Review: AVM PA 30.3 & AVM MA 30.3: “Power amplifiers are us” – this could be the claim of the Audio Video Manufaktur (AVM), which is celebrating its 35th birthday this year, without sounding any strange: After all, mono amplifiers (AVM M1) gave the engineers Günther Mania and Robert Winiarski in the 1980s -Years the decisive impetus for founding a company. The successful firsts were then replaced by the M3 at the beginning of the 90s, which were built in various stages of evolution for 20 years. Our current AVM-MA-30.3 duo comes from exactly this ancestral line – and therefore presents their 14th generation. And if the influence of Udo Besser – also an engineer and since 2010 owner and managing director of AVM – has driven the product range to a new variety and bloom: (End) amplifiers from AVM, also from the larger Ovation series
AVM MA 30.3: Technology of the mono power amplifier
I already quantified the performance of the AVM MA 30.3 above: The basis for this is a 550 VA toroidal transformerthat is in every single amp – and comes from China. Although AVM is proud to manufacture most of the components in its home town of Malsch and to achieve even greater vertical integration after the completion of an extension that is currently under construction, Udo Besser nevertheless sees this transformer as a highlight: not least, “the consistently high quality with high Numbers of pieces ”is currently hardly available anywhere else in this way. To spoil a bit: My sound impressions are anything but contradicting this statement with a view to the energetic load of what I heard. Despite the dirty network in Berlin, Trafobrumm also shines with its absence. Each toroidal transformer is flanked by two separate power supplies for the control and power department and a filter capacityof 40,000 µF. The load stability declared AVM the way up to under one ohm!
Wherever there is performance, safety must not be missing: the AVM MA 30.3 are equipped with protective circuits against stray DC voltage, excess temperature and overload (short circuit), including processor diagnostics and LEDs that indicate problems. I then simply tested the short-circuit resistance, for which purpose the music had to be turned a little louder with the loudspeaker plugs held together until it suddenly interrupted, it “clicks” at the same time and one of the LEDs on the back flashes into your conscience (see photo below). After switching off the amp and switching it on again after roughly a minute, the tormented MA 30.3 actually played as if nothing had happened. That’s how it should be.
Compared to the top lines of the house, the MA-30.3 amplifiers save on the housing, one of the parts of electronic components that laymen often underestimate in terms of effort or cost (this is more obvious with loudspeakers). Both the monos and the pre-stage are clad in a more pragmatic one-millimeter thick sheet steel housing, which is adorned with a six-millimeter aluminum front. The Minis prefer to borrow directly from the large AVM Ovation amplifiers in areas that are directly decisive for the sound: for example, the output stage, which has adopted the concept of the Mosfet circuit with mixed P and N types.
AVM PA30.3: Technology of the preamplifier
The preamplifier AVM PA30.3 also takes the older guys as a model, more precisely the AVM Evolution PA 3.2 – one of his “favorite pres in the range”, says Udo Besser: Basically, the PA 30.3 is an “almost complete revival of the PA 3.2 “, in which many features are already firmly integrated: The AVM PA30.3 comes with a DAC (Wolfson WM8741) and phono stage (MM / MC). In any case, more important than components – and this applies to every component – is the circuit layout as an actual freestyle, which AVM has continuously developed over the decades. Here you can fully exploit your experience. Good components are more of a duty: “All composers have the same notes, very few can write a symphony,” says the company boss. Yes, how-to fights material battles, that is also my experience.
So that we don’t stand out too philosophically, some down-to-earth information about grounding: The AVM PA30.3 takes digital data up to a sample rate of 192 kHz via S / PDIF-Cinch, and via Toslink up to the commonly used 96 kHz. Since the PA30.3 works without driver software, Windows users are unfortunately limited to its native resolution (96 kHz / 24 bit) with USB-B . If you want to do without cables or tap your smartphone quickly, you will be happy – the antenna reveals it – via the Bluetooth 4.2 interface of the PA 30.3
Analogous to the input and output side, cinch and – albeit the 30.3. All of them are not designed to be fully symmetrical, which would be pretty atypical for the price range – XLR ready. In addition, a phono part (MM / MC) is part of the on-board equipment: three pairs of resistance plugs (100, 200, 1000 ohms) in connection with a rear “load” interface ensure adaptation to MC systems (MM: 47 kilo ohms). Incidentally, the in-house AVM Cadenza systems require 100 or 200 ohms. Conceptually, the integrated phono part is borrowed from the stand-alone model AVM PH 30.3, which is “light, but really only slightly better” than the integrated phono branch of the PA 30.3, says Udo Besser, and the elimination of an additional cable connection has a positive effect on the sound a.
Not sound- but energy-relevant: The AVM PA30.3 comes with an automatic switch-off (which can be deactivated), which puts the monos into energy-saving slumber after 20 minutes without music. And that without additional connecting cables, but via cinch or XLR signal connection, the Malscher call it “AVM Intelligent Remote”. It is also praiseworthy that even the powerful monos only draw 25 watts of idle power each, which is a very frugal value for this device species . In the following, we don’t want to leave the AVM amplifier trio alone – let’s go to the listening course:
AVM MA 30.3 & AVM PA30.3: Sound test & comparisons
AVM MA 30.3: The monos in the sound check
“Two separate amps ensure maximum channel separation, especially in terms of spatial imaging, monos therefore show their advantages over stereo power amplifiers.” An opinion that I often hear. However, regularly not from the pending speakers. In any case, based on my experience, the fact that monos have systemic advantages when it comes to stage cannot be validly asserted. Which raises the question of why one should even rely on an additional, cost-driving housing in the still comparatively down-to-earth price range in which the AVM MA 30.3 romp.
Well, the AVM MA 30.3, which we want to listen to first – we then put the PA 30.3 to the test – give a, in my opinion, rather monotypical answer in this matter. Which is actually quite clear and impressive: Because whether I remember stereo power amplifiers like the Meridian 857 Reference or the Rotel Michi S5 or listen to my new (not yet fully established) Norma Revo 150 – with regard to control, jagged impulsiveness and ultimately precision in the In the bass range, the small AVM blocks actually have the edge and are more similar to my 600 watts at 8 ohms, which are several times more expensive Bryston 7B3 . Good for example with Noise Unitto hear – the dark-atmospheric to noisy album Response Frequency was the best of the Canadian industrial combo: And so the title “Feel the Anguish” has something subliminally eerie, but at the same time creates a counteracting fidgety the nervous, dense bass beat pattern. That is best served extra dry: only with low-frequency impulses that are beautifully perceptible in spite of their dense succession and at the same time quickly dancing, does the piece develop its special effect. And the AVM MA 30.3 really have the perfect impact on my eardrum.
Although you can do this very well with my Sehring S903 even at low levels, you also have no trouble driving the Berlin speakers, which are not exactly overly efficient, to thunderstorm party levels. Top! Compared to the AVM M30s that were tested over four years ago, I think that the current mini-monos have increased their bass boost again – without being too thick, of course. How do both amp versions go through as absolutely fat-free and neutral. Donating cozy warmth from below is apparently not the concern of AVM’s 30 line across generations.
In line with the bass, the AVM MA 30.3s are not romantics in the midrange and high range either, who seek to lull their owner’s auditory nerves with a lot of melting, lush, sonorous timbres or other caresses. No, there is no scratching here, there is an activating massage here. Let’s push “The Boy with the Beak” (album: If I had an Atlas ) to the combo Cats and Cats and Cats into the playlist: The percussion, reminiscent of an old grandfather clock that ticks too quickly, the plucked metal strings of the clean electric guitar including the transition to impulsive rocking chord sequences as well as the opposing voices of Ben George and Eve Morrison wandering through the stereo panorama bring the AVM MA 30.3 dynamic, highly accentuated, neutral in terms of sound engineering and unmistakably differentiated when it comes to resolution.
Without make-up? Yes, the English band brings a mix of folk and math rock that is worth listening to, exudes great creative energy and joy in playing, but has not produced the album overly audiophile, so that there is a certain rawness and tonally more presence than warmth. An unpolishedness that goes wonderfully with the music. And that transport the AVM MA 30.3 one-to-one. With my wonderfully pure Funk MTX at the front and my Sehring Audio S903 at the back , which is somewhat forgiving in the treble , the song actually unfolds the authentic atmosphere of a small club concert, even at high levels there is no trace of hearing stress.
Who wants more?
If you want it to be even more organic, you can, for example, use the stereo power amplifiers mentioned above, which are more or less casual in terms of bass definition and neutrality. The same applies to some of the larger amps from AVM’s Ovation line, such as the AVM Ovation SA 6.2 , which is deliberately tuned to be a touch warmer and more subdued.
Absolutely compliant with standards
When it comes to spatiality, I will be brief, as we also have the preliminary stage PA 30.3 in front of our chests – even if our colleague Jochen Reinecke, who is editing this report, will certainly complain again because his favorite criterion is neglected. The Malscher Minis are once again at eye level with the big boys: On the one hand, there is extremely good localization and structure, which are definitely promoted from a hearing-psychological perspective because, as described, fewer overtone clouds form around the tones: the resulting, increased blackness between the instruments the sound image generally appear a bit purer and tidier. On the other hand, the image is excellently detached from the loudspeakers and approaches the listener in an involved manner, whereby the instrument and stage size overall – now I’m writing like the radiologist again,
AVM PA 30.3 preamplifier in the sound check
The above sound descriptions via the AVM MA 30.3 are based on the playback using my radio MTX, which was connected to the mono via XLR. Next, let’s hear what happens when the AVM PA 30.3 pushes the MTX from its usual place in the rack and is also put on a leash analog via XLR. My Norma HS-DA1 PRE still serves as the DAC .
The PA 30.3 is no wimp – not least in this matter its relationship to the monos becomes clear: The guitar and hi-hat eighth notes, the snare set to every second quarter beat and the bass that starts in the intro of “Too real” by the young ones , Irish post-punker Fontaines DC are still perfectly controlled with clear, solid contours – also dynamic. Tonally, a clear similarity can also be seen, although there are differences in the details: Particularly with the hi-hat eighth notes, it is noticeable that the pre-stage does not quite have their shine, their metallic flashes, which the monos could actually process. Perhaps this trait is one of the reasons why the special energy of the monos is not fully exploited when it comes to the stage: Overall, the sound with the AVM PA 30.3 appears a bit flatter and smaller at the front. Yes, the PA 30.3 seem to tame the MA 30.3 a bit overall, to let out some air (ity).
USB – yeah!
Surprisingly, the digital control of the PA 30.3 (in my attempts via USB-B directly from my SOtM sMS-200ultra ) brings a little U- turn: airiness, stage and ultimately the pick-up factor of the music make a welcome leap forward. Another leap forward brings the cable back to my radio / Norma combination, but I still find the PA 30.3 sound to be adequate (my combination costs more than twice as much) for the playful, involved monos. Nevertheless – and this speaks again for the quality of the monos: The MA 30.3 scale wonderfully with high-quality feeders and can be astonishingly exhausted with a view of the price tag.
Ore-neutral, defined, powerful and fast – if you start to grin happily with such sound attributes, you run the risk of not getting out of the grin while listening to the MA 30.3. With a view to these criteria, the monos really do great things and serve as a benchmark even for significantly more expensive amps. The latter – such as the large amplifiers from AVM’s Ovation line – often offer a little more smoothness and the talent to pass through the very last ounce of ethereal overtone delicacy. Either way, the price-sound ratio of the MA 30.3 is excellent. One more note: I had the Monos with me for an above-average length of time, namely over three months, and I can only advise you to play them in extensively: Over time, the subtle-matter and the smoothness that benefits from it increase audibly,
The PA30.3 pre-stage is very well equipped, especially when you look at the comparatively narrow price tag. From XLR analog to phono (MM / MC) to Bluetooth, everything is included except for a streaming module. In terms of sound, I contrary to expectations like it even better with USB-B than with XLR, here it also matched perfectly with the monos, which in one way or another are even more scalable and as the fulcrum for experiments – even with more expensive preamps – are downright predestined.
Pre-amplifier AVM PA 30.3
- Category: transistor preamplifier with DAC and phono (MM / MC)
- Price: 1,995 euros
- Dimensions & weight: 430 mm x 110 mm x 345 mm (WxHxD), 7 kg
- Color: silver or black
- Inputs: digital: Bluetooth 4.2, S / PDIF-electrical (192 kHz / 24 bit), S / PDIF-optical (96 kHz / 24 bit) and USB-B (driverless), analog: 2 high level inputs RCA, 1 x XLR, Phono RCA
- Analog outputs: 1 x RCA, 1 x XLR, fixed out, 6.3 mm headphone jack
- Other: Aluminum remote control included
- Guarantee: 3 years upon registration
Power amplifier AVM MA 30.3
- Category: Mono power amplifier (transistor)
- Price: 3,595 euros / pair
- Dimensions & weight: 230 mm x 375 mm x 132 mm (WxHxD), 10.1 kg / piece
- Color: silver or black
- Inputs: XLR or RCA
- Outputs: each double speaker connection
- Output power per mono: 200 watts (8 Ω) / 300 watts (4 Ω), load stable up to <1 ohm
- Power consumption: approx. 25 watts in idle, standby: <1 watt
- Guarantee: 3 years upon registration