Hegel H600 Network-Attached Amp Page 2

Whether streaming a review favourite like Hans Zimmer's bombastic Live In Prague [Eagle Records EDGCD670; 48kHz/24-bit], or the more refined sounds of Benjamin Clementine's At Least For Now [Behind 472 235 3; 44.1kHz/24-bit], the H600 – like its predecessor – kept the reins tightly in hand, so expect no deviation here. Yet there was a more insightful view of the music on offer during Clementine's 'London', especially when looking past the vocals of the English singer and focusing on the nimble piano accompaniment. This extra clarity and naturalness of harmonic color added authenticity to the performance, making me almost forget I was listening to a recording.

Cracking The Code
The piano playing on the following track 'Adios' saw the H600 capably handling the dramatic transients, and this ability was more in evidence during 'Chevaliers de Sangreal', a fascinating theme on the Zimmer album from the rather less captivating Tom Hanks feature film The Da Vinci Code. It's built around the violin of Rusanda Panfili and the slender electric cello of Tina Guo, and the H600 not only recreated the scale of the live venue in Prague but wove these two main melodies together as the orchestra and choral background slowly built to a huge climax. Zimmer, a master of epic overstatement, pulls out all the stops on this piece, but at no point did the H600 let the recording down. Even at epic volumes it delivered – though there are probably situations where this integrated would be bested by the P30A/H30A pairing. But not many.


On the lower right of the rear panel are fixed and variable preamp outputs, alongside five line inputs (two balanced on XLRs, three single-ended on RCAs). Digital ins (above) include three optical, two coaxial (RCA/BNC), USB-B and wired Ethernet

Connecting a Pro-Ject X2 B turntable and Phono Box S3 B preamp [HFN Sep '22] to one of the H600's balanced inputs, and swapping the Focal speakers for KEF R7 Metas, introduced some major sonic changes. Although the £3999 R7 Metas are relatively affordable compared to this £10,500 amp, the combination showcased the H600's incredible grip and agility.

My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross [Rough Trade RT0393LP], from Anohni And The Johnsons, was a personal favourite this past (wet) summer. There aren't large amounts of low-end content or epic dynamics for the H600 to strut its stuff with, but instead the album serves up songs replete with emotional engagement and frailty. The challenge here is to take all those fine nuances and deliver them with the emotion intact – something the H600 does without embellishment, opting for a natural representation that's ultimately more authentic.

Granted, Anohni's slightly nasal voice might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it was delivered faultlessly. Nor was the quality of the H600's performance limited to the vocals. As with Clementine's songs, there's detailed playing in the background – one impressive highlight was the mellow 'It Must Change', where the sound of a softly played electric guitar was rich and full of texture.

During the years I have used an H590, many times I have attached an external DAC – T+A's DAC200 is a favourite [HFN May '22] – via the DAC Loop function and noted an improvement in terms of clarity, spatial information and timing. Looping the DAC200 and a Musical Fidelity M6x [HFN Jul '22] through the H600 indicated that the need for such an addition was far, far less obvious. The new DAC stage in the H600 really delivers the goods – upgrading is still possible via the Loop function or analogue inputs, but as the H600 raises the bar, you'll have to look for a very superior type of DAC to better it.


Hegel's RC10 system handset offers input, volume, mute and display adjust for the H600

 Fat Controller
Returning to Hegel's H600, au naturel, the fat, throbbing bass notes underpinning the analogue-sounding synth on Moderat's 'Bad Kingdom' [II, Monkeytown Records MTR035CD; 44.1kHz/16-bit] required it to make a bit more of an effort. But it's not just the power reserves on tap that impress while listening to this techno classic, there's also the exacting control the amp has over the proceedings. Most tracks on II are laidback in terms of tempo but feature taut, strictly defined beats. The H600 delivered it all with a punch as massive as you (and your speakers) can handle.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
There was very little wrong with the H590, but Hegel has still managed to create something even better. The resulting H600 is powerful on a scale you wouldn't expect from an integrated design, and has excellent streaming options and connectivity. This is a top performer, offering supreme control and an 'as-is' musical depiction that will let you savour everything your chosen loudspeakers have to offer.

Hegel Music Systems AS
Oslo, Norway
Supplied by: Auden Distribution Ltd, Lancs
+47 22 605660