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A window in the top jiggles the jollies of valve voyeurs. The output stage couples AVM 83T twin triodes, a special version of JJ's ECC83 built to tighter tolerances and available for €75/ea. only from AVM. The power supply for these tubes works at 300Hz to eliminate interference with the optional phono module. Which gets us to the 'fat end' of the combo, the SA8.2 Ovation power amp.

The technically most significant update over the prior version is the upgraded power supply to support 1.5 x as high class A bias – up to 24wpc into 8Ω or 12wpc into 4. As is well known, class A eliminates crossover distortion but counters with higher bias and thermal dissipation. A total of 24 power Mosfets with load lines similar to triodes are good for up to 180 amperes of peak current. A total of five power supplies handle the driver stage (2), current buffer (2) and processor plus standby circuit. That the two 1.000VA power toroids flanked by 200.000µF/ea for true dual mono operation are serious under heavy loads is signified also by the special 16A power cord included (normal cords are rated for 10A). Despite raised class A bias, high-current potential and a manly 220wpc rating into 8Ω, idle power consumption is a conservative 95 watts. Additionally the amp gets barely warm to the touch though I didn't exactly run rave orgies to stress it to the max. Inputs are on RCA and XLR.

Power up from standby is either manual or by signal-sensing auto switching. The latter is a bona fide option as mistriggers with quiet passages have been overcome. Even dalliances with other preamps like my Funk MTX caused no issues which of course also depends on speaker sensitivity, in my case 89dB Spendor SP100R². For owner's of the matching Ovation preamp an even more accurate trigger solution exists which runs digital steering data over the connecting cable and can even alter the display brightness of the power amp. Circuit traces for the amp are a butch 105µm copper with gold plating.

Green freaks could lower the energy consumption of the older SA8 down to below one third with an eco mode. The replacement model eliminates this feature and repurposes the associated button for display dim. Given that our tester isn't a real gas guzzler, has a flawless auto on and sounds good right away, the eco mode really wasn't essential. In the real world it's the between-listening idle periods which weigh on the environment and purse but which the SA8.2 limits to a minimum.

The defeatable vacuum-fluorescent display works as either constant VU or peak-hold meter. For most accurate display values the menu allows input of the speaker's impedance which has no effect on the sound. With decks from the same make one routinely identifies a house or family sound yet often also picks favorites from close relatives, i.e. either a pre or power amp. That's how I felt about my 2011 assignment of Audionet separates whose AMP monos have faithfully served me since in conjunction with a Funk MTX preamp. Without giving away the farm, I'll reveal at this juncture that I had a strong case of déjà vu because one of the two loaners hit my taste buds with such vigor that I was tempted to call it my new reference machine. But let's start at the beginning and backwards as it were - with the AVM Ovation SA8.2.