Review 432 EVO Master music server 2023-version: Battle for the best music server

Werner Ero | 11 december 2023 | Fotografie Werner Ero | 432 EVO


The EVO Master comes close to the weightless quality of electrostatic or magnetostatic speakers. It is therefore anything but a heavy or exaggerated presentation, which also makes it a unique offering within an already strong field of players.


  • Beautifully transparent, almost "electrostatic" playback
  • Soundstage extremely decoupled from the speakers
  • Very relaxed, natural playback
  • The 432 EVO Master is also a Roon core
  • Significantly improved design due to the new updates
  • Many options to tweak the playback to your liking
  • Very good support from the manufacturer
  • You are not locked into Roon


  • Still a little bit "nice" character
  • Despite the improved bass, there are still competitors who go a little bit further in this regard
  • The Music Server has a separate power supply which takes a little bit more space

Those who recently visited the Dutch Audio Event show in Veldhoven, will surely have been impressed by the enermous number of brands. Not surprising when you can enjoy the most diverse audio offerings at more than 120 locations within the enormous complex. From very small, pure systems driven by a tube amplifier, to cost no object setups where the sky is the limit.

Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie

Within this total offer, every year former ICT-specialist Frederic Van den Poel takes a very special place. At the show, the 432 EVO Master flagship music server was playing in room 59. Joining the impressively large Amphion Krypton 3x speakers and thoroughbred Vitus SS-025 amplifier, the very high qualities were immediately noticeable to everyone. It further confirmed my previous and recent experiences with the beautiful 432 EVO top model.

432 EVO

Let me start this test with the remark that I find 432 EVO founder and owner Frederic Van den Poel to be one of the most special people I know in the industry. In addition to being kind and pleasantly stubborn, he is also a fanatic when it comes to his products. It goes too far to say that these self-made music servers shape his life (in his spare time he can also be found outdoors hiking or on his MTB, among other things). But as soon as he starts working on it again, he won't rest until he has squeezed the last bit of quality out of his concept. I deliberately use the word “again”, because technology and insights are constantly changing.

As a result, the 432 EVO music servers are frequently updated. It is nice for buyers that many of these updates are software based and available to all customers. Even better is that Frederic can also bring the previous EVO Master servers to the latest state of technology for a very reasonable fee. Due to advancing insight and hardware technical improvements, so many small things have now been improved that together they represent such a big step forward, that a new test is justified.

432 EVO Master

Besides the reviewed Master, the 432 EVO product line-up also includes the Standard, an entry level model with 2 TB SSD storage and internal rip facility, and the HIGH-END and AEON models.

Both HIGH-END and AEON share features with the Master but instead of a dedicated custom true triple linear power supply, they both use a stack of two Sbooster BOtW mk2 linear power supplies. One for the server parts, and one for the dedicated USB audio board / clock.

The AEON has a dedicated superclock (a separate PCB), while the HIGH-END has an integrated clock on the dedicated USB-audio board. When we move on to the Master, obviously Frederic sees this as a best-in-class music server. The device, housed into two chassis, has a neat, strikingly slim and sleek look, with a lot of work done under the hood to turn it into a super music server.

A custom modified realtime Linux OS is used for all 432 EVO models, which has been further refined and tuned forever by 432 EVO's designer Frederic Van den Poel. Just as with my initial test in 2021, the 432 EVO Master still consists of two separate slimline chassis. The first chassis which contains the music server hardware can be recognized by the optical CD slot, with a Teac CD only drive mounted behind the frontpanel. Furthermore a modern quad core CPU with 8 GB RAM is still used. To obtain the great audio performance of the 432 EVO Master, the audio decoding happens on a dedicated CPU core which has been freed from any other tasks. It runs on a custom process scheduler to lower software jitter, by significantly reducing process switching, a process which normally happens 1000 times per second. As finishing touch critical parts are decoupled from the chassis and even the smallest piece of internal wiring receives the same fanatical attention to detail.

Linear power supply

The other housing still contains the very extensive power supply, which is equipped with three 'real' linear toroidal power transformers that are specifically tailored to the relevant country. As a result, these are free from any hum or other disturbing noises, and any warmup of the chassis.

The group of smaller transformers is very efficient at dealing with very fast transients. They recover faster and independent of the current power demand, and are truly independent. This has a remarkably positive result on the playback resulting in blacker backgrounds, elimination of noise and cross-contamination between the individual power rails and digital circuits. Housed in a dedicated chassis which perfectly matches the server unit, it is both silent and generates virtually no heat.

Changes between the 2021 and 2023 version

Before I finish the theoretical section with naming the changes applied to the 2021 model, it is noteworthy that all 432 EVO models including the Master, offer the user’s freedom to use either Roon or the free Logitech Media Server to control the server. This means that no one is forced to stick to the expensive Roon and users can enjoy both music server backends (with slight sonical differences) to their own choice.

Regarding the differences with my previous test, according to Frederic, these are so substantial that he wanted to let me listen another time to his flagship music server. We are now talking about the v3.1 version of the Master, and the following aspects have been changed and improved:

- Improved SATA cable for the SSD
3D printed shield, which shields the sensitive clock and USB output board from the IT parts of the machine
Completely new fully linear PSU module for the SSD, which is an internal module inside the server chassis, and which replaces the old SATA-filter.
- Improved over dimensioned 380 Watt DC-DC PSU for the motherboard, where 432 EVO only uses a fraction of the module: around 10 Watts at the 12V DC input.
The number of filter choices (now 15!) have been extended with Archimago’s Extremus 0 up to 3


For an honest comparison, two 432 EVO music servers would be ideal: one in the old configuration, and one with the latest additions. Unfortunately due to high demand and an almost constant scarcity of components, this was not an option. Fortunately, I am usually able to remember sound impressions and the comparison could also take place in my own room and setup. This test is no longer a comparison with competing servers, which I already did in my initial review, but more to observe the mutual differences. Therefore it is important to keep the other parameters constant and as identical as possible as the 2021 test.

Just like in that year, the perfectly matching and remarkably affordable Tubulus Argentus version 3 USB cable from the Netherlands was once again used. A beautiful cable for which version 4 is now available. But Frederic has another surprise: in consultation with Tubulus designer and owner Aldwin Oomen, he also brought the new top model Concentus!

Although I have also used some other top DAC’s staying here (MSB Premier DAC with Premier Director and Cary Audio DMS-650, 700 and 800), just like in 2021, I mainly used my own Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC. For the ethernet once again the SOtM sNG-10G switch was used now with both mk1 and mk2 Sbooster PSU’s. Speakers are the Master Contemporary C’s, while all other cables just like in 2021 are a mix of Nirvana Audio (SX & PC+ powercords, SX-speaker cables), Essential Audio Tools (Current Conductor powercords), Kemp Elektroniks (Reference powercord) and, AudioQuest (Fire interlink).  A Zanden 6000 is used as reference amplifier and the system is setup as usuaul in a wide version of the Finite Elemente Pagode Master Reference rack.

Archimago (Extremus)

How is a medical doctor who has a website as a hobby(Archimago’s Musings), where he shows objective measurements to audio gear and designs filters, or better said “upsampling recipes” related? First of all, the good man has debunked the MQA format. That alone is no easy feat, but he also developed filters that would perform better than those offered by MQA. At the same time Frederic was also debunking the MQA format which lead to new filter choices. This resulted in new opportunities to further improve and extend Archimago’s own filters.

All 432 EVO are configured from factory to output 24/192 using Archimago stage 2. In a recent  review from The Absolute Sound, Andrew Quint already found the existing Archimago filters to perform very well. But the newest filter variants go much further. It is worth noting that all of these filters are a free software update for all 432 EVO customers. The great thing is that, unlike several competitors, you can still go back to the previous setting. So you are never definitively committed to anything, which creates a particularly pleasant maximum freedom of choice. Archimago’s extremus filter (stage 0 to 3) are precisely as the naming indicates. Each of these four steps offer more resolution and clarity as before, but if the source material is not that great, you can always go back to the older Archimago-filters, which are a safe choice under all circumstances.


After Frederic has left, and leaves me alone with the now completely black double chassis (there’s also a silver version), tranquility descends. The devices work completely silent and only two white LED’s (there is no display present) indicate they are turned on. Now for the key question: is the 2023 revision of the 432 EVO Master audible different, and preferably better than the units I auditioned during my 2021 test? Yes, I can answer that wholeheartedly and affirmatively. Although there are many similarities and the latest variant offers a lot of refinement, air and musical involvement, the 2023 version manages to add a lot.

There is more calm and silence, the bass has more pressure in precisely the right way and is more robust  (without losing sight of the old definition and definition of virtues) and on the one hand a very well chosen balance between transparancy and light-footed character, and on the other hand expressiveness and depth.

I think that the most striking description is to name the 432 EVO Master the electrostat or magnetostat among the streamers. Everything is beautifully airy and transparant, and you can look deep into the music and immerse yourself completely in it. Yet everything remains one beautiful, grand, flowing and “analog” whole and as there are very few artifacts, there is also remarkably little listening fatigue. What is also striking is that the resolution is a lot higher than the previous version and it has an even more realistic presentation.

Also very interesting is changing the Tubulus Argentus version 3 Dual Head USB cable to the newest also dual headed flagship, the Concentus. This one offers a richer midrange combined with a higher resolving power. While this is an improvement, after listening longer I still prefer the Argentus version 3 on the 432 EVO Master. It is completely natural and also the best and seamless match with the EVO.

Music examples

To also be able to place this new generation in the right context, for my first music example I am once again starting with the beautiful Up Close concert from Haevn. A concert recorded during the corona pandemic without a live audience in “De Vereeniging”, the Municipal Theater of Nijmegen, and therefore has an unprecedentedly intense atmosphere. Played on the new EVO Master and using the proven Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC, I am curious what will follow. Even though I don’t have the 2021 revision nearby, I still immediately hear from the first chords, that the 2023 revision goes further at everything in several steps.

Although even for a seasoned reviewer it is sometimes difficult to put certain differences into words, I can best describe what I hear and experience as a higher degree of self-evidence. Everything arises even more spontaneously and out of nowhere, the high information density has an even more clear relationship with the singing voices and instruments, and with the beautiful acoustics of “De Vereeniging” you are even less aware that this is a reproduction. The several steps of the Archimago extremus filter choices are also extremely noticeable, where I prefer the highest step (stage 3) as the best. In that mode the reproduction is the smoothest and most refined and the hi-fi feeling is furthest in the background.

I continue with singer Cassandra Wilson and star guitarist Fabrizio Sotti and their single Another Country. An atmospheric interplay where the intimacy is so high that I unconsciously hold my breath. Or what to think about the sublime live recorded concert already from 2008 by Wende Snijders named Chante! Although there are many beautifully dynamic swirling songs, I often opt for the insistent track “Nuttelozen van de nacht”. Especially with these superior recordings, the 432 EVO Master can play all its strengths. Grand, but effortlessly played dynamic contrasts. A very high degree of refinement and transparancy, completely natural timbres and an expressiveness and 3D stereo image that quickly demonstrate that a music server is often even more important than the DAC!


With the 2023 generation of the globally acclaimed 432 EVO Master music server, designer Frederic Van den Poel managed to further refine his already well-thought-out and consistently working concept. No, it’s not a completely different sound, since that wouldn't be good at all. Because the 2021 revision was already also beautiful. The 2023 variant adds further improvements to the already good qualities, while all other aspects have also become a whole level better.

Is this then the best music server on the market? No, not (yet). Because as it goes in life, there are many more flavors and what one person finds great is less preferred by another. So besides the 432 EVO Master, there are also strong competitors from Aurender, Grimm, Naim, Linn, Taiko, Pink Faun and others. All with their own package of attractive features and sound quality aspects and also unique in their own way.

As far as the EVO Master is concerned, it is close to the “weightless” quality of electrostatic or magnetostatic speakers. It is therefore anything but a heavy or exaggerated presentation, which also makes it a unique offering within the above-mentioned strong field of players.    

432 EVO Master
Starts at € 14.500,- in silver and black, as reviewed with options: € 15.000 
Rated 5 / 5