What are you moving away from?
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The Hegel H160, is a superb sounding unit, with a superb DAC and has plenty of warmth (opinion by reviewers is it has Tube warmth while being SS). I have used mine with Focal Sopra No.2's and the combination is really nice.
The H160 has superb soundstaging, imaging and depth. Never analytical and very musical to me.
I can't comment on the others, try and bring one home for a week to demo. Synergy is critical. Some feel the Hegel is a bit too warm, not with my experience matched with the Sopras. I would bet it will be a great match to your Focals.
@toneranger58: Thanks for your reply Sir. I will demo it at home as per your advise. may I ask what speaker cables are you using? I think it would also depend on the kind of cables we use. thanks much for responding this is really helpful to me. Appreciate all your help sir :)
@czbbcl : Thank you Sir. I have read alot about pass but just havent come to a state to demo it. I have read some negative reviews about after sales service (if any needed) and that sort of pulled me back from trying them. What cables do you use along with your pass pre if you dont mind me asking? Thanks much for responding this is really helpful to me :) Appreciate all your help Sir.
@jafant: thanks :)
@all: Auditioned Hegel H160 and Plinius Hautonga today on a pair of technics floorstanders (new ones after its rebirth)
Hautonga by Plinius - Warm sound but relaxed with a decent sound stage
Hegel H160- just Gorgeous enough to make me smitten! slightly warm but open sound stage. Amazing highs (heard Adele's vocals for both and loved Hegel a bit more)
However the dealer did say YBA's are just fantastic (he just came back from the munich hifi meet) but again I dont have YBA's to audition :'(
I heard the Focal 1008Be paired with a Rogue Chronus Magnum at Stereotypes AV here in Portland - I'd spent a wonderful afternoon auditioning ARC Ref75 SE and Devialet D200 with Sopra No2's and Utopia Scala's and happened to spot this setup in their downstairs room. I was more than impressed. After hours listening to a high end system this rig blew me away, managing to capture 90% of the big system. Tone, dynamics, PRAT, and sheer musicality. Suffice to say, it's on the shopping list for my second system. Analysis Plus Oval Nine cables. It's one of very few systems I'd recommend without an audition - it's that good. The source was SimAudio's loweest level DAC and MIND.
The Focal speakers are going to be very fast and very bright/cold sounding. Not knowing all 3 of your options, I would tend to lean towards the warmth of the Marantz. I see you and one other love the Hegel. I would also consider a McIntosh integrated as you really need something to slow down the sound so that it plays well with the Focal (unless you really like that very fast/bright/crisp sound -- I have found over time that it is too much). The McIntosh will fill out the midrange body and midbass -- which is critical on your bookshelves where you will have no low end. It will also soften the high frequencies that can be so out of control with the Focals. My opinion on the Pass Labs is that it's going to be too strong and too "solid state" for the Focal speakers.
@auxinput: I was thinking of going with Marantz PM11S3 but then couldnt find it for demo. but your suggestions are spot on and very logically reasoned for something as bright as Focals :) thank you so much sir for that. But sadly I am reading your response after the hunt just ended.
Took my speakers for Hegel demo today. Connected them with H160 using Audioquest Go Four speaker cables. Sound was gorgeous and just slightly warm to neutral. Was tired hunting and demoing just paid up after an hour worth of demo :) will get it next week. the next dilemma is the cables.
Connected Audioquest Go4- open sound not muffled and just plainly beautiful
Connected Transparent Audio Super Music- slightly muffled sound. Not as open and transparent as Audioquest.
Any suggestions on cables friend?
Also for the CD player I was thinking to go Oppo BDP105. Any comments or suggestions on that ?
Again I would like to thank all of you for helping me through this journey of Amp-hunting :) I wouldnt have minded going for YBA but I guess they are just not present around in this area. But one of the reviewers I had read did mention Hegel is quite creamy and warmer like the YBAs.
Next stop - Speaker Cable hunting and CD player ;) thanks in advance for pitching in with the suggestions friends.
Note: Hegel did produce gorgeous punchy and tight bass. not too much not too less..just about right...
Congrats on the Hegel, I have enjoyed mine for many months and it sounds great with my Focal Sopra No.2's. It will take some time to break in and open up. You will notice the difference when you hit about 30 hours and it will keep getting better for a while. Also the Hegels (I have 2) really sing when they are warm and have been running at a decent volume for 30 minutes.
I have a few CD players, my most cost effective one, Marantz CD 5004, $350.00 new, gives my Reference CD player a real run for the money. The Marantz was my original CD player, when I got into this crazy fun hobby. I am glad I never sold it. It's not as good as my reference CD player but it is about 85% as good and really inexpensive. May not be what you are looking for, but at its low cost, you could spend more on nice cables. Also you can use the Marantz as a transport with the Hegel DAC.
The Hegel is exactly as you described, and very musical (engaging).
My Silnote cables are good band for the buck, sound very open, transparent, plenty of bottom and highs are very smooth. Also speed is strong no smearing, great soundstage, wide and deep. The brand is not common like Nordost, but it sounds every bit as good to me. I have met the owner/product engineer and he is very passionate about his products. The speaker cables showed very well at the recent AXPONA
Congrats on Hegel.
Actually, I was advised by the gentleman who is into HI FI already
40 years that the H160 have great synergy with the Focal speakers.
I went for the separates (tube Preamp. and SS Amp) and now I am
looking for the quality interconnects. Maybe I should listen his advice.
My speakers are 836W.
Replace any tweeter caps (probably 2) with Mundorf MKP's or Clarity ESA equivalents. A lot of that brightness comes from the bargain film caps they use. The Mundorf's in particular will help and bring out a lot of detail. ESA's have same detail, but less dark. This advice does not apply to the pricier Mundorfs, they go the other way.