a rock band called Hegel Band (playing Thin Lizzie cover songs, and still doing it today) while studying for a Master’s degree in micro electronics at the Technical University in Norway. He built some PA amps for a live stage in his free time and was intrigued by some of the problems involved in the use of feedback versus distortion in solid state amps. He decided to write his thesis on it and, as far as we know, he was the first to use computer simulations to try and improve basic solid state design. Several years later he got a large telecom company as an investor and they spent upwards of $3 million to turn the idea into an actual physical design — The SoundEngine amplifier. They wanted to license this to other manufacturers, but gave up around the year 2000. After that, Bent bought the company and patents back and started using them only in our own products. The rest is history. Bent is now the full owner of Hegel. 

ListenUp: What’s different about your amplifier design from that of other manufacturers?

ERTZEID: The core is, of course, the SoundEngine technology. It works a little like a noise cancelling headphone and detects distortion in the amplifier circuits and plays it forward in negative phase. Basically, it cancels out distortion in real time, leaving you with a very natural and fluid sound. Another effect of the technology is high damping factor (ranging from 1,000–4,000) over a wide range, ensuring a very dynamic sound. And last but not least, it has a lower power consumption compared to standard class AB amps.

ListenUp: You have a unique implementation of streaming in your amplifiers. Tell us about that.

ERTZEID: We do, and I think there are two things that matter here. First, it’s our desire to not try and force users into a “Hegel universe” with our own apps and user interface. Our amplifiers should be generic in the sense that the user can choose which applications to connect — be it a computer, Spotify, Airplay, UPNP streaming… and we will simply work on making the most of it. The other thing is thoroughness. What I mean is that when we make a feature we dig right down to the core and optimize our circuitry for that feature. We even write proprietary operating systems for those features to make them run smooth and fast. An example is that we’ve never failed an Apple or Spotify certification, ever. Who else can say that? In short, the functions we have really work, and they sound as good as they possibly can.

Hegel