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Hegel Amplifier Philosophy

January 22, 2024



ListenUp sits down with Hegel’s head of marketing and communications, Anders Ertzeid, to discuss Hegel’s unique philosophy of sound and how this philosophy, along with SoundEngine, has guided Hegel toward developing one of the finest collections of amplifiers and audio components in the world.

Hegel History

When Bent Holder founded Hegel in 1988 in Oslo Norway, he didn’t know he was starting a company that would go on to make some of the world’s finest amplifiers. A musician and budding electronics wiz, initially, he just wanted to find a solution to the distortion issue that plagued pretty much all amplifiers. Traditional amplifier designs, even transistor or vacuum tube level designs, distort the waveform found at their input to some degree, consequently creating an output that is different from their input. So he started working on technology that would minimize amplifier distortion. Technology that would later become Hegel’s signature SoundEngine distortion canceling system. 

SoundEngine Distortion Canceling System

SoundEngine utilizes an analog computer and comparator circuit in each stage of amplification. The analog computer takes a continuous snapshot of the signal, and inverts it, then compares it to the original waveform. Because the waveform is inverted, distortions that have been added appear as differences in the original waveform and are filtered out leaving the original waveform intact without distortion at the circuit's output.

At first Bent’s idea was to develop distortion cancel technology to be used by anyone developing and building amplifiers. However, after realizing he had something special and that if it was utilized in a ground up design, he could better realize his vision of distortion free amplification, Hegel Music Systems was officially born. And so was its vision—to be a company intent on creating the best distortion free amplifiers available. 

Hegel Integrated Amplifier Philosophy

But that’s not all. Bent and Hegel’s knack for innovation would result in many other breakthrough developments, including a unique approach to creating the ultimate integrated amplifiers that offer tons of capability without sacrificing performance—something other integrated amplifier designs have struggled to achieve. Some of these designs include the Hegel H390, Hegel H190 and the new reference Hegel H600.

Airplay Integration

Additionally, Hegel has contributed to huge leaps in the quality and convenience of streaming music. Most notably with their Apple Airplay integration and how they have been able to improve the sound quality significantly. What this has done is made it simpler to stream at high quality because you don’t need additional built in streaming apps. You can just simply rely on the ease and convenience of Airplay. 

Hegel H600 Specifications:

Power Output: 2 x 303 watts in 8 ohms

Minimum Load: 2-ohms

Analog Inputs: (2) Balanced (XLR), (2) Unbalanced (RCA)

Digital Outputs: (1) Coaxial (BNC) S/PDIF - 24/192

Digital Inputs: (1) Coaxial (BNC) S/PDIF - 24/192, DSD64(DoP), MQA 8x

(1) Coaxial (RCA) S/PDIF - 24/192, DSD64(DoP), MQA 8x

(3) Optical S/PDIF - 24/96, MQA 8x

(1) USB - 32/384, DSD256(DoP), MQA 8x

(1) Network - 24/192, DSD64, MQA 8x

Line Level Outputs: (1) Unbalanced fixed(RCA), (1) Unbalanced variable(RCA)

Streaming: AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Roon Ready (pending), Tidal Connect, UPnP

Streaming Formats: MP3, WAV, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, DSF, DFF, AAC, PCM, MQA,Ogg

Frequency Response: 5Hz-100kHz

Signal-to-Noise Ratio: More than 100dB

Crosstalk: Less than -100dB

Distortion: Less than 0.005% @ 50W 8 Ohms 1kHz

Intermodulation: Less than 0.01% (19kHz + 20kHz)

Damping Factor: More than 4000 (main power output stage)

Dimensions/weight 17,1cm x 43cm x 44,5cm (HxWxD), 22kg

Dimensions/weight US 6,74” x 16,93” x 17,52” (HxWxD), 48,51 lbs


Hegel H390 Specifications: 


Power Output: 2 x 250 W into 8 Ω, Dual Mono

Minimum Load: 2 Ω

Analog Inputs:

  • 1 x Balanced (XLR)
  • 2 x Unbalanced (RCA)

Digital Outputs: 1 x Coaxial (BNC)

Digital Inputs:

  • 1 x Coaxial (BNC)
  • 1 x Coaxial (RCA)
  • 3 x Optical
  • 1 x USB
  • 1 x Network

Line Level Output:

  • 1 x Unbalanced Fixed (RCA)
  • 1 x Unbalanced Variable (RCA)

MQA Supported Inputs: USB, BNC, Optical, and Coaxial

Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 180 kHz

Signal-to-Noise Ratio: More than 100 dB

Crosstalk: Less than -100 dB

Distortion: Less than 0.005% @ 50 W/8 Ω/1 kHz

Intermodulation: Less than 0.01% (19 kHz + 20 kHz)

Damping Factor: More than 4000 (main power output stage)

Dimensions incl Feet:

  • 14.5 cm x 43 cm x 44 cm (HxWxD)
  • 20 kg unit weight

Dimensions (US):

  • 5.71" x 16.93" x 17.32" (HxWxD)
  • 44 lbs unit weight

Special Features:

  • Set Startup Volume
  • Set Max Volume
  • Software Upgradable
  • Configure All Inputs as Fixed Level Inputs
  • IP Control


Hegel H190:

Power output: 2 x 150 W into 8 Ω

Minimum load: 2 Ω

Analog Inputs: 1 x balanced (XLR), 2 x unbalanced (RCA)

Digital Inputs: 1 x coaxial (RCA), 3 x optical, 1 x USB, 1 x Network

Line level Output: 1 x unbalanced fixed (RCA), 1 x unbalanced variable (RCA)

Frequency response: 5 Hz - 100 kHz

Signal-to-noise ratio: More than 100 dB

Crosstalk: Less than -100 dB

Distortion: Less than 0.01% @ 25 W/8 Ω/1 kHz

Intermodulation: Less than 0.01% (19 kHz + 20 kHz)

Damping factor: More than 4000 (main power output stage)

Dimensions incl feet: 12 cm x 43 cm x 41 cm (HxWxD), 17 kg 

Dimensions (US): 4.72" x 16.93" x 16.15" (HxWxD), 37.5 lbs 

Finish: Black or White