Music comes in many forms and there are now more available audio formats than ever before. Hegel's focus since the start has been to push the envelope trying to achieve better and more natural sound with less distortion in all products. In recent years digital audio has been in constant development and Hegel has implemented new and innovative technologies to improve the sound quality from digital media. With the revival of vinyl, many of Hegel's customers, dealers, and distributors have also wanted something for the opposite end of the audiophile world and encouraged Norwegians to make a phono preamplifier.
For years they resisted, always prioritizing other products. Always with a heavy heart, because phono preamplifiers are something the company's chief designer, Bent Holter, was tinkering with for Hegel amplifiers all the way back in the mid-nineties. So, when the team finally decided to make one, Bent was very enthusiastic. The original plan was to start off with a relatively simple and inexpensive one, it seemed sensible to start small. The more Bent worked on it, the more fun he was having, and the bigger the project became. It was just too hard not to implement this great idea or that great idea, to quote Bent: "If you are not going to make it the right way, then why bother making it at all."
This enthusiasm was very infectious and spread throughout the company. Bent has as usual been at the helm with his knowledge and experience in analog audio, however, this project has been special and the V10 has been carried forward as a group effort, with input from the entire staff. With the V10 Hegel has not been copying old textbook solutions or using "off the shelf" circuitry. Using Hegel's know-how in state-of-the-art amplification design Norwegians have taken a theoretical approach right from the start. The V10 is pure Hegel, built from the ground up using modern, discrete amplification. The result is a phono stage with the sound signature you know from the company's amplifiers and DACs; detailed, dynamic, and neutral, with the kind of soundstage and imaging that only vinyl can produce. With a decent cartridge, the level of detail the V10 can extract from a good vinyl pressing is just breathtaking. The Hegel V10 is a brand-new take on an old technology. With 30 years' experience designing state-of-the-art discrete transistor circuits, Hegel has built a phono preamplifier like no other. It is neutral, dynamic, and exceptionally revealing. The team has used all its knowledge in amplification and applied it to one goal - To reach down into the record and reveal every bit of information.
Listening to vinyl is a tactile experience. You carefully open the album jacket, remove the record from the inner sleeve, inspect for dust or scratches, place it on the platter, and slowly let the needle drop to let the sound out. It is all about you and your music, selected for exactly this moment. With the V10 Hegel aims to make this special experience even better. Developed from the ground up and utilizing truly clever and unique technologies, the V10 will give you unprecedented transparency and soundscape - Making the music you hear as tangible and real as the record it is pressed into.
V10 is designed with the sole purpose of making your music sound as good as possible. The chassis is divided into two compartments, physically separating the power supplies from the sensitive amplification circuitry. There is simply no detectable interference between the two parts. For the best possible connection, Hegel has fitted the V10 with gold-plated terminals, balanced XLR outputs, and a solid custom grounding screw. On the all-important input stage, Norwegians have used ultra-low-noise discrete JFET transistors for both the Moving Magnet (MM) and Moving Coil (MC) input. Eliminating external noise is especially important when using sensitive low output MC cartridges. That is why the designers have fitted the MC input with four such transistors connected in parallel. Making the input completely silent and stopping any bias current feedback to the cartridge coil.
The input signal feeds into equally silent amplifier circuits, where both the MM and the MC gain stages use ultra-low-noise power supplies built with discrete bipolar transistors to keep the signal noise at a minimum. This ensures an extremely accurate amplification of the input signal coming from the turntable. And to make sure the V10 gets the best-operating conditions, it is supplied with a linear, low noise, analog AC-power supply. This features a large, custom design, E-core transformer, placed in its own housing to eliminate all possibility of interference. Out of the box the V10 is configured as an excellent plug and play MM preamplifier. For many, this is exactly what they want and need, but some want even more. That is why Hegel made the V10 highly optimizable, catering to individual preferences and requirements in setting up, the V10 can be adjusted for any MM and MC cartridge.
When using a MM cartridge, you can freely increase the Capacitance between 100 and 467 pF, and when using an MC cartridge, the impedance can be set freely between 33 and 550 ohms or fixed at 47 kohm. On both MM and MC, the gain can be increased by 5, 10 or 12 dB, matching the output of your other sources, the V10 even has a Subsonic Filter to remove unwanted low-frequency noise. And at the end of the night, when the listening session takes you way past bedtime and you forget to turn off the V10, the adjustable auto standby function does that for you. The V10 will begin shipping in February 2021 with an SRP of $1500/£1350. Info and photos by Hegel Music Systems.