Decide between NuPrime IDA-8 and Hegel H80


Hello friends,

First post here, looking for unbiased advice!

My integrated DAC AMP died on me, and the local distributor is offering to import for me two models.

  1. NuPrime IDA-8
  2. Hegel H80

Unfortunately, none are locally in stock, so this is a 'deaf' purchase, I cannot listen to one or the other. I need to make an informed decision based on research and people's advice, nothing more.

So, I'm looking for precisely that: advice.

A bit of background if this helps in the decision making. The use scenario is this one:

  • Speakers are a pair of Totem Rainmakers, 4 Ohm, 30 -100 W, 87.5 dB/W/m bookshelves
  • Use is for music / tv listening
  • I will hook into it a RaspberryPi3 running Moode OS for Hi-Fi audio files and streaming from Spotify to the USB-B port
  • I will hook into it a Samsung TV via Optical Cable
  • I will hook into it an Apple Airport Express for multi-room listening (not often used) via optical or analog depending on optical input availability (IDA-8 would have to be analog)
  • The H80 could be brought directly, the IDA-8 needs to be imported, so the prices for both may be the same, so lets leave price out of the equation for now[/list]

As you can see, all my sources are digital, and here lies my main interest in asking these questions here.

Apparently according to reviews, specifically an answer here from the author of the review: http://blog.son-video.com/en/2015/12/review-nuprime-ida-8/comment-page-1/#comment-12008 , seem to suggest that the H80 has a much better analog input. I have no doubt this is probably true, as the IDA-8 analog in is digitized. In that way, the IDA-8 appears to be more of a DAC with a good amplifier. The H80 seems, on the other hand, to be more of an AMP with an integrated DAC, focus spent more on the AMP.

So, if my needs don't change, what would be my best pick?

Will the (apparently) better AMP on the H80 be hindered by the fact that the IDA-8 has an (apparently again) better DAC if all my inputs are digital?

I understand that, from a growth perspective, the H80 seems more future-proof friendly, as I can later down the road buy a much better standalone DAC and hook its analog outputs to the Hegel's better amplifier... the other way around is a bit more limited as I could not buy a better amp for the IDA-8 as it lacks good analog outputs to an external AMP. But lets assume I won't change my needs in quite a while.

What do you guys think? Is the H80 really a better sounding device? Have you tried both?

Thanks for any advice and be kind if I'm missing something obvious :). Thanks again,
Rafa.
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Hi - This response may be too late for you, please let me know if you've made a choice.
About a year ago, I was in a similar position and actually had both units in my system for comparison.
The speakers were Paradigm Prestige 95fs- large, very efficient, and detailed speakers.
My source was an inexpensive Marantz CD player feeding digital signals to both the coax and optical inputs of each amp for comparison.
The best price I found here in the US was $1760 (H-80) and $899 (IDA-8). So roughly twice as much for the Hegel. Both of these units were exceptional sounding, with plenty of power and dynamics. Both amps are strikingly detailed and open sounding. In fact in this regard, the Nuprime was slightly more detailed and open. The Hegel, though, seemed to have more body in the mids and was just a shade smoother, (in someways reminding me of my PrimaLuna tube amp).
Sonically, I doubt you would go wrong with either, the amps were more alike than different. Ultimately, Even with the price differential, I bought the Hegel.
I believe the Hegel sound was a little more forgiving with these particular speakers, ancillaries, and room.
The greater number of inputs/ connectedness was also a consideration
Digital
H-80 has 5 total; 2 coax, 2 toslink, 1 USB
IDA-8 has 3 total; 1 coax, 1 toslink, 1 USB
Analogue
H-80 has 3 total; 2 sets of single ended RCA, 1 set of balanced XLR, (I think this opens things up in particular)
IDA-8 has 1 set of single ended RCAs.
A scenario of connecting a turntable, (& phono preamp), to one set of RCAs, and a better DAC (as they continue to evolve) to the other set of RCAs, or the balanced XLR inputs, seems likely at some point.
Besides more flexible connectivity, for both digital and analogue, I am a little skittish about having so much packed into such a confined space in the Nuprime. The Hegel is, of course, larger, with a more open architecture for ventilation. Neither amp got very warm in my listening- it's just more reassuring to me to have air flow around internal components. This may be a speculative non-issue. The Nuprime is a digital amp, requiring less space & ventilation vs Hegel's unique approach to the AB amp. Undeniably,  the IDA-8 is a more compact less expensive amp, from an innovative, well regarded company.

@returntomusic,

Thanks for much for the input.  I couldn't agree more with your assessment of pros and cons.

I actually felt just like you about the inputs, the versatility, the worry about having "so much packed into such a confined space".  The future growth and versatility issues actually weighted much more than I initially gave them credit for.

So, in the end, I ended up splitting the DAC and AMP and purchasing the NuPrime ST-10 and the NuPrime DAC-10.  Both should be a step up in terms of future versatility and, hopefully, quality as well!

The final combined price was, locally, the same as I would have paid for the H-80.  So, while costing the same locally, I am hopping that the combined value of the ST-10 and DAC-10 are at least on-par (if not a little better?) than the H-80.

Also, if at some point I want to change to a newer DAC, I don't need to let go of a perfectly good AMP (or the other way around).

Thanks again! Best regards,
Rafa.