The Hegel room on the Irvine Hilton’s 5th floor was so packed that I was initially forced to sit outside the soundstage. While I feared that would leave me in no position to critically evaluate the system’s overall gestalt, eventually moving to the center enabled me to hear how solid the sound was.
At one point, the Hegel folks compared the sound of their H70 integrated amplifier’s built-in DAC, which offers no reclocking, to their new HD11 32-bit DAC with reclocking. There was no contest between them. The HD11’s reclocking rendered the sound far more three-dimensional and alive. “Reclocking lifts the music off the page, as it were,” I wrote in my notes. I also noted the remarkable clarity that Nordost’s Red Dawn cabling brought to the system.
Hegel designs everything from the ground up. They don’t do asynchronous. Nor do they do 192kHz, claiming, as does MBL, that what they have to go through to achieve the higher sample rate increases jitter and negates the benefits of the higher sampling rate.
Heard: the Hegel HD2 USB DAC ($350), HD11 DAC with S/PDIF & USB ($1200), HD20 DAC with S/PDIF & USB ($2000), and H70 integrated 70Wpc stereo amplifier with built-in USB and S/PDIF DAC ($1995). Speakers were the Amphion Argon 7L (approx. $6000/pair), and cabling, as mentioned above, was Nordost Red Dawn.