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Review: Hegel Röst

Test Hegel Röst

This week we tested the Hegel Röst network amplifier, a new version of the Hegel H80 MKII featuring audio streaming functions.

The Hegel Röst integrated amplifier is rated at 2×75 W into 8 Ohms and benefits from Hegel’s patented SoundEngine technology. This technology combines the advantages of a Class AB design with those of a Class A sound signature. In other words, a warm sound and a low distortion rate. Weighing in at 12 kg, the Hegel Röst amplifier features a generous toric transformer and is guaranteed to be able to drive floorstanders and demanding compact speakers regardless of their impedance. The Hegel Röst can actually handle speakers with an impedance rating as low as 2 Ohms. One of its main assets.

The Hegel Röst amplifier also benefits from DualAMP technology, which implies separate gain stages for tension and current. This design allows the use of specific components which can be fine-tuned. Moreover, these two gain stages use separate power supplies for optimal performance (DualPower technology).

Test Hegel Röst

The Hegel Röst network amplifier’s remote control.

Hegel Röst: Presentation

The Hegel Röst amplifier bears a striking resemblance to the Hegel H80 MKII. In other words, smooth lines and a no-frills design. The front panel features a monochromatic OLED display which indicates the selected source and sound level. Two smooth dials may be used to adjust the amplifier’s settings. The power switch is situated under the device, next to the front left corner. Once powered on, the Hegel Röst can be controlled using an IR remote control (perceptibly a weighted aluminum remote control). Most of the digital and analog inputs are situated along the back panel, while the headphone output (6.3 mm jack) is on the front panel.

Test Hegel Röst

Hegel Röst: 24-bits/192kHz DAC

The Hegel Röst features a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) compatible with PCM audio stream up to 24-bits and 192kHz. The user is presented with a selection of digital inputs: optical, RCA coaxial, USB type-B, and network. It is therefore possible to connect a CD player, an Ultra HD Blu-ray player or a computer. The USB port is linked to a Class 1 USB audio controller, which is completely plug and play with all operating systems. However, this choice imposes limits in terms of resolution since the transmission of PCM audio stream is limited to 24-bits and 96kHz. This isn’t much of a problem since most Hi-Res Audio albums are precisely coded in 24/96. But the rare 24/192 files on the market will be limited to 96kHz. Even more importantly, the USB controller is asynchronous in order to keep jitter as low as possible. In other words, digital audio data is transmitted from the computer to the Hegel Röst with outstanding precision.

Test Hegel Röst

The Hegel Röst amplifier features three analog stereo inputs, including one balanced XLR input. A stereo pre-out output is also available to connect a power amplifier.

Hegel Röst: AirPlay and DLNA streaming

The Hegel Röst amplifier features an Ethernet network controller compatible with the AirPlay and DLNA streaming protocols. If you’re wondering which streaming services are natively included, the simple answer is: none. Hegel decided not to jump on the bandwagon and didn’t develop a mobile app providing access to Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal. However, the manufacturer could have added Chromecast built-in technology, which grants access to all of these streaming services and many more. Nevertheless, it is possible to use a Google Chromecast or (even better) a separate network player connected to a digital input.

Test Hegel Röst

The Hegel Röst’s digital inputs.

If you own a Mac, iPhone, or iPad, the Hegel Röst is compatible with the AirPlay protocol and allows the amplifier to be used as a network sound card for CD-quality, lossless streaming: 16-bits / 44.1kHz. It is thus possible to listen to Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal, but not in Master quality.

For Android smartphone or tablet owners, streaming directly from online music services is not possible. However, it is possible to use the BubbleUPnP app, which is compatible with Qobuz and Internet radio, for example. In this case, the amplifier uses the DLNA protocol. Lossless playback of HD audio files stored in a smartphone or tablet’s internal memory is possible up to 24-bits/192 kHz. A smartphone can also be used to control the Hegel Röst as well as to listen to files shared via a DLNA server or local network (server software program on a computer, NAS, or set-top box). This method also permits HD audio playback. Finally, note that many smartphones come with a DLNA-compatible app pre-installed.

Test Hegel Röst

Hegel Röst: test conditions

We tested the Hegel Röst amplifier with different speakers, most notable of which were a pair of Jean-Marie Reynaud Lucia and a pair Focal Aria 906. We used Viard Audio Silver HD 12 and NorStone Skye MC cables to connect the speakers to the amplifier. Our audio sources included an Android smartphone (DLNA playback) and a Panasonic DMP-UB900 player that we connected via an analog input using the Viard Audio Premium HD RCA-RCA cable.

Test Hegel Röst

The power switch is situated underneath the Hegel Röst amplifier and is easy to access.

Test Hegel Röst

The Hegel Röst’s power switch.

Hegel Röst: listening impressions

Boasting the same amplification section as the Hegel H80 MKII, the Hegel Röst amplifier is on par with its predecessor. Perfectly at ease in the lows with low impedance ratings, the amplifier brings the Focal Aria 906 to life like few electronics can. The sound resolution is balanced from the lowest octaves to the highest. The way information is extracted from the medium range is outstanding, especially with vocals. Details, energy, and smoothness are intelligently combined. The high frequencies seem even smoother than they were with H80, with both analog and network (DLNA) sources. This characteristic is not incompatible with an energetic and well-textured restitution (the strings of the upright bass sound heavy but clear). Listening to jazz with the Röst is a delight as the amplifier puts the listener in a completely relaxed state with believable tones and lots of micro-information (brushes on the snare, sounds of breathing, etc.). Nevertheless, this amplifier is not a one-trick pony and is very versatile, pop music and rock were just as enjoyable. We listened to a few excerpts of movie soundtracks which confirmed the Röst’s ability to offer a realistic experience with any type of sound take.

Hegel Röst

The toric transformer can be seen through the vents of the Hegel Röst’s casing

Conclusions

What we liked: the dynamic restitution, the ability to drive demanding speakers, the handling of low frequencies, the sense of detail, the simplified user experience.
What we would have liked: a built-in Chromecast module.

The Hegel Röst is a convincing amplifier and a solid choice for large floorstanders (Klipsch RF-7 MKII, Jamo C109, Elipson Prestige 4i, Tannoy Revolution XT8F, Sonus Faber Chameleon T, Dali Opticon 8, Focal Aria 936). The network module allows for lossless transmission of HD audio files and quality decoding.

This post is also available in: French

About the author

Tristan Jacquel

Tristan est rédacteur chez Son-Vidéo.com. Passionné de musique, d'acoustique et de high-tech, il réalise notamment les tests matériels pour notre blog.

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