Hegel H95 Network-Attached Amp Page 2

The H95 also offers 'wake on LAN', a neat touch allowing you to use Spotify or AirPlay from a portable device, so even when it's off the amp will come out of standby and start playing. It's a handy feature should you want to punt the output from, say, the BBC Sounds app running on your phone to the 'big system'.

Note, however, that Hegel doesn't have a dedicated app to play UPnP music to the H95 – nor indeed any of its amps. Instead it suggests Conversdigital's mconnect Player app as being the best choice for playing music from network stores to the amp. This app is available in a free 'Lite' version with ads, but the full version is hardly going to break the bank at $5.99, and mconnect also has the benefit of bringing with it Qobuz and Tidal access – subject to the user having the appropriate subscriptions, of course.

However, I also tried the H95 with a range of UPnP/DLNA control apps, including Linn's Kinsky, PlugPlayer and Bubble UPnP, and it seemed to work just fine. Yes, it's limited to 96kHz/24-bit when streaming via UPnP, but I get the feeling that'll be more than adequate for most listeners.

sqnote Real Snap
Having had extremely positive experiences with the 'big bruisers' of the Hegel integrated amplifier range, I approached this baby model with anticipation and trepidation. I hoped it would offer some of the magic of the H390, but was unsure how that would be possible at around a third of the price. I needn't have worried…

1120hegel.remStraight out of the blocks the Hegel H95 had my attention with the stripped-down instrumentation of The Steve Howe Trio's 'Fair Weather Friend' [New Frontier; Esoteric Antenna EANTCD1077], presenting the former Yes guitarist's instruments with real snap, son Dylan's drums with persuasive weight and drive, and revelling in the sound of Ross Stanley's Hammond.

Best of all, there's a completely smile-inducing sense of the musicians arrayed before the listener, especially with the H95 driving the equally magical Neat Iota Xplorer speakers [HFN Jul '18], with their ability to present a broad, high soundstage.

The amplifier instantly establishes itself as being controlled, detailed and refined, but at the same time entirely exuberant in the way it launches into music. For example with the Simphonie du Marais's period-instruments reading of Handel's Water Music & Royal Fireworks [Musiques à la Chabotterie 605017], directed by ensemble founder Hugo Reyne, the H95 sounds big and stately with the processional episodes. Moreover it also sounds fast and nimble with the dance tunes woven into the piece, all the while bringing out the wonderful character of all those contrabasses and hautbois, set in a rich, reverberant church acoustic that really gives the music space to expand and breathe. And that's especially so in the final section of the 'Fireworks', in which the instruments – augmented with drums – have remarkable presence.

Ready To Slam
So there I was, all ready to say, 'very good, though it lacks…', but that simply didn't happen. Switching to Sarah Willis's infectious Mozart y Mambo set [Alpha 578], on which the horn player is joined by the wonderful Havana Lyceum Orchestra, I was just as impressed by the scale and power of the orchestra in the more obviously Mozart tracks as I was by the lightness and fleetfooted rendition of the mambo ones. Yes, even with the massed horns of 'Qué rico el mambo' – and when the two collide in a mambo based on 'Eine Kleine Nachtmusik', the effect may cause purist jaws to drop, but delivered with the H95's brio and vitality, it's a total feelgood track.

With the somewhat bleak Americana of Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit's Reunions album [Southeastern Records SER992], with its reflections on the current uneasy times, the ability of the H95 to delve deep into harmonies and arrangements, making Isbell's vocals clear and forceful, while still be ready to slam when the band does, is effectively deployed. It's all about getting deep into the music, and that's just what this amplifier does.


And though one might expect this amp, with its comprehensive streaming capabilities, to have its competence slewed heavily in favour of music played in digitally, it's as impressive when fed via its analogue inputs. Yes, there's just the two of them, and as already mentioned the H95 forgoes the XLRs of its more upmarket brethren, but these analogue ins are no makeweight or a sop to 'legacy sources'.

Connecting my usual Naim network player to the analogue ins – and here we're talking a source playing through an amp less than a tenth of its price, the extra space, grunt and rhythmic acuity of the ND 555/555PS [HFN Apr '19] was clearly evident via the H95 – but the amp's onboard network facility wasn't that far off, and delivered similar qualities, just to a lesser extent. And considering all else this amp offers, that's pretty impressive.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
The Hegel success story continues with this entry-level amplifier, combining a streaming capability with the company's usual simplicity of design and superb sound. This isn't quite a giant-killer in the mould of the H390, but it's still a remarkable amplifier for the money, with power, poise and above all a hugely involving presentation. If your budget will only stretch this far, you will not be disappointed.

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