|Anthem PVA-7 Multi-channel Power Amplifier|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Multi-Channel Amplifiers|
|Written by Tim Hart|
|Monday, 01 April 2002|
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While even the most hardcore movie enthusiast would be hard-pressed to rattle off more than a handful of DVD or music titles in DTS ES (6.1 Surround) or THX EX (7.1 Surround), Anthem believes that 6.1 and 7.1 channel formats will eventually be the norm. DVD-Video mastering is exploring exciting new territory with surround mixes, as are the engineers mixing the first generation DVD-Audio and some SACD titles, yet it is the emerging market of video gaming that offers the most hope for advanced surround sound formats – both discrete and matrixed formats. To prepared for the future, Anthem has created the PVA 7, a power amplifier that will allow you to use all of the capabilities available in the most advanced audio/video receivers and AV preamps.
The Anthem PVA 7 is a seven-channel, single-chassis power amplifier rated at 105 watts x 7 into 8 ohms and 140 watts x 7 into 4 ohms. Priced at $1,499, this single-ended beauty is 17.25 inches wide, five-and-one-quarter-inches high, 16-3/8 inches deep and weighs a solid 47.5 pounds. It is the logical companion to the $3,199 Anthem AVM 20, reviewed here by Bryan Southard last month.
For the AV enthusiast who enjoys the performance advantages of discreet components in a personal system, the PVA 7 offers the excellent build quality that won fame for Anthem’s now dormant high-end big brother, Sonic Frontiers International. Thick gauge, powder-coated steel makes up the chassis, along with a very orderly component and a heavy gauge wiring layout that looks more like it belongs in a military installation than in someone’s living room. Four large heat sinks are evenly spaced and line up with matching slots in the chassis and the cover to vent the large amount of heat generated by the output devices used in the PVA 7. Seven sets of gold-plated five-way binding posts and RCA connections adorn the rear panel. The unit is finished off with a heavy perforated sheet metal cover, held in place by dozens of flathead screws that all are uniformly flush with the cover. A three-eighths-of-an-inch, thick-brushed aluminum faceplate comes in silver or, like that of review unit, in black.
The PVA 7 has some cool tricks up its sleeve, like signal-detecting Auto-on circuitry. Once a signal is detected, the PVA 7 will turn itself on. It will also turn itself off 10 to 15 minutes after loss of signal. If you own the AVM 20, you can use the 12-volt trigger I/O, or you can simply use the front panel switch. It’s nice to have options. Another Anthem exclusive is the Advanced Load Monitoring circuitry. This monitors temperature, current and voltage to protect the sensitive output devices, which will increase the life of the product.
A single high-quality low-noise 850VA transformer supplies all seven channels. This common power topology is a cost-effective solution, delivering identical specs to each of its seven channels, something in the order of a 122 dB signal to noise ratio. The downside is that all channels are sharing the same transformer. Therefore, power drawn from one channel can rob the other channels, which lowers the dynamics and control of the remaining channels. Typically, this situation does not present many problems, but could add degradation to the sound quality, especially during listening sessions that cause sonic duress. That is the trade-off for economy. A difficult load of 86 dB, such as the NHT ST4’s, would not be a good match for the PVA 7, but with efficient speakers, like the 99 dB Klipsch RF-5’s, power should never be a problem.
Anthem’s goal was to make an ultra-quiet amplifier that offers good musicality and dynamics at a price point that will give its owner a fair amount of power with audiophile quality. The low noise floor gives the PVA 7 the nod for low-level detail with two-channel listening, or with multi-channel material that has quiet moments in the soundtrack. There is nothing more annoying than hearing hiss through a passage of a movie that has no music or dialogue. Once it’s gone, you really notice how obtrusive the noise was.