Anthem Statement Review

Anthem Statement Review
P R O D U C T
REVIEW
D1 • P5
D1
P5
This is audio at its finest
“
… Run, don’t walk to your nearest Anthem Dealer.
”
B Y
G A R Y
A LT U N I A N
Issue 57
To say, as Anthem does in its literature,
that the Statement D1 and P5 can “recreate
the passion a music lover experiences when
attending a live musical performance, or
the thrilling sound a movie buff experiences in the very best movie theaters” is
an understatement. The Anthem Statement
D1 preamp/processor/tuner and P5 multichannel power amplifier are the best
home-theater components I have heard in
my system, and it was a joy to review them.
The new Anthem Statement D1 is an
extremely sophisticated controller with
state-of-the-art features, exceptional
control capabilities, massive connectivity,
and excellent sound quality. It could be
used as the centerpiece of a high-end twochannel system or as the control center
of a high-end home-theater system. With
three-zone, multi-source capability, it could
also be the hub of a flexible audio/video
distribution system. Its features and
performance justify its lofty price tag, yet it
is relatively simple to operate, even without
a thorough reading of the owner’s manual.
STATEMENT D1 CONTROLLER
The Statement D1 is a 7.1-channel controller
with an extensive selection of surroundsound processing modes, including
Anthem Logic-Music, which derives 6.1
channels from two-channel music sources,
and AnthemLogic-Cinema, which derives
7.1 channels from two-channel movies.
For multichannel sources there are Dolby
Digital EX, DTS-ES, THX Ultra 2, and THX
Surround EX modes. I could list all of the
other modes, but take it from me the D1
includes every surround-sound you will
ever need or want—even Mono Academy,
which creates a sound quality closer to the
original EQ on movies with monaural
soundtracks made from the 1930s to 1960s.
In addition, the Anthem is “future-proof”
because its internal software is upgradeable
via the rear panel RS-232 port. Upgrades,
when necessary, are available from your
dealer or as downloads from the Anthem
Web site via your computer’s serial port.
New versions of the operating manual are
also available on the Anthem Web site. (You
can identify the software version you’re
using by pressing the STATUS button on
the front panel or the remote control.)
Dual Motorola DSP-56367 engines power
the Anthem’s processing. These 24-bit
devices are among the most powerful
DSP chips available today, complete
with full bass-management capabilities
and the extraordinary processing power
of 150 million instructions per second. The
D1 also includes an upsampling circuit that
converts the sample rate of all incoming
digital signals to 192 kHz, including
Dolby Digital and DTS programs.
D1 • P5
“… the best home-theater components I have
heard in my system … The D1 preamp exhibits
such incredible clarity, detail, openness,
and presence … The P5 is the “poster child”
for high-current amplifiers … complements
the performance of the D1 in every way …
my system sounded exceptional.”
Construction quality is excellent, with a 3/8˝-thick aluminum
front panel. The steel chassis is covered in finely machined
aluminum with rounded corners. It has a solid feel and weighs
in at 24.3 pounds. The front panel is busy but has a logical layout
that is easy to understand. There are no AC outlets on the rear
panel to prevent any interference from line voltage and Anthem
specifically recommends against using a power-line conditioner
because the D1’s power supply has built-in voltage regulation
and power-line filtering. The Statement D1 runs very warm, so
it’s important not to place it in a rack or on a shelf without
adequate ventilation, even though there are optional rackmount
adapters available.
The rear panel is a cable salesman’s dream. This is a component
that deserves the very best interconnect cables and if you make
every connection be prepared for sticker shock. Although the
rear panel is crowded, it is well organized and clearly labeled
with inputs on a black background and outputs on a white background. There are enough audio and video conections for
even the most complex A/V systems. All inputs can be re-named
and configured according to your preferences.
“… Statement D1 is an extremely sophisticated
controller with state-of-the-art features,
exceptional control capabilities, massive
connectivity, and excellent sound quality.”
The best components include connections for balanced line
XLR cables, and the Anthem is no exception. Balanced cables
are especially important for long distance runs because they
are less susceptible to noise and hum than single-ended RCA
cables. The companion Anthem P5 multichannel amplifier has
complementary balanced line and single-ended RCA inputs.
The Statement D1 has four component-video inputs and two
component video outputs, each with a frequency bandwidth of
100 MHz for the luminance (Y) channel throughout the entire
circuit, so it can handle a full 1080p HD signal. The chrominance
channels are rated at a bandwidth of 90 MHz (Pr/Cr) and 80 MHz
(Pb/Cb) respectively. There are seven S-video and composite
inputs with a bandwidth of 70 MHz, and five S-video and
composite-video outputs. All video switching circuitry is isolated
and independent from other circuits to prevent signal interference.
This is a hefty complement of connection options, but note
that the DI doesn’t yet offer DVI switching. (A hardware upgrade
is planned for later this year that will include a FireWire input
for multichannel SACD and DVD-A as well as four HDMI inputs
and one HDMI output.)
The Anthem Statement D1 is relatively easy to operate and
navigate using the Master Control Knob (MCK), which controls
volume and several other functions of the D1. When a function
is selected, such as Surround Mode, the MCK is then used to scroll
through the available options. Other functions, such as speaker
levels, tone controls, tuner controls, and more are also controlled
by the MCK. The blue fluorescent display on the front panel
changes to show the current function and then reverts to a
volume control after about three seconds. The same functions
can be operated from the remote control, and the front-panel
display is easily viewed from a distance.
SECOND OPINION
I‘ve been using the D1 and P5 in my system for about
two months, and can second Gary’s enthusiasm for these
products. The D1 is extremely sophisticated and flexible,
and its sound quality is first-rate. I don’t know if
it’s the intrinsic quality of the D1 or the upsampling of
Dolby Digital and DTS signals, but I heard a remarkable
clarity and resolution on film soundtracks—in fact, the best
I’ve heard in my system. The D1 is also transparent
enough to use for music; I’ve been running the six analog
outputs from a Sony SCD-9000ES SACD player through the
D1 with superb results on multi-channel music. Finally,
the D1’s set-up options and user interface are exceptional.
Although this level of sophistication necessitates complexity, the set-up process was remarkably painless.
– Robert Harley
Although the D1 is easy to connect and use right out of the
carton, I recommend reading and following the set-up instructions
in the operating manual. When properly configured using the
extensive set-up menus, it will deliver the maximum performance
and flexibility. In addition to the standard adjustments that
you would expect, such as speaker size, distance, and level, the
Statement D1 also has on/off timers for all three zones with
pre-set controls for volume levels and sources. There are independent speaker configurations for music and cinema sources,
with adjustable crossovers for each channel that allow you to
tailor crossover frequencies more precisely to best suit the
low-frequency characteristics of your speakers. The advanced
bass-management controls enable you to optimize sound for
the digital inputs and for the 6-channel analog inputs. In addition,
a Room Resonance Filter helps you identify and correct resonant
peaks in your listening room. It takes some time to adjust, but
it is easy to use and helps to eliminate exaggerated, boomy bass.
You can change the name of, assign digital and component-video
inputs to, or select speaker configuration (music or cinema), adjust
equalization and pre-select a listening mode (AnthemLogic, Dolby
Digital, DTS, etc.) and THX preference, such as THX Cinema or
MusicMode, for each source. Input levels for all sources can
be adjusted with the help of a frontpanel VU meter, so there are no
dramatic changes in volume as you switch among inputs. One of the
D1’s most useful features is Audio Group Delay, which delays the
sound from all channels equally. This is essential if you’re
using a video projector or monitor with lots of processing that
delays the video signal enough to put it out of sync with the audio.
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D1 • P5
3
“… soundstage is virtually three-dimensional,
with precise imaging … Mids and highs
sounded clean and articulate … vocals —
were not reproduced; they were recreated
in my listening room — as if I had requested
a private performance.”
There are many more adjustments in the D1, too many to
mention here. Suffice it to say that after I got done with the
set-up menus the Statement D1 was perfectly customized for
my system and listening preferences. The crossover frequencies
and subwoofer adjustments produced a particularly noticeable
refinement in sound quality. You may want a professional
installer to configure the system for you or, if you’re a do-ityourselfer, you can save your settings (with password protection),
reload factory default settings, or save your installer’s settings
in separate files.
The tremendous flexibility of this component makes it ideal
for a custom-installation system. As previously mentioned the D1
is a three-zone preamplifier with audio and video outputs to all
zones. Zone 2 audio outputs are either single-ended RCA or
balanced line analog, and Zone 3 audio is single-ended RCA out.
Both remote zones have composite and S-video outputs. The D1
has three 12-volt triggers, two with 50 mA and one with 200 mA
current output, for activating various other components. The
triggers can also be assigned to specific inputs such as SAT or DVD.
There are three IR inputs powered by a built-in 12-volt power
supply and two IR outputs for controlling source components.
move, and set it up you’re gonna need help. (My neighbor thinks
I’m nuts — “No amplifier should be this heavy!” he said.)
Make sure you place it where you want it before your neighbor
leaves. Like the D1, the P5 also needs adequate ventilation,
and if it is installed with optional rack-mounts, the rack needs
to be as sturdy as the amplifier. This is a massive component
whose size and weight portend its capabilities. It draws enough
electrical current to require two AC cords, which should not be
connected to the same circuit to prevent overload. I can only
imagine my electricity bill next month.
“… performance as a home theater system
was equally impressive … Whether I was
listening to multichannel music or movies the
experience was outstanding … exceptional
soundfield characteristics in all surround
modes … pinpoint placement of effects
… naturally intelligible dialogue.”
With the P5, the term five-channel power amplifier is not really
accurate. It is actually five monoblock power amplifiers in one
chassis. There are no shared power supplies, as each channel
has its own toroidal transformer resulting in no common audio
path between channels, completely eliminating crosstalk. (No
wonder it weighs so much!) The Statement P5 is the “poster child”
for high-current amplifiers, with fourteen bipolar output transistors
per channel, which vastly increase the available power for
musical crescendos, particularly with current-hungry loudspeakers.
“I listened to many CDs that I haven’t heard
in a long time, and it was as if I had never
played them … There was so much detail
… excellent audio performance.”
Like the D1 the P5 offers balanced (XLR) and single-ended (RCA)
line level connections. Power can be turned on manually, or
triggered when the D1 is turned on, or via an auto-power option,
which turns the amp on when it senses an audio signal. In
this last mode the amp turns off after a short period of receiving
no signal.
The Statement D1 is compatible with Crestron and AMX control
systems via the RS-232 interface, and with an optional module
can be used with Phastlink control products. There are provisions
for a FireWire interface card in the future. (Some sources, such as
DVD players, permit a digital connection to a preamp or receiver
via FireWire. The D1 can be custom-programmed with a PC or
Macintosh via the RS-232 interface. By downloading the utility
software from the Anthem Web site you can select and save
most system settings for backup protection or for copying system
settings from one D1 to another. The D1’s ability to expand the
hardware and update the software is an important feature in
today’s world of changing standards.The universal/learning remote
control is easy to use, though not as intuitive as the front-panel
controls. It takes practice to easily navigate the menus and
controls using the remote. The operating manual includes remote
control codes for controlling other manufacturers’ components
that can be programmed into the D1.
The P5’s specs are impeccable. It outputs 325 watts per channel,
one or all channels driven, and I believe it. Harmonic distortion
is spec’d at almost immeasurable 0.0007%, and intermodulation
distortion is said to be 0.00019%. Damping factor, a good measure
of speaker control, is 600, and the slew rate (a specification of amp
speed) is 40 V/ps. The signal to noise ratio is 125 dB, and
crosstalk between any two channels is an incredible -140 dB.
Anthem claims a power bandwidth from 10 Hz to 150 kHz. But
specs are only on paper—the most important spec, how it sounds,
is measured by listening.
STATEMENT P5 POWER AMPLIFIER
The Anthem Statement P5 is the five-channel companion power
amplifier to the Statement D1, and it’s a beast! The illustration
inside the box shows two stick people unpacking the amp.
Believe it. It is bulky and heavy at 130 pounds, and to unpack,
LISTENING EVALUATION
The goal of all high-end components is to eliminate the sense
of reproduction and recreate the musical performance or movie
experience in your listening room. The Anthem Statement D1
and P5 meet these goals.
I particularly appreciated the Statement D1 for its elaborate
set-up and control capabilities, in addition to its sound quality.
After completing setup using the operating manual, which is
very well written, my system sounded exceptional. Initially I
listened to the Anthem components with my reference speakers,
whose sound qualities I know well. The Anthem pair brought out
D1 • P5
the best in these vintage loudspeakers. As a finely tuned performance
car needs a good driver, a well-designed speaker needs a good
controller and amp, and the D1 and P5 met the challenge.
complement the D1’s seven channel capabilities). Never mind,
I don’t have a forklift. To provide seven channels you will need
to acquire an Anthem Statement A2 or P2 two-channel amplifier.
“The P5 complements the performance of
the D1 in every respect … exceptional control
over the speakers … tight, well-defined, and
deep bass response … very authoritative
… effortless dynamics … I’m sure it never
even broke a sweat.”
“There are many excellent, less expensive
audio components that will provide ninety
percent of the sonic performance of the
Statement D1 and P5. But that last ten
percent is worth every hard-earned dollar
you’ll spend.”
The D1 preamp exhibits such incredible clarity, detail, openness,
and presence that I found it difficult to stop listening and start
writing this review. Its soundstage is virtually three-dimensional,
with precise imaging. Mids and highs sounded clean and articulate,
never harsh or strident. Holly Cole’s vocals in “God Will” were not
reproduced; they were recreated in my listening room, as if I had
requested a private performance. Every nuance of Rod Stewart’s
raspy voice was evident in The Great American Songbook. I
listened to many CDs that I haven’t heard in a long time, and
it was as if I had never played them. There was so much detail
that an experienced audio engineer could probably identify the
microphone used in the recordings.
After auditioning the D1 and P5 with my reference speakers,
I connected the Paradigm Reference Studio 100 speakers, which
are manufactured by the same parent company. Suffice it to
say that they are excellent loudspeakers, worthy of consideration
as replacements for my reference speakers. (See the Studio 100
review in the review section of the Paradigm website at
www.paradigm.com).
Most of my listening was in two channel or in Anthem-Logic
Music mode, which creates a pleasant surround ambience
without exaggeration or over-emphasis in the rear channels.
To preserve imaging and soundstaging this mode does not use
the center channel.
The Anthems’ performance as a home-theater system was equally
impressive. Whether I was listening to multichannel music or
movies the experience was outstanding. The D1 and P5 reproduce
exceptional soundfield characteristics in all surround modes
with pinpoint placement of effects and natural intelligible dialogue.
I have only two criticisms of the D1 controller. First, there is no
phono input. If you listen to LPs, you will need an outboard
phono preamplifier. It seems to me that the potential buyer for
this high-end component would be interested in listening to vinyl.
Second, its tuner performance is only mediocre, depending on
atmospheric conditions. I often listen to AM talk radio or FM
music while writing, and although I live in a rural area, my
midline A/V receiver did a better job of receiving signals than
the Anthem. But, so what! The Statement D1 more than compensates
for this weakness with excellent audio performance.
Although not a criticism, the next generation of the Statement D1
should include an automatic room equalization feature to provide
the best sound for the acoustics in the listening room.
The P5 amplifier complements the performance of the D1 in
every respect. It exerted exceptional control over the speakers,
producing tight, well-defined, and deep bass response—no
sub required. I would describe it as very authoritative, always in
control of the speakers with effortless dynamics. I’m sure it
never even broke a sweat. Great electronics bring out the best in
a loudspeaker. I guess I can overlook its excessive mass and
weight because of its sound. However, one would think that
Anthem could squeeze two additional channels into the P5 (to
SUMMARY
There are many excellent, less expensive audio components
that will provide ninety percent of the sonic performance of
the Anthem Statement D1 and P5. But that last ten percent is
worth every hard-earned dollar you’ll spend. This is audio at its
finest, and if you’re thinking about investing in audio components
that will last a long time and provide exceptional performance,
you’ve arrived. Run, don’t walk to your nearest Anthem dealer.
I don’t often consider purchasing review components, but this
time I might make an exception. Meanwhile, I have to call my
neighbor to help me re-pack the P5.
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