Hegel H95 Network-Attached Amp

hfnoutstandingThe new entry-level model in the Norwegian company's amp range is a sensible mix of facilities and performance – or at least it would be, if the sound wasn't sensational!

Oslo-based Hegel has been enjoying something of a purple patch of late: not content with raising eyebrows with the sheer performance of its flagship H590 integrated amplifier [HFN Oct '18], it went on to get dangerously near that level with the much more affordable H390 model [HFN Aug '19], offering almost all of big brother's sound quality for not much more than half the price. Our HFN review concluded that it was 'sensationally good value, with a clean, powerful sound and bags of musicality, not to mention exceptional flexibility including onboard network streaming'. Unsurprisingly, it won the 2019-20 EISA Award for 'Best High-End Amplifier'.

Engine For Change
Now Hegel is tackling the other end of its product lineup, with a replacement for the entry-level H-Series model, the H90. The new H95 sells for £1500, making it a little more than the model it supersedes. The H90 was only launched three years ago, stepping up from the previous H90 by including Hegel's SoundEngine 2 regime, which uses local and adaptive feedforward – rather than global feedback – technology to tackle distortion within the amp stages. The design also promises a high damping factor, and even better speaker control, which has long been a Hegel strength.

Since the H90 was so fundamentally well-sorted, it may seem prudent to wonder why a replacement was needed so soon. The answer, as is usually the case with this enterprising manufacturer, is that nothing ever stands still. Since rolling out the H90, it has launched its H120 and H190 [HFN Jan '18] models – in addition to the aforementioned H590 and H390 – and realised the developments made for those models had something to offer lower down the range. Or, to put it rather more prosaically, the world of digital music keeps moving on and the H90's streaming and DAC implementations were beginning to look a bit long in the tooth.


With improvements to the company's UPnP streaming solution, the addition of Spotify Connect and a forthcoming update to bring them AirPlay 2 capability, the H120 and H190 were already way ahead of the H90, so those features have been carried over to the new H95, along with the latest menu system that allows for those all-important 'over the air' updates and the potential for future upgrades.

The network 'business end' of the H95 isn't quite the same as that offered further up the range, however. Something had to give in order to hit the intended price-point, so the new model lacks the extended 'custom installation' facilities of IP and Control4 remote operation, and neither will this model be upgradable to become a Roon endpoint. The RC10 remote handset provided with the H120 upwards is also missing – with H95 it's (perhaps appropriately) a £95 optional extra. Apart from changing the volume from a distance, you probably won't need it, but it's a reassuringly chunky metal-clad device nonetheless.

Flexible Friend
Building on the platform of the H90, Hegel's engineers have made only mild changes to the analogue section of the amplifier, with improvements to the power supplies, and also to the headphone output to reduce noise. The big change, however, is in the digital section here, which uses the same DAC as the H120 and H190. This is Hegel's in-house designed 'SynchroDAC' technology, using balanced signal processing throughout to, it claims, maintain dynamic range and reduce distortion.

So, the H95 may be the least powerful of the company's H-Series amps, being specified at 60W/8ohm rather than the 75W of the H120, and may have a slightly simplified network interface – at least in terms of capability – but that doesn't stop it being a rather flexible little amplifier.


As well as its network connection via Ethernet, it has an asynchronous USB-B input, three optical digital inputs and a single coaxial (RCA) input. The balanced analogue inputs found further up the range are also missing here, but the H95 has two sets of line-ins on RCAs, plus a pair for its variable preamp output, allowing the amp to be connected to an external power amplifier either for biamping suitable loudspeakers or to facilitate a future system upgrade.

Wake Up Call
Any of the inputs can also be configured as a 'bypass' – fixed-level inputs for use with an external surround processor – and it's also possible to set the maximum volume level for both the amplifier's main output and the headphone socket. Finally, via the optional remote control handset, the start-up volume can be set if required.

Hegel Music Systems AS
Oslo, Norway
Supplied by: Hegel Music Systems AS
+47 22 605660