Writing this review is causing me stress. I know the first rule of modern product reviewing: “Always have a good ‘but’.” Sure you can wax breathlessly for a good thousand words about a product, but you’d better wrap things up with a snarky caveat: “The image generated by this display is fantastic, but really, the manufacturer should have built in a Cuisinart.”
Honestly, though? I’ve got nothing. If I have but one complaint about Anthem’s new Statement D2v A/V Processor, it’s that it didn’t come into my life sooner.
I suppose I could point out that it takes a few seconds to get a picture when firing up the processor, or when switching from one video input to another. But doing so would simply call attention to one of the D2v’s more exclusive selling points: its built-in Sigma Designs VXP Digital Image Processor, an updated version of the scaler/video processor found in the original Statement D2.
Make no mistake about it: This isn’t simply a gussied-up version of the S-video-and-component-to-HDMI conversion found on many receivers and A/V processors. It’s a broadcast-quality image processor with the sort of advanced de-interlacing and noise reduction functionality normally found in high-end projectors and external video scalers.
Other upgrades include an additional four HDMI inputs, for a grand total of eight. And if you’ve peeked at the back of a processor or receiver lately, I don’t need to tell you that’s a lot of HDMI inputs. I’ve never before been able to connect all of my HDMI-capable devices at once. Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been forced to pick and choose, falling back on component video for some sources. Now I have four empty HDMI inputs taunting me, begging to be filled by more sources. It’s such a burden to bear.
Also new is Anthem’s proprietary room correction system (ARC), a sophisticated calibration tool that’s included with every D2v (and available as an upgrade for existing D1 and D2 owners).
When I first unpack and hook up the D2v, though, I forgo running the ARC software for a couple of days, just to get a sense of what the processor sounds like manually calibrated.
I also do this so I can test out the Perfect Bass Kit included with the pair of beautiful Paradigm Studio SUB 12 subwoofers the company sends to ensure that I get the full Paradigm/Anthem effect.
Note, though, the PBK isn’t necessary when running ARC. You can read my web-exclusive review of the SUB 12 and Perfect Bass Kit here.
Even with a standard calibration, I have to admit that the D2v is, by far, the single most sumptuous sounding processor I’ve ever heard, especially when paired with Anthem’s Statement A5 Multichannel Amplifier.
The sound delivered by the combo is best described as smooth and effortless, rich and incredibly detailed. So often, when reviewing surround sound gear, one is forced to hunt for distinctive words to characterize subtle differences.
There’s nothing subtle about the improvements I’m hearing, though. It’s like the aural equivalent of one of those allergy medication commercials, where a hazy film is peeled away to reveal a crisper, more vibrant world.
After a few days of this, I finally run the Anthem Room Correction software, which, I should mention, requires the use of a PC or Mac running Windows XP or Vista. The computer in question should also have a 9-pin serial port, which most modern computers don’t by default. Finding an add-on, or even a USB-to-serial adapter, shouldn’t be a problem.
With the PC connected to the D2v’s RS-232 port, and the included microphone connected to the PC, ARC works pretty much like every room correction system I’ve ever used. Simply move the microphone between key listening positions throughout the room, where it records a series of tones from each speaker. Those tones are then analyzed by the ARC program, which looks for dips and spikes in frequency response caused by imperfect room acoustics. It then calculates a filter that is uploaded to the D2v via the aforementioned RS-232 connection.
This is an extremely simplified explanation of an incredibly sophisticated system, but the end result is a processor that is level balanced and EQ’d for my room arguably as well as it could be. I say arguably because many still feel that a well-trained human can deliver superior results, but if a human exists who can eke out better sound from the D2v in my room than the Anthem Room Correction system does, I would be terrified to see the bill for their services. My wife puts it best when she says, “This doesn’t even sound like the same room anymore.” I concur.
Despite the fact that another of the D2v’s new features is the ability to process Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio—the high-resolution audio formats found on Blu-ray discs—the first disc I audition after running ARC is the extended DVD edition of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. And yes, I know I’m hopping into the Wayback Machine, but popping this one in is a sort of sick joke I play on all new processors that cross my threshold.
The DTS soundtrack is so dense, so jam-packed with sound, that dialogue tends to get lost in the mix quickly, especially in the scenes leading up to and within the Mines of Moria. How hard I have to strain to hear some of the dialogue is one of my favorite ways of assessing the sound quality of a processor or receiver, as well as room correction systems.
Imagine my surprise when I don’t have to strain one iota. The D2v susses sounds out of the packed cacophony like a fine-toothed comb separating the tangles in a Chow Chow’s fur. Everything from Gandalf’s hushed and echoed refrains to the quiet, score-drowned observations of Sam ring through with a crystal clarity that is almost unnerving. I find myself so engrossed in the unforced grace of the dialogue that I end up getting wrapped up in the movie, and before I know it closing credits are crawling by.
And so it goes with everything I throw at the Statement D2v. The sound is so nuanced, so buttery smooth, that it’s actually a bit dangerous. I find myself at times listening at levels far beyond what should be my comfort zone with absolutely no listening fatigue. I have to consciously remind myself to keep a lid on the volume, because no matter how hard I push the D2v/A5 combo, it never feels too loud. Consider that my concluding caveat, if you must: If you’re not careful, the Anthem D2v might just sound too good for your own good.
CONTACT: 905.362.0958, anthemav.com
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