Review: AVM Evolution SD 3.2 Streaming Preamplifier DAC
The market had been heating up recently with new products that cater to the music lover that is looking for a musical equivalent to a Swiss army knife. In other words, a single device that is compact, versatile, and has many useful functions. The Evolution SD 3.2, from high-end German manufacturer AVM, fits such a description.
AVM have a number of audio products grouped into three levels of increasing price and performance, Inspiration, Evolution and Ovation. The unit that I am reviewing is from the Evolution line. The SD 3.2 or ‘Streaming DAC’ 3.2, is effectively a preamplifier with flexible streaming capabilities and a high quality DAC built-in. The DAC has DSD support, a streaming client with support for web radio, Tidal lossless streaming, Network attached storage, USB playback along with two analogue line inputs and a high performance headphone amplifier. There is both wireless and wired LAN connectivity, trigger outputs and a one-touch update facility.
Whereas some of the earlier streamers had limitations on the formats and maximum resolutions that they operated with, the SD 3.2 features PCM digital signal processing with 192 kHz / 24 Bit capability as well as DSD to 2.8 MHz. It will happily play almost anything that you can throw at it, including MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG Vorbis, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, ALAC files and will support UPnP, and is also DLNA compatible. Please read the specifications and capabilities summary at the end of the review for a more comprehensive list of its abilities, as there are just too many to list here.
As the AVM SD 3.2 is effectively a preamplifier (with additional capabilities), it has both volume and source select controls on the front panel. It requires connection to a power amplifier, or alternatively it may be combined with active self-powered loudspeakers. It sells locally for $7587 RRP and is available in either silver or black, but a stunning optional chrome front lifts the price to $9091.
There is an optional RC9 remote control available that can control pretty much everything. It is wireless, but unlike infrared remotes, this one communicates via Wi-Fi, so it can be used anywhere in the home within range of your wireless router. It doesn’t come cheaply at $948 RRP but it is of high quality, has a handy color screen and is rechargeable within its own cradle.
The AVM SD 3.2 is a full width unit, and like all AVM products we’ve seen to date, has a very high quality level of fit and finish. AVM in typical Germanic fashion perform a battery of tests to ensure the absolute quality of their products. There are numerous stages of inspection and reliability tests to ensure that all units are perfect before finally being packed & shipped.
The CS 3.2 can be used via the front panel controls, a wireless remote control or via a smartphone or tablet. AVM have released a free application called RC S. It’s available for iOS and Android and helps to use and control a variety of intuitive features to get the most out of your network-enabled AVM device.
Starting his first audio consultancy business in the early ’80s whilst also working professionally in the electronics industry, Mark now splits his time between professional reviewing and AV consultancy.