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These two elements of mass and volume were confirmed on newer recordings where it is often becomes the difference between to be or not to be. The power region is an essential part of such music. Without it the sound becomes castrated and incomplete. I refer to things like Pink Floyd’s The Wall, George Michael’s Faith and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Different discs, different music but all sharing the same need of a clear bass pulse with cohesive connection to the midband.

I already mentioned vocals in the context of apparent volume. Performer placement will depend on the sound engineer and a given recording. When the voice is upfront as with Kay Starr and the rest of the band arrayed in a single line behind it, the voice moves a bit closer to slightly dominate the rest. When it is naturally more enveloped as on the other three discs mentioned, it gets less pronounced and placed slightly to the back but not too much. This is not an amplifier that will reproduce spatial depth in a pronounced way or beyond what's average in this price range. The fundamental proportions of the soundstage will be retained however and as such the recorded differences from disc to disc appreciated.

What seems more important is that the midrange is not shown as apart or separate from the bass. This amplifier presents the entire spectrum in a very even way. This isn’t synonymous with equally strong as I’ll explain in a moment but coherent. The upper bass is more energetic than the midrange itself and the treble is rounded and slightly warm—exactly as though from an EL34 amplifier—yet everything cooperates with each other for the greater good and does not stand out in isolation.

If in turn we sacrifice something, it is the sense that differentiation and detail of the H70 are not as high as with clean transparent amplifiers for comparable coin. This has to be taken into account when making your choice. It’s necessary to ask ourselves what we really want. If we prefer constant excitement about the events in front of us, when we want to hear exactly how things happen, we probably should look elsewhere. The Hegel is for people who like to sit in front of the loudspeakers like a cat: find a nice spot and purr to themselves. It’s for people who want to know what is happening, who care less about the process of how. Who don’t listen in a rush, who enjoy the awareness that nothing will escape them, that everything is theirs.

Prospective mates. This is why I clearly envision the type of loudspeaker the H70 should work best with (I wrote ‘should’ since everything will depend on a given room acoustics, personal tastes and expectations). On one hand these will be speakers like Xavian, which most formal presentations ought to be conducted with. These Czech loudspeakers with the Italian heart are very precise and splendidly balanced but sometimes simply scream out for something like the H70. I am sure that their creator Roberto Barletta listens to them and tunes them using this type of electronics. Or that this is the result he cares about.

On the other hand it is hard for me not to mention Harbeth with which the Hegel amplifier, just like Lavardin earlier, interfaced with ease. I would start with the tiny P3ESR. Here a strong bass foundation from the amplifier will inject new life which the speakers shall reward with precision and refinement. The H70 has very good pace, is very rhythmic and never loses color temperature even from pale club versions of, say Depeche Mode’s double maxi-single Fragile Tension & Hole to Feed. What I would avoid are clearly warm speakers as for example the previously reviewed Castle. This combination might get too syrupy.

How about sources? There are a few possibilities. When we think about a legacy CD player there are many possibilities with just one restriction. I would avoid warm sources that would otherwise do well for bright systems. Therefore the Xindak CD06 and similar decks are out. Decidedly lit-up players won’t be fully fitting either because although they would illuminate the treble a bit more, they’d also average out the things the Hegel excels at – the energy of the bass. So I would gravitate to CD players from Cambridge Audio, Cyrus, Music Hall et al. I don’t yet know Hegel’s own CD player. That combination is for you to evaluate.