Madrigal Proceed AVP2

The fifth generation of any new product cycle is typically when the big benefits begin to reach affordable levels. Madrigal's Proceed AVP2 is very much in this tradition---the new multichannel audio-video surround processor shares plenty of technology found in the $30,000 Mark Levinson #40 Media Console, but the AVP2 sells for only $6,495.

Features found in both models include the digital interface receiver (DIR), the "Intelligent FIFO" digital input buffer, and differential DACs for left and right front channels. The #40 and the AVP2 have "identical processing hardware and software," according to Madrigal, and both use four "SHARC" 32-bit fixed/floating point processors for the main zone.

The AVP2 is a significant improvement over the original AVP, Madrigal claims, with considerable attention placed on output buffer performance and the analog volume control. Owners of the orginal AVP may purchase an upgrade to the AVP2 or to the AVP2 +6, a custom version with six analog input channels for high-resolution multichannel sound, such as SACD or DVD-Audio. The two high-rez formats have no standard digital interconnect format at present.

The AVP2 allows down-conversions or mixdowns of multichannel recordings for two-channel playback, or conversely, allows such signals to be passed along intact. The preamp-processor also parallels analog and digital signals in its record-out mode, or "Rzone." Such a feature would be extremely useful in making compilation CDs from a variety of analog sources.

Capable of decoding up to eight channels, the AVP2 handles dts, dts-ES, Dolby Digital, THX Surround EX, MPEG-2, HDCD, and PCM-originated digital audio signals up to 24bit.96kHz, including Dolby Pro Logic II. Madrigal's proprietary Stereo Surround mode can be used to enhance two-channel recordings. The Middletown, CT-based company, a unit of Harman International, says that other processing options will be made available through future software releases.

A companion video processor, the $1495 CVP2, enables switching of component video signals, a process essential to maintain maximum image quality. The CVP2 passes through all high-definition video signals, Madrigal emphasizes. The CVP2 is "yet another example of Mark Levinson technologies . . . high performance, seamless integration, and exceptional value," says Madrigal president Mark Glazier.