Hegel H590 test and review of high-end amplifier

Hegel H590 review

H590 is Hegel’s most expensive, best and most powerful integrated ever. Can you talk about value for money in this price range? Yes actually!

  • Pro: Special resolution. Power in bucket. The amplifier is so fast that most things sound like a lubricant. Fantastic DAC!
  • Contra: That this is a luxury product, the design department has passed the house. No headphone jack.

Even though people do not want many and big boxes of some amplifier solutions, it does not mean that there is any less interest in the real goodies. On the contrary! It is only the market that gradually appears to switch from separate solutions with power and power amplifiers to a powerful integrated amplifier. It’s easy to see why.

Firstly, you have the aesthetic. The home may be more minimalist than before, and with one amplifier component rather than two or three, you do not have to take up the “half-room”.

Hegel H590 test

But there are also sound advantages. A proper transformer is not particularly cheap, and with an integrated amplifier you only need one. The same with the cabinet, which is also a costly link when you need both preamplifiers and one or maybe even two power amplifiers. Vipps, you have wasted important expenses, and you can spend the money in terms of sound quality.

Moreover, by rejecting the signal cables (with their more or less lucky terminations) between the power and power amplifier, you have eliminated an audio factor and expense – in the calculation. In addition, if the amplifier has built-in digital conversion, the signal path is further shortened. It is now only the sound source and a digital cable that stands between you and musical pleasure.

There are, of course, many integrated amplifiers with built-in digital converters, so the Hegel H590 is by no means in a distinguished class in that area. But it’s not just a lot of components and features to be put in place; It must be done correctly. And this is where Hegel’s specialists in analogue and digital signal processing have worked hard and long.

Hegel Arcam Blades H590 R700 SR20 @ High End Munich 2018 HiFi Show

The biggest and most powerful

The Hegel H590 is brand new from the bottom up, replacing no other amplifiers. It places itself well on the H360’s most integrated H360 in every way. Firstly, it is stated for a full 2 ​​x 301 watts in 8 ohms. Asking why exactly 301, chief engineer Bent Holter answers humorously: “301 watts are actually more than 300 watts, which is the output of several other major integrated amplifiers. So, for example, we can say that the H590 is more powerful than Gryphon Diablo! “So it was decided. Or, to quote Nigel from Spinal Tap: “This goes to 11!”

The H590 breaks the handshake with the most powerful, and the price of almost $13,500 is also good at what Hegel has ever required for an integrated. In fact, a lot more than the P20 and H20 amplifier sets ! There are good reasons for that.

If we take the integrated H360, which already has an impressive power bank, make sure that the H590 has increased the number of transistors by 50 percent, from 8 to 12 per. channel (H20 has 10). And the power supply itself is twice as big. This gives even better control over the speakers. Furthermore, hard work has been done to suppress noise and distortion, for example by giving the preamplifier its own power supply and a whole new volume control with the lowest possible distortion and the best possible channel separation even at the lowest sound levels.

At heart is Hegel’s SoundEngine technology. This is a negative feedback technology, where the music signal is monitored in real time by the SoundEngine circuit. If undesirable distortions occur, these are phased out. The latest version of the technology came first in the H360 and is ten times more effective in removing distortion than the previous one. It also increases the damping factor to over 4,000. It’s spinning and indicates bass checking with big B! Hegel promises “unmatched dynamic features while retaining a smooth, natural sound with all the details of the music intact”.

Hegel H590

Here’s all you need from analogue as well as digital connections. Including network.

New digital converter

Technical innovations are also a brand new DAC circuit on the inside. Hegel has learned his work with the CD player Mohican , and has been inspired by this in how to build the DAC circuit. One has completely eliminated pre-ringing (“pre-echo”), which makes the sound more natural. Another important feature is that the H590 does not pick up the music signal, but allows it to go through its original state. This also applies to CD audio as high resolution audio files, and we are told that the H590 digital converter is in many ways better than the high-end DAC HD30 , which costs only $ 40,000. Then the price does not look so crazy anyway.

On the USB port, the H590 supports both DSD and the new high-resolution MQA. The format minimizes the requirement for bandwidth on high-resolution music, by the data being used to store the highest frequencies “folded” digitally into the noise floor in the audible frequency range. The result is that a 768 kHz audio clip has the same bandwidth as one with 44.1 kHz.

Network connection and flow

The H590 can be connected to the home network with ethernet, and then it opens up a number of possibilities. First, it can stream music from your mobile with AirPlay or DLNA (UPnP). Furthermore, it can be remote controlled over the Internet with IP control and it has built-in support for Control4.

That means it can be included in a smart home, and be part of macro commands. Whether it’s party or watching the evening entertainment on TV, just press a button on the Control4 remote control and the amplifier goes to the correct input while the rest of the house does other things like dim lighting, pulling the curtains, turning on The TV and pop popcorn. For example. Hegel wants the H590 to be as much for the active family as for the sound industry. The amplifier can also be IP-controlled in other ways.

Otherwise balanced and unbalanced analog inputs are carefully emphasized, with hand-matched transistor pairs for the lowest possible mutual tolerance, and thus maximum symmetry. Do you have an expensive record player and a high-end RIAA step, you need to be sure that they get the maximum prerequisites.

* Update 20.09.18 The H590 has now received Spotify Connect certification, and, after a firmware update, may spot Spotify wirelessly from the mobile phone.

No headphone jack

There is no headphone out on the H590. This has its explanation. It is built up as a dual-mono amplifier, which means that left and right channel earth is kept separate. A standard 6.3 mm headphone jack has common ground for both channels, which requires a compromise over true dual mono.

Does not look like the price

Its exclusive food and great exterior despite, I have to say that the H590 does not look like it costs $12,300. Of course, you can see that it’s not cheap stuff, and I like the updated bitmap graphics, which we first saw with Voice and then H190 . But it is and becomes a black box. Looking at the Gryphon Diablo 120 and McIntosh MA9000 , it does not look exclusive at all. In fact, one can argue that the Denon PMA-2500NE for $ 3,000 has a more magnificent appearance.

Something is because the white Hegel logo is painted, where I could see the time out. Admittedly Hegel had tried this and the prototype I heard this summer had such a thing. The explanation that the final version did not get that way is that the elasticated aluminum front has too rough texture, which makes the logo too angular and sharp. Then you ended up with white paint instead.

Hegel H590 exterior

The Hegel H590 is heavy and delicious, but does not win a design price.

A fantastic fireworks

In general, the appearance is not so important. That’s how it sounds that matters. And here the H590 does not disappoint. At all.

Where the H360 has a great combination of raw strength and fine resolution, rivaling most of its price range around 40,000, it fades up against the H590.

For example, it’s easy to listen to Alice Sara Otts piano album Nightfall played in MQA from Tidal via Roon . It sounds good on the H360, preserved, and immediately no fault, played through Audiovector SR3 Arreté Raw Surface . Good weight in the bass register, a big sound and good with air. The H360 does not support MQA, but all music in 96kHz resolution and downwards are fully extracted from the program (in this case, Roon).

With the H590 connected, it becomes as if we suddenly realize that the window we’ve been looking forward to has been dirty from the start. For the big brother gives far better insight into the music. The projections on the keys have a better and tighter touch, and at the same time there is more air between them. The release takes place with smoother shades, and the musical space increases in width and depth, with significantly better holography. There is more resolution, almost as if the pilot has moved into our test room.

Better than its big brothers?

It is also, as expected, more than doubling the price. But how is it against the power and power amplifier solution P30 and H30?, digitally converted by HD30? This is where it will be interesting. Because when I play the same piece on this electronics rig to over $ 180,000, it actually sounds a bit more like the H360 in my ears. Even better, of course, but still not the same touch and subsequent natural discharges like the H590. There is more crispness in the overtones with the more expensive products, but they do not work as a full natural part of the sound image as with the H590. And that says a little because we’ve loved every second we’ve spent with the more expensive Hegel rig. Especially with two H30, which gives even more profit and lower dust floor than with one. But still not with the superior natural sound of the H590. And the holography is also in its own right, because neither the more expensive amplifiers bind the sound image from the sides to the center in this way.


Is it MQA that does it? After a while, there’s actually something special about MQA files in high resolution. The 2L release Northern Timbre of Hemsing and Aspaas is a good example. I’ve downloaded both the MQA files and the original DXD files in full resolution from the webshop, which means 24-bit / 352.8 kHz. Because MQA is trying to correct weaknesses in analog-to-digital conversion that has occurred during the recording itself, MQA is actually experiencing better. MQA reproduces both piano and strokes with more natural facets, and timing is perceived as better. Despite the fact that the MQA file is about 1/8 of the original DXD file. Beat it! But the differences are not as big as I felt when I switched amplifier.

Hegel H590 qma

When we play a 352.8 kHz MQA file via Roon, we watch the Hegel H360 (tv) software decode 88.2 kHz and pass this on to the DAC. H590 (TV), on the other hand, receives the entire MQA resolution and stands for decoding itself.

CD quality

In order to confirm that it is actually the equipment, we have to play music with regular CD quality.

I’ve been through so much music during the test period, that it’s hard to get something special because the differences are there every time. But for example, Soothing by Laura Marling, who has both a big room, a beautiful lady’s voice and a big and rocky double bass. And a heavy bass drum. It’s a fun song, but with heavy and delicious rhythms. And with the H590 the sound is tighter and more tidy than with its big brothers.

On the question of why the H590 sounds better, Bent Holter replies: “With the USB input and a good player, the H590 sounds better, totally agree. If you connect the H590 DAC balanced to the H30 / P30, that combination is even better. ”

It is the time domain that is lubricated with the more expensive set in relation. Yes, you have a lot more power, but not much else. And more power than the H590 is not needed. It’s control and power a lot, no matter how many festivals you’ll have, how high your chin level you want to watch movies – and what speakers to drive. Because I have also been honored to hear the amplifier hold a jumper on Kef Blade 2. This was, of course, in Hegel’s own premises, but such a sound reproduction you just can not fake.

Hegel H590

If you want beautiful music with well-dressed piano, Alice Sara Ott and the Nightfall album get our warmest recommendation.

Hegel H590: Conclusion

The Hegel H590 provides both sound quality and power from separate components, in one and the same amplifier cabinet.

Here is a lot of power, more than most will ever need. But what really hits us is how musical it is. It starts and stops on the femur ring. The music is reproduced with so many sounds and facets that the world’s deadliest composer is brought alive. Should you wonder if it can drive it or the speaker, the answer is a resounding “yes!”. And completely without respect.

Network function and built-in AirPlay make the amplifier very user-friendly, and the built-in DAC is completely king.

Less king is the appearance, which does not remind you of an amplifier of almost $12,300. Although a black box may have its advantages, because the cohabitant does not need to notice recently upgrading from H360 to H590 – if you can hide the bank statement …

Hegel H590 will be on sale on October 15, 2018.


  • Output power: 2 x 301 W in 8 Ohm
  • Mute factor: More than 4000
  • Inputs: 3 optical, 2 coaxial (1 BNC), USB, network, 2 XLR, 3 RCA
  • Streaming: AirPlay, DLNA, Spotify Connect
  • Line Out: 2 RCA (variable and fixed)
  • Dimensions: 17.1 x 43 x 44.5 cm (H x W x D)
  • Weight: 22 kg
  • Design: black or white
  • Web: hegel.no
  • Price:  $12,295

Video: Hegel H590 integrated amplifier – quick review

Using Hegel H590 with Roon

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