Hegel P30A/H30A Pre/Power Amplifier Page 2

Before this audition, I encountered the system a few times with KEF Blade One Meta floorstanders [HFN May '22], as there's a working relationship between Hegel and GP Acoustics in many countries. It's a match that seemed to work very well, although during testing I used Focal Sopra No2s [HFN Sep '15], which in my day-to-day set-up are connected to a Hegel Reference H590 [HFN Oct '18]. I left this – the company's top-flight integrated amp – in place, allowing comparisons to be made.

sqnote Charging Ahead
Although there's a big price gap between the H590 and the P30A/H30A, and they would seem to be aimed at very different audiences, there's an obvious performance strand running through them – a 'music-first' approach. In that sense, Hegel's new duo offers more of the same – well, very much more of the same – with no sign of a gaping performance chasm between the two. Yet, as hoped, the P30A and H30A showcase more control and refinement. The choice of DAC stage will impact the tonal character too, compared to the AKM-based converter in the H590, and with more challenging loudspeakers, the combo will charge ahead.


The H30A's wraparound bonnet secures a very sturdy alloy chassis while vents, above and below, ensure adequate air flow up through the internal heatsinking. Build is excellent

With Andrew Gourlay's Wagner: Parcifal Suite [Orchid Classics ORC100207; 96kHz/24-bit] the system impressed with a very natural, lifelike portrayal overflowing with detail. This collection of the music pieces from the German composer's magnum opus is thrilling stuff, especially if you don't have a spare four-and-a-half hours to listen to the full opera. Streaming from Roon through an Auralic Aries LE and Musical Fidelity M6x DAC [HFN Jul '22], the P30A/H30A embraced the wealth of information in these recordings. 'Act 3. Transformation Music' was an eye-opener, with the momentous, funereal progression building to a climax, church bells ringing and horns at full blast, then fading softly away. There's so much going on, both in terms of composition and dynamics, and it was all displayed on a grand scale.

Helicopter Heroics
This part was an exciting high point, as the rest of the suite is more subdued and romantic, favouring smaller details over melodrama. However, Gourlay isn't the first to let the music from Wagner speak on its own. The Ring: An Orchestra [Chandos CHSA 5060; 96kHz/24-bit], with Neeme Järvi conducting, was an earlier, more rousing attempt. Playing 'V. Die Walkuren', at high volume, which evokes pea-coloured helicopters instead of the intended warrioresses – cheers, Coppola – didn't strain the Hegel system one bit. The instrumentation sounded crystal-clear, from the attack of the horns to the sustained crash of the cymbals. It all felt very effortless, as if there were no limits.


Preamp [top] has two balanced (XLR) and three single-ended (RCA) ins, an HT 'direct', plus two (RCA) and one set of balanced (XLR) outputs. Power amp [below] has switchable RCA/XLR and bridged mono inputs, and 4mm speaker binding posts

Looking past the Sopra No2's own sound signature, the P30A/H30A made a striking show of rendering these recordings as they are, with only a fleeting touch of added colour. This is what the H30A, in particular, excels at: not over-embellishing, but letting excitement come from the music at hand. This might strike some listeners, used to amps that tend to embroider, as a bit dull at first, but to my mind there's more long-term joy in listening to music than to apparatus.

Folkesange [Relapse Records RR7426; 44.1kHz/16-bit], the last album from Danish performer Myrkur (née Amalie Bruun), combined traditional Scandinavian folk and instruments, such as the nyckelharpa, with more modern sounds. No challenge there for the P30A/H30A, with Bruun's singing on 'Ella' airily arranged on top of powerfully driven percussion. The preamp, helped along by the capable Musical Fidelity DAC, showed off its chops on the 'Leaves Of Yggdrasil', dextrously weaving the background choral singing with the main vocals, and the sparse piano notes with the strings.

Sheer Power
Myrkur's older M set [Relapse Records R7292; 44.1kHz/16-bit] has a different flavour, veering closer to black metal, and it presented the P30A/H30A with the challenge of reproducing guitar- and double bass-drum driven soundscapes upon which more delicate instruments float. That hard contrast between sheer power and subtlety is difficult to pull off, but again the P30A and H30A shrugged and took care of the job. The power chords on 'Hæven', the dramatic piano playing beneath the singing on 'Byssan Lull' – both are very different in character, but this Hegel combo has the capability to handle large orchestrations and more refined works with equal panache.


Alloy RC8 system remote control governs all Hegel components, providing, in this instance, access to the preamp's input, volume and mute

Twenty years ago, 'mathrock' outfit Cursive released their landmark Domestica album, a raw listening experience detailing the gradual breakup of singer Tim Kasher's marriage, with ultra-precise guitar riffs and drumming to turn up the intensity. Spinning the 2022 vinyl re-release [15 Passenger 15PR06], on a balanced Pro-Ject X2 B and Phono Box S3 B [HFN Sep '22], the Hegel amplifiers brought the drums into the room, with superb timing and incredible dynamic impact. Mathrock bands rarely sound as tight and in control on stage, making an excellent recording like this played on the P30A/H30A arguably the best way to enjoy it.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Embracing and extending this Norwegian brand's aesthetic minimalism and clear sound, the P30A and H30A (or two H30As if funds permit) form an impressive no-holds barred duo that marries a distaste for colouration to plentiful power and refinement. Leveraging a committed balanced design philosophy and Hegel's 'SoundEngine2', it's hard to imagine any loudspeakers this system can't drive to excellence.

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