Anthem Statement D2 Surround Processor and Statement P5 Amplifier

Close to the edge.

I'm constantly amazed by the steadily improving sound of real-world-priced components, but it's fun to see how far mind-bogglingly fantastic high-end electronics have come. Yes, I have to admit that there's a certain amount of poseur gear that sports nosebleed pricing but doesn't really deliver sound that's much better than everyday good stuff. Have no such worries here, though. Anthem's Statement D2 surround processor and P5 amplifier are the real deal. Even by high-end standards, their capabilities are inspired.

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The reasons for the sonic splendor are too numerous to completely describe in this review, but I'll start with the Statement D2's digital upsampler, which works its magic on the sound of music and movies. Analog Devices' AD 1896 converter first gooses the sample rate of incoming digital signals up to 192 kilohertz with 24-bit resolution, and then the Anthem oversamples the data to increase the rate to 24.576 megahertz. Anthem claims that the upsampling and oversampling number-crunching allows for less severe reconstruction filters, which results in exceptionally flat frequency response and reduces distortion up to "20 times lower than some of the best high-end outboard DACs." Can I get an amen?

Over on the video side, the D2's proprietary 10-bit software taps the full potential of a Gennum GF9350 VXP digital image processor to convert your SD and HD video sources up to as high as 1080p resolution through the HDMI output. That's very cool.

The Statement D2's connectivity suite is simply the most complete I've seen. (Check out the At a Glance box for the full lowdown.) Faced with such a dizzying array of connections, I really appreciate that the inputs are all located on a black background, while the outputs are on white. This graphic layout certainly lowers the chances that you'll ever plug an output into an input jack. The Statement D2's four HDMI inputs provide ample connectivity options for Blu-ray and HD DVD players, cable boxes, and so on. Also noteworthy: This is one of the rare surround processors on the market that sports a headphone jack, which, I'm happy to report, produced great sound through my Grado RS-1 headphones.

Considering the vast range of setup options, Anthem's straight-ahead menu formatting is remarkably logical and easy to follow. Anthem provides two full-sized, fully backlit remotes, one for your main room and one for use in a second zone.

Heavyweight Sound
Unboxing the Statement P5 amplifier, all 130 pounds of it, was a workout. After I caught my breath and had the beast positioned on the floor next to my right speaker, I spotted something a little bit unusual: The amplifier has two power cables. You see, a standard 15-amp wall-outlet circuit maxes out at 1,800 watts, and, when the Statement P5 is going full tilt, it needs double that—3,600 watts. Unless you throw some wild and crazy parties, that level of power gorging isn't likely to happen all that often—or ever—but Anthem's designers didn't want this powerhouse to succumb to the limitations that a single wall-outlet circuit imposes. Remember that you'll need to connect the two power cords to outlets on two different circuit breakers in your house's main electrical panel for this scheme to work. Have your A/V installer check for ground loops, too. Methinks the Anthem engineers take their high-end aspirations seriously.

If you really want to discover why the Statement P5 is so big and heavy, do what I did and remove the amp's top cover. You'll see that the Statement P5 contains five monoblock amplifiers. Due to space and budget constraints, even the most expensive A/V receivers on the market have one common power supply for all channels. The Statement P5, on the other hand, has five totally independent power supplies. That might account for the amplifier's tremendously vivid imaging. This reminds me: If you're going for full 7.1-channel surround, you'll need to drop another $2,999 for the matching Statement P2 stereo amp. In that case, go ahead and hook up the Statement P2 to the front stereo speakers, and let the Statement P5 handle the other five channels. It's a smart move because, when you're listening in stereo, the D2 turns on only the P2.

The D2 and P2/P5 are bigger than your average high-end components. They're 19.25 inches wide, and, if that's too imposing to fit inside your cabinetry, Anthem offers 17.25-inch-wide versions.

Power and Control
The Anthems had an extraordinary ability to bring out the best in damn near everything I played. It was a blast to listen to WBGO, my local commercial-free jazz station, on the Statement D2's superb FM tuner. The Statement D2 immediately proved that cleanly received FM signals cream all-digital satellite-radio sound. With satellite radio, there's little dynamic range, and I've noticed only moderate stereo separation. Worse yet, the sound resembles low-bit-rate MP3s.

1206anthem.5.jpgNext, I spent some quality time basking in the warmth of Neil Young's new concert DVD, Heart of Gold. Neil and his backup singer's high harmonies sounded so sweet, I had to force myself to take notes, only occasionally jotting down my impressions of the Statement D2's contributions. The D2 seemed to draw out more of Young's innate musicality. The DVD's sound was purely magical.

Thanks to the Statement D2's superb bass management for its six-channel analog input, my SACD and DVD-Audio collection really shined. The D2 revealed much more spatial information on the Talking Heads' recently released DualDiscs than I'm used to. My two favorites, Fear of Music and Remain in Light, didn't merely surround me—David Byrne's layered vocals and the band's instruments filled the complete front-to-back space of my home theater. The spatial presentation was absolutely sensational. Treble resolution, detail, and air were on par with the best two-channel components. The Anthems' transparency unraveled the Heads' spectacularly dense and intricate mixes with a rare ease. If you're into SACD or DVD-Audio, the Statement D2 will be a revelation.

John Frankenheimer's revved-up spy thriller Ronin amply displayed the Anthems' home theater skills. The convoluted plot involves IRA terrorists, Russian mobsters, and ex-CIA agents, but, to tell you the truth, I had no idea what was going on half of the time. It was the car chases that kept me glued to the screen. Frankenheimer steered clear of CGI or fancy postproduction effects. The depiction of blinding speed is absolutely real—the terrified actors are really in cars racing through Paris at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. Thanks to the Anthems' über resolution, I sensed the claustrophobic reverberation of the BMWs, Peugeots, and Mercedes roaring through tunnels. The bass from my REL B2 subwoofer, fed by the Statement D2, supported the film's fast and furious tension with an exquisite precision.

At $6,699, the Statement D2 is expensive, and I'd bet that Anthem's AVM 30, AVM 40, and AVM 50 pre/pros get pretty darned close to the features and sound of the Statement D2—for a good deal less. I could say the same about Anthem's MCA 20, MCA 30, and MCA 50 power amplifiers; they share much of the Statement P5's engineering DNA. To describe the difference between the regular Anthem models and their Statement counterparts, I'd be tempted to call the D2 and the P5 the hot-rod versions, something akin to a pumped-up AMG edition of a Mercedes. But, if you want absolute state-of-the-art performance, the Anthem Statement D2 and Statement P5 are truly indispensable components.

Highlights
• State-of-the art audio and video processing
• Intoxicating power
• Add Statement P2 for 7.1 audio

COMPANY INFO
Anthem
(905) 362-0958
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