HOME THEATER & SOUND -- www.hometheatersound.com



August
2004

Reviewed by
Roger Kanno
REVIEWERS' CHOICE 2004


Anthem
Statement D1 Surround-Sound Processor

Features SnapShot!

Description

Model: Anthem Statement D1

Price: $5000 USD
Dimensions: 19.25"W x 5.9"H x 15.25"D
Weight: 24 pounds

Warranty: Five years parts and labor, one year for remote control

Features

  • Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Surround EX, Dolby Pro Logic IIx (not yet available), DTS 5.1, DTS-ES, THX Ultra2, AnthemLogic
  • Dual Motorola DSP 56367 engines
  • 24-bit/192kHz upsampling and 128x oversampling

Features (cont'd)
  • AKM AK4395 24-bit/192kHz DACs
  • Six-channel analog DSP (including Bypass mode)
  • Crystal CS3310 analog attenuators in balanced configuration
  • Balanced XLR stereo inputs and multichannel outputs
  • AM/FM tuner
  • High-bandwidth HDTV-capable video switching
  • Second and third zones
  • Toroidal transformers for main and standby power
  • Two learning remotes
  • Planned HDMI and IEEE1394/FireWire/transcoding upgrade

When Sonic Frontiers International was acquired by Paradigm Electronics, the former gained the extensive resources of the Paradigm Advanced Research Center (PARC). Since that time, Sonic Frontiers’ Anthem line of electronics has benefited greatly from the design innovations of PARC. Their original MCA series of power amplifiers has gone through two upgrades, and is now joined by the less-expensive PVA amplifiers. The company has also introduced the TLP two-channel preamplifier-tuner, and continues to provide upgrades for their award-winning AVM 20 surround-sound processor.

Anthem has now introduced their Statement line of electronics: two stereo and two multichannel amplifiers, and the D1 surround-sound processor. These components were designed, according to Anthem, to produce reference-quality sound at reasonable prices.

Making a Statement

Building on the success of the AVM 20, Anthem has designed the Statement D1 surround processor ($5000) with sound quality in mind, while retaining the AVM 20’s comprehensive feature set and user-friendly interface. The D1’s improved cosmetics include a cool-blue LED display and a wider, more substantial faceplate (an optional 17.25"-wide faceplate is available, too). Otherwise, the controls on the front panel and the rear-panel connections remain essentially unchanged from the AVM 20’s.

The most notable addition is 24-bit/192kHz upsampling, which is applied to all digital signals -- including Dolby Digital and DTS. The upsampled signal is then converted to analog by AKM AK4395 D/A converters operating at their full 24/192 resolution, which includes 128x oversampling. Digital signal processing (DSP) is done by two Motorola DSP 56367 engines rated at 150 million instructions per second, and said to be capable of handling even the most complex program material. The volume control is a balanced configuration of six Crystal CS3310 analog attenuators running in differential mode, which is similar to the method used in many high-end preamplifiers. The D1’s ADCs, also capable of 24/192 resolution, can convert up to six channels of analog audio. This allows DSP, including bass management and time delays, to be applied to the analog outputs of DVD-Audio and SACD players.

In addition to this impressive digital circuitry, the D1 uses high-quality parts throughout the signal path: high-grade op-amps from Burr-Brown, Wima film capacitors, and Nichicon MUSE Series UK decoupling capacitors. The four-layer motherboard features extensive use of power and ground planes that are said to reduce impedance, noise, and interference. There are also two large toroidal transformers: one for standby power, and a larger, main power transformer that’s nearly as large as some I’ve seen in power amplifiers.

The D1 provides adjustments for every conceivable surround-sound parameter, and a few not found in most other processors. Its Room Resonance Filter is designed to tame a single bass-resonance peak (every room has them) with adjustable center frequency, filter depth, and filter width. There are also Center EQ, to compensate for placing a center speaker atop a TV or in a shelf or wall unit; and advanced bass management, which permits separate crossover-frequency settings for the LFE channel and each speaker group, as well as subwoofer phase and polarity.

The Statement D1 supports the latest surround formats from DTS and Dolby, except for Pro Logic IIx, which is planned as a free upgrade, via software download, as soon as it becomes available for the D1’s Motorola 56367 DSP chips. It also features Paradigm’s proprietary AnthemLogic modes, which can synthesize up to 7.1 channels from a two-channel source. And the D1 is certified THX Ultra2.

anthem_statement_d1_rear.jpg (22402 bytes)Anyone familiar with the AVM 20 will immediately recognize the layout of the D1’s rear panel, which is both logical and comprehensive, if a bit crowded. Inputs include: seven sets with S-video, composite video, RCA digital, and analog RCA jacks; three TosLink digital; one AES/EBU digital; one stereo balanced XLR; one six-channel RCA analog; and four component video. The outputs are: four sets with S-video, composite video, and analog RCA jacks; two component video; S-video and composite video for the monitor; RCA and XLR multichannel; and two RCA digital outputs. There are also IR receivers and emitters with a built-in 12V power supply, an RS-232 port for software upgrades, and relay triggers.

The D1 also has an AM/FM tuner, adjustable input levels for each source, separate bass-management settings for music and cinema, assignable digital inputs, timers, password lockout, and a learning remote control. In fact, I can’t think of a single feature that I would have wanted that the D1 doesn’t already have.

Setup

Although the Statement D1 is a sophisticated audio/video component, I found it easy to use. Its menu system is easy to navigate, and intuitive enough that most users will need the user’s manual only to look up the D1’s more advanced features. However, I recommend that all owners thoroughly read the comprehensive manual to familiarize themselves with the D1’s many features. I had little difficulty configuring the D1 for use with Paradigm’s Reference Signature 5.1-channel speaker system, via one of the two "learning" remote controls or using the front panel. Although there are lots of buttons on that panel, they’re sensibly arranged; accessing settings without the remote was straightforward, and easy to monitor with the front-panel display.

Statement sound

The system most recently occupying my listening room has been Paradigm’s Reference Signature 5.1 speaker system and Statement P5 power amplifier (review in the works). While the Signatures inspired a lot of excitement prior to their introduction, the release of the Anthem Statement electronics has been mostly quiet. When I first saw a prototype of the D1, I, too, was much more interested in the Signatures displayed next to them. "Great, just what the world needs -- another high-end surround processor," I thought.

I could not have been more wrong. After spending time with the Statement D1, I can say that it is an amazing accomplishment in surround-processor design and, in my experience, sets a new standard for performance in its price class.

When I first installed the D1, I was stunned at how transparent and neutral my system sounded. Listening in two-channel mode, I could have sworn I was listening to a very high-end preamplifier. And with multichannel movies and music, that same level of fidelity was reproduced in all channels for a fantastic multichannel listening experience.

Playing Dolby Digital and DTS DVDs, such as Kill Bill: Vol. 1, was an absolute treat. At the beginning of the sword fight between O-Ren Ishii and The Bride, clapping sounds and percussion moved distinctly between the front speakers instead of sounding like one homogeneous source. The music then built to an electrifying crescendo, guitars and horns imaging precisely before falling totally silent, effectively creating a sense of tension. In the previous scene, The Bride takes on the entire gang of the Crazy 88s as tight bass and synthesized music imaged outside of the speakers, and the room was filled with the hyperrealistic sounds of blood spraying from decapitations and amputations. The clash of swords was jarring, with the sound and feel of real metal, but was not overly harsh, as is often the case with such effects at home-theater-approved levels.

Music, which always plays a pivotal role in Quentin Tarantino’s films, was wonderfully reproduced by the D1. Nancy Sinatra’s smoky vocal on "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" floated between the center-channel and right speakers at exactly the right depth -- just slightly behind the plane of the speakers. The guitar, growling with every pluck and strum of the strings, was placed a little farther back in the soundstage, with fidelity on a par with the best I’ve heard.

The clear midrange and smooth, extended treble made movie soundtracks sound incredibly open and detailed, with equally impressive bass. The D1 reproduced low frequencies with a reach and definition that I have rarely heard from any component. Soundtracks had extended deep bass where previously I had noticed little or none. Scenes such as the "Dance Club," in chapter 6 of The Matrix Revolutions, had low frequencies that went extremely deep, but were also amazingly fast and articulate as they literally shook my room.

The combination of the D1’s upsampling DAC and high-quality preamp section provided true reference-quality sound from CDs. On Johnny Cash’s American IV: The Man Comes Around [Universal 077083], the piano was powerful, and there was excellent delineation of the sounds of the guitar’s strings and body. The highlight of this album, Cash’s weathered voice, sounds old and frail, but conveys a richness of emotion that could only have come from the Man in Black. This is not the most pristine recording ever made, but listening to a track such as Paul Simon’s "Bridge Over Troubled Water" through the D1 helped me appreciate how good even a somewhat flawed recording can sound when played back through a highly resolving but neutral component.

The D1 does not convert between different types of video signals, but it was capable of passing both S-video and progressive-scan component-video signals from my DVD player with no noticeable loss of picture quality. The supersaturated colors and sharp outlines from the computer-generated animation of the Fox TV series Futurama: Volume 3 were striking. There was no loss of detail, and the eye-popping colors remained just as bright and vivid through the D1’s video circuits. More subtle material, such as night scenes from Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, exhibited excellent shadow detail -- even faint differences in moonlight were noticeable as it reflected off the rippling water. Like those of many processors and receivers, the D1’s onscreen display is not available through its component-video outputs; a separate S-video or composite connection is required to view the setup menu on your monitor.

Comparison

Upsampling and Oversampling Home Theater

The Anthem Statement D1’s uniqueness lies in its ability to upsample Dolby Digital and DTS audio signals. First, the input from these sources must be transformed into a pulse-code modulated (PCM) signal, which occurs at the digital signal processor (DSP). Once in this format, the signal can be digitally processed for bass management, time alignment, etc.

Converting the signal to PCM creates distortion that must then be filtered out, which is why the signal is upsampled to 192kHz. This very high sampling rate allows for easier filtering.

The upsampled digital signal is now ready to be converted back to analog. But before that happens, the D/A converter’s oversampler boosts the sampling rate by 128x. The combination of upsampling and oversampling allows the Statement D1 to change any incoming rate to 24.576MHz.

The signal is then sent to the reconstruction filter, which has a cutoff frequency too far away from the audio range to interfere with it; there, digital byproducts are, to all intents and purposes, eliminated. Finally, the signal is sent to the analog preamp section. Dolby Digital and DTS sources can then enjoy all the options and adjustability of a full-functioned preamp-processor.

...Alison Aulph

The Statement D1’s surround decoding was beyond reproach, easily surpassing the internal decoding of my Pioneer Elite DV-45A universal player. The most convincing demonstration of the D1’s sound quality was its performance with standard "Red Book" CDs. Compared to my reference Bel Canto PRe6 multichannel preamplifier ($3990) and upgraded MSB Half Nelson Link DAC ($1300), Johnny Cash’s voice on The Man Comes Around was simply "more there." With the Bel Canto-MSB combo, the instruments were prominent and Cash’s vocals were slightly recessed, losing the ability to resolve some of the vulnerability in his voice that conveys so much emotion.

I found the AnthemLogic Music surround mode to be an excellent way to listen to two-channel CDs. It provided a subtle widening of the soundstage and an increased depth that were preferable to Dolby Pro Logic II, which I find more program-dependent and sometimes a bit aggressive. AnthemLogic Music was so pleasing and so unobtrusive that I left it on the entire time I had the D1. I actually preferred listening to the CD layer of Diana Krall’s The Girl In the Other Room SACD [Verve B0002293-36] processed with AnthemLogic Music rather than listening to the multichannel SACD layer. The only downside to AnthemLogic was a very slight lessening of image outlines that was often not even noticeable.

As an analog preamplifier, the D1 could not quite match the absolute neutrality of the Bel Canto PRe6, but considering its myriad additional features, the moderately more expensive D1 is an incredible bargain in comparison. And for those who might use the D1 as a six-channel preamplifier with SACD or DVD-A players, its analog inputs can be converted to high-resolution digital signals to take advantage of the D1’s DSP for bass management and time delays. When I switched between Analog Direct and Analog DSP with a high-resolution multichannel recording such as the Diana Krall SACD, Analog DSP sounded essentially transparent.

Final Statement

Paradigm describes the Statement D1 as being "nine high-end components in one." I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, but it’s definitely a state-of-the-art surround processor as well as an extremely high-quality preamplifier and D/A converter. More to the point, the D1 was, by far, the best-sounding processor I’ve had in my system. A planned IEEE1394/FireWire/transcoding and HDMI upgrade will allow the D1 to receive digital audio signals (and switch high-definition digital-video signals) from similarly equipped DVD-A and SACD players to take advantage of the D1’s high-quality DACs and DSP, and will make this product only more impressive. In fact, purchasing separate components to achieve all of the functionality and sound quality of the Statement D1 would cost you much more than its modest asking price of $5000. I call that a tremendous value.

(Additional technical information on the D1 can be found in Alison Aulph’s "Getting Technical" column on SoundStage!)

Review System
Speakers - Paradigm Reference Signature S8 (mains), Signature C5 (center), Signature ADP (surrounds), Signature Servo (subwoofer)
Preamplifer - Bel Canto PRe6
Amplifiers - Anthem Statement P5, Bel Canto eVo6
Sources - Pioneer DV-45A universal A/V player; MSB Link DAC III with 24/96 Upsampling, Half Nelson, and P1000 power-supply upgrades
Cables - Analysis Plus, Audio Magic, ESP
Monitor - JVC 34" direct-view CRT monitor
 

Manufacturer contact information:

Anthem Electronics
205 Annagem Blvd.
Mississauga, ON Canada L5T 2V1
Phone: (905) 564-4642
Fax: (905) 362-0958

E-mail: sfitech@sonicfrontiers.com
Website: www.anthemav.com

 


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