Anthem Statement D2 w Room Correction 
Home Theater Preamplifiers AV Preamps
Written by Ken Taraszka, MD   
Sunday, 01 June 2008

The most frequently overlooked aspect of a great-sounding audiophile or dedicated home theater system is the room itself. No matter how good your components are, you can’t beat the physics of a badly designed and/or optimized room without a little help. While there are many devices to control reflections such as diffusers and bass traps, in the real world, most of us have our systems installed in multi-use rooms of our homes, like the living room, that are subject to significant wife acceptance factor. We can’t treat all the corners with traps and pad the walls. In fact, our wives would think we needed to live in padded rooms just for making the suggestion. Even in multi-use rooms, getting professional acoustical advice is always the best bet, but the cost, aesthetics and effort often leaves us looking for other, more realistic solutions to audio nirvana.

The concept of room correction has been around for a while, but wasn’t affordable or even really that feasible until recently. High-end companies like TacT (Lyngdorf) have had two-channel room correction for years, and while they work very well, they were affordable for only a few. Newer players, like Neptune Audio, that just came out on the market have very cool 7.1-channel room correction systems for less money. Our in-house acoustician, Bob Hodas, tends to use pretty pricey Meyer Sound analog EQs when tuning his clients’ studios or audio rooms. Z Systems has made digital audio EQs for years that were very cool but often hard (or impossible) to integrate into a dedicated theater system. Audyssey has made inroads in the home theater receiver world as an additional feature, while Wisdom Audio is using their room correction technology in a higher-end system coming to market later this year. Sherwood Newcastle has their Trinnov Optimizer. Relative to this preamp, Anthem just released their own very cool room correction software, based on work done for the Athena Research Project by Canada’s National Research Council (NRC). The NRC did extensive research to find the best in-room target response. The point of this research was to optimize frequency response, taking take human hearing into account. Anthem’s new ARC uses this research’s findings to set their goal response.

The ARC is different than many room correction software systems, as it works on both high and low points. While many room correctors cut down the peaks, Anthem’s system also enhances low points, making for a more complete solution to the problems created by the room. The ARC system makes independent calculations for each and every speaker in the system, setting crossover points, output levels and room correction parameters. You can even set separate movie and music configurations and can take measurements in five to 10 different locations for each configuration.

To handle all these corrections, Anthem employs Super-EfficientInfinite Impulse Response filters to minimize potential delays andreduce processing gain noise to inaudible levels. The dual DSPprocessors in the Statement D1 or D2 processors easily handle thedemands of the ARC software, while during measurement taking, anattached PC’s 64-bit floating point processor does all the intensecalculations, minimizing rounding errors. This all comes together andallows Anthem to offer state-of-the-art room correction that is easy touse and very flexible. The ARC only does room correction; it does notcalculate distances, so you will still need to do this yourself. 

One other thing that really sets Anthem’s system apart is the attentionto detail. Each microphone is tested and calibrated for each processorand the included software. Most other companies’ microphones areassessed in bunches and the responses are averaged. Anthem chose totake the high road here, individually calibrating each and everymicrophone to give everyone who purchases this system the absolute bestperformance possible.

The ARC comes in all-new Anthem Statement D1 and D2 AV preamps and, asan add-on, the ARC-1 for any existing D1 or D2 for $399. The best partof the update is that you don’t need to send your processor back forit; all you need to do is give Anthem the serial number of the unit andthey send the software, cables and the individually calibratedmicrophone and mic stand to you. The only other thing you need is a PCrunning either Windows XP or Vista and a male-to-female RS-232 cable.

Included with the new Anthem statement D1 or D2 processors and theARC-1 add-on for existing processors are a software disc, individuallycalibrated microphone, a long USB cable and a stand. The stand is astraight bar with a weighted base and adjustable headpiece that allowsyou to angle the microphone, which is recommended to be vertical duringmeasurements. I might have liked an extension to allow me to moreeasily position the microphone where my ears would be for the differentseating positions, but I was able to get it there without difficulty.You won’t be doing these measurements very often, so the included standis more than adequate.

I have had the privilege of using an Anthem Statement D2 in my home fora year now. It is a favorite of this magazine’s reviewers, and for goodreason. The Anthem Statement D2 AV preamp is an amazing unit, offeringincredible flexibility, sound and video scaling. It is widely known asthe most reliable HDMI-based AV preamp currently on the market. I won’tdwell too much on the basics of this unit, as they have already beendocumented in a prior review. I will instead focus on the ARC roomcorrection. 

I placed the new D2 with ARC into my reference rig, which currently hasthe Definitive Technology Mythos ST speaker system powered by a MarkLevinson 433 amp for the fronts, a Proceed HPA-2 for the rears and aParadigm Servo 15v2 subwoofer. For sources, I used my ScientificAtlanta SA8300 HD DVR, Toshiba HD-XA2 and Teac Esoteric DV-50s. I usedTransparent Reference balanced interconnects to my amps and also usedtheir reference speaker wires.

Connecting the D2 was a snap, thanks to the simplicity HDMI offers witha single connection for both digital audio and video. I also rancoaxial digital cables from my sources, as I had some TransparentReference digital cables on hand, so I could use either the HDMI orcoaxial cable for the digital audio feed. I wired the DV-50s using sixanalog cables for multi-channel audio playback and ran the D2’s HDMIout to my Sony KDS-R70XBR2 TV through a Meridian HDMaxx 121 extender,all wired with Monster M1000 and AudioQuest HDMI cables.

I managed to get all the connections done in about 20 minutes, partlybecause it was pretty simple and partly because I have torn this systemapart so many times I could do it in my sleep. Once all the connectionswere made and my remote updated, I turned the system on and set thespeaker distances and levels as I normally would, using an analog SPLmeter. I was now ready for the room correction. I made sure obviousextraneous noises would not interfere, such as the grandfather clock orthe dogs, and loaded the software that Anthem includes onto my PC. Iconnected Anthem’s microphone and long included USB cable to thelaptop. In a minute, the microphone was recognized and the softwareprompted me to connect the PC via an RS-232 cable to the D2 processor. Once the pre/pro was recognized, I was ready to go. 

The Anthem software allows for five to 10 test points, and for separatemeasurements for both movies and music. A fully automated system isrecommended, but advanced options are available to custom-tailor thecorrection filters and crossover points. Once everything was connected,I again made sure all was quiet and started the software, which sent afull-frequency sweep tone through each of my speakers for each of thefive points I used.

Many of you familiar with other room correction will see similarities,though the test tones used by Anthem are very different than any I’dheard before. One thing that concerned me was that the test tonesstarted immediately after I clicked the start icon. I would havepreferred a little time to escape the room so that I couldn't affect themeasurements.  One time when I ran out of the room, and the sound Icreated registered the reading as erred. The program warned me thereading needed to be redone. Standing away from the mic and out of speaker array is adequate.  I repeated the measurements withoutincident, but was glad to see the system could pick up on extraneousnoises so accurately. Once all the measurements were done, a fewmoments of calculations occurred, the profile was uploaded to theprocessor and it was ready for use.

The Statement D2 allows massive flexibility in its control of roomcorrection, and each source can be set up independently. You can usedifferent room correction profiles based on your seating position, forexample, if you lie down for movies but sit up in a different area whenjamming tunes. It also takes into account varying room issues, such asclosed drapes that deaden a glass during movies. You can even turn theroom correction on or off for each source. I found this feature to beparamount in my reviewing of the ARC, as it allowed me to immediatelyA-B the processor with and without the room correction in effect.

Music and Movies
I started out with Ray Charles’ Genius Loves Company (Monster Music). This is one of the best-recorded albums I’ve heard in years and, sinceit first came out, has been something I have used to demo systems. Fromthe first track of “Here We Go Again” featuring Norah Jones, I wastotally amazed by how much of an improvement the ARC made. I switchedit on and off several times and the difference was huge. The soundstageopened up, getting much wider and giving a more open feel to the music,almost as if my system was just having an easier time reproducing it.This song is full of stand-up bass and, while I personally feel thisinstrument is overused in demoing audio gear, the bass tones camethrough smoother and clearer than without the ARC. Norah Jones’ voicewas better placed and truer to life. “Sorry Seems to be the HardestWord” adds Elton John into the mix. The vocals of the two men were morerealistic with the ARC, and there was better separation. On my favoritetrack of the album, “Fever,” the bass really shone. I know my room hasa node at 50 Hz, and this can readily be heard on this song, but notonce I engaged the ARC. The bottom end tightened up and any rumble thatwas present without the room correction was gone. I listened to thissong several times in awe of how much improved it was with the ARC.Several times, I tried to leave the room and switch it on and off fromafar so that when I came back in I would not know its state, but eachtime I immediately could tell accurately if the ARC was on or off – thedifferences were that easy to appreciate.

To test out the multi-channel experience, I cued up the Grateful Dead’sWorkingman’s Dead (Rhino) on DVD-Audio. “Uncle John’s Band” had betterdefinition in the bottom end, while also showing a livelier and moreopen nature to the midrange and highs. I was impressed at how muchbetter the surround speakers sounded with the ARC on, especially in asystem that has identical front and rear speakers. The front-to-backtransitions were more balanced and timbre-matched than before. I hadn’tnoticed the imbalance before, but once you A-B the ARC on and off, itwas clear that the ARC really improved the surround speakers’ output aswell. “Casey Jones” was so much more lifelike with the ARC on that Istopped comparing and just sat back and listened to the rest of thedisc. The benefits of the room correction were so apparent that I hadno need to test it further on this disc.

For movies, I put in the HD DVD of Dragonheart (Universal Studios HomeVideo) with Sean Connery as the voice of the last dragon on the planet.The movie is dated and a little weak, but it has some excellent audio.Sounds such as the breath of the dragon, the splashing of water andwaterfalls were better placed and more detailed. Again, the soundstagewas markedly wider than without the ARC and the bass was bettercontrolled without being subdued. Voices were easier to discern andthere seemed to even be better dynamics to the soundtrack. The balancebetween the five speakers was better as well, making transitionssmoother than without the room correction on. Sonically intense scenes,such as those of the dragon rising, were handled as well as the subtledetails of breaking twigs in the forest and hooves of horses strikingthe ground. Changes the ARC made to the sound were so significant thatit was tough not to see the difference.

The Downside
I usually find this one of the easiest sections to write in a review.My extreme demands allow me to pick apart minute problems in even myreference gear, but for the ARC, this section is the toughest I’ve everwritten, as there is virtually no downside. Perhaps from a less-is-moreperspective, the ARC processes more of your signal, but when you listento the system, it sounds better, so how can less be more in thisinstance?

I knew I had to try this system out when I heard what it could do for ahotel room at CES earlier this year, but I wasn’t prepared for what itdid for my room. The wider soundstage improved detail, bass control andaccuracy, as well as improving front-to-back balance in my system withidentical front and rear speakers. We all work to maximize theplacement of our front speakers, but even in my system, surroundspeaker placement is often a matter of where they fit, not where theywill sound best, and the ARC really showed me how much better thesespeakers could perform.

If you own one of these processors, call your local Anthem dealer immediately with theserial number of your unit and the $399 for the ARC-1. It will be thebest audio investment you’ve made in a long time. If you are lookingfor a high-end processor and considered the Anthem Statement line buthaven’t bought one yet, you need to go re-listen to it with the ARC.This has improved so much on an already kick-ass piece that you won’tbelieve your ears. 

The Anthem Room Correction software makes a huge improvement to what isalready one of the best processors made. The enhanced clarity anddetail, as well as the wider and deeper soundstage, make this amust-have for anyone who already owns a D1 or D2 processor, and trulyraises the bar previously set by the Anthem Statement processors to awhole new level. I have lived with an Anthem Statement D2 for over ayear now without the room correction. After only a short time with thenew model with the ARC, I can’t imagine how I lived without it.
Manufacturer Anthem
Model Statement D2 with Anthem Room Correction AV Preamp
Reviewer Ken Taraszka, M.D
Extras FM/AM Tuner • RS-232

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