Receivers

Flagship Home Theater - Part 2: Anthem Statement D2v Audio/Video Processor and Statement A5 Five-Channel Power Amplifier

ARTICLE INDEX

Setup: Audio

Installation was fairly simple as I have only digital sources.  The D2v and A5 were connected with RCA cables.  The Statement components also support fully balanced connections via XLR cables but I did not test these.  Pre-out options on the D2v are extensive.  Dual subwoofer jacks are included as well as a very unusual touch, dual center channels.  In certain room configurations running a center speaker above and below the screen can have advantages in imaging and sound dispersion.  Most horizontal center-channel speaker designs compromise a bit in the width of their soundstage.  Anthem has provided an easy way to correct this.  The extra analog outs can also be used to route signals to two additional zones.  Both the XLR and RCA outputs are active simultaneously.  For longer cable runs, the XLR jacks output an additional 6 dB of signal voltage.

I connected my two sources, a Denon 2930CI DVD player and a Panasonic BD-30 Blu-ray player to two of the D2v's eight HDMI inputs.  There are two HDMI outputs as well.  Running your video through the D2v means using the excellent VXP video processor that is built-in.  Since this is practically another component itself, I'll describe it in more detail in the Video Setup section.  During the review period, I swapped out my Denon and Panasonic players for a new Oppo BDP-83.  This literally left the back panel of the D2v with two HDMI cables and six RCA cables connected!  It doesn't get any cleaner.

After the physical installation, I moved on to the D2v's extensive menu system.  The option list here is quite lengthy and careful attention will yield optimal results.

Menu Detail

As you can imagine in a product this feature-laden, there is an extensive setup menu.  There are 14 sections containing every conceivable option necessary to configure the D2v.  The menu is an old-school text only design.  Personally I prefer this over the new graphical menus now showing up in receivers and other components.  I'd rather use the available computing power for audio and video processing rather than pretty graphics and crossbar-style menus.  The menu structure is laid out very logically and it's very easy to find the options you want.

The menus begin with Video Output.  There four available memories.  You can set NTSC or PAL output for S-video, optimization for HDMI or component output, resolution/refresh rate (480i to 1080p at 24 or 60Hz), color space, color depth, letterbox options, sync and the path for the second component video output.  Other video options are set in the video processing menu which is separate from the main menu system.  I'll get into that in the Video Setup section.

The Timers menu allows you to automatically turn the processor on or off at preset times.  With these options you can use the D2v as a very high-quality alarm clock!

The Speaker Configuration menu gives you all the options for bass management.  There are some nice extras here including subwoofer polarity and phase controls.  You can have separate settings for movies or music.  This is handy if you prefer to listen to music without a sub.  Now you can have two different crossover configurations.  If you use the ARC room correction, all of these settings are dialed in automatically.  Crossovers can be set for each pair of speakers and the center channel.  There is even a center EQ to help compensate for boundary effects.  Lastly there is a Room Resonance Filter.  This is a single-band parametric EQ that can be used for any frequency.  Test tones are provided to help you set this up with an SPL meter.  As before, the ARC takes care of all this for you and I highly recommend using it.  I'll talk about it a little more later.

Listener Position is simply the delay settings for all speakers.  You can set the distances down to half a foot or .2 meters if you go metric.  You can also set the distance between the rear surrounds here.

Level calibration lets you match speaker output levels with internal test tones.  This is the typical system used by many receiver and processor products.  One addition is you can have a different level for the music sub and movie sub.  The test tones can be cycled between channels manually or automatically.

The Source Setup menu has options for renaming the input, selecting the video configuration memory, assigning the appropriate digital/HDMI input for video and audio, setting the mute level, choosing the movie or music bass management configuration, turning the room EQ (ARC) on or off and adjusting lip-sync.

Mode Presets allow pre-selection of the surround mode for all types of input signals.  All of the usual choices like Pro Logic IIx and Neo:6 are there with a couple of extras.  Anthem has created two proprietary modes called Anthem Logic-Music and Anthem Logic-Cinema.  Music will utilize all speakers except the center.  Cinema will use all speakers with the center.  I listened to quite a bit of two-channel music in the Anthem Logic-Music and liked it very much.  I found it superior to both Dolby and DTS matrixed modes.  It expanded the soundstage very nicely without sounding artificial.  I did not miss the center channel as the phantom image was excellent.  If you don't want to use surround modes, you can always choose the Last Used option.  You can have a different setup for mode presets for each source connected to the D2v.

The remaining seven menus are for set-and-forget features.  You can choose input levels for all connected components so volume levels match when changing sources.  There are options for configuring the extra balanced outputs.  Options for power-on and max volume are available for each zone.  The IR and trigger jacks can be configured in a variety of ways to suit your particular control system.  You can even disable the IR front sensor if you wish.  The Display menu lets you adjust the on-screen display and front panel display.  Lastly you can save all your settings to two memories labeled User and Installer and password-protect your configuration.  After going through a setup menu of this size, I would certainly use that feature!

Despite the huge number of adjustments and options in the D2vs setup menus, all I had to do was assign and rename my inputs, set the power-on volume, set the default surround modes and configure the video output options.  A simple system like mine with only digital sources requires very little in the way of adjustment from factory defaults.

Anthem Room Correction (ARC)

I have used Audyssey on my Denon and Onkyo receivers to great effect but my experience with ARC eclipsed that by a wide margin.  ARC is Anthem's own proprietary technology and they have done a super job with it.  The implementation is pretty much the same in that you place a measuring microphone at up to 10 positions in the room; allow ARC to run sweeps through each speaker; then let the D2v calculate the corrected frequency response.  The similarity ends there as you have to use a laptop as the link between the mic and the processor.  The ARC software application allows you to save multiple configurations so you can experiment with different setups and go back to your favorite one.  This is a very nice feature as it saves you the trouble of re-measuring every time you return to your baseline.  ARC will also show you a graph of each speaker with the before and after curves.

The ARC kit includes a calibrated microphone, a pro-quality stand, a USB cable for the mic, a very long RS-232 cable for connecting to the processor and a software CD.  All you need to add is a laptop.  If you do this yourself, you'll need a serial port on your computer.  I used my trusty Keyspan USB-serial adapter.  This product has yet to fail me and I have used it for a wide variety of RS-232 devices.

One of the coolest features of ARC is the ability to manually adjust the crossover and frequency range targets.  In the advanced mode of the ARC software there is a button labeled Targets which brings up a dialog box giving you options for these parameters.  By default, ARC only corrects from 20Hz to 5kHz.  This was not a big deal for my Axiom speakers as they displayed a pretty flat response from 5 to 20kHz.  The Focals however showed an 8db dip at around 15kHz.  They sounded pretty good despite this but I thought there could be a bit more top-end transparency and detail especially given the high-quality tweeters in these satellites.  It was a simple matter to increase the Max Frequency setting to 20kHz, recalculate the correction curve and upload the new file to the D2v.  This took all of ten minutes and did not require any re-measuring.  Since there are two bass management memories (movie and music), you can set different targets for both and call them up in the source setup menu.

For a more in-depth review of the ARC system, please check out Brian Florian's article from May of 2008 here - http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/surround-sound-processors/343-a-secrets-ssp-review.html

Setup: Video

The D2v has a very advanced and full-featured video processor anchored by the Sigma Designs VXP chip.  All incoming video can be switched and routed with the processor.  HDMI signals can be upconverted to a maximum resolution of 1080p/60.  24Hz output is also supported.  Component video that is not copy-protected can be upconverted to a maximum of 1080p/60.  S-video and composite is also supported.  The video processing cannot be bypassed.  All output resolutions are supported up to 1080p/60 and 24.  I kept the output refresh rate at 24Hz for both Blu-ray and DVD content.  By using the source direct option on the Oppo BDP-83, only the D2v was doing the video processing.  When I watched DVDs on the Denon 2930CI, I set it to transmit 480i over the HDMI interface.

There is a completely separate menu for setting the video processor's options.  This is accessed by holding down the 7 button on the remote or the Display button on the front panel for three seconds.  The available menus are Picture, Crop Input, Scale Out, Output, Patterns and Info.  All settings can be made per input so you can have different configurations for each of your sources.

The Picture menu has the usual image adjustments, brightness, contrast, color and tint; plus options for input color space, film mode (deinterlacing) and detail enhancement.  The chroma bug filter allows you to turn CUE correction if your player doesn't do it already.  Video ADC contains adjustments for analog video signals coming from the component or S-video inputs.

Crop Input has adjustments for aspect ratio including sizing for anamorphic lens applications.  You can mask the edges of the image to eliminate the video "garbage" that exists in some cable and satellite signals.  The Scale Out menu is an extension of Crop Input.  It has options to make non-16:9 content fit on a 16:9 screen.  You can engage a panoramic or anamorphic stretch or simply pillar-box 4:3 content.

The Output menu allows you to load pre-set gamma curves.  You can create these with a separate software application called Video Settings Editor which is available for download from Anthem's website.  There is also an option called Frame Lock which is defaulted to off.  According to the Owner's Manual turning this to Auto will lock the processor's output refresh rate to the input signal rate.  This would be useful if you want to output DVD at 60Hz and Blu-ray at 24Hz without manually switching between two video configurations.  Unfortunately it did not appear to work.  No matter what I tried, the Frame Lock would not engage.  The only way I could switch output refresh rates was to manually select a preset video configuration.  I initially used the D2v to process DVD video to 1080p/24 for a more film-like presentation.  While motion was much improved, there were occasional losses of input/output sync resulting in severe judder.  I was able to reset the cadence by pressing pause and play.  It's a toss-up which presentation I prefer:  60Hz with the usual 3:2 judder or 24Hz with smooth motion and a few artifacts.  I still go back and forth.

The video processing menu finishes off with a set of test patterns and an info screen that shows input and output signal information.