Howdy partners today’s Pass Labs Int-250 and Hegel H590 is a real WrestleMania main event style showcase that we have going on. A friend of mine was kind enough to let me check out a Hegel H590 in his store a while back so I have been putting it head-to-head with other high-end amps that are on the market. It is going up against a real contender today in the Pass Labs Int-250 which is held in very high regard. These are two very expensive amps and I am very excited to put these against each other to see which one I think is the best purpose.
I do have to warn you that the price category in this Pass Labs Int-250 and Hegel H590 is a real eye-opener! These are very, very expensive, we are talking five figures here for these if you were to pay RRP for these things!
Pass Labs Int-250:
The RRP for the Pass Labs Int-250 is $12,000! That is not a typo, by the way, I swear the first car that I had was a piece of garbage VW Polo and that did not even cost a grand! Pass-Labs are all about making high-end equipment and that is the reason for the large price tag here. I did shop around a bit online, but 99.99 percent of dealers that have this are asking the RRP or very close to it. At the time I was writing this, there was not a single one of these available on eBay!.
Expect to pay around $11,000, maybe closer to 10 if you are lucky if you want to buy a brand-new Hegel H590. This is a tad cheaper than the Pass Labs Int-205 and I have to say that I feel overall, you are getting more bang for your buck with this unit right here. It is not just cheaper, but it flat out does more. Plus, I have found a couple of these on eBay over the last month or so and they tend to go for the 7 to 8 grand mark, so there are deals to be found for this amp if you are willing to be patient.
The Verdict: There is no way that I cannot give the win in this round to the Hegel H590. When side by side with the Pass Labs Int-205 there is no comparison. I just feel that the H950 gives you way more value for your money and when you are spending this amount of money, you can to get as much value for your money as possible if you ask me!
We come to a round in this Pass Labs Int-205 and Hegel H950 contest that is going to be fiercely contested. These are two very different looking amps and that means it is probably going to come down to a personal preference kind of thing in regards to which one you like the best.
Pass Labs Int-205: I really like the retro vibe that the Pass Labs Int-250 has going on. The silver design of this thing is really cool and gives it such a striking kind of appearance. The dimensions of this are 19” x 21.25” x 9.1” so it is one hell of a large amp so space may be an issue for some people. One thing that I really do like about this is the sides and the top of the unit that gives the amp a kind of car engine style design that I think is awesome. It certainly makes it an amp that you will want to have out on display as it is a real showcase piece. It has a kind of boxy look to it which is something that I dig. In the middle, we have a really retro looking dial that has a NASA in the 70s look to it which I think is neat. There is a volume dial to the left of this and on the right, we have a neat little display. You then have a power button and four input buttons towards the bottom of the amp.
The back of the unit is pretty solid too. There are four-pre-amp inputs for you to play around with here. Each one is numbered so you know what device is what when it comes to pressing those input buttons on the front of the amp. This is an analog only amp so that will be something you have to keep in mind before throwing money down on this. The Pass Labs Int-250 also has a really solid remote control with it that feels great, fits in with the style of the amp and it gives you all the control you would want over the amp.
Hegel H590: The Hegel H590 is an amp that the more I looked at it the more I liked the design of it. I would suggest you look at some videos like this Hegel’s H590 makes the 1980s great again video here to get a closer look at the design of this thing.
This is a bit smaller than the Pass Labs offering, but it still comes in at 17.5” x 6.73” x 16.9” so it is going to need a fair bit of space in your entertainment center. The overall design of this thing is very modern looking. It is done in this sleek black style that usually reminds me of the 80s, but that is not the case here as it is far more contemporary in its design. The front of the amp is very, very cool looking. You have the display in the middle of the unit which is always something I like. On one side you have your input dial and on the other, you have your input selection. It is a very cool design and I even like those circular feet that it sits on.
On the back of the Hegel H590, you have a vast selection of inputs. What I like about this is that it is not just analog, this also has a DAC built in! I like that there are plenty of connection options, but I also like how they have made it as easy as possible to know what device is connected to what source. As there is a lack of buttons on the front of the amp, you will be controlling it all with your remote and the remote that comes with the Hegel H590 is truly awesome indeed!
The Verdict: Look, if you like the design of the Pass Labs Int-250 better, I am not going to argue with you. These are two very different looking devices and that makes comparing them hard. For me, the Hegel H590 is the winner here as the style of that amplifier just appeals to me a lot more. They both look great in their own way, but I had to pick a winner and that winner is the Hegel H590!
The main event of this Pass Labs Int-250 and Hegel H590 sees us looking at the sound these things offer. These both sound fantastic they really do. However, I am going to tell you right now, while I liked what I was hearing out of both of these, one of these was the clear winner of this round in my humble opinion.
Pass Labs Int-205: I was very impressed with the Pass Labs Int-250 the very first time I tested it out. Look at this Sound Demo: Pass Labs INT-250 and Dynaudio Heritage Special. and you will see why I and so many other people love what this amp can do.
I decided to go with a real favorite of mine to test this out at first and that was Poison’s Greatest Hits which I am kind of shocked at how much money this is going for these days. It sounded awesome, I went straight to Unskinny Bop and that epic intro got me grooving right away. I was impressed with the overall power that this provided and had I not been putting it head-to-head with the H590, I would have not had any issue. However, as much power and bass this provides your music, it is not quite as “deep” as what the Hegel is offering.
Of course, I tested many albums out with this thing including Dead Man’s Party by Oingo Boingo which is a band I have been a fan of since I was a kid. The fact that Danny Elfman was in this band is just so cool! Anyway, I found that fast paced music sounded great with this, so rich and so clear, it never skips a beat and I am sure you will be very happy with it. Also, thanks to Stranger Things my wife has been on a real Kate Bush kick so we also listened to Hounds of Love which has the song, Running Up That Hill on it and her vocals could not have been any more on point!
Hegel H590: When it comes to high-end amplifiers, I think I may have to put the Hegel H590 close to the top of the list of my personal favorite. To say that this thing is epic is a massive understatement. Not only does this work great for your record player, but this also has a DAC built in for digital music and you can even stream directly to it! This is a modern amp that does everything that you would want an amp to do. I took a couple of records to my buddy’s shop to test out, one of which was Iron Maiden: Live After Death one of my favorite albums of all time and an album I know every little sound of. This thing rocked and we cranked the hell out of that volume dial and what really blew me away was not just the raw power this thing offered, but how it was crystal clear no matter what volume you had it on.
For valentines day this year, my wife got me Gold Experience by Prince and I love this record. Prince has such a unique sound and this captures not just the music, but his vocals perfectly. I wish I actually had more time to play around with this thing as I would love to have listened to even more of my favorite albums on this. It just does everything you need an amp to do and it does it with real power and clarity. I just do not see anyone not being completely blown away by the sound that this amp produces. It truly is going to take your music to the next level.
The Verdict: I have to say that the Hegel H950 is the clear winner here. It has that built in DAC so you have more options with what you can connect to it. However, I think that the overall sound is more powerful and richer sounding than what the Pass Labs Int-250 is offering. There is nothing wrong with the sound that the Pass Labs Int-250 is giving you, but when side by side with the H950, I can tell a clear difference!
Which Is The Better Amplifier?
Thanks for coming on this journey with me today. I had a lot of fun playing with these amps and putting together this Pass Labs Int-250 and Hegel H590 contest. The first time I wrote about the Hegel H590, I really liked it. Now though I flat out love it! It is an amp that I feel I am going to appreciate more and more each time I get to talk about it. The Pass Labs Int-250 is a great amp too, but it has well and truly met its match here! The Hegel H590 wins this battle and it does it by winning every single round! Not only can you potentially get it for considerably cheaper, but it also has a built in DAC and the sound that it produces is better.