Barnstorming Hegel H600

The H600 is just now hitting the dealers in the UK and surprising quite a few of them with just how good it is. A replacement for the H590 it is quite difficult to explain just how good this amplifier is. When the H590 was released in 2018 it was new territory for Hegel. Now playing in a new area of the market it did a great job and showed that the brand can play at higher levels than the well loved H360. Then when H39o was released I was a bit troubled by some comments in the press about it being almost as good as the H590. Listening to the 2 models as the heart of a good revealing system proves what I always knew, the H590 was massively better than the H390. I get that a H390 might be all the amplifier you need, we must also remember very few people have bottomless pits of money so you get the best you can justify financially. However the “save your money and get the H390” narrative in some quarters was completely misguided in my opinion.

Having said how much I rated the H590 it was quite the surprise when I heard how much better the H600 is. Performance is way better than it’s price point suggests and I would not like to guess how much you would need to spend to equal it, let alone better it. I have yet to find a loudspeaker it does’t drive and grip, combine this with an ease of power delivery and an understanding of the subtle nuances of music performance rather than smacking you between the ears and you have a fabulous product. Barnstorming when needed, subtly beautiful when needed, and everything in between. Superb.

There a number of reviews around and the latest from the kind of sums up my thoughts.

If you want to audition the H600 or any other Hegel products the UK dealer list is here

My Audio Show Calendar

One aspect of being a high-end audio distributor is the visits to audio shows around the UK and in other countries. Following the end of the covid restrictions and the resumption of travel the number of such shows seems to have grown and it isn’t now possible to do them all. Given this year has seen me travel to the US for Axpona and Capital Audio Fest, to Munich for the high-end show, to Warsaw for the Audio show, as well as participating in some of the key UK shows it might be useful to give you my perspective on the various events. I will not mention them all and have not included dealer open days as there are too many to cover here although they are usually worth attending if you can. To clarify, my reasons for visiting these events is possibly different to yours as I am there to look for additional brands for the Auden Distribution profile, they also offer an opportunity to meet with existing partners. I haven’t done the Hong Kong show which I believe is also superb, so this is all about the western world.


In the UK Auden participates in 4 events, Bristol, Deluxe, NWAS, and the UK Hifi Show. Bristol is the longest running and one of, if not the most popular shows in the UK, it is very well attended and organised, gets good press coverage and there is plenty to see and hear for the visitors. The corridors can get crowded and the allocated bedrooms we use are small, but we always get a good sound. This year we won an award for most welcoming room, we are such a friendly bunch.


We don’t exhibit at the shows organised by the Chester Group, although they are well organised, well attended, and cover a broad range of suppliers. They are primarily selling shows and as Auden Distribution doesn’t sell to the public we don’t fit in as well as at other events. They are enjoyable shows to visit, and they are expanding to do a Heathrow event in 2024 so are still developing. They also have events in Australia and New York.


The UK Hifi Show at Ascot was in September, we showcased Hegel at this event, and it went down well. There were a lot of positive comments about our room and the event overall, it wasn’t perfect, but it will get better as the organisers, exhibitors and visitors get used to the spectacular venue.


The North West Audio Show, more commonly known simply as “Cranage” is held in June and has grown steadily since its inception in the 2010’s. The venue is high quality, and the event has a relaxed atmosphere. There is a good mix of sellers and exhibitors, and for a number of years now this has been our favourite event to participate in. We have a great room just beyond the bar which allows space for a nice big system to breath, and again we always get a good response from press and visitors. If you visit please don’t get too distracted by the bar, our room is well worth a visit.


In March 2023 a new event was launched, Audio Show Deluxe. It was held at Whittlebury Hall, a venue previously used by the Chester Group for some of their events. The concept is to allow us as distributors and manufacturers to showcase the upper end of our brands and produce a high quality environment for visitors to listen. To allow this the show is purposely limited in exhibitor numbers so you don’t need to rush round, and there are no small bedroom systems, the rooms are all a decent size. It was a good first event this year and a nicely different addition to the show calendar, I’m looking forward to the next one.


There are other events in the UK but these are the ones I have experienced.  We really enjoy both Cranage and Deluxe and both are worth travelling to. The Chester group shows and Bristol have different vibes but are also well established for a reason, they do a good job.


Outside the UK things get even more interesting. Not only do you have some cultural differences, but also some excellent brands that for some reason just haven’t transferred out of their own country.


April sees Axpona in Schaumburg, on the outskirts of Chicago. Probably the biggest event in the US audio show calendar, and as such, as a manufacturer or distributor if you were to do only one US show this would probably be it. The hotel is quite big and has lots of suites and syndicate rooms. The show utilises about 8 floors of the hotel, and you need a couple of days to see it all, probably 3. It is well attended, and the scale of the venue means it doesn’t feel crowded, although there is usually a queue for catering.


May is the time of year for the well established and perhaps most renowned show in our industry. High End Munich is where the business to business gets done, more so than any other event I have visited. Companies from all over the world exhibit here and we are all now well used to the huge venue. For a lot of brands this is where you release new products and meet with international distributors and sales teams. This is seen as the most important show in the calendar for many brands and is definitely a focal point for our industry. If you want to see and hear the biggest selection of brands, many showing new products, this is the one to go to. There is now also a growing off site event called HiFi Deluxe running in a Hotel nearby.


At the end of October there is the Audio Video Show in Warsaw, this has been going for many years and has now grown into a very significant event. It is held at the football stadium and 2 hotels in the city. The show is very well organised and is at a scale that will surprise you on your first visit. Unlike Munich this is very much consumer focussed, although I am sure business to business happens, this isn’t the primary objective of the event. It is a very enjoyable show to visit and always throws up something interesting and new to me.  This event is excellent and is probably my favourite of the ones we don’t exhibit at. Not because it is the biggest, not because it has the best sounding systems, (look to Auden Distribution at Cranage and Deluxe for that;-)), and other than the old town, Warsaw isn’t a pretty place. The reason I enjoy it so much, in addition to it being well organised, is the sheer joy of seeing families, couples, men and women, groups of young friends, all visiting the event purely because they want to enjoy music. It is the busiest show I visit, and it is impossible not to be impressed by the passion the Polish people have for listening to music, even some of the pedestrian crossings are music themed. From the UK it isn’t difficult to get to, fairly cheap while you are there, and I would say for audiophiles and music lovers it is well worth a visit.

The final show on my calendar is Capital Audio fest in early November. Held in Rockville Maryland on the outskirts of Washington it is smaller than the other US show on my list but still very interesting and usually showcases a different brand profile. The hotel is again pretty spacious so it doesn’t feel crowded even when it is busy. Whilst the bustling central area on the ground floor fills the needs of the vinyl junkies amongst you, the rest of the exhibition is in the function rooms and decent sized suites in the hotel. Different, but just as interesting and enjoyable as Axpona.


There are a few I have missed as I haven’t visited them yet, such as the Dutch Audio Event, The Oslo Audio Show, the iEar show in Tillburg, and the Black Box Audio Show in Athens.


Rather than adding links to each of the event websites I encourage you to have a look at the Hifi Pig Diary it is a great way to keep up with the ever growing number of events. 2024 sees even more events happening……..




Do we need specialist Hi-Fi stores?

Having spent many years in the Hi-fi business in various roles in retail, on the road as a manufacturer’s representative, and now with my own distribution company, I’ve seen much change in Hi-fi retailing. Manufacturers marketing and selling direct to the public, and the increased shift towards online purchases during recent CoVid19 restrictions has led some to once again sound the death knell of the more traditional specialist Hi-Fi retailer. I want to put the case for why we need them, along with the other routes to market. 

During those years in the business, I’ve demonstrated high quality audio products both in retail and then on the road and at shows for Mission, Tannoy, and now Amphion, Hegel and others within Auden Distribution. Loudspeakers are naturally the focus of attention in the system, when it sounds good, like it usually does, the loudspeakers are great, when it doesn’t sound to your liking, it’s the loudspeakers that aren’t good enough. It is natural to think this I suppose as this is where the audio emanates from and loudspeakers can make a huge difference to the character of the sound. These probably make it the most difficult choice when auditioning to upgrade your system so this is the category I’ll look at, but the same views apply in principle to most other Hi-fi purchases. 

There are of course several ways to go about getting information forming the decision and ultimately making the purchase. Direct purchase from the manufacturer, which is a growing channel, visiting one of the audio shows, or spending time with your audio retailer.  Direct from the manufacturer seems to me to be not ideal. Replacing an older loudspeaker with pretty much anything new in the right range will likely sound better. Great you might think, and I agree to an extent, but you haven’t had a chance to compare so how do you know you have made the best choice? Hi-fi Shows are pretty good for getting an idea of what is available and maybe making a shortlist, but again it can only ever be a guide. Reviews are part of the answer, indeed if you are buying direct they might be your only reference, we now have more “review” media than ever but reviews are by their nature the view of one person usually in one situation, so as valuable as they are, again they are a guide. So, what is the ideal? For most I would say read and watch reviews and visit shows if you can, it will give you a broad outline of what is available, then visit your hi-fi dealer. 

Which dealers do I suggest? How do you know a good one? I know the good ones from experience, but you can talk to the manufacturer, look at social media, and obviously the best guide is peer group recommendation. How do you know the dealer is giving honest advice and not forcing you down a particular road? Or are they in league with a manufacturer and getting a back hander for selling a specific brand? We are constantly told by the consumer press about those nasty retailers that we shouldn’t trust, but at some point you are going to have to accept the whole world isn’t trying to rip you off, and some retailers might  just be doing the right thing. That is the only way they will keep you as a customer and therefore stay in business. In our industry they have probably spent ages deciding which brands to work with based on what they believe to be the strongest offering in the various market sectors. This is not just about performance, they also need to know the backup is there if it is ever required, and they have the support in place from the supplier or distributor should they need it.  The best dealers also constantly question brands, especially when new products are released, and they don’t accept it is a good product based solely on the manufacturer’s other offerings. Just because a brand makes a star of a stand mount loudspeaker doesn’t mean their floor-standers will also be stellar. Being a distributor for various brands I like being challenged to prove the validity of my new products, it gives me confidence I am working with dealers that care about their customers and are not just after making a fast buck. For the customer, a good dealer does a lot of the initial spade work for you, and is constantly evaluating what they offer, they will let you listen to gear and then make suggestions based on your reactions, most will offer a home trial if it is appropriate.  

The CoVid19 restrictions have shown that business can be done remotely, but also the importance of the service and the face to face experience of visiting, discussing your requirements, and auditioning with the guidance of a good Hi-fi dealer. Representing brands via Auden Distribution I am very careful which retailers I work with, and together we want to give the best buying experience so you can be sure the retailer, manufacturer, and my company, all want to do the right thing for the customer. Not all our partners are traditional hi-fi stores in the way they operate as retailing is constantly evolving, but they all share similar customer focused values. Good business practice hasn’t changed and as with all the best companies they understand service for whichever route to market they utilise, be it in their store, showroom, or via their online shop. They help you make the best decisions, so you get the most enjoyment from your music as possible, and in the end that is what this is all about, enjoying your music.  

Please let me know if I can assist when you are considering any of the brands Auden Distribution represents, I’m happy to help if I can.