AVM Ovation A 6.2 ME integrated amplifier
During my 100 years on earth, I’ve owned mostly separate amps and preamps, but only because that is where I started—or I should say, that is where my audio-savvy friends directed me when I began asking for guidance. Nevertheless, the audio system I’ve used the longest (unchanged for almost 10 years) consisted of 1984 Rogers LS3/5a loudspeakers (15 ohms, with factory wall mounts) powered by a proletarian-looking Creek 4330 integrated amp sourced by an Oppo CD player.
If I weren’t an audio reviewer, I’d revert to my regular self and use the newest Gold Badge) Falcon LS3/5a with the best integrated amp I could afford. Why? Because I find the Zen-hut simplicity of integrated amplifiers appealing, and I like how integrated amps just sit there, all self-contained and one-box confident.
Lucky for me, in 2021, upmarket integrated amplifiers are the hot audiophile product. Which means I’ve been scouring the globe for interesting integrateds to audition. While I am excited by the prospects of new integrateds for review, I am disappointed by how similar most of them look. With few exceptions, they are big, heavy, shiny, and luxuriously finished, with, frequently, two disproportionately large knobs flanking a central blue-light display. These 2021 integrateds seem designed not for perfectionist audio racks or deep bookcase shelves but for the tops of French-polished living room or office bureaus.
The AVM Ovation A 6.2 ME integrated looks like it would fit in anywhere. It does have two big knobs and a blue-lit display, but it is not glitzy, bulky, or shiny. It looks expensive, and, at $8295, it is expensive, but it is also serious and intelligent-looking. It measures a modest 17″ wide, 13.8″ deep, and 5.1″ high and weighs a modest 42lb. It comes in a relatively understated black or silver satin-anodized aluminum case (with no screws showing on the front, top, or sides). Its display is unobtrusive and easy-to-read and illuminates an easy-to-navigate menu.
I was directed to this German-made amplifier by my old friend Bill Leebens, who is now working with Bluebird Music. Leebens said, “Herb, this AVM integrated has your name on it: It is simple, all-analog, and outputs a chunk of its power in class-A.” Bill knows I like integrated amplifiers to be real amplifiers—not feature-laden lifestyle products that try to be everything to everybody and become boat anchor irrelevancies in just a few years.
I asked Leebens to tell me about AVM, the company. “Audio Video Manufaktur GmbH was founded in 1986 and was purchased in 2010 by Udo Besser, who had been a co-owner and managing director at Burmester for 15 years and had arranged that company’s high-profile partnerships with Porsche and Mercedes.” Then Besser joined the conversation, adding, “The original founders are still working here, and I’m happy being able to gather for AVM the most top-notch engineers in Germany.” Plus, “[O]ur main suppliers are all here in the same village (Malsch) or less than a 15-minute drive away.”
AVM is not only old and well-established; it is a full-service audio manufacturer that makes phono stages, streamers, CD players, amplifiers, and preamplifiers.
The Ovation A 6.2 ME
A word about the product name (or number) is in order. If you look at the AVM website, you’ll see that the company has already released an Ovation A 6.3. It would be natural to assume that the A 6.2 ME is an older product, perhaps approaching the end of its lifespan. But you’d be wrong. The A 6.2 ME, a stripped-down, souped-up version of the A 6.2, was released in Europe in the fall of 2020 and only recently made its way to the US market.
According to the AVM website, the Ovation A 6.2 ME (Master Edition) features a DC-coupled input and a “class-A/AB”—apparently the AVM designation for class-AB—high-current MOSFET amplifier that is specified to output 180Wpc into 8 ohms and 300Wpc into 4 ohms. The class-A range has been extended: According to Besser, the A 6.2 ME “operates in class-A up to 5Wpc at 8 ohms and 10Wpc at 4 ohms.” With reasonably sensitive speakers, that’s plenty of watts for most music at normal listening levels. There’s a new 2kVA power-supply transformer for the main power supply; there are four power supplies total including separate supplies for the left- and right-channel input stages and for the processor circuitry. The ME sports a new headphone amplifier drawn from the 6.3 line.
The A 6.2 ME includes seven line-level inputs, five single-ended (RCA) and two balanced (XLR). The sensitivity of each line input may be adjusted between –9.5dB and +10dB via relays programed in the front-panel menu. There are two line-level outputs, one RCA and one XLR, which may be configured as fixed or variable. The 6.2’s menu offers a host of options that some audiophiles will find attractive including one called Set Tone Control, which, according to the owner’s manual, enables users to “individually adjust the bass or treble level of a certain sound source or lets you choose from a range of available loudness curves.” Preset tone-control choices may be retained then later bypassed or activated as the listener desires. Favored tone-control presets may be selected globally (for all inputs combined) or individually (for each separate input).
The Set Loudness menu option compensates for our ear’s relative insensitivity to bass and treble frequencies at low volumes. The 6.3 includes a “parametric loudness function” that increases bass and treble levels as the volume is lowered and decreases them as the volume is raised. Switching in the parametric loudness function further modifies any preselected Set Tone curves.
I tried all of these “Tone On” Vergnügungen, but all of the below-described listening was done with Tone and Loudness set to Linear and Bypassed. In the menu, there is also a Balance control that got left off of the slender “RC3” aluminum remote.
The big knob on the left selects one or another of the seven line-level inputs. The big volume knob on the right directs a volume control based on the Cirrus Logic CS3310 IC that raises or lowers volume in 256 steps. Cirrus calls it a “digital volume control,” presumably because it’s digitally controlled, but it works in the analog domain with an adjustable range of 127dB in 0.5dB steps, “achieved through 95.5dB of attenuation and 31.5dB of gain.”
To the left of the left knob is a small button that toggles power between On and Standby. (The main power switch is on the back.) To the right of the right knob is a ¼” headphone output jack. The Ovation A 6.2 ME arrived packed in a flight case that weighed almost half as much as the amp itself.
The first and last parts of my evaluative listening were done with the A 6.2 ME driving my Falcon Gold Badge LS3/5a loudspeakers full range and enhanced by KEF’s KC62 subwoofer connected from the A 6.2’s preamp output. My auditioning goal was to see how this made-in-Germany machine affected not only the sound of my system, but also my daily listening proclivities.
Published at Fri, 28 May 2021 16:29:01 +0000