|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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The Statement A5, little brother to Anthem’s top of the line Statement P5 multi-channel amplifier, has many of the best qualities of the Anthem flagship powerhouse in a smaller, less pricey package. From the sleek black brushed aluminum face with blue accent lights outside to the Advanced Load Monitoring (ALM ) technology inside, it doesn’t feel like corners were cut, yet this feature-packed 180 watts per channel amplifier has a retail price of $2,499. For two-channel enthusiasts, a two-channel version of this amp, appropriately named the A2, is available at a retail price of $1,299.
The design philosophy behind the Statement line of amplifiers is “keep it simple”: use as few parts as possible, use the best quality parts available and keep the price within the Earth’s atmosphere. Although there is a laundry list of features that make the Statement A5 and A2 amplifiers unique, to the lay person, the end result is one of the easiest-to-set-up-and-use amplifiers that I have ever had the pleasure of auditioning.
Although Anthem pride themselves on having “simple” amplifiers, there is no shortage of technology packed into this baby. Rated at 180 watts per channel into eight ohms (200 per channel for the A2), the A5 features massive toroidal power supplies, oversize convection-cooled aluminum heat sinks, mirror-imaged frequency-response channel matching and a no-fuse design. An outstanding signal to noise ratio of 120 dB allows for incredible detail in music and sound effects in movies that are mixed at very low levels.
A5 amplifiers each have eight bipolar output devices per channel in the amplification stage, which allows for a large reserve of power. This is important when watching action movies with large explosions or listening to music with large, rapid crescendos.
On the outside, the A5 is beautifully built, with smooth black curved front corner panels flanking a black brushed aluminum faceplate. Weighing in at 57 pounds, the A5 is light enough for most able-bodied adults to move it around while installing it in a rack, cabinet or on the floor. I recently had the comparably-priced but much heavier Adcom GFA-7805 ($2,599) five-channel amplifier in my system and the almost 40-pound weight difference made installing the A5 a pleasure rather than a chore. A reset switch, five gold speaker wire binding posts, five rows of XLR and gold RCA jacks and the power cord plug round out the back panel.
At its core, the Anthem A5 shares many similarities with the previous Anthem MCA series. The MCA amplifiers are noteworthy performers as well, but many found their boxy silver design a little cold cosmetically. Unlike its big brother P5, the A5 automatically senses which type of input is being used and switches internally, saving you the hassle of having to flip a series of switches should you decide to change from one type of cord to another. I have seen installers put a system together only to find that one of the channels in the loop isn’t working. On other amps, one of the switches might be set to the wrong type of input, but this may not be obvious, so before you know it, the homeowner or installer is scratching his or her head, wondering if perhaps one of the amplifier channels is blown out. Assuming all of the cords are property plugged in, this should never be an issue with the A5’s auto-input-sensing capabilities.
From a practical standpoint, the A5 has a nice feature that allows the amp to remain on, but when no signal is passed to the amp for 20 minutes, it automatically turns off. When you fire up your system and send an audio signal to the amp, it automatically turns on. The are two other options for turning the amp on, including the standard on/off switch and a 12v trigger that would be controlled via the 12V output from a preamp. I will admit that I am terrible about turning off my gear, so I opted for the auto-off setting. This surely has saved me some dough when my electrical bill comes each month by not accidentally leaving the amp on all day long when I’m not home. There is a small delay when the amp turns back on, which means you may see picture on your TV a few moments before sound kicks in when you power up your system, so don’t start cranking the volume knob if you don’t hear your music or movie immediately. It only took me doing this one time to quickly learn a lesson in patience.
A modular interior design makes repairing the amplifier much easier, as the damaged channel can be removed for repair or replacement. This may not sound like a huge selling feature, but things can and do happen to even the best-made audio/video gear and the moment something goes awry with an amp and it has to be pulled out of a system and boxed up for shipping, you’ll be wishing you had a modular system like the A5. After obviously unplugging the power cord, the top cover can be removed with a Philips screwdriver and the malfunctioning channel can be removed and replaced or repaired. In the meantime, the amplifier can still be used, minus the missing channel. If you had a surround system and one of the channels on the amplifier died, you could simply wire up the front, left and right channels to three of the functional channels and unplug the two rear/surround speakers and at least have a system while you are taking care of the one channel that is not working. With Anthem’s reputation for reliability, I don’t foresee needing to deal with this any time soon, but knowing how easy it is to take care of should the situation ever arise is a good feeling.
I was able to audition this amplifier with a few surround sound systems, including a complete RBH MC Series system, Energy’s Connoisseur and Anthony Gallo Acoustics Micro satellite speakers. The primary system for this review is the RBH set-up, consisting of a pair of WM-24 left and right wall-mounted speakers, the MC-414 MK II center channel and a pair of MC-615-70 in-ceiling speakers. After connecting the XLR outputs of my Anthem AVM30 to the amplifier inputs and then connecting my XLO speaker wire to the large and solid posts on the back of the amp, I was in business. Moving out the old amp took more time than getting this one in the batter’s box.