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AVM Ovation SA 6.2 stereo amplifier Review

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Rock solid amp

The Ovation SA 6.2, representative of AVM’s middle series between the compact all-in-one Inspiration series and the best-of-breed Evolution series, is smartly dressed in a smooth aluminum casing with five discreet unlabeled buttons residing beneath a generously sized screen featuring light blue LEDs. The Power button on the left side is offset by the Display button on the right side that allows dimming or turning off the display. The deeply engraved “AVM” logo appears on the face and in larger letters on the hood of the amp. Short and fairly thin heat sink fins protrude behind and to the limit of the extension of the faceplate. When picking up the units I noticed some slight ringing of the fins, like tuning forks, when my fingers brushed against them, though I suspect that in all but extreme situations, such as the amps placed nearby speakers and the system played at extremely high listening levels, there would be no mechanical noise potentially contributed to the amplifier’s sound. If the owner was bothered by it some form of dampening material could be laid atop the fins to ensure no vibrations emanated from them. I suspect that any such treatment would likely not pass my Law of Efficacy; i.e. it would not be worth the time and money invested.

As is sadly common in the audiophile amp world, wide and solid, but short (or thin) footers make it a problem to pick up amps. I do not have thick fingers, yet it was a chore to slide them under the fins of the SA 6.2 to lift the amp. If the amp spends any time sitting on a carpet, the difficulty in getting a grip on it is increased. One might think that the genius employed in producing high power amps in this day would include tall enough footers that owners wouldn’t pinch their fingers each time they move an amp. Lower profile seems to be the order of the day, damned the fingers getting mashed in placement. The good thing is that the fins are not a danger to one’s hands or legs, as they are machined smooth. A more positive observation is that when run hard the amp barely is warm to the touch, so I felt at liberty to stack two of them. Even so, you are urged to follow the company’s lead in whether that is advisable.

On the backside the amp is a lesson in ergonomic efficiency and clean design. Well labeled sets of four speaker posts each for Left and Right channels are in a mirror image configuration, the opposite of most amplifiers sold in North America, so the owner is warned to pay careful attention when making connections. I found no sonic degradation by selecting between the various posts offered when single wiring speakers. A pair of Single Ended (RCA; named “Cinch”) and Balanced (XLR) inputs are offered, as well as a USB “Update” port, the trigger for automatic operation with an AVM source and a red Phase light. One of the phase lights seemed to flicker upon startup and went out. That was the only operational glitch during the time of the review.

The five buttons under the display are grouped, the two left-most together, the middle button alone, and the two right-most together. Their functions are as follows: the left buttons control the display seen as < Item >, the center button operates as Menu/Exit, and the right buttons control the display as  < Value >. The owner pushes the corresponding buttons under the arrows to select forward or back options.

The Display function offers 75, 50 and 25% illumination, as well as the option to control it from the remote. The function “Bargraph & Value” allows viewing of the bargraph alone, the digital numeric indicators alone, or both. The third function offered is “Set Operating Mode,” which allows Permanent (key Power), Automatic, Trigger, or Remote. Perhaps the most critical function is the “Define Load Impedance” feature, which one can toggle between 8, 4, or 2 Ohm.


One amp versus two

In my reviews I have often referred to the use of a pair of amplifiers, as it is a favorite option when setting up systems. The Ovation SA 6.2 is suitable for use with electrostatic speakers, such as the Kingsound King III; however, it does much better if two amplifiers are employed. In this instance, since the amplifier is not bridgeable, I took advantage of driving only one channel of each amplifier for the speakers. To do so I merely fed each amp one interconnect, either left or right, and used the corresponding outputs to the appropriate speaker. Though the amps are a dual mono design I always use the same inputs and outputs on both amps to ensure consistency. While this was a bit of a less conventional way to do things the result was most gratifying, resulting in improvement of all the traditional parameters of good performance. Since there was no bridging involved the amp retained its pristine cleanness, but added robustness to the speakers’ performance. I recommend exploration of this in cases where a higher model amplifier is not readily available. In the case of the AVM amps, the model Ovation SA 8.2 brings more to the table, and yet it, too, may benefit from this duplication of amplifiers.


Compared to higher power Class D and lower powered Class A

I said at the onset that I would address the question of whether an amp such as the SA 6.2 is capable of much higher performance than more economical amplifiers. There are a lot of directions one can go with an amp, and I had on hand the Nelson Pass designed First Watt J2 amplifiers as well as a set of Red Dragon S500 class D and a four channel Legacy Audio Powerbloc4 to compare. The First Watt was not expected to be competitive in terms of grandeur and force with my speakers. It was quite a bit weaker in the bass than the SA 6.2. While the J2 is noted for its superb clarity I found the SA 6.2, while a bit less transparent, just as detailed. Not surprisingly, speakers such as the Vapor Audio Joule White were more laid back with the J2 amplifiers, but became aggressive and powerful with the SA .2. The output of the drivers took on a ferocity I do not often hear with dynamic speakers.

This intensity did not diminish my enjoyment of file playback through the Salk Audio StreamPlayer Gen III, whether playing ripped CDs or streaming audio via Roon and Tidal as the source. The airiness and expansiveness reminded me of the Pass Labs amplifiers I have used, but with a tighter and closer soundstage. I have been enjoying Candice Springs and Sara Jarosz lately, and while the J2 disembodied them to a degree, floating them disincarnate in space, the SA 6.2 grounded them more, placed them in a more corporeal fashion in the room.

For class D amplification, I not only compared the SA 6.2 to the Legacy Powerbloc 4 but also to a pair of Red Dragon S500. The Powerbloc4 uses the latest ICEpower module and the S500 uses the Pascal module. In both cases there were perceived shortcomings relative to the SA 6.2, which might be expected as both the Powerbloc4 and S500 amps, in achieving their four channels of power, are at the $3-4K price point, whereas the pair of SA 6.2 to accomplish its four channels sits at $20K.

Price aside, the Powerbloc4 was romantic, a thick and laid back sound akin to what is said of Vandersteen speakers; inoffensive but not forward. The S500, on the other hand, is more forward with a brighter aspect, but neither reached the retrieval of details, nor was as composed across a spectrum of gear as the SA 6.2. With the class D amps, when I placed them into a system I sensed I had a good starting point, but would have to tune the rig to have them perform at their best. Conversely, when I inserted the SA 6.2, the sound quality was such that I would be sorely tempted to not make a change at all. The impulse to be satisfied and let go of comparisons for improvement’s sake is the bane of the high performance audiophile. One does not achieve their best sound by getting complacent. However, the fact that I sensed there were no changes necessary shows the inherently refined sound quality contributed by the SA 6.2.

2 Responses to AVM Ovation SA 6.2 stereo amplifier Review

  1. Symphony says:

    Is AVM Ovation SA 6.2 a good match for Pure Audio project Quintet 15 OB speakers to enhance the scale of sound? Or it’s power is an overkill

  2. Symphony,
    God’s Peace,

    I do like the combination of higher power and more efficient speakers. It makes the speakers impactful, vibrant in a way that does not happen with lower power, tube or SS. I operate from the perspective that with clean power, more is always better. While speakers are often rated far lower in terms of power than what I use, I find that there is a lack of macrodynamic impact when using an amp much less than 100 wpc, and I usually seek a solid state amp of at least 200 wpc into 8 Ohms.

    I consider overkill in amp speaker matching to be when I paired 1,000 wpc with the Tannoy Glenair!
    The sense of sheer intensity of a combination like that is exhilarating! But, when you pair higher power and higher efficiency speakers, be prepared to perhaps hear more ambient noise in the background than when using lower power. If you insist on an absolute silence, then perhaps demo a higher powered amp before buying.

    I have enjoyed higher power with the PAP Trio15 Horn 1 Speakers, if that is helpful. More robust SS will most definitely improve the headroom and make the speakers sound more effortless and the soundstage more vast.

    Douglas Schroeder

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