|Anthem Statement D1 AV Preamplifier|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers AV Preamps|
|Written by Christopher Zell, Ph.D.|
|Monday, 01 November 2004|
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When I acquire a new component, I am extremely impatient to get it in the system, and I find myself immediately checking it out and playing with it. Forget reading the details in the manual, let’s get it cranking. This is often easier said than done with something as complex as the Anthem D1. Fortunately, this is where the convenient “Quick Start” section near the front of the manual comes into play. You can set up a few sources and your amplifiers in a relatively short period of time with the aid of this section, particularly the schematic diagrams. Once the unit was roughly inserted into the system, I then read the manual to fine-tune and optimize the D1, while enjoying it all at the same time. Often this is the case, as I like to just watch a movie or concert video right off the bat after minimal optimization, satisfying my unhealthy need for instant gratification, all the while keeping my expectations relatively low and realistic during these initial stages.
The entire set-up menu structure can be accessed via the OSD or the front panel, a welcome feature for those who would otherwise be forced to turn on their video display or projector every time an adjustment is desired. The OSD is not available on the component video outputs, but the user can individually select whether or not the composite and S-Video outputs receive it. The position of the OSD overlay (bottom, middle or top), the background color, and whether the Main and Zone 2 video outputs receive various adjustment updates are all configurable. The adjustable color is said to allow different monitors to synchronize properly if the menus appear unstable. With my projector, the lower portion of the display flickered somewhat regardless of the background chosen, but I suspect that was an issue with the projector, not the D1.
Even with features common to virtually all home theater preamps and receivers such as bass management, listener position and loudspeaker set-up, the Anthem D1 sets itself apart by virtue of its extra versatility and adjustability. For example, listening positions are adjustable to within 0.5 feet (or 0.2 meters), and loudspeaker calibration and main output levels in 0.5 dB increments (the unfortunately normal 1 dB increment is much too coarse, in my opinion). All crossover frequencies are adjustable in convenient five Hertz increments, and the cutoff point for the subwoofer and the high pass frequencies for the fronts, center, surrounds and rears are all completely independent.
The Speaker Configuration Menu has the usual settings for speakers present (5.1, 7.1 etc.), size (small or large), and crossover frequency. But there are a few new twists incorporated in the Anthem D1, including special equalization settings for center channels placed in a wall unit, on a bookshelf or on top of a TV (with settings available for the width of the TV). I bypassed this equalization, since my current available center channel speakers are stand-mounted below a projection screen. Surround and rear speakers are selected according to their radiation patterns, either direct or dipole. Anthem claims that no delay is necessary for dipoles speakers since the sound is already delayed through room reflections. Any surround speakers specified as dipole will have their distance set automatically equal the greatest distance entered in the “listening position” menu, thereby ensuring they will have no delay. I’m not sure if I agree with this or not, since there is still significant direct localization heard from even dipoles. My reference Revel surrounds are set as direct monopoles anyway, so I did not play with this feature extensively, nor did it concern me.
Subwoofer hook-up is very flexible, starting with the selection of none, one, or two, and the option to receive low bass from all speakers, even those set to large. I have run into a few processors and receivers that have this “double bass” as the only option, which I do not think is proper. Having the option to augment all bass content is fine, but I don’t want it forced on me and, thankfully, Anthem has done it right. Throughout this evaluation, I never employed this added bass feature. A very useful room resonance filter with adjustable center frequency, filter depth and width is available to tame a prominent room response peak. I have discussed this issue in a couple of my recent subwoofer reviews, and I applaud Anthem for including this in their D1 processor. A variable level test tone sweep from 18 Hertz up to the crossover frequency facilitates finding these peaks, and it is also useful for optimizing the placement of subwoofer(s). I utilized both single and dual subwoofers over the last few months, and the filter came in very handy, especially in single subwoofer applications. Subwoofer options also include phase, polarity, peak level and THX boundary gain compensation. Two complete bass management configurations are allowed, referenced as “Cinema” and “Music.” The music configuration defaults to a copy of cinema, which is how I left it. After much finagling, I settled on a 60 Hz crossover for the left and right main speakers, 80 Hz for the surrounds, and either 80 or 100 Hz for the center channel as I fluctuated between single and dual subwoofers.
After setting up the loudspeakers in my 7.1 system by entering the distances and setting the levels to within 0.5 dB according to my Radio Shack SPL meter, I moved on to source set-up. I won’t even attempt to explain all of the options here, since it would take much too long. Sources can be renamed, audio inputs can be specified as digital, analog pass-through or analog DSP, video synch-up delays can be set, video source assigned, subwoofer configuration chosen, and mode and THX preferences can be picked that will be applied when a source is selected or main power turned on. Anthem’s “last used” selection was most useful, since I tend to use a universal CD/DVD/DVD-Audio/SACD player, and spin discs in groups of a particular type, making the most likely choice whatever was previously selected. Relative levels for each input can be chosen, which is useful for matching volume levels, or purposely lowering some, similar to what I chose with the FM/AM tuner to make it come on gracefully.
One option I used extensively, to great effect, was copying the surround speaker information to the rear channels. Often, I would temporarily lower the level of the rear speakers, and the end result was more spacious without being obtrusive. Speaking of temporary level adjustments, I consider remote control hot keys that provisionally change front, subwoofer, surround, and center speaker levels to be mandatory, while adjusting to specific DVD mixes, different DVD sources and increasing the center and lowering the subwoofer, especially for late-night listening.
The D1 features six different timers similar to an alarm clock, two each for all three zones. At times, my home theater room doubles as a sleeping space, so I utilized the main zone timers for a gentle wake-up in the morning, and also to turn off at night after I had fallen asleep. Each timer can be set to function on weekdays, weekends or both, which is very convenient for nine-to-fivers that operate on different weekend schedules.
Initially, I had a problem with occasional spurious noise bursts in the surround speaker outputs when a new digital stream was detected. This problem was readily solved by downloading new firmware, and changing an initial signal mute delay parameter in the “Source Set-up.” Software updating is very simple with the D1, simply download the latest firmware from the Anthem Statement website, “statement.anthemav.com,” and connect your PC or laptop via a serial port to the D1. One word of caution might be in order: updating the firmware took a very long time, at least from my fairly new laptop. Until I disabled all screen and power saver options, the process was continually aborted before completion. I spent one scary night with a completely dead D1, but once I forced the laptop to be live at all times, the situation was quickly rectified. (After brought to Anthem's attention, they will be adding a notice in the manual regarding disabling power saver during installation.