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Article: Hegel Music Systems HD12 DAC Review


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It's not made in Norway. It's made in China. (All Hegel products are made in China).

Hi Bloodhound - The product itself says Oslo, Norway without the words "Made In" and there are no markers on the product suggesting it's made elsewhere. I also passed this review by the guys from Hegel and they said it's factually correct. That said, I will look into this.

Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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These guys claim a noise floor of -145 db. That would make it the lowest noise audio DAC made I do believe.

 

Nice way to do a review Chris.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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The HD12 was connected directly to Pass Labs XA160.5 amplifiers without the use of a preamplifier.

 

Chris --

 

When in-use, is your Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC RS connected directly to your Pass Labs amp as well? In your system, and to your ears, do you generally prefer listening without a separate hardware preamp?

 

/Mikael

Source: Synology NAS > DIY Mediaserver • Software: JRiver MC29/O&O ShutUp10 Optical output: ASUS Xonar AE 24/192 • DAC/preamp: Blue Cheese Audio Roquefort Digital cross-over: Xilica XP-3060 • Speakers: Electro-Voice TS9040D LX (for active config.)  Subwoofers: 2 x MicroWrecker Tapped Horn • EV horns amp: MC² Audio T1500 • EV bass amp: MC² Audio T2000 • Subs amp: MC² Audio T2000 • EV horns cables: Mundorf silver/gold 1mm solid-core • IC: Mundorf silver/gold XLR/Mogami 2549 XLR/Cordial CMK Road 250 XLR • Subs and EV bass cable: Cordial CLS 425 • Power cables: 15AWG Solid-core wire w/IeGo pure copper plugs (DIY)

 

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Chris --

 

When in-use, is your Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC RS connected directly to your Pass Labs amp as well? In your system, and to your ears, do you generally prefer listening without a separate hardware preamp?

 

/Mikael

I use the Alpha DAC RS connected directly to the amps as well. I don't have a preference to go straight to the amps or use a preamp that holds with all hardware.

Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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I use the Alpha DAC RS connected directly to the amps as well. I don't have a preference to go straight to the amps or use a preamp that holds with all hardware.

 

But in your current system with the Alpha DAC RS (and, I gather, the Hegel DAC) I suppose the preferred configuration is sans preamp?

 

I'm not trying to arm wrestle you into a categorical and all-encompassing statement on a preferred non-preamp/preamp use. It's just refreshing to see you don't use one.

Source: Synology NAS > DIY Mediaserver • Software: JRiver MC29/O&O ShutUp10 Optical output: ASUS Xonar AE 24/192 • DAC/preamp: Blue Cheese Audio Roquefort Digital cross-over: Xilica XP-3060 • Speakers: Electro-Voice TS9040D LX (for active config.)  Subwoofers: 2 x MicroWrecker Tapped Horn • EV horns amp: MC² Audio T1500 • EV bass amp: MC² Audio T2000 • Subs amp: MC² Audio T2000 • EV horns cables: Mundorf silver/gold 1mm solid-core • IC: Mundorf silver/gold XLR/Mogami 2549 XLR/Cordial CMK Road 250 XLR • Subs and EV bass cable: Cordial CLS 425 • Power cables: 15AWG Solid-core wire w/IeGo pure copper plugs (DIY)

 

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But in your current system with the Alpha DAC RS (and, I gather, the Hegel DAC) I suppose the preferred configuration is sans preamp?

 

I'm not trying to arm wrestle you into a categorical and all-encompassing statement on a preferred non-preamp/preamp use. It's just refreshing to see you don't use one.

Definitely. No preamp with my current system.

Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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Definitely. No preamp with my current system.

 

Ok.

 

Why do think this is so - what "allows," so to speak, favorably for the non-use of a preamp in your set up as is, compared to other set ups/combinations you've used? Is the power amp a factor mostly a play here (i.e.: via input impedance/voltage gain) and how it matches with a variety of DAC's? Or do you think it's mostly about the sonic balance of, say, your amps and speakers and/or other components?

Source: Synology NAS > DIY Mediaserver • Software: JRiver MC29/O&O ShutUp10 Optical output: ASUS Xonar AE 24/192 • DAC/preamp: Blue Cheese Audio Roquefort Digital cross-over: Xilica XP-3060 • Speakers: Electro-Voice TS9040D LX (for active config.)  Subwoofers: 2 x MicroWrecker Tapped Horn • EV horns amp: MC² Audio T1500 • EV bass amp: MC² Audio T2000 • Subs amp: MC² Audio T2000 • EV horns cables: Mundorf silver/gold 1mm solid-core • IC: Mundorf silver/gold XLR/Mogami 2549 XLR/Cordial CMK Road 250 XLR • Subs and EV bass cable: Cordial CLS 425 • Power cables: 15AWG Solid-core wire w/IeGo pure copper plugs (DIY)

 

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Thanks for the review. A few questions:

1) How does it compare (sound wise) to the Hugo? Or newer 2Qute? (The latter will cost about $400 more.)

2) Is there a DAC that is 'better' in your opinion up to the $2K price point and below?

3) Have you auditioned the Hegel HD25 for about $1K more? How does the HD12 compare?

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Chris, FYI:

 

You state the AKM DAC chip used in the Hegel is also used in the TotalDAC. That is incorrect as all TotalDAC models are completely discrete R2R ladder DACs--no DAC chips.

 

Also, the Cmedia driver for OS X is for DoP as it still goes through CoreAudio. So DoP frame overhead is still there for MAc users.

The only ASIO driver for OS X right now is the one that exaSound designed for the USB core they programmed into the Xilinx Spartan FPGA in their DACs (and in turn that is supported on the Mac only with HQ Player and Decibel from Feisty Dog; maybe Jriver someday, but you'll have to ask Jim).

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This looks like an interesting piece of equipment. I have seen in some recent equipment reviews the suggestion that there is a "sweet spot" for DACs that play both PCM and DSD. You mention the file resolution of the Reference Recordings you auditioned the equipment with, what were the other types of files you auditioned with. Did you try any native DSD tracks?

Jim

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Bravo, not peeking at cost or whats inside is always the right way to start an audition. May I suggest that you actually need 3 points to map a trend? If you used a third DAC that was common in the market, it would be helpful for the 99% of readers that will never approach owning a $16K reference DAC. The market seems fairly crowded in the $1-2K price range... what remains unanswered is whether the Hegel is a standout at its price point or an also ran.

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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That was a nice review. And I find the changes you made in this review refreshing. :)

 

It seems AKM does not get much love in audiophile circles, Miska mentions them favorably though. There is always more to a DAC than just the convertor, but they often do have certain family similarities. I am picking up a Aune S16 which also uses AKM.

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Bravo, not peeking at cost or whats inside is always the right way to start an audition. May I suggest that you actually need 3 points to map a trend? If you used a third DAC that was common in the market, it would be helpful for the 99% of readers that will never approach owning a $16K reference DAC. The market seems fairly crowded in the $1-2K price range... what remains unanswered is whether the Hegel is a standout at its price point or an also ran.

 

This is an excellent suggestion moving forward.

 

Although no CASH designation probably means it is not a standout.

Samsung 2TB SSD external drive > Oppo 205 USB in > McIntosh C45 > Proceed AMP5 > Mirage HDT Speakers > Velodyne HGS15 Sub // Nordost Blue Heaven Cables, PS Audio Quintet, OWC 2TB Mercury Elite Pro Firewire

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This is an excellent suggestion moving forward.

 

Although no CASH designation probably means it is not a standout.

 

There are reviews out there. I saw one versus AMR DP-777 and Lampi Amber dac.

Google it for exact location.

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