Hegel Reference H30A Reference power amplifier, P30A preamplifier, KEF Reference 5 Meta loudspeakers, and Nordost cabling

My first stop in the Munich High End venue's huge halls, or Halles, was a treat—and not only because the Hegel folks had a box of Norwegian chocolate hearts to taste. Hegel introduced a couple of new analog components, the Hegel Reference H30A Reference power amplifier and the P30A preamplifier, which supersedes the P30 preamp. Hegel CEO, founder, and lead designer Bent Holter (right) was on-hand along with Anders Ertzeid "VP of This and That" (aka VP Sales and Marketing, left) to share details. The amp and preamp are both analog designs—the A stands for analog.

The Hegel H30A power amplifier contains a completely redesigned input stage and voltage gain stage, Holter told me. It's a monophonic design, a pair of which can produce about 1100W, but an extra set of inputs allows it to be run as a stereo amp that outputs about 350Wpc. You might expect a bit more distortion in stereo mode, but Holter remarked that it's the good kind of distortion—like you might find in a tube amp. He mentioned that over the last four years he'd been looking for new types of FET devices that are as good as older ones but that are still in production. Resolution is reported to be increased.

Hegel's P30A preamplifier has been redesigned throughout, with a new gain stage and volume control approach. Holter said he'd found a "different solution" for the volume control. Details are proprietary, but in essence four potentiometers are used in parallel, and the volume dial's precise position gets digitized before the signal goes into the stepped analog volume control, he told me.

The new amp and preamp's machined aluminum chassis also received upgrades with a wide "V" shape on front. The MSRP is $8995 for the P30A preamplifier and $18,995 for the H30A. (They were connected to a pair of new KEF Blade 2 Meta loudspeakers, but unfortunately they weren’t being played while I was there, and I didn’t have a chance to return.)

The Hegel-KEF active setup in a mini living-room environment, complete with couch and rug, also drew attention: A small group gathered behind the couch we were sitting on to soak up sounds from a pair of KEF Reference 5 Meta speakers ($20,000/pair) connected to a Hegel H390 integrated amplifier ($6480)—the second from the top descendent of the H590 integrated—and a Hegel V10 phono stage ($1500), the company's first-ever phono preamp amplified the signal from a Reloop Turn5 turntable, which was fitted with an Ortofon Q Red cartridge and Hegel's own record mat (below). Nordost supplied all cabling.

Yes, I lugged a handful of LPs to Munich. Music was lively and punchy on the New Orleans-tinged "Wolf Eats Wolf" on Tony Allen's The Source. Brass timbre sounded natural, from tuba to trumpet. Rhythms and groove took center stage. Bass seemed pretty generous, even in that big open space.

Ortofan's picture

... a system using a turntable/tonearm/cartridge combo priced at about $1K with about $8K worth of amplification and a $20K pair of speakers?
At least someone upgraded the Turn-5's standard Ortofon 2M Red MM cartridge to the Quintet Red MC.

Julie Mullins's picture

I was told that this turntable was brought because it could be transported easily and without worry. A fair point, but until their V10 phono stage came out a couple years ago, Hegel had leaned more towards digital playback.

granosalis's picture

Article title is KEF Reference 5 Meta, while in the picture are Blade 2 Meta.

RonLev's picture

Personally, I don't know the necessity for a 1100 watt amp, let alone one that is "compromised" when adapted for 350 watt stereo output. How many speakers have impossible loads needing this output--and why should we buy them? It's more eco-responsible to select smaller and "greener" electronics for audio.