Okay. But what's this got to do with today's amplifier? AVB allows one to connect various Ascendo amps or active speakers via Ethernet cabling in a home-theatre installation which are now perfectly time-sync'd. And of course one can stream music inside an AVB network. Mac users can even feed digital music directly to this amp because Apple support AVB. A Windows machine will require an AVB converter. But the AVB interface also allows a dealer to configure the DNA1000.2 amp in a customer's home. That's where for us audiophiles, things get interesting.

As to what else tucks inside the chassis, Stefan Köpf keeps stumm. For just the basics, this is a class D concept with two mono modules and an AD/DA input converter with DSP. A switch-mode supply each powers the digital signal processor and gain stages.

In stereo, the amp delivers 500wpc/4Ω which scales to 1'050w/4Ω in mono. For bi-amp scenarios with two amps, 'double mono' generates two 500-watt output signals from one input signal. Setting the desired operational mode happens inside Ascendo's UnosCreator software, wiring it up via the AVB sockets. With powerful DSP on board, that's not the end of it. DSP covers both room and crossover corrections. Already in standard stereo mode, a dealer can measure the client's room (a free service) to linearize the system response. In the majority of cases, that's about minimizing the effects of room modes. Channel imbalances from asymmetrical positioning can also be addressed and obviously applied to mono mode as well.

In 'double mono' aka bi-amp mode to steer bass and mid/treble paths separately, DSP can also correct the time domain, i.e. delay the 'faster' leg. Even the speaker's crossover function can be adjusted like increasing/decreasing its attenuation slopes. There's plenty of room for experiments. Once converted by the results, a listener might want to activate their passive boxes altogether. That would close the circle when these amps started life inside active speakers. Clearly today's demure black brick is rather more capable than it might look. On with the listening sessions.

To keep it simple, those kicked off in 'uncorrected' stereo mode where most would likely start. Stage two scaled up to dual mono, then invoked room/speaker correction to wrap it up. The Ascendo amp's tonal impression was very happy from the start. Whilst balanced and even, the midband was a tad exposed because from the presence region on up, things got mellower whereas the bass was as anchored, potent and juicy as one tends to hope for in this price range. The treble was milder, hence not explicit. I've then heard more energy in the 'air' range elsewhere but this didn't imply that the Ascendo acted hooded or polite. And of course I usually host bigger integrateds. When teamed up with the quicker Octave preamp, the Ascendo struck me as fresher/slimmer than the €8'000 McIntosh MA7200AC, slightly warmer than B.M.C.'s €6'000 CS3 and obviously warmer than the lean-ish €6'500 Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 600 to sketch out my personal map. If asked to select one frequency band which stood out, I'd look at the bass. It was obviously backed by copious power not in any excess but noteworthy for how easily it rolled off Laura Marling's "Soothing" from Semper Femina to then turn and push highly dynamic pressure waves into my room on the more brutal low-bass attacks of These New Puritans' "We want war" on Hidden. That was terrific fun! At the same time, it wasn't ultimately taut bass. I'd call it quite dry, not absolutely dry. If you mean to make out the most obscure structures in the true low-bass registers, experience insists that you'll need to look in a different price strata. In its class, the Ascendo cut a truly superb figure even way down deep.