|Hegel HD10 DAC Review|
|Home Theater Accessories Acoustics, EQ & Room Tuning|
|Written by Todd Whitesel|
|Monday, 25 January 2010|
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I'm pleased to see a number of high-end audio manufacturers designing equipment for computer audio use. Even more encouraging is watching a brand hitherto unavailable make its entry. Hegel (www.hegel.com) is a Norwegian hi-fi company whose products have recently been introduced into the United States thanks to the efforts of national sales manager Ben Gosvig, who runs the American operation from Fairfield, Iowa. Gosvig was kind enough to send two of the latest Hegel products for review: the HD10 DAC and H100 integrated amplifier (review coming soon).
Is it easy to operate? Absolutely. Setup is a breeze with the HD10. There are no downloads, drivers or software to install. Simply connect the DAC to your computer with a USB cable and you're nearly ready. All that's left is to select the DAC as the sound output from your system preferences/sound output option. On my Mac, the Hegel shows up as a second option, under the default output internal speakers, as “USB Audio DAC.” Once the USB option is selected, sound from games, movies, music, Internet radio, Youtube videos – basically any sound source that your computer can play – will be converted to a 24-bit/96kHz signal. If you connect the DAC to a CD player, it will upsample audio signals further, to 24-bit/192kHz. Using the HD10 is certainly easy, with one central button on the front panel controlling the unit. Push the button to select the desired input – indicated by a blue light - and that's the extent of operations. The HD10 also sports a pair digital inputs – one coaxial and one optical – and a pair of gold-plated RCA outputs and XLR balanced outputs. If connecting to an amplifier or other digital output, Hegel recommends using the balanced XLR outputs for best performance.
Long before the Scorpions rocked you or anyone else like a hurricane in the early 1980s, they released several solid albums that have continued to fly under the radar. My favorite among them is Fly To The Rainbow, a bluesy, soulful hard-rock platter from 1974 featuring the guitar genius of Uli Jon Roth, who had joined the band after fellow guitar god Michael Schenker flew off with UFO. What struck me most about hearing tunes such as “Fly People Fly” and “This Is My Song” was the depth and roundness of Roth's guitar sound and, again, the presence of Francis Buchholz's bass in the mix. Think of any Scorpions' song and it's unlikely the bass line will come to mind – probably because you rarely hear it. Not so with the Hegel. Check out Roth's blistering psychedelic lines as the last 90 seconds of the title track fades, and you'll believe.