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-   -   Testing the Hegel H590 at Chattelin Audio, The Hague (https://www.audioaficionado.org/showthread.php?t=45845)

bart 05-18-2019 11:34 AM

Testing the Hegel H590 at Chattelin Audio, The Hague
 
After our visit of the Northstar Studio - https://www.audioaficionado.org/showthread.php?t=45800 - we drove to Chattelin Audio, in the Hague.

I'm interested in getting into SS again, and after having heard the fantastic Mola Mola electronics (on the Vivid Audio G1 Spirit, the G4 and the Kaya 25), my mind was already pretty much set on a couple of mono blocks, to be paired with the Mola Mola pre and/or DAC.

But I've come to really appreciate Ben van Leliveld.
He did our room treatment.
He has an excellent ear and really wants to cater the best sound possible to music lovers.
This starts from making splendid recordings (check his trptk label), continues with importing gear (Harmony Audio Import with Kroma Audio, Zanden and CAD), then selling gear (he bought himself into the high shop Chattelin Audio) and finally installing the gear and optimising the room (AcousticMatters and RTFS).
That way he really has influence on the whole chain!
And he does this remarkably well.
It isn't exactly next door for us, we do have other magnificent stores close by, but it's worth the trip.

In his recording/remastering studio, he uses Hegel amplification (H30s), with Merging NADAC and 5 KEF Blade 2s.

That piqued my interest.
Why not Mola Mola?

To find out, we decided to compare Mola Mola directly to the top integrated of Hegel, the H590.
I had read great reviews, and wanted to hear this device, but wasn't expecting it to be able to change a lot in my plans.

But first, lunch!
Peter Chattelin had already provided a healthy light lunch.

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...84untitled.jpg


The store is not that big, but you immediately feel at home.

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...90untitled.jpg

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...83untitled.jpg

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...86untitled.jpg


During luch we listened to one of the excellent recordings of the trptk label:

https://static.qobuz.com/images/cove...34xq1b_600.jpg

bart 05-18-2019 11:44 AM

Okay, lunch finished, up to the comparison!

The room:

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...76untitled.jpg


The electronics:

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...82untitled.jpg


A CEC-transport, Auralic G2 streamer, Hegel H590 and CAD GC3.

.

bart 05-18-2019 11:55 AM

Speaker: the Vivid Kaya 45.

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...15untitled.jpg


Compared to the Kaya 25, the 45 has quite a bit more bass.
It comes close to full range.

Ben's colleague had set up the speakers, and Ben did the final adjustments.

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...88untitled.jpg


He always uses a couple of tracks from the following albums.

https://static.qobuz.com/images/cove...113757_600.jpg

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon....1Sl3tsXu6L.jpg

bart 05-18-2019 12:01 PM

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...92untitled.jpg


I could immediately hear, no rather feel the power of the Big One.
301 Watts into 8 Ohm, doubling into 4 and then again into 2 Ohm are impressive figures on paper, and after experiencing the amplifier, I tend to believe them.

It was my turn to put my test CDs in the tray of the beautifully designed CEC.

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...93untitled.jpg

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...79untitled.jpg

bart 05-18-2019 12:20 PM

First up: Bruno Cocset.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon....VL._SY879_.jpg


This is really a marvellous recording.
You can hear all the timbres of the wonderful instrument.
The soundstage and ambience of the venue are impressive.
I have heard this on at least 20 systems.

It was different than what I get at home of course.
Maybe a bit rougher.
After all, my Halgorythmes do have tubes.
They are very neutral, not 'warm' in the sense of covering up (I found them brighter even than my Burmester gear).
But what struck me was the insight into the music.
I don't remember having heard this album so clearly, so real.
Not even on the Accuphase 900 separates.

I looked in disbelief at Ben.
Wow!

This is one of the best DACs I've heard he said, at least one of the best 10K DACs, but it competes with even higher priced devices.
It goes so far that when we play discs on the Luxman D-08u, we always use the digital out into the Hegel, because it blows the Luxman DAC out of the water.
With a power section that equals the H30 added as a free bonus.
And it doesn't stop there: it also offers a top pre and a streaming section.

Whatever I threw at the Master and Commander, the Hegel excelled.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon....HL._SX679_.jpg


Ella's voice sounded simply stunning.


https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon....B2f8Z%2BHL.jpg

This '56 album can sound a tiny bit digital on most DACs.
Here Satchmo and Ella's voices were perfectly natural, as were their accompanying musicians.


https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon....1CILpuatvL.jpg


Holy cow!
This DAC is simply amazing!!
Had I ever heard the details of this recording better?
I don't think so.

.

bart 05-18-2019 12:23 PM

To test the bass, the 9th track on this recording:

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon....1j7gQ9iwkL.jpg


The Kaya 45s didn't go down quite as easily as my G2s, but I could hear the grip of the Hegel.
A lot of amplifiers don't do well on this track.

bart 05-18-2019 12:24 PM

More later, now off to a concert!

Edit: it was a fantastic concert with the Budapest Festival Orchestra!!

bart 05-18-2019 05:51 PM

Next album is a torture disc for many systems.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon....GL._SX679_.jpg


Not so good amplifiers and/or DACs tend to muddle things up with a harpsichord.
The Hegel didn't.
What it did was bring the lower pedal notes even a bit better than I remembered from at home (and my amps are designed by a harpsichord player!).

bart 05-18-2019 06:04 PM

Conclusion so far: this is a seriously good integrated amplifier.
And it is a seriously good DAC also.
2 for the price of one!

But how would it fare, compared to Mola Mola?

There was one inconvenience.
The Mola Mola DAC was not in the store, it was at a client for a home demo.
Fortunately, Ben had a DiDit DAC available, which can compete with the Mola Mola from his experience.
It has a good volume control.

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...99untitled.jpg


It was connected via a XLR digital cable to the Mola Mola mono blocks.

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...12untitled.jpg

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...14untitled.jpg

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...03untitled.jpg

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...04untitled.jpg


Which gives us the following set-up:

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...65untitled.jpg

bart 05-18-2019 06:18 PM

Was it a fair comparison?
Would inserting the Mola Mola DAC instead of the DiDit have given another outcome?

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...66untitled.jpg


We went through the same test tracks and there was no doubt: the Hegel beat the Mola Mola - DiDit system, in about every aspect.
The Hegel gave a deeper soundstage, was more lifelike, and the musicians had more flesh on the bone.
The Mola Molas sounded flatter.

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...17untitled.jpg


With the Hegel, I was simply more touched, more drawn into the experience.

.

bart 05-18-2019 06:19 PM

And what about this CAD thing?!
CAD stands for Computer Audio Designs.

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...96untitled.jpg


When I read the website, I don't really understand what they are explaining me.
Voodoo?! :D

Did it work?
I had hoped I wouldn't hear a difference, but I did!
And a clear one.
Also for Meta it was obvious: everything sounded more transparent, and there was more silence in between the notes.
The older the recording, the more difference it made.
Damn!
I remain sceptical, but I do want to test this at home!

.

bart 05-18-2019 06:35 PM

This demo made it clear for us: there is a Hegel in our future!
Of course, there is better out there.
But then you'll have to spend 3-4 times more, at least.

And there are more Hegel goodies around the corner.
Chattelin Audio will be the first to demo the C55 in the BeNeLux.

https://www.hegel.com/images/products/C5Front.jpg


The C55 is a 5-channel amplifier (exists also as C53 and C54).
Kal Rubinson had it in his system and raved about it.

https://www.widescreenaudio.be/wp-co...el_C5Angle.jpg


Ben wants to recreate his trptk studio in the Chattelin store: Hegel amplification (but with a C55 instead of the H30s), 5 KEF Blade 2s, and probably Merging NADAC as pre/DAC.

Date: July 12.

Meta and I will be there!

.

bart 05-18-2019 06:49 PM

A big thank you!
 
Ben, Meta and I thank you for spending the whole day with us!

It was fantastic to visit Bert van der Wolf's studio together.
And we really appreciated the effort you made to give us a whole afternoon to demo the Hegel, and compare it with Mola Mola.

You didn't steer us toward the more expensive electronics, you just gave us the space to form our own idea, and then confirmed with your own findings.
You even honestly admitted that, if you were to start building a system now, at home, you would take this amplifier and be done.
Rather than the Zanden integrated (24K!) even, because it simply does more things and it does a lot of them better than the Zanden.

You also said would choose Kroma speakers.
I only heard the small ones so far.
That means we'll have to visit again to test those! :D

http://metazahren.com/photography/ge...77untitled.jpg

Weirdcuba 05-18-2019 08:22 PM

Great day and great write up. I am so impressed with the hifi world in Belgium. You’re lucky, particularly with meta.

Puma Cat 05-18-2019 10:13 PM

Great write-up, and also photos, Bart!

I've well familiar with Hegel and also have watched all of John Darko's videos on Hegel; he likes them very much, too.

If I were to hazard a guess, Hegel would pair very nicely with Dynaudios.

jdandy 05-19-2019 09:47 AM

Bart and Meta........Bravo. This thread is a joy to read and the photos are wonderful. You two make quite the reviewer's pair. Entertaining, enlightening, and a treat for the eyes, as well. Thank you.

bart 05-19-2019 10:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Weirdcuba (Post 965232)
Great day and great write up. I am so impressed with the hifi world in Belgium. You’re lucky, particularly with meta.


Jim, this was in the Netherlands, but you're right, hifi isn't dead yet in Western Europe.
I've seen quite a few young music lovers in shows here, with young meaning in their 20s.
And yes, I'm lucky having a wife actually supporting the hobby! :banana:

bart 05-19-2019 10:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Puma Cat (Post 965240)
Great write-up, and also photos, Bart!

I've well familiar with Hegel and also have watched all of John Darko's videos on Hegel; he likes them very much, too.

If I were to hazard a guess, Hegel would pair very nicely with Dynaudios.


Stephen, I would guess Hegel, being very neutral, would pair with most speaker brands.
They will be able to drive even very inefficient transducers.

bart 05-19-2019 10:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jdandy (Post 965266)
Bart and Meta........Bravo. This thread is a joy to read and the photos are wonderful. You two make quite the reviewer's pair. Entertaining, enlightening, and a treat for the eyes, as well. Thank you.


Dan, thank you for the kind words.
We even make a good pair when we're not reviewing... https://www.audioaficionado.org/images/icons/icon12.gif

Formerly YB-2 05-21-2019 08:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bart (Post 965180)
I'm interested in getting into SS again............

Bart - :thumbsup: Understand completely. After many years of tubes and all the pleasure of listening to 'glass', am happy to be back with solid-state. Just more 'there', there for me. Enjoy your journey (I know you will).

bart 05-21-2019 03:43 PM

Glenn, you're so right.
My adventure with tubes was immensely pleasurable, but I'm not very tech savvy and tube amplifiers do require some maintenance.
I'm returning to the SS aural pleasures, and looking forward to it. :music:


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