To Hans Wetzel,
Thank you for your well-thought-out and equally well-written reviews. I would like your take on some integrated amps.
First, I will give you a few details. I am using Bryston Middle T speakers and have an Apple MacBook Pro with Audirvana as a source running through a Chord Chordette Qute EX DAC. I listen to/enjoy all types of music, leaning mostly to rock, pop, jazz, blues, and some classical. I like to listen at loud levels; however, it’s mostly moderate and just above. Listening space is acoustically treated and approximately 14’x 20’.
I am enjoying the Hegel Music Systems H160 a lot. So if it wasn’t about cost, would you take the Hegel H160 or the H300? Also what do you think of the Naim Supernait 2 and the Moon by Simaudio Evolution 600i? Please keep in mind money is not THE most important factor. I imagine all of them are near the same price. I realize it is figurative, but I highly regard your experience and time spent evaluating these products. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Hans, and good day, sir!
That is a good position to be in, Brad! Of the two Hegel integrated amplifier-DACs you mention, I would take the H160. It is awfully close to the H300 in terms of transparency and resolving ability, for about $2000 less. You might also have interest in its native AirPlay functionality, which I found to be faultless. You should know, however, that Hegel is just now beginning to ship its replacement for the H300, the H360, which Doug Schneider recently wrote about on our sister-site SoundStage! Global, and which Philip Beaudette currently has in for review. It is a mere $200 more expensive than the outgoing H300, but is alleged to be a massive improvement over my old reference amp.
I can’t speak to the Naim integrated, but I do note that your Bryston speakers are 88dB efficient, and the Naim only puts out 80Wpc into 8 ohms. While that is certainly enough for moderately loud playback, with certain rock and classical pieces, you might find the Naim running out of steam during the most dynamic passages. I have only briefly heard the Moon Evolution 600i, but Philip Beaudette has gone on record -- albeit five years ago -- saying, “If audio reproduction gets any better than this, I haven’t heard it.” I spent time with the Canadian company’s less expensive Moon Neo 340i and found it to be excellent, so I have little doubt that the 600i is a top-flight integrated.
Overall, I’d say that Hegel’s new H360 and the Simaudio should be at the top of your list. Insofar as sub-$10,000 class-AB integrated amps go, they are likely the cream of the crop. . . . Hans Wetzel