The AVM is harder to pin down, because it’s uniformly good, and the SD 5.2 hangs on to the concept that the best products shouldn’t have a sound. OK, so devices without character or flaw have never proved possible to date, and the AVM is no exception, but it both hides its limitations well and most are sins of omission. The sound lacks a little bit of ultimate transparency, especially on internet and streamed source, and especially when playing classical music. For example, Neeme Jarvi’s short-lived time with the Scottish National Orchestra in the late 1980s produced some fine work, including an excellent take on Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé suite [Chandos]. This is a recording that is highly polished and sparkles with energy and ambience. On the AVM it remains highly polished, but it’s as if some of the ‘sparkle’ is a little distant. It’s not ‘veiled’, though, and for a device that ticks so many boxes in every other direction, this should not be considered an impediment.
In truth, I’m more impressed by what it does so well instead, because there is so much good going on inside this AVM device. It does have excellent imagery, presenting an extremely three-dimensional soundstage. It does have oodles of detail, but in a coherent manner. It does that rooted-in-place solidity that many ‘next gen’ digital devices struggle with so much. It does have a projected vocal articulation that gives you a somewhere between ‘in the studio’ and ‘third row of the stalls’ presentation. It does have effortless dynamics and great musical flow. And it does have a good foot-tapping nature. All of these things can be found in exaggerated form in other devices, but few give you the full package in one. I found this worked even with resoundingly difficult tracks, like ‘Heaven, How Long’ from indietronica star East India Youth [ Total Strife Forever, Stolen ]. This can sound like someone worthy singing over a Tangerine Dream album (and later a Hawkwind track) if not well handled, and here it took on the sophistication and energy that’s buried in the track.
The AVM Evolution SD 5.2 is the perfect example of audio done right for 2015. It’s a fine replacement to about three or four separate devices in one simple box. It’s a joy to use, sounds excellent, and takes charge of all of your audio system as one, good sounding hub. Highly recommended, for today and tomorrow.
Preamp Input sensitivity: 20 mV to 350 mV (adjustable)
Input impedance (line): 10 kOhm
Frequency response: < 5 Hz - > 80 kHz, 30 Hz - > 20 kHz
TIM: 0.01% (mostly K2)
Sampling frequency: upsampling switchable up to 192 kHz / 24 Bit
DAC frequency range: <20 Hz – 20 / 80 kHz (depending on input sampling frequency)
Deemphasis: yes, automatic
Input format Dig in opt/coax S/PDIF: 33 kHz – 96 / 192 kHz
DSD (via USB): 16–24 Bit 64DSD (2,8 MHz)
Synchronous USB input: 48 kHz /16 Bit (no driver needed), 192 kHz / 24 Bit (driver needed for PC)
TIM (related to digital 0): 110 dB(A)
Streaming Formats Supported formats: MP3 , WMA, AAC, OGG Vorbis, FLAC (192 / 32 via LAN), WAV (192 / 32 via LAN), AIFF (192 / 32 via LAN), ALAC (96 / 24 via LAN) UPnP 1.1, UPnP-AV and DLNA compatible server, Microsoft Windows Media Connect Server (WMDRM 10)
DLNA compatible server: NA
Radio Database: vTuner (automatic updates)
Dimensions (W x H x D): 430 × 130 × 370 mm
Manufactured by: AVM
Distributed in the UK by: C-Tech Audio
Tel: +44(0)7738 714619