To Hans Wetzel,
I have enjoyed very, very much your review of the Hegel Music Systems H590, including the comparison to the Hegel H360 and Benchmark Media Systems DAC3 HGC. I have learned a lot. Actually, I am using the H360 with Focal Sopra No1 loudspeakers, mostly through the Benchmark DAC3. Using the DAC3 results in a less edgy sound. I am thinking about upgrading to the H590.
In your review, you noted that the combination of the H590/DAC3 resulted in a sound close to the sound of the H360. Did you compare the H360/DAC3 combination, and if so, what did you hear? Do you think that the upgrades made to the H590's analog section have resulted in a more refined sound? I understand that the upgrade in the DAC section made an important improvement to [the amp’s] sound. Do you think that an upgrade from the H360/DAC3 to H590 will result in a meaningful sound improvement?
I would like to thank you for your excellent and insightful review. I am sincerely obliged having your professional assistance.
First up, your questions. No, I did not directly compare the H360/DAC3 combination to the H590. Yes, the H590’s amp and preamp are slightly more refined than its counterparts in the H360, but the margins are narrow -- the H360 is a great amp in its own right -- and, yes, I think the majority of the H590’s performance improvement over the H360 is down to its DAC. Finally, yes, I do think the H590 will offer a meaningful improvement in sound over an H360/DAC3 tandem.
However, as someone who has owned the last three iterations of Hegel’s flagship integrated amp-DAC -- the H300, the H360, and now the H590 -- I think that the H590 sounds different than its predecessors. To my ears, there was an eagerness, a forwardness, to the H360 that made that amp exciting to listen to, no matter the source material. The H590 lacks that character, but it gains a lot in the transparency and realism departments. There are times when I miss the H360, but the H590 is clearly a cut above, and I don’t have any regrets. My suggestion is to listen to Hegel’s new H390 -- the H360’s replacement -- if you can. I have a strong suspicion that, if you don’t need the additional power, its performance is within a stone’s throw of the H590 for a heck of a lot less money. Keep an eye out for Doug Schneider’s review of the H390 on SoundStage! Hi-Fi in the next few months. . . . Hans Wetzel