The Master of Multiroom Multitasking
Let's start with the basics. Anthem's AVM30 crams eight high-end components into one box - preamplifier, digital-to-analog (DAC) converter, surround-sound processor, HDTV video switcher, multiroom/whole-house entertainment control center, AM/FM tuner, and headphone preamplifier. (All right, they're reaching a bit on the part about the headphone preamplifier counting as a high-end component; but some prepros don't bother to include headphone preamps, so cut them some slack, okay?) The truly special part comes in the ability to customize and control the AVM30 and a design that enables it to distribute video - and we're talking component video outputs, here - throughout your home as effectively as it distributes audio.
Some people might call it psychotic. Others would use the less judgmental "multitasking" epithet. I prefer to refer to the AVM30's ability to operate in four separate zones of your home - with any source playing in any of the four areas and users able to watch one source while listening to a different one - as "mucho bueno". But what's truly amazing is the fact that the AVM30 can operate two complete 7.1-channel home theater systems at the same time! (I shudder to think of the size of the invoice for all the amplifiers needed to fully take advantage of all the AVM30 has to offer, but I know several audio/video salespeople who'll gladly total it all up.)
Anthem didn't spend all their engineering time on the multiroom aspects, either. The AVM30's Digital Signal Processor uses Motorola's 56367 DSP chip and includes a wealth of surround-sound decoding capabilities starting with Anthem's own Anthem-Logic Music and Anthem-Logic Cinema. There's also Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby EX, DTS Neo:6, EX Matrix, ES Discrete, and THX Ultra2/THX Surround EX (with four optional modes). Several unnamed Anthem engineers are going without sleep or conjugal visits so that Dolby Pro Logic IIx software can be made available as soon as possible via free download from Anthem's website. (You can feel sorry for them after they've finished the job.) Anthem also claims that another unique aspect to the AVM30 is the inclusion of THX Audio Setup which offers flexibility with THX processing that's not found in other surround-sound processors on the market. According to Anthem, with the AVM30 in their system, audiophiles (and plain, regular movie lovers) "can adjust rear-speaker delay in a 7.1 setup to achieve the best surround sound when applying THX, and a Boundary Gain Compensation feature improves bass balance in rooms where subwoofer placement causes a 'boomy' bass and disables Re-EQ when THX is on."
All those other preamp/processors out there: consider yourselves served.