AVM Inspiration CS 2.3 All-In-One Solution

hfncommendedThe latest all-in-one compact Class D streaming system from the German company features an enhanced network audio platform – but that's only the start of its appeal

As the model designation suggests, this isn't the first all-in-one network audio system from German high-end company AVM. Replacing its existing Inspiration CS 2.2 model, the new Inspiration CS 2.3, selling for £5250 in black or silver finishes, with a chrome 'Cellini' finish available as a somewhat glitzy extra-cost option, is based around the company's latest streaming platform. Designated the 'X-Stream Engine', this is already used in the flagship Ovation CS 8.3 all-in-one system as well as various other network-capable components in the brand's extensive lineup.

With that upgrade comes a new control app, the AVM RC X, available for both Apple iOS and Android devices. In practice, it's best to resign yourself to app control of this system, as no conventional handset is supplied in the box. Instead, the company's IR/RF remote control, complete with recharging docking station is available as an optional extra, setting you back the better part of £500. Ouch.

Slick Operator
Yes, you can control the CS 2.3 using the display, but this isn't a full touchscreen device. Instead, up to four little white dots light up across the bottom of the panel which must be touched to make changes, all of which seems rather fiddly compared to the slick operation via its RC X app. Indeed, the new 'engine' and app is at the heart of turning the CS 2.2 into the 2.3 version we have here, the company saying that 'Simple, intuitive operation and a clear and beautifully designed user interface make managing even large music collections child's play'.


Two analogue line ins are joined by MM/MC phono (custom loading via adjacent RCAs) and digital in on wired/wireless LAN, BT, HDMI (ARC) and USB-A (for HDD connection). Digital in/out is available via coax/optical alongside fixed/variable preamp outs (RCAs) and a pair of 4mm speaker cable binding posts

As supplied, the system handles network audio, Bluetooth 4.2 and Apple AirPlay 2, and can stream from HighResAudio, Qobuz, Spotify and Tidal (with the appropriate subscriptions), and also Internet radio. We're also promised that this provision will be expanded – the unit can be upgraded via USB or 'over the air' via its network connection – and that Roon is on the way. As it is, the CS 2.3 will show up in Roon's list of available devices even though it hasn't yet completed certification.

A Real CD Player
The Inspiration CS 2.3 is comprehensively equipped and includes a slot-loading CD player using a dedicated Teac drive, not a more commonly used DVD-ROM computer part. And despite its relatively compact dimensions at just 34cm wide it's a true 'just add speakers' system, and one whose 140W-rated Class D amp modules are seemingly capable of driving a wide range of speakers.

It also has a comprehensive set of inputs, which isn't always a given with systems of this kind, including digital on HDMI for TV sound, while the analogue provision includes MM/MC phono, with impedance adjusted via a supplied set of plug-in adapters. There are also two line inputs, configurable in the menu-system to 'bypass' mode for use with home cinema processors, and as well as its speaker outputs the Inspiration CS 2.3 offers both fixed and preamp-level outputs. Yes, deep in the menus you can turn off the internal power amps should you wish at some stage to use this integrated solution purely as a preamp. There's also a headphone output on the front panel.


On the digital side, the new streaming engine has brought the CS 2.3's file-handling capability up to DSD128, and as well as the network audio connection – via Ethernet or Wi-Fi – there's also a USB-A port that'll accept audio on storage devices. A second USB-A is also fitted, but that's provided merely to power the 'base station' for the RC 9 handset if required.

'Conventional' digital inputs and outputs are provided on both optical and coaxial sockets, and the CS 2.3 can also be combined with other AVM products in multiroom mode. Also buried in the menu are a whole range of configuration options, including input sensitivity and renaming; the ability to skip unused inputs; start-up and maximum volume settings; tone control and parametric loudness, applied either globally or to individual inputs.

AVM Audio Video Manufaktur GmbH
Supplied by: The Professional Monitor Company Ltd
01767 686300