|Anthem Statement D2 AV Preamplifier|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers AV Preamps|
|Written by Matthew Evert|
|Friday, 01 December 2006|
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Anthem, known for value-priced audiophile-grade electronics, quickly established itself in the high roller market with their D1 AV preamp. With surprisingly good sound, at a price lower than you might expect from the big boys, Anthem quickly became the value leader in the home theater industry. With many market changes, specifically a fast-changing HDMI switching space, Anthem is back with a new flagship AV preamp called the Statement D2. Its goal is clear: to dominate and conquer the world of high-end AV preamps. The Anthem D2 is priced in with some heavyweights with a retail tag of $6,699.
Visually, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the Anthem Statement D2 and the now discontinued D1 unless you are looking for the fine details up close. They both are five-and-seven-eighths inches tall by 17-and-a-quarter inches wide by 15-and-one-quarter inches deep. The same elegantly simple brushed aluminum faceplate houses the same buttons and layouts for both. A burly 14-awg steel chassis adds protection and heat dissipation for all the elaborate electronics contained within. The faceplate has flared extruded aluminum handles that can be supplemented with rack mounts as an option. Bright blue indicator LEDs and the two line blue vacuum-fluorescent displays are strikingly similar to those familiar with the D1. In fact, the only things that really stand out as different are the newly updated white badges, which now include HDMI and Gennum VXP logos.
The D2 gained about three pounds over the D1 to reach 27 pounds. Those three pounds should not be compared to an enlarged beer gut; instead, they are more closely related to newly acquired muscle packed onto the arms of the D2. The addition of the video processing and HDMI switching is the source of this new girth and it is a welcome sight to anyone with passion for home theater, especially those on the cutting edge of HD DVD and/or Blu-ray, those who are lucky enough to have landed a Playstation 3 or people who are looking for a simpler way to connect their HD receivers and recorders.
The Anthem Statement D2 improves on the Anthem AVM30 platform. Many of the onscreen options, remote, front panel, back panel and even internal components are shared between all platforms mentioned above. The Statement D2 does upgrade some critical components. resulting in some pretty fantastic sound processing. One of these noteworthy improvements is upgraded AKM® analog-to-digital/digital-to-analog converters (one for each of the eight audio channels) capable of up to 24-bit 192-kHz resolution. Processing is provided by dual Freescale DSP 56367 engines, and all digital inputs are converted to 192 kHz by the same built-in up-sampler that the D1 made famous.
The Anthem Statement D2 comes with video processing that many of the in-the-know engineers in the business (many of whom work for competing brands) rave about. In today’s “there’s always a higher resolution video format” world, this is important, because in the case of the D2, you have a chance to take legacy formats like DVD, older video games and even something like D-VHS and scale it up to as high as 1080p if you actually own a true 1080p-capable video device. Truth be told, most people don’t have 1080p, even many of those who bought “1080p” sets in the last year or two. Many of those sets simply scale from 1080i to 1080p. 99 plus percent of plasmas are not 1080p at this stage, but it is important to note that nearly every set coming to market from now on is 1080p-capable, even plasmas. The significance of this is that an Anthem D2 can scale you up to the native resolution of your set for sources that aren’t up to today’s (and likely tomorrow’s) standards. Anyone who has seen what kind of problems a good video processor can solve will tell you that it can be really useful. It is also important to note that even the most impressive, stand-alone video processors at the cost-no-object level can not make 480i (the resolution of a standard DVD) into something that looks as good as native 1080p from generation two HD DVD or today’s 1080p Blu-ray.
Connectivity, coming in and going out of the D2, is plentiful and complete. The highlights are that it will switch between four (yes – I said four) HDMI, four component video inputs, seven composite and seven S-Video inputs. All of these except for composite can go from their native resolution to your actual resolution. For example, a Toshiba generation one HD DVD player outputs 1080i and can be deinterlaced from 1080i to 1080p (a much easier scaling task) in the D2. A DVD player connected using a component input at 480i can be scaled to match the resolution of your HDTV – say 1080p – which is a far more challenging scaling project. Nevertheless, your D2 not only manages a good number of inputs, it makes sure they are being pumped into your display device at the highest possible resolution. This is no small feat and in comparison to other video scalers I have seen in DVD players, receivers and even some less expensive stand-alone devices, the D2 is a very capable video processor. On DVDs I tested going either through the D2 or direct from my DVD player into my 1080i projector, you could see fewer “jaggies” and less visual flutter when connected through the D2. Motion artifacts were less evident, which was especially useful when comparing displays of NFL football recorded on my DVR. In every case, I would rather have my input connected into the D2, not just because it’s more convenient (which it is), but because the picture looks markedly better.
In terms of audio connections, there are seven pairs of digital coaxial and analog inputs and three digital optical inputs. Completing the list are six channel analog inputs (good for DVD-Audio, SACD and some early HD disc players from Blu-ray and HD DVD if you use the analog audio outs for discs without TrueHD audio), three 12V triggers, eight unbalanced XLR and RCA speaker outputs, a RS-232 port and a partridge in a pear tree. The Anthem Statement D2 is one of the best-equipped AV preamps on the market in terms of switching and connectivity. Some preamps and receivers have an HDMI input or two, but not many have this offering.