which amp for bedroom system with harbeth 7es-3 XD

I have enjoyed my Art Audio18W set amp in my bedroom for a long time but recently got the Harbeth 7es-3 XD and while excellent sonically do think a little more juice might be better still.  


This is for a bedroom system so dont want to spend big bucks so primarily considering the Rogue stereo 100 or the Benchmark AHB2.  I have the benchmark la4 and benchmark dac so leaning towards going all benchmark.  I can say that with my ZMF verite closed headphones I am quite happy with the dac and heaphone amp on the preamplifier.  So I am not considering an integrated amplifier nor a tube preamp.


I hesitate with the AHB2 only in that dont need nor would get subterranean bass with the Harbeth in bedroom so perhaps the Rogue would sound better in the midrange.  I do like Herb Reichert reviews and he suprisingly preferred the rogue in ultralinear mode with the smaller still Harbeth 30.2.  I listed to all types of music but want a vocals champ and certainly dont want an amplifier that is forward sounding (although that is hard to do with Harbeth).






if you haven’t heard a hegel amp do so before you buy. suffice to say i have not heard one that i liked the sound of, including the H190 driving the C7ES3 and the pairing was as soft as mashed potatoes.


That’s a good point. Despite the Hegel endorsement by the Harbeth designer, I don’t buy into it as his views on amplifiers before this have been rather controversial. I disregarded the Hegel as the looks and build quality of the amps don’t quite match up to my expectations. The sound was said to be neutral and on the soft side, so I’m not surprised that you find the combination to sound soft as mashed potatoes. Some folks prefer this sort of presentation though so to each his own. I always prefer a more upfront, vibrant and dynamic amp for Harbeth loudspeakers.

i am a big hegel fan, own/have owned many many of their units, up and down the line

one of my favorite ss amps of all time is the h20

hegel has an ultra clean low distortion sound, dead silent ink black background... there is zero introduced sibilance, grain or artificial high frequency emphasis typical of solid state modes of distortion that is the too-frequent achilles heel of so many solid state pretender high end amps ... as a result, the sound is very natural, very pure, very linear and the imaging, tone/timbre, instrument separation is absolutely wonderful

due to lack of artificial treble emphasis and superior damping factor, hegel’s midrange has a rich slightly warm texture and bass is deep, with slam, utterly well controlled - so in my view, the overall sound (and ability to drive tough loads) is in the same class as uber high end ss - such as ayre, pass, gryphon, boulder, coda, the best of classe, levinson, luxman...... yet at a notably lower price

something has to give, and that is that the gear is assembled in china, the styling is simply scandinavian plain/elegant and there is no bling... but what you get is truly top flight performance/sound and power at a significantly lower tier price

some will shy away due to sonic or aesthetic preferences, or perceived quality or other reasons, but this is my personal take on what hegel is/does, coming from having much experience with this and other brands

(no affiliation to hegel other than being a happy customer many times over)

@jjss49 Do you prefer Hegel 590 to a comparably priced tube amp with Harbeth 40 series (40.2 or 40.3)?

hi paul, most tube amps i have used seem to me to have too tubby bass when driving the big harbeths, i would say only audio research ref series tube amps (i have ref75 and ref110) approach the neighborhood of acceptability in that aspect... of course you do get a slightly sweeter treble and even more embodied voices etc from those tube amps, but i personally feel even with very good solid state (hegel, pass, ayre, primare, exposure, agd ... ) the mon 40 does voices and natural tone incredibly well already without tubes, and the hegel or similar ss amp driving the speaker preserves the midrange goodness while providing an enhanced sense of overall transparency, speed and transient clarity in the midbass down

as for the hegels, the h390 has a subtly softer touch to its treble, thus is a little more tube like (they voiced that model that way on purpose), while the 190 and 590 are very neutral/extended in the treble, airy, great sense of straight wire w gain, iron fist/velvet glove...


I trust your experience and advice.  I will have to keep that in mind if I ever feel the need to get a backup amp or replace my RM9 if it became irreparable.  Luxman 590axii is on my bucket list.