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Product Review
 

Anthem Statement D2 Surround Sound and Video Processor

Part I

August, 2006

Kris Deering

Specifications:

 

● Codecs: Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS,
    DTS ES, DTS 96/24, DTS Neo:6

Gennum GF9350 VXP Image Processor

● True Inverse Telecine and Motion Adaptive 1080i
    De-interlacing

● Four HDMI (v1.1 compliant) inputs, One HDMI
    Output

● Video Transcoding to HDMI from S-Video and
    Component Video

● Video Upscaling for Analog and Digital Video
    streams

● THX Ultra2 Certified

● Precision: 24-Bit/192kHz

● Output Impedance: 300/600 Ohm (RCA/XLR)

● Rated Output: 2 Vrms

● Max Output: 6.3Vrms/12.6Vrma (RCA/XLR)

● 3 Zone/4 Path Operation
● RS-232 Port, Three Triggers
● Size: 5-7/8" H x 17-1/4" W x 15-1/4" D
● Weight:  27 Pounds

● MSRP: $6,799 USA

  

 

Introduction

There have been very few source components in my home theater that have stayed there a long time. Being a writer in this industry has its perks, especially getting to play with lots of new stuff, but it also has its drawbacks. The biggest drawback is having to keep everything at the state-of-the-art. Home Theater technology changes all the time, and it is up to me to stay current and explore the differences. So, most of my DVD players, receivers, video processors, and surround sound processors get changed out as the technology is improved upon. But one component has remained in my reference system for quite some time now, and looks to be safe in the rack for a long time to come, the Anthem Statement D1/D2.

I was one of the first people to own the Anthem Statement D1 that Brian Florian glowingly praised in a review here at Secrets. I could go on and on about how much I've enjoyed this surround sound processor in my system, but I saw its day eventually coming to an end as HDMI became more prevalent and high definition audio formats appeared on the horizon to be released as part of movies on HD DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Only a little while after the D1 hit the market, I met up with Anthem at a home theater convention and they commented that they were working on an upgrade to the D1 that would include HDMI switching with support for the HDMI 1.1 spec and some type of video processing. This upgrade would be a hardware addition to existing D1s, or consumers could just buy a D1 with the upgrade already installed. They even mentioned adding support for iLink (Firewire) for digital transmission of all available sound formats, including DVD-Audio and SACD. Ultimately, they did not include the iLink support with the final product based on the perceived needs of the market and lackluster support of high-resolution audio in the audio marketplace.

What Anthem did bring to the market outshined what I thought the D1 upgrade would actually include. Video processing is now appearing in SSPs, but is more common in most high-end A/V receivers. Denon, Pioneer, and Yamaha have been offering this for some time now, with products even featuring de-interlacing and scaling from Faroudja. The problem is this support has been limited to processing for standard definition (SD) sources only, like DVD, and the output resolutions have been limited to the standard 480p, 720p, and 1080i resolutions. While this does take care of a lot of displays out there, there are more and more requiring slightly different resolutions like 853x480 (ED plasma), 1024x1024 (ALIS displays), 1366x768 (LCD), and more. With all of the new display technologies coming on board, it seems like the need for even more flexibility is necessary.

The Beginning

Originally, Anthem had designed the concept of their video processing board around an already popular video processing solution, the Genesis FLI-2310. This chip has become very common in DVD players, displays, and A/V receivers, and its price point makes it a very attractive solution for the market. It uses Faroudja's proprietary algorithms, including their patented DCDi for diagonal line processing of video based material.

During the trade show where I spoke with Anthem about it, they mentioned the FLI2310 and alarms started going off in my head immediately. As much as I like the Faroudja solution from a de-interlacing perspective, the chipset has some very serious issues that have been reported here at Secrets back when it first came on the market. The biggest concern is enhanced macro-blocking in darker areas of the image. This manifests as blocks of noise that can vary in severity from subtle to unwatchable depending on the end users display. I have literally seen some displays not show the problem at all and others show it so bad that you would never want to watch it. I immediately warned them about this problem and listed the displays I've seen the issue on and informed them about material that was good for testing for the bug.

Sure enough, sometime later, Anthem decided to go a different route. After doing a lot of research in the market on new video processing solutions that were appearing, they chose the new Gennum VXP video-processing chip. The VXP chip is a one-chip high definition video processing solution that includes full inverse telecine and motion adaptive support for 1080i. It is one of only a small few that can perform these tasks, making the Anthem video processor one of the very out there capable of de-interlacing a 1080i image properly. They also decided to rename this new processor the Anthem Statement D2 rather than just the D2.

Final Design

The final product for the Anthem D2 added HDMI support in the terms of four HDMI inputs and one HDMI output. The inputs support most of the HDMI version 1.1 specification, including support for PCM 96/24 stereo soundtracks, six-channel PCM 96/24 soundtracks, and the full compliment of Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks. (High Resolution PCM soundtracks like those found on DVD-Audio require a DVD player that also conforms to the HDMI v1.1 specification if you use HDMI for transmission.) It also included full video conversion of S-Video and component video to HDMI, along with Anthem's own on-screen menus. All input resolutions from 480i to 1080p can be output at various resolutions up to and including 1080p at different frame rates. The component video output can output resolutions up to 1080p (pass-through) or 1080i (processed) as long as the source component software isn't copy protected (at this time, most DVDs are).

D2 (top) ; D1 (bottom)

Currently, the D2's input EDID information relays that it can support up to 96/24 for input audio resolution. It also does all of its post-processing (bass management, time alignment, PL-IIx, THX, etc.) at that level then up-samples to 192/24.

For this review, I received a final version of the actual Statement D2 as opposed to having my D1 upgraded to a D2. Right now, Anthem is pretty much backlogged with orders for the D2, so upgrades on existing D1s have not started yet. I plan on having this done at the first opportunity and will follow-up this review if there are any differences between an upgraded D1 and a native D2 worth noting. Right now the only difference I know of is the silk screens on the front panel will not be the same. The D2 has both the HDMI logo and the Gennum VXP logo; updated D1 processors will not have these.

Go to Part II.

Copyright 2006 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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