As we look
about, I see us moving more and more too digital and wireless connectivity. As
an adjunct to this, there are Hi-End audio manufacturers making multi functional
components in ways not see before. Consider there are preamplifiers with both
analog and digital capability built into the same box. In addition, you can buy
cordless Wi-Fi speakers with built in digital power amplifiers.
In the future, I can imagine multi functional
audio components scaled down to the size of cigarette packs. More to the subject
you could purchase the AVM Inspiration C8. This 100 Watt per channel amplifier
has a stereo FM tuner along with a D to A processor and built in Phono Stage.
Obviously, there are now so many more choices available to people who want music
in their lives. Therefore, the question arises, does do everything Swiss Army
Knife audio components compromise the quality of audio?
However, I was listening to a separate Sangean HDT-1 FM digital radio through a device that had a Digital FM radio inside. The sound of both tuners was a match. Additionally I was playing my CD's piped into the C8 that had a fine digital 24-bit/192kHz A/D and D/A processor. Consider then that some other purchaser would most probably use the Inspiration C8 with his or her own components plugged into it. In addition, they would most likely get very different results. Had to admit that I was totally missing the point along with it the market segment the C8 would appeal too.
The compact C8 would fit quite nicely into any limited space. Alternatively, it could serve as a complete second system, possibly in a vacation home. Additionally I believe it would have a very high Wife Acceptance Factor. The Operating Instructions that comes with the C8 is a 21-page tome that describes not only the features and operational functions but also details of the circuit design. Included in the same publication are instructions that pertains to one other AVM component, the Evolution C9, but at this time it is not relevant. The C8 table of contents is divided into ten major chapters. Each chapter is further divided into sections that are sub titled. For example the first chapter is titled, Basic information. Following that are Sub Sections numbered 1.1 to 1.5 after that and within the same chapter we find additional sub sections 1.5.1 ending with 1.5.4 D/A conversion. The owner's manual is something that definitely needs to be read more than once.
The Manifold Box
However, the impossibility of assessing all of the possible component combinations still does not get me off the hook. At the very least, you should know what and where you can connect things in and out of this device. Following that old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words", I give you...
Operating Elements: Insperation C8 The numbers below mark the location of the panel control
The numbers below mark the location of the panel control
Front Panel beginning at
the left side
Note: In the list above the Multifunction buttons perform two, four or more tasks modifying the you source you have selected.
Rear Panel Connections
The Graphical User
Interface (GUI, Pronounced Gooey')
The functions are then selected using buttons (4, 5). The settings are entered using the <Value> buttons (7, 8). Scroll too Sensitivity, and choose either Local for cable or Distant for antenna. Move to Bandwidth, select either narrow or wide. Next, the RDS Display, select station identification, either Text or Frequency. Next, select tuner mode, Mono or Stereo, this has an effect on station threshold sensitivity. Next, Scan mode, choose either Auto or Manual. This function is like the radio in most automobiles. When you reach a favorite station you can place it in memory by hitting Enter. The radios memory allows you enter and hold five different station presets. A second tap on button #6 and you can return to normal operation.
Of course there are many more Custom choices and adjustments available. In this example, the adjustments still pertain to FM radio. There exists a Tone Control setting that can independently boost or lower treble and bass. Or you might opt to alter the tonal balance for all sources by selecting, the Global application. Additionally you can adjust the stereo balance between stereo speakers. Finally yet importantly, you can set a source loudness/gain value for any separate input but in this example it would be for the FM Radio. And finally you can use the preamplifier or the power amplifier sections separately
Small Nits .
The Dot Matrix front panel display consists of small blue
pixels on a darker background and even though the display contrast is adjustable
it is still difficult to see especially in daylight. It would be much easier to
read if the Matrix Display pixels were a bright white. On the crowded rear panel
the RCA jacks are spaced close together. Some interconnect cables with large
diameter RCA plugs may be a tight fit. One last consideration: The rear panel
connectors will only except speaker cables terminated with banana plugs.
. The Dot Matrix front panel display consists of small blue pixels on a darker background and even though the display contrast is adjustable it is still difficult to see especially in daylight. It would be much easier to read if the Matrix Display pixels were a bright white. On the crowded rear panel the RCA jacks are spaced close together. Some interconnect cables with large diameter RCA plugs may be a tight fit. One last consideration: The rear panel connectors will only except speaker cables terminated with banana plugs.
Aural Ear Full
Ok. I know that sounds like a no brainer, after all they all pass through some of the same amplifier circuits. However. in my experience with other combinational components this is not always the case. I should qualify that statement by saying; yes some tonal characteristic will usually imprint itself on the sound but not to the extent that it does with the C8.
The C8 Phono Stage
a& A State Of Mind
One of my really good vinyl recordings is, Another Page, Christopher Cross [Warner Brothers 9-23757-1]. Specifically the cut is All Right, an up-tempo studio recording with studio sound effects. It is as I said Crisp, clean and highly detailed. The detail was such that the treble frequencies seemed to float in the air just above the speakers adding an extra dimension to the performance. Next up a vintage recording, Judy Garland In Person, Live at Carnegie Hall, Recorded April 23, 1961 [Capitol Stereo ECS-40207-08]. Carnegie Hall has a subtle warm and intimate quality that envelopes the audience. And that is why this is one of my favorite vinyl recordings. My listening notes say: "Nice clear bass transients, good channel separation, positively even frequency response from top to bottom".
There are scholarly books written about the acoustic qualities of famous music halls. Many are scientific inquiries detailing the venues interior size and shape, materials absorption and reverberation time delays. One of these is Carnegie Hall I have listened to many performances there.
The C8 is modern technology imbued with lighting fast transient response. So what are your priorities? Are you still buying vinyl, maybe even some old vinyl, you could use the C8. So what is the greater market and whom would the C8 appeal to? Mostly everyone. What the Inspiration C8 does it does wonderfully well; I believe it is a forerunner of what is to come.
As Always, Semper Hi-Fi
Equipment Used During Review
Alternate Amplification: Sanders ESL Power Amplifier.
Speakers: Onix Rocket Strata Mini and Aurum Cantus Leisure 2 SE two-way monitors on 24-inch stands, Mark and Daniel Omni Harmonizers.
Speaker Cables: Kimber 12 TC
Interconnect Cables Nordost Red Dawn, 1 meter
Nordost Red Dawn, 1 meter
CD, Digital In/Out
Condensed Description High Power output stages 100W/channel @ 8 Ohms
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