In dynamic punch and contrast I felt the AVM CS 8.2 was slightly less impactful than the Pass X150.8 power amplifier. I also found the Pass had superior mid- and low-bass control, especially on the new Studio Electric FSX full-range loudspeaker. I noticed the same effect with my Spatial M3 Turbo SE loudspeakers, but to a lesser extent—the AVM produced a warmer, bigger, but less defined mid- and low-bass response.
The AVM CS 8.2’s headphone circuit has its own dedicated power amplifier that had no problems driving some of my harder-to-power ’phones. The HiFiMan HE1000 V2 had excellent dynamics and jump-factor, while only requiring a setting between 50 and 60 (out of 0 to 99) for normal listening levels. My hardest-to-drive headphones, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 600-ohm version, also had lots of headroom with similar output settings for a comfortable listening level. Sensitive in-ear monitors, such as the EarSonics S-EM9, did exhibit some low-level hiss through the CS 8.2’s headphone output, however.
Imaging specificity through the AVM 8.2’s headphone output was nuanced with a fine sense of spatial dimension and weight. While the CS 8.2’s image focus was not quite as precise as what I hear from the Sony TA-ZH1ES, it was certainly on a par with the headphone output of my regular recording rig, the Korg MR-1000. Bass extension through the AVM CS 8.2’s headphone output was excellent.
Obviously, I have the room and cables to handle an extensive multi-box audio system. Replacing all those boxes and wires with one AVM CS 8.2 was a refreshingly musical alternative experience. I found that when pitted against a separates system with approximately the same overall price tag the CS 8.2 can deliver equally impressive sound.
For me the one elephant in the room that kept staring me in the face and sideswiping me with its trunk was: “How does the AVM CS 6.2 compare with the AVM CS 8.2?” I have never heard the 6.2, so I am not qualified to answer that question. Since these two components are identical except for the tube linestage in the 8.2, the final decision between them is something that can only be made at an AVM dealer who has both units in stock.
My opinion of the CS 8.2 comes down to this: If I retired from audio reviewing tomorrow I would be happy to live with the AVM CS 8.2, but I’m a reviewer, so in a few days I will pack this wonderful piece of kit for a trip to the next audio show, where I’m sure it will be the belle of the ball.
Specs & Pricing
Type: All-in-one with DAC, streaming, CD drive, FM tuner
Tube complement: 803T tubes
Power output: 2 x 500W into 4 ohms
Analog inputs: One balanced XLR and one unbalanced RCA
Digital inputs: One coaxial SPDIF, two TosLink, one LAN, USB, Wi-Fi, CD changer
Supported media server: UPnP 1.1, UPnP-AV, and DLNA-compatible server, Microsoft Windows Media Connect Server (WMDRM 10), DLNA-compatible server (NAS)
Web radio: Airable Internet Radio Service
Digital signal processing: Up to 192kHz/24-bit (USB, 32-bit/384kHz)
Input impedance: 6.8k ohms
Outputs: One balanced, one unbalanced, one line-out
Streaming formats: MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG Vorbis, FLAC (192/32 via LAN), WAV (192/32 via LAN), AIFF (192/32 via LAN), ALAC (96/24 via LAN)
Supported streaming services: Tidal, Qobuz
Upsampling frequencies: Native, 44.1, 48, 88, 96, 176, 192kHz
Dimensions: 430mm x 130mm x 370mm (17" x 5.1" x 13")
Weight: 12kg (26 lbs.)