The design has developed and grown from that beginning, improving the performance in areas of weakness, further evolving the technology that has always delivered its significant strengths – as well as adding a new twist in the shape of the ultra-quiet Lithos regulation circuitry. But one thing has remained constant throughout; the Evans phono-stages have always been relentlessly minimalist – until now. Whereas previous models have been factory set for gain and loading, the latest iteration finally makes available the option of user adjustable resistive and capacitive loading. But whilst that’s the most obvious difference compared to the standard Groove Plus, the SRX version delivers a more fundamental step change in performance. The X in the nomenclature refers to the parallel circuit board, e-X-ternal to the signal path, that incorporates the banks of dip-switches for nine different resistive and five different capacitive loads. The SR stands for “Super Resolution” and indicates possibly the biggest change to the overall circuit topology since day one, the development of new front-end circuitry that drops noise and distortion by over 50%. And let’s not forget that the standard Groove Plus was already pretty exemplary in that regard. But what’s more, by making these gains right at the start of the amplification chain, you get the benefits at each and every stage thereafter. As we shall see, the resulting increase in sound quality is far from subtle, easily maintaining the Groove’s place at hi-fi’s top table.
But there’s more good news for existing owners or potential purchasers. Both the SR and the X options are exactly that, meaning that the SR board can be added to any existing Groove Plus for a cost of £705, while the X board can be retrofitted to or specced for any Groove model at a price premium of £235.
There’s even a simplified version of the X board (offering only five discrete resistive loading values and no capacitive ones) for the various Micro-Grooves. Bought new, a fully loaded SRX costs £4400, as compared to £3800 for the Groove Plus, making this one of the more cost effective upgrades I’ve come across!