AVM OVATION MA 8.2 Test HiFi Page: 1

by Alan Sircom
AVM Ovation PA8 preamp
and SA8.2 power amplifier
rom the outside, the AVM Ovation Series PA8 preamp and SA8.2
power amplifier look like any other big and beefy high-end duo, in
the manner of true Americana, but with a softly spoken German
accent. Appearances can be deceptive. This is an extremely flexible
and modular design, which pulls inspiration from the computer
industry every bit as much as it does from the best of audio. When you look
a little closer at the pair of AVM models presented here, you see the kind of
screwless polished and anodised aluminium case and build quality that looks
more like aircraft engineering than audio design. The fact AVM goes the extra
mile is evidenced by it even making its own valves – now that’s dedication.
The quality of the build paradoxically can work against a brand, because
it gives an impression of some big, faceless corporate entity. In fact, AVM is
more like a family business; it’s all about the sheer energy and love of music for
AVM’s owner Udo Besser, and new UK distributor Steve Woodard of C-Tech,
who has just joined the family. It’s a family with real engineering skills, though.
It’s rather hard to pin down the PA8 preamplifier, because of that design.
It’s built on a motherboard, with a series of daughter boards creating a wealth
of options. There are eight input and two output module cards, so you can
configure your PA8 with additional RCA or XLR line inputs, MM/MC phono
input, one of two DACs and an FM tuner with RDS, as well as an additional
tube single ended or tube XLR output. These
run alongside the bare-bones chassis of one
RCA and one XLR input and a combined
RCA/XLR output cards as standard.
The amp is comprehensively controlled
through a combination of hot keys and a pair
of volume and source selector dials. This is
all handled through a blue fluro display. The
preamp does take slightly longer than usual to
start (more accurately, boot up) as it needs to
run through each card slot to recognise and
handshake with a prospective new daughter,
and find out what it does for a living. Unless
you have a tube stage in the chain, this is still a