Anthem AVM 50 Preamp/Processor and MCA 50 Amplifier Page 2

SETUP After swapping my AVM 30 and reference amp for the new gear, I connected my HD DVD player and high-def cable box to the AVM 50 via HDMI. The Anthem's HDMI output fed a Sim2 1080p front projector (see review), though for good measure, I also checked its video on Sony's new 40-inch, 1080p XBR flat-panel LCD.

Like the AVM 30, the AVM 50 gives you incredible setup flexibility. On the audio side, you can independently adjust speaker crossover frequency for the left, right, center, main surrounds, back surrounds, and subwoofer channels; select center-speaker EQ to compensate for placement atop a TV or inside furniture; and create a custom notch filter to purge boom-inducing room-resonance peaks. You can also set up separate Cinema and Music speaker configurations with bass-management settings customized for source material with and without a low-frequency effects (LFE) track.

0610_anthemremoteFor video, you can choose component-video or HDMI as your default high-def output and choose from a long list of signal formats, including 1080i/p (at 24, 30, and 60 Hz frame rates) and some unusual ones found on plasma TVs (1366 x 768, anyone?). You can even specify high- or standard-definition color space.

But those are just the basics. A video-processor menu lets you configure source-specific picture settings for each component hooked up to the AVM 50. The options include cropping to remove noise at the picture edges (a common problem with cable TV), 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios with various zoom and stretch modes, and a full suite of picture adjustments such as color, hue, brightness, contrast, noise reduction, and detail enhancement.

One of the Anthem's most powerful tools is its Source Setup/Preset menu, which lets you map any analog or digital audio and video input on the preamp to a specific source and have that preset path come up any time you select that source. Using this feature, I set my HD DVD player and cable box to run both digital audio and high-def video signals through the AVM 50's HDMI inputs. I then set up additional presets to handle 480i video and digital audio signals coming from both the HD DVD player and cable box's component-video and coaxial digital outputs.

This strategy let me pass 1080i HDTV signals from both sources through the processor essentially unaltered, except to boost them to 1080p. And for standard-def DVDs and cable signals, the AVM 50 applied its magic video enhancements while handling chores such as formatting the aspect ratio of 4:3 TV programs. All I had to do to make this stuff happen was press the corresponding source button on the Anthem's remote. Nice!