|Anthem Statement A5 Multi-channel Power Amplifier|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Multi-Channel Amplifiers|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Monday, 01 August 2005|
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“Team America: World Police” (Paramount), the latest feature film from “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, is a high-budget spoof of horrible action movies like “Pearl Harbor,” “Thunderbirds” and “SWAT.” It stars one-third-scale animated marionettes and features a host of musical numbers and, at its climax, some huge explosions that make the soundtrack to “Top Gun” seem tame by comparison. Parker and Stone’s band DVDA provides “Team America’s” battle song “America - F**K Yeah!” right before an aerial dogfight with North Korean Air Force planes. The planes on screen may be on wires, but the sound effects are right out of a Michael Bay blockbuster. The Anthem A5 was given a workout as the bullets seemingly flew around my living room and explosions were shaking my walls. With my moderately-sized home theater speakers, I was in no danger of running out of gas with the Anthem A5 powering them. The ominous action movie musical score underlying the scene is intentionally clichéd, featuring orchestral crescendos, horn runs, strings section accents and tympani rolls. All of these details were reproduced with amazing clarity and immediacy, as was the dialogue as the characters have discussions amongst themselves a la the Death Star sequence at the end of “Star Wars.”
While Ben Affleck was learning how to play poker and gallivanting around town earning the nickname Bennifer, his buddy Matt Damon was busy making one of the most underrated thrillers of 2004. In “The Bourne Supremacy” (Universal), espionage and betrayal traverses the globe as Damon’s Black Ops agent Jason Bourne is being hunted by both the FBI and a terrorist organization who want to frame him. In the scene in Munich Germany where Bourne sneaks into a fellow agent’s home to confront him and find stolen information, the low noise floor of the A5 with its (reported) 120 dB signal to noise ratio made a welcome addition to my system. No music plays for a long period of time and only the subtle sounds of cars passing outside, doors slowly opening and soft footsteps can be heard. Lesser amps lose detail at low levels like this. The beauty of the Anthem is that I can keep the volume at a decent level and still hear these soft sounds. Then, when the action intensifies, I’m not scrambling to find the volume control to turn it back down. With some noisier amplifiers, you sometimes have to be your own mixing engineer.
Queen’s tune “Bohemian Rhapsody” from the DVD-Audio release of A Night at the Opera (DTS Entertainment) is still one of the best go-to tracks when you want to show your surround sound music system off to a 5.1 newbie. You all know the song unless you have been living on another planet and they didn’t have copies of “Wayne’s World” on DVD there. It’s so familiar that I could just lay back and see if the amplifier did anything to the sound of the song that distracted, or perhaps made it more sonically interesting compared to the Adcom GFA-7805 amplifier or the high-end Integra DTR-10.5. What I noticed about the Anthem after listening to the song with the slightly more powerful Adcom amp was a more even frequency response across the board. It didn’t bring up the lows as much, making it seem bright in relative terms. I have heard the A5 referred to as a “bright” amp, but what I think people mean by this is, as the volume is increased, since there isn’t a big bump on the low end, it makes the amp seem to be accenting the high range. I didn’t feel a big bump in any frequency with the A5 in the loop. Brian May’s self-made guitars have a tone that is all their own and you don’t want to go putting an amp in your system that makes them sound a little like Fender Strats or Gibson Les Pauls. I wanted it to sound like Brian May and, with the A5, that is exactly what it sounded like.
System of a Down makes, bar none, the hardest, most aggressive Armenian heavy metal music around and it still blows my mind that mainstream alternative rock music radio stations have embraced their unorthodox, non-Western melodies and syncopated rhythms. On System’s newest album Mezmerize (Columbia Records), they pay tribute to what they think of George Bush’s war in Iraq on the song “B.Y.O.B.” As guitarist and backing vocalist Daron Malakian screams, “Why do they always send the poor?” at a volume and pitch that might break glass, the song busts into a riff so intense that I feared the amp might explode. This two-channel track thunders along and, on what could easily be a mix that is too intense and breaks town, the Anthem A5 was able to provide plenty of juice. Metal can prove a tough test for an amp and speaker system to reproduce accurately. However, the A5 performed flawlessly. As with the Queen track, it did not bump the high end and a high crossover level on my sub filled in the low end from my smallish RBH on-walls.