Hegel H190 integrated amplifier and Amphion Argon 7LS floorstanding loudspeakers

Integrated amplifiers
Amphion Argon 7LS,
Hegel Music Systems H190
Hegel H190 integrated amplifier and Amphion Argon 7LS floorstanding loudspeakers

We’ve put together a pairing for this review of the substantial yet understated Amphion Argon 7LS, floorstanding loudspeakers and the Hegel H190 integrated amplifier which, with its built-in DAC and generous 150W output offers pretty much all the connectivity, networking and system driving ability you could reasonably want. We’ve done it because Amphion and Hegel is a combination we’ve quite often seen at shows, or in dealer dem rooms, so we wondered why. Partly, it might be because both are available in a subtle soft white finish, so they tick that blond wood and white linen Scandi aesthetic box, but is there more to it than that? Is this a marriage of convenience, or a match made in heaven?

The H190 chosen here is the mid-point of the Hegel integrated amp range. It needs no introduction to Hi-Fi+ regulars, having been reviewed by JK in issue 156, so the interest here is in how it fares when partnered with the Amphion Argon 7LS, a middling-to-large sized floorstander at the top of Amphion’s Argon range. The Scandi-chic is more than skin deep: Amphion is Finnish, while Hegel is Norwegian. But it’s a different Norwegian to its compatriot, Electrocompaniet. While Electrocompaniet delivers on the hygge, Hegel is more about that image of clean-limbed freshness and vitality, as if Norway were a spotless toothpaste ad.

Amphion, by contrast, is a little harder to get to know. I suspect it suffers in a short dealer dem when put up against the typical reflex-ported loudspeakers we’re all familiar with. Amphion, perhaps because of its strong presence in the pro audio community, eschews ports and the Argon 7LS has instead a pair of ABRs on the rear, mirroring the d’Appolito configuration of the main drivers on the front panel. Initial impressions can be misleading, the Amphions sounding almost diffident, compared directly against a ported speaker with its free-breathing characteristics, but give them an hour or so, and they start to get under your skin. And once there, they’re not easy to forget.

And the reason for that is partly down to that lack of ports. Amphion contend that while ports may extend bass depth they also mess with its timing, and their thoughts are borne out by the listening experience. The Amphions exhibit a quite remarkable degree of bass control: deep, fast and tuneful, and gratifyingly tolerant of room placement. But the Amphions’ subtle beguilement is also probably down to the uncomplicated crossover design and its operating range which, at 1.6KHz, keeps the crossover point well below the frequencies the human ear is most sensitive to. The tweeter sits back from the front baffle, deep in a specially contoured waveguide for optimum dispersion. The net result is remarkably solid and stable imaging, and a somewhat wider than usual sweet spot. Coupled with the tolerance to room placement, this is a loudspeaker that probably deserves serious audition if you have a difficult or awkwardly-shaped listening room.

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