AVM Evolution SD 5.2 streaming DAC/preamp

Tubed preamplifiers,
Digital-to-analog converters,
Music servers and computer audio

This ‘digital hub’ aspect should not be downplayed. There are seven digital inputs on offer, here. They range from conventional S/PDIF optical and coaxial inputs, through AES/EBU, through to USB (Type A and B), and LAN/WLAN network connections. It can process virtually anything from MP3 up to 32bit/192kHz PCM and 2.8MHz DSD, is UPnP and DLNA compatible, and it can stream an internet radio source via vTuner. It has ‘on the fly’ switchable digital filtration. It even has tone controls and a decent Class A headphone amp. It also features the RC9 bi‑directional remote handset common to a number of systems (such as Cyrus and Electrocompaniet), but can be used with its own RC S app for iOS and Android.

The analogue side is well covered, too, as the DAC features the same line stage used on other Evolution devices. This means it features AVM’s own specially selected AVM 83T version of an ECC83 double-triodes in the line stage, with its own high voltage generator supply. The SD 5.2 has the option of balanced or single-ended output. We went the XLR route because it sounded moderately better, especially with the MA3.2S power amps. These deceptively powerful small boxes pump out an impressive 420W per channel, thanks in part to using switching (Class D) circuits. However, the company has chosen a more conventional power stage for the MA3.2S, with each one sporting a 750VA transformer and more than 50,000µF of reservoir capacitance.

Installation is (mostly) straightforward, with only pairing the RC 9 to the SD 5.2 requiring a cursory read of the manual. Paring requires you to fully power the SD 5.2 down, navigate to the pairing command on the handset, then power up the SD 5.2 as you press ‘pair’ on the handset. The rest is automatic.

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