The road to nirvana

My journey into Photography, Horology, and Audiophilia

2019 audio setup

Hi-resolution digital audio conundrum

At last year's November Hi-Fi Show I was an unsuspecting victim that led to my speaker upgrade and more (2018 audio setup) that I thought was my audio nirvana (again)?

But streaming capability is lacking and I miss what I can do with my Naim mu-so in the living room, so I embarked on a DIY streamer project based on the Raspberry Pi. This allowed me to enjoy Spotify Connect, streaming digital audio from my Synology NAS, and even CD playback, while my HD-750 continues to sputter every now and then.

With this augmentation to my Naim Nait 5i I should be content. Not. A brilliant idea pops up in my head, what if I buy a real streaming integrated amplifier? It should be simple, right? Not!

The columns in my spreadsheet continues to increase as I add potential candidates to this new project. It was an excruciating process...

Meanwhile, a shocking development was the untimely demise of my Dynavector 17D3 wherein one channel died (open) just a week or so after warranty considering all my other cartridges still work despite their years in service. I was told by the dealer that I can trade this in for the new Dynavector 17Dx, which I have to accept with a heavy heart.

Out of nowhere, an opportunity to be re-united with the Clearaudio Concerto (version 1) was handed to me on a platter and costs much less compared to the Dynavector trade-in and it is here, now.


Back to the streaming integrated amplifier. 

Value proposition

What you get with the Hegel H190 are:

  • 150 watts per channel in class AB
  • one (1) coaxial digital input with 24/192 resolution
  • three (3) optical digital input with 24/192 resolution
  • one (1) USB audio digital input with 24/96 resolution
  • one (1) LAN interface with 24/192 resolution
  • one (1) balanced analog input
  • two (2) unbalanced analog input with HT mode support
  • one (1) fixed level analog output
  • one (1) variable level analog output
  • one (1) headphone output

Streaming services I can use includes Spotify Connect, which is my primary subscription; Tidal, which is not available still in the Philippines; Qobuz, also not available. Using the network interface, the H190 becomes a uPnP renderer and Apple AirPlay receiver. While there is an effort to bring Roon and AirPlay 2 features into the H190, I won't be holding my breath as Hegel themselves admitted they bit more than they could chew with the Roon implementation. They also said that work on AirPlay 2 will only come after they've been certified by Roon.

The Dell Inspiron 5570 and Surface Pro 4 both have a problem with USB as the playback sputters. I initially thought it might be the H190 USB receiver but playback using the Raspberry Pi didn't manifest any issue, so it can't be the H190.

The 2019 iteration


The equipment:

  • Hegel H190 streaming integrated amplifier
  • KEF R300 bookshelf speakers
  • Clearaudio Performance DC 
    • Clearaudio TT3 tonearm  + Clearaudio Concerto (version 1)
    • Clearaudio Verify tonearm + Musashino-era Koetsu Black
    • Clearaudio Smart Power battery-based DC power supply
  • Gold Note PH-10 phono preamplifer
  • Harman Kardon HD-750 HDCD player
  • Naim Headline 2 headphone amplifier
  • Cables
    • IXOS 6003 Gamma Geometry speaker cable
    • Sonic Art interconnect
  • Software
    • Audirvana 3.x for PC and MacOS
    • mConnect for Android
    • Spotify for Android
    • Spotify for PC and MacOS