Playback checks out Anthem's top-tier components and finds them full of advanced technologies and high-end performance features.
This is Part 1 of a two-part review. To read Part 2, click here (an outline of Part 2 can be found at the end of Part 1, below).
When I reviewed Anthem’s original Statement D2 A/V controller some years ago in The Perfect Vision, I said its performance was “as good as it gets,” but the fact is that Anthem’s improved, next generation Statement D2v ($8499) takes significant steps forward vis-à-vis its predecessor. Changes include:
•Expanded HDMI options (with the D2v offering eight HDMI inputs instead of the D2’s four, plus two HDMI outputs).
•A new “broadcast grade” Sigma Designs VXP digital image processor.
•Two proprietary dual-core DSP engines that deliver a combined 800 MIPS of processing power and that provide decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
•Support for up to 7.1 channels of 24-bit/192kHz PCM audio.
•Anthem’s proprietary ARC (Anthem Room Correction) system—a system first offered in later production Statement D2’s and that comes standard on the D2v.
What is difficult to convey in words is just how complete and well balanced the D2v’s design really is. This component can be viewed through many different lenses, and depending upon how you look at it you might see the D2v as a dead serious high-end multichannel analog audio preamp, as a full-featured surround sound processor, as a superb audiophile-grade 24-bit/192kHz DAC with potent oversampling/upsampling features, as a capable (and highly adjustable) room correction system, as an powerful and versatile video processor, or as a flexible multi-zone A/V controller. But as you study the design and construction details behind each of the D2v’s functions it becomes clear that ever aspect of the controller has been thought through and executed with great care. In short, this is component with no apparent weaknesses.
The Statement P5 five-channel amplifier ($7499) is purely and simply a “monster,” and in more ways than one. Weighing in at a mind-blowing 130 pounds (can you say “Ouch, my back!”) and designed to draw power from not one but two separate household power circuits, the P5 puts out a staggering 325 Wpc at 8 Ohms, 500 Wpc at 4 Ohms, and 675 Wpc at 2 Ohms—with all channels driven. This baby has power reserves adequate to drive most any loudspeaker system—including those that present very low impedance loads (which some home theater amps just can’t handle). What is more, the P5 also offers vanishingly low levels of distortion to match its dynamic clout. Total harmonic distortion plus noise (measured at 200 Wpc output levels) is quoted at 0.0007% at 1kHz or 0.008% at 20 kHz, while inter-modulation distortion (IMD) is specified 0.00019% (CCIW at 325 Watts). These would be exemplary numbers for any high-end stereo amp, and they’re doubly impressive in a blockbuster five-channel amp intended for home theater applications. Of course, numbers alone never tell the whole story, but in this case the P5’s real-world sound quality as every bit as good as its specifications might lead you to expect.
As their names imply, Anthem’s Statement D2v A/V controller and P5 power amplifier are top-tier, statement-class A/V components—components designed to deliver benchmark levels of performance with no “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts”. And in practice, they do just that.
Consider this Controller/Amp combo if: you want to experience (and can afford) true top-tier performance. What makes the Anthem pair so appealing is that it addresses all aspects (not just some aspects) of A/V performance at once—sound quality, picture quality, room correction/EQ, massive power output, and overall flexibility and control. While some competing units cover some of these bases well, few offer the supremely well-balanced solutions that the Anthem pair provides.
Though admittedly expensive (at least by normal mortal standards), the D2v/P5 pair is more than fairly priced for what you get—especially in light of the fact that most of the Anthem combo’s serious competition costs as much if not more—in some cases, a whole lot more). This is a combination you will not easily outgrow, since Anthem has a proven track record for making available running product updates as new developments arise.
Look further if: you want—as would be perfectly reasonable when shopping in this price/performance class—to do due diligence and thus to evaluate the Anthem’s competitors (likely candidates might include flagship models from Arcam, Bryston, Classé, Denon, Integra, Lexicon, Mark Levinson, McIntosh, Meridian and Krell). While you might prefer individual aspects of one competitor or another, the fact is that the Anthem pair can compete with just about anything on today’s market—including models that cost far more.
Be aware that the same things that make the D2v powerful, flexible, and full-featured also require an experienced hand to help oversee setup procedures. Veteran home theater enthusiasts (especially those who are computer savvy and familiar with room EQ systems) could probably handle setup tasks on their own, but others might need or want to have a dealer/installer handle the work. Also know that Anthem’s ARC system is more complicated to set up than, say, an equivalent Audyssey room EQ system.
Ratings (relative to comparably priced controller/amp combos)
User interface: 9 (main D2v/P5 combo), 5 for the ARC software itself
Sound quality, music: 10
Sound quality, movies: 10
Below, I touch on important features and technical highlights for the Statement PD2v and P5. For a more in-depth review of design details for these products, visit the Anthem web site: www.anthemav.com.
•Supports separate Movie and Music speaker system configurations.
•Extensive bass management, center channel EQ, and low frequency notch filter options. Subwoofer crossover frequencies can be set on for each channel, in very fine 5Hz increments.
•Provides separate EQ trim options for each input.
•All HDMI inputs are connected through TMDS (Timing Minimized Differential Signaling) timing regenerators and multiplexers, which are said to be helpful in “cleaning up a noisy/jittery source, or when a long or low-quality cable is being used.
•24-bit/192kHZ DAC, with 128X oversampling and 24/192 upsampling for all digital inputs.
•ADC functions with resolution up to 24-bit/192kHz levels.
•High-accuracy digital clocking system.
•Dual proprietary Anthem DSP processors (800 MIPS total) for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding.
•Support for AnthemLogic and various THX/THX Ultra2 surround sound modes geared for use with two-channel audio sources.
•Balanced AES/EBU digital audio input.
•Balanced stereo analog audio input.
•Full complement of single-ended and balanced 7.1-channel analog audio outputs—both offering support for dual center channels and dual subwoofers.
•Analog-Direct available on all inputs.
•Very high quality circuit boards and parts (e.g., “audio grade” film capacitors and operational amplifiers, low-ESR electrolytic capacitors, “audio grade” signal coupling capacitors, 1000µF ADC reference voltage decoupling capacitors, etc.).
D2v Room Correction:
•Proprietary ARC (Anthem Room Correction) uses an outboard PC and calibrated USB Mic (included) to take in-room response measures from five different listening locations. The system then plots correction curves for each channel in the system plus the subwoofer, to bring actual in-room response into conformance with a well-defined “target curve.”
•ARC offers both “standard” and “advanced” EQ settings. Under the advanced settings, users can modify the standard “target curve” to fit their specific requirements or listening tastes.
•An extensive graphical interface allows users to see and compare “before” vs. “after” results for each channel and for the sub.
•Provides memory for storing up to four separate Video configurations.
•Supports independent source settings and adjustments.
•Provides extensive support for custom installer/calibrators, with the ability to generate sophisticated video test patterns.
•Sigma Designs “broadcast grade” VXP digital video processor is said to provide “professional-grade, fully adaptive deinterlacing, adaptive 3D noise reduction, mosquito noise reduction, block artifact reductions, adaptive detail enhancement featuring sharpness and texture enhancement with overshoot control, and adaptive contrast enhancement.”
•The D2v offers extensive transcoding options, and can convert any resolution level or format of input into the target resolution/format of your choice (for example, 480i component video input signals could be converted to 1080p/24fps HDMI outputs, and so on).
•Comes with two full featured, backlit remote controls—one for the main room, the other for a second zone. A “learning” function helps each remote to control other components.
•Extensive programming support and options for custom installers.
•Given the P5 massive power output capabilities, the amplifier requires two power cords, each (ideally) fed by a separate household power circuit.
•Internally, the P5 is configured as five separate monoblock amplifiers, each featuring “two separate and autonomous power supplies fed from separate transformer windings.”
•Uses massive “low-impedance toroidal power supplies—one per amplifier channel.”
•Each channel features its own “oversize aluminum heatsink” with over 1125 square inches/channel of radiating area to ensure cool, quiet operation.
•A whopping fourteen bipolar output devices per channel.
•Offers user selectable single-ended or balanced analog audio inputs.
The D2v’s user interface is clear and reasonably straightforward, though it is important to bear in mind that this controller provides a much broader range of setup and configuration options than most other A/V controllers and AVRs do. Frankly, the D2v offer layers of setup options in places where other A/V controllers don’t even have places. For this reason it is vitally important to read the manual and—where necessary—to seek expert help/advice during the setup process. I suspect that many prospective owners will need or want to have their D2v’s set up by a dealer or custom installer.
The D2v gives users the ability to make on-the-fly audio adjustments and thus to hear the effects of setting changes in real time. When adjustments are made, an HD onscreen display shows exactly what changes have been made (though this feature can be disabled should you find the display distracting).
The D2V provides two backlit remotes, that can be programmed to control other component and that provide a “learning” function. The unit is fairly easy to master, though it does—as a matter of practical necessity—provide a number of context-sensitive buttons that have multiple possible functions, which can be a potential source of confusion and/or user errors. Again, it is essential to read the manual, since this is not one of those remotes you can learn purely through trial and error.
The remote does make it easy to make on-the-fly adjustments channel trim adjustments, with separate trims for front, center, and surround channels, and for the subwoofer (a feature I think many audiophiles will appreciate and use often).
This is Part 1 of a two-part review. To read Part 2, click here.
Part 2 covers the following topics:
• ARC ROOM CORRECTION
• VIDEO PERFORMANCE
• SONIC CHARACTER
• MOVIE/SOUNDTRACK PERFORMANCE
• MUSIC PERFORMANCE
• BOTTOM LINE (Summary)
• SPECS & PRICING
• MANUFACTURER’S CONTACT INFORMATION