Anthem Statement D2 Pre/Pro
When we first reviewed Anthem’s Statement D2 in the December 2006 issue, HDMI switching was just emerging. But it wasn’t as crucial as it is today, now that next-gen audio and video applications are firmly established. There’s a story to be told in how the Statement D2 increased its utility in the connectivity tumult of these last two years. And there’s another story in its ability to stand tall even now, as onboard decoding of the advanced audio formats is now emerging in AVRs and pre/pros. The Statement D2 has adapted to the evolving standards and features that HDMI carries. Now at $7,499, the Statement D2 offers an advanced auto-setup and room-calibration system that furthers its value. It’s worth a fresh look.
Since this is a follow-up, I’ll highlight the new information and features and refer you back to the December 2006 review for the basics.
It’s HDMI’s World, Dawg
The Statement D2 includes four HDMI 1.1 inputs and one output. While that might seem to be at least two HDMI versions out of date, it works. Here’s how. The D2’s HDMI inputs handle all of the current flavors of 1080p with aplomb, including 24 and 60 frames per second. In addition, it’s lossless-audio friendly. It processes multichannel high-resolution PCM over HDMI, so any next-gen player that decodes Dolby TrueHD and/or DTS-HD Master Audio to multichannel PCM is fair game.
Lots of promises have been made with HDMI 1.3. But the fact is, Deep Color and x.v.Color remain figments of marketing people’s imaginations as far as packaged and broadcast high-def media are concerned.
I had been using the Anthem AVM 50 for months before the D2 arrived earlier this year. Updates to the two went hand in hand. Over these many months, Anthem’s team delivered exceptional response time with HDMI updates that fix the sticky little problems that inevitably arise. For example, when the PS3 updated to 1080p/24, it first relied on the HDMI handshake to determine whether it would send 1080p/24 over HDMI, which didn’t happen with some displays. Sony eventually provided a forced 1080p/24 mode, but Anthem beat them to it with its own firmware update.
While I don’t review as much gear as I used to, I’ve had an eclectic mix of HDMI 1.2- and 1.3-equipped displays and Blu-ray players marching through my system. (And I use a Comcast high-def DVR that’s HDMI version god only knows.) Although the Statement D2’s video processing re-syncs when the input signal’s resolution changes (like switching from a 1080i cable channel to 1080p Blu-ray), it’s rock solid in everyday use. I haven’t had any HDMI-related connectivity issues I can lay at the Statement D2’s feet, which is impressive. And if I ever do, Anthem’s track record suggests it will ride to the rescue with an update posthaste.
We didn’t dig deep into the video processing the first time around, but the D2’s Gennum solution is first rate. It offers a level of utility that’s unsurpassed in my experience. It passed all of the tests Kris Deering devised for the AVR video-processing feature in our June issue. It passed 1080p signals to the very limits in pristine form. It superbly scaled and deinterlaced standard-def sources. And it handled 3:2 pulldown with 1080i sources, which means broadcast 1080i won’t be compromised.
The defaults for the video processing are shrewd enough that most people will never have to dig deeper. For those who need to tweak, the useful variables will keep them busy for months.
I only have one thing on my wish list for the Statement D2, in respect to video. I’d like a simple-to-engage passthrough that passes every video signal through as is, at its native resolution and frame rate, with no processing. But don’t get me wrong, that would merely be the proverbial icing.
Anthem added a major update that’s available as a $400 add-on for current Statement D1 and D2 owners and is included for new D2 buyers. It’s called the Anthem Room Correction auto-setup and room-EQ system, or ARC, since that sounds so cool. The ARC consists of a microphone and stand, and a CD with software that drives the process. ARC uploads new firmware, and you must install it and run it from a PC connected via RS-232. While this isn’t as simple as an integrated system you can engage over the onscreen display, there are advantages to it, as you’ll see.
ARC’s development started with research done in Canada’s famed National Research Council in the ’90s. Now the processing power required for such an elaborate system doesn’t require a supercomputer the size of a refrigerator. In the D2’s case, it requires just two big DSP boards. The system allows more cut than boost (the latter limited to 6 decibels). In default mode, the EQ is active only to 5 kilohertz, which allows a natural rolloff in high frequencies at the listening positions. (The Advanced mode lets the user run EQ all the way up to 20 kHz.)
It’s fast and easy to run ARC in Simple mode. When you’re ready at each position, you press Go, and test signals play through each speaker. It took me about 20 to 25 minutes to take the measurements at five listening positions set at least 1 foot apart and to upload the results from the PC to the D2.