Statement A5 Multichannel Amplifier
|One year ago this
month, Roger Kanno reviewed the Anthem
Statement D1 surround-sound processor, one of the most ambitious products to emerge
from the buyout of Sonic Frontiers by Paradigm. The D1 benefited directly from the
research muscle of Paradigms Advanced Research Center, which pumped a lot of time
and money into building the best product possible. Then they brought it in at a civilized
price. Four months later, Roger reviewed their top-of-the-line multichannel power
amplifier, the P5. He found it to be
one of the very best multichannel amplifiers available at any price. Again, Anthem
delivered something near the state of the art for a rational price. The D1 and P5 ended up
as Home Theater & Sounds joint 2004 Products of the Year.
Price: $2499 USD
Dimensions: 19.25"W x 7.63"H x 19.38"D
Weight: 57 pounds
Warranty: Five years parts and labor
- Modular design
- RCA and XLR inputs
- No fuses; AC line breakers for each channel
- Advanced Load Monitoring
- 8 bipolar output devices per channel
- Toroidal transformers
- Oversized gold-plated binding posts
- Multiple power on/off options
- Heavy-duty chassis
- Aluminum faceplate
- Available in black or silver
Cars and dancers
Anthems Statement line includes two series of power
amps, A and P. The top-of-the-line P5 and P2 (the numbers denote the number of channels)
are huge amps with enormous power reserves. The A5 and A2 have some brawn themselves, but
think of them as Porsche Boxster Ss to the P series 911 GT2s.
The A5 arrived double-boxed and carefully packed in ways
that should thwart even the most aggressively sociopathic UPS driver. It weighs a healthy
but not backbreaking 57 pounds. At first glance the A5 looks as if it means business --
not in an industrial way, but artistic and capable. Think of it not so much as the Arnold
Schwarzenegger as the Gene Kelly of amps: elegant, nimble, casually neat. Its smooth black
lines flow into a useful set of handles on the front panel (the A5 is also rack-mountable,
on request). Noticeably absent are any lethally sharp heatsinks; the A5s sinks are
neatly positioned in the middle of the unit, their sharp corners hidden by the steelwork.
Pop the Statement A5s
top and youll see numerous innovations and, where good design already existed, the
best parts implemented with intelligence. While the signal path is pretty simple, the
parts reflect smart design and wise expenditure of funds. Forty bipolar output devices --
eight per channel -- likely allow the A5 some headroom for its rating of 180Wpc. The
toroidal power supplies are particularly quiet, with inaudible hum and a claimed
signal-to-noise ratio of 120dB (A-weighted to full output, as specified by Anthem). Those
of us whove dealt with power amps that love to eat fuses because the fuse strangles
the power output on peaks (my B&K Video 5 is guilty) will be happy to see a
sophisticated circuit breaker that reads several of the A5s internal workings and
shuts the amp down if its in danger. Unlike a fuse, the breaker is not in the signal
path, so it doesnt degrade the signal. Finally, for those giant whams! in
your favorite film, the A5 uses 150,000µF of filter capacitance.
Outside, on the back, each channel has two input
connectors, a gold-plated RCA and a balanced XLR, and the A5 has built-in circuitry to
recognize which input youre using. Speaker connections come with three-way,
oversized binding posts. These are gorgeous pieces of industrial design with clear,
easy-to-grip plastic collars and hefty holes for large-gauge wire. A switch on the rear
gives you three ways to turn the power on: using a trigger, automatically when a signal is
sensed, or manually, using the button on the front panel. That plain, modern-style front
button is something of a jarring note planted in the middle of all that beautiful black,
but it feels substantial and made for life. Five blue, dimly lit LEDs indicate that each
channel is operating and provide a stylish final touch.
Installing the A5 was as easy as anything could be that
weighs 57 pounds. The speaker connections are wide and easy to grip, and the input
connectors are stout and accept being pushed around. One interesting point: The heatsinks
ring quite noticeably, especially when youre spinning the lugs on the speaker
binding posts open or closed. A rap with a screwdriver produced the same resonance. This
may or may not be a real-world problem, but the flaw would be simple to fix and would
remove any concern that the ringing might introduce noise. Other than that, everything was
I try to approach reviews without knowing the price of what
Im reviewing. Its a holdover from my other job of reviewing wine. I find that
knowing the price of a bottle of wine, no matter how hard I try to avoid it, influences my
assessment. So I do the same with electronic gear. After examining and setting up the A5,
I guess that it cost something around $4000. I was a little off. It costs $2499 USD.
A huge soundstage
I dont know if my review sample had been broken in
before I received it or if the A5 just doesnt need break-in. In either case, it
sounded great straight out of the box -- relaxed, powerful, with a huge, deep soundstage.
Perhaps the A5s dead silence added to the resolving ability at the far corners of
the soundstage. In any case, it was clean and clear all the way.
The first DVD in the slot was House of Flying Daggers.
I have the Region 3 copy, highly recommended for its killer DTS soundtrack, especially the
"Dance of Echoes" chapter, where pounding percussion jumps all over the room.
The A5 did exactly what it was supposed to, sounding steady and unruffled while conveying
the full power.
In the HBO-HD version of Man on Fire, Trent
Reznors score moved on a dime from gentle sounds to beating and exploding synths.
Again, the sound was pure and convincing.
Switching to a music-oriented DVD, The
Little Prince sounded magnificent: full-bodied and with great depth and
instrumental definition. Throughout, composer Rachel Portman calls for tinkly instruments
such as glockenspiel and xylophone, the percussive leading edges and delicate trailing
sounds of which the A5 reproduced beautifully.
Finally, I switched to Naxos justly famous DVD-Audio
recording of Paul Daniel and the Bournemouth Symphonys performance of Vaughan
Williams Symphony No. 1, A Sea Symphony [Naxos 5.110016]. This ranks with
Orffs Carmina Burana for opening-minute bombast, yet it also has interludes
of floating, pastoral beauty. Again, everything was rich and burnished within that deep
Switching back to my B&K Video 5 ($1298) showed the
difference. With the Sea Symphony DVD-A there was a greater sense of strain and
less of the feeling of endless headroom that showed up on crescendos with the Anthem A5.
The B&K also shortened the soundstage and left a more claustrophobic feel. In the
parlance of days gone by, the Anthem had tube-like smoothness, while the B&K had a
more mechanical, transistor-like sound. The difference in construction probably had a lot
to do with it. Taking the top off the B&K showed lots of plastic parts and those
problematic fuses. Over the years Ive had the amp, Ive changed those fuses
dozens of times. And even if theyd never failed, the very idea of those little wires
inside the fuses blocking my amplification path has always irked me. As I replaced
the B&Ks top, I looked longingly at the Anthems circuit breakers. Maybe
Power amplifiers are the offensive linemen of home theater:
No one notices them when theyre perfect, and everyone notices them when they
arent. Designing a piece of equipment such as the Anthem Statement A5 multichannel
power amplifier must be gratifying and frustrating at the same time. You have to wonder
how many people will notice all the loving care that obviously went into the A5s
design and implementation.
Well, I noticed. This amp is solid as a block of steel,
dead quiet, and completely imperturbable. Given the quality of the parts and the
intelligence of the design, its a bargain at the price and highly recommended.
|Speakers - ATC SMC 50A
(mains), Sonance Symphony (surrounds), KEF Model 100 (center), Sunfire True Subwoofer
Signature, Paradigm Cinema 110 Compact Theater
- Lexicon MC-1, Bel Canto Design PrePro, Classé SSP-600
|Amplifier - B&K Video 5
- Pioneer DV-434, Ayre DX-7, Denon DVM 1815 DVD players; Panasonic DMR E60S,
Panasonic DMR E55S DVD recorders; Tascam CD-RW4U CD player; DirecTV HR10-250
|Cables - Canare, Straight
- Runco Cinema 750, Epson Cinema 500, Optoma H79