Anthem MCA 5 vs. ATI 1505? - AVS Forum

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Andrew Low's Avatar Andrew Low
01:48 PM Liked: 10
post #1 of 16
01-12-2001 | Posts: 885
Joined: Feb 2000
Does anyone have experience with both of these power amplifiers? These are the two brands/amps that I can purchase locally. I would prefer to buy locally, so that rules out many other candidates.

The price on the ATI is a few hundred more than the Anthem. Currently I'm leaning towards the Anthem, but a local dealer who carries both lines commented that the Anthem sounded "thin".

I'm going to try an instore demo of both, but was hoping that someone here could help me out with an opinion. (I'm probably asking for trouble).

The Anthem has balanced inputs, the ATI does not. I'll be using my HK receiver as my pre-amp for now -- but would eventually upgrade to a higher quality processor so having balanced inputs might be nice.

My speakers are B&W DM601 S2's (all 5).

Goi's Avatar Goi
08:15 PM Liked: 10
post #2 of 16
01-12-2001 | Posts: 1,251
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I don't know abou the ATI, since its a lot more expensive than the Anthem over here. However, I compared the Anthem to the Rotel RB985mk2, and I thought that the Anthem had better midrange clarity and separation between different instruments/voices. It also had a clearer bass while the Rotel appeared boomy at times(but this gave the impression of stronger bass).
phyre3's Avatar phyre3
11:49 PM Liked: 10
post #3 of 16
01-12-2001 | Posts: 1,035
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Thin huh?

I have the Anthem and love it. The amps sound fabulous. Go for it.

Gifford Largey
AudioVision Systems

[This message has been edited by phyre3 (edited 01-13-2001).]
HTman's Avatar HTman
07:13 AM Liked: 10
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01-13-2001 | Posts: 131
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I personally prefer the ATI 1505. Yes it doesn't have XLR in's but ATI does stand behind thier products for "7" years not 5. And if looks mean anything to you MCA 5 is boring. If you have a little more cash I could get you the GODZILLA 106LB ATI 2505 for about $2000. Retils for $2700.00.
hk29's Avatar hk29
09:41 PM Liked: 10
post #5 of 16
01-13-2001 | Posts: 361
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Balanced inputs ... would are they worth it on the Anthem level quality? Is anyone using the them currently?

I guess I'm wondering if there has to be a certain level of quality from an amp to really utilize balanced inputs, or do they add advantages at any quality level?

hk29's Avatar hk29
09:49 PM Liked: 10
post #6 of 16
01-13-2001 | Posts: 361
Joined: Sep 2001
Balanced inputs ... would are they worth it on the Anthem level quality? Is anyone using the them currently?

I guess I'm wondering if there has to be a certain level of quality from an amp to really utilize balanced inputs, or do they add advantages at any quality level?

tredshift's Avatar tredshift
04:37 PM Liked: 10
post #7 of 16
01-14-2001 | Posts: 33
Joined: Jun 2001
I don't know about the Anthem MCA 5, but I've owned the ATI 1505 for about 1 1/2 years and I consider it a great amp. It sounds terrific for stereo music listening, I use an Acrus ACT 3, surround processor with the ATI, and it's everything you can ask for on movie sound tracks.
It has a pretty neutral sound, with good extension on the bass and treble. It seems to have lots of headroom, which is important since I like to watch movies at a good volumm level.
The ATI is bulit like a tank and the back panel layout puts most other amps to shame.
The combination of very good sound quality, first rate construction, intelligent layout both inside and out and a reasonable price, makes the ATI 1505 a true Hi-Fi bargin.
I would recommend this amp to anyone.

gba1's Avatar gba1
07:40 PM Liked: 10
post #8 of 16
01-14-2001 | Posts: 40
Joined: Jun 2000
I have the Anthem MCA-5 paired with the Anthem AVM-2 and have been very happy with them so far. Have them both with the silver face which looks very attractive. I do use the balanced inputs.

I did not have the opportunity to listen to the ATI, but it also sounds like a very nice amp.

Looks like you're down to your personal preferences!
Sankar's Avatar Sankar
10:35 PM Liked: 10
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01-14-2001 | Posts: 843
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If weight is any indication of the amps beefiness, then consider that the MCA5 is 56 lbs and has two 550VA toroidal transformers for a total of 1.1kVA. The AT1505 is 73 lbs and has a 2kVA toroidal transformer (I think that its a single one).
They both have 20,000 uF caps per channel.

The MCA5 has been tested at a tad over 170W all 5 channels driven simultaneously (I read this on sonic frontiers web site), while the AT1505 is conservatively rated at 150W (all 5 channels driven) .. my web surfing has led me to believe (based on what I read) that it can surpass 200W with all 5 channels driven (which may not be all that surprising given the weight of the transformer) .. but this is not confirmed.
Either way, both these amps will deliver sufficient power ...

The noise floor of the MCA5 is supposed to be slightly lower at full volume (-122dB vs -120dB) as gleaned from the web sites .. but this diff is unlikely to be heard by the human ear. The damping factor for the MCA5 is 130 at 8ohms while the AT1505 exceeds 1000 .. again, my reading suggests that anything over 100 should be "good enough".

Both have similar frequency responses, and the chances are that they will sound rather similar in identically configured rooms. A dealer who tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell something (or was convinced by someone who sold him/her something!)

I was faced with a similar decision sometime ago, and concluded that it really depends on which looked better, which was available easily, etc., etc. The physical dimensions are different, though .. AT1505 (17"w x 7"h x 16"d) vs MCA5 (17.25"w x 5.25"h x 17"d) .. as you can see, the AT1505 is taller, but not as wide or deep as the MCA5.

I was looking at slightly used units, since these are built like tanks and there is little that can go wrong with them in a year's use (and I verified that the warranties are transferable). I found an AT1505 for $850 delivered and an MCA5 for around $875 delivered (could've bargained it down to under $850), and decided to go with the AT1505 based on size and weight considerations. (I did not put any value on the ability to use balanced connectors.) There is no hum/noise from the amp (with my ear to the speaker) when there is no input, and the sound is great. However, I suspect that I'd have exactly the same thing, had I gone with the MCA5.

[This message has been edited by Sankar (edited 01-14-2001).]
Andrew Low's Avatar Andrew Low
08:21 AM Liked: 10
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01-15-2001 | Posts: 885
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Thanks everyone for the excellent feedback!

The ATI while only a few hundred more is starting to push my price envelope for the moment. I'd rather spend the money elsewhere.

I found it very hard to find documentation on the ATI on the web. Sankar pointed out that the ATI has a larger power supply (a 2kVA toroidal transformer) -- I understand that power amps need big power supplies, but how much is enough? Or is more always better?

I'm planning to demo the Anthem (at home since one store will let me do this) and the ATI (in store). I'll let you all know what I think when I do.


Sankar's Avatar Sankar
11:57 AM Liked: 10
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01-15-2001 | Posts: 843
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If you like the ATI and are willing to consider slightly used units take a look at the following sites .. you should be able to negotiate a price of under US $900 delivered. Believe me, these things are built like tanks with no moving parts, so little could go "wrong" with them .. and they do indeed have transferable warranties. You could check with ATI (they are quick to respond) about the remaining warranty using the serial # before purchasing the used unit.
Mikedit's Avatar Mikedit
06:26 PM Liked: 10
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01-15-2001 | Posts: 205
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Just to clear up one thing, the warranty on the MCA series is only transferable under certain conditions!! States such right in the manual: Quote:

The balance of the 5 year parts and labour warranty can be transferred on used equipment only if the unit is traded in to an authorized Anthem dealer. Used equipment purchased from a non-authorized dealer or private sale has no warranty.

Buyer beware!!

[This message has been edited by Mikedit (edited 01-15-2001).]
Sankar's Avatar Sankar
06:51 PM Liked: 10
post #13 of 16
01-15-2001 | Posts: 843
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Maybe so with the Anthem amps. ATI warranties ARE transferable. I explicitly sent ATI an email inquiring about this prior to purchase and got a confirmation from Mike Pontele himself that they will go by the serial numbers -- even the original receipt etc are NOT required.
Mikedit's Avatar Mikedit
06:56 PM Liked: 10
post #14 of 16
01-15-2001 | Posts: 205
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I understand about the ATI, just wanted to make sure folks knew about the Anthem, cheers.
Andrew Low's Avatar Andrew Low
09:01 AM Liked: 10
post #15 of 16
01-19-2001 | Posts: 885
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I was able to borrow an Anthem MCA5 from a local store last night and demo it on a friends high end system.

Krell 20i(?) CD player, Krell A/V Standard (as preamp), B&W 801 Nautilus speakers.

We switched between the Anthem and a Bryston 4b as the power amp. Balanced (XLR) connections were used.

The Anthem XLR connectors do not "click" in like the Bryston. This isn't a big deal, but it does set it apart from most other balanced equipment I've seen. No where in the Anthem documentation could I find out if the RCA connectors are gold plated, but they are gold in colour.

Before last night, I was firmly of the belief that I would be hard pressed to hear much difference between these two amplifiers. Was I ever wrong.

We listened to the Anthem first. It sounded a little understated at the start, but as the amp warmed up a little it "filled out" in sound. I found it very "immediate" sounding. It seemed to emphasize the high end a little. Possibly you could argue it lacked a little bass punch.

The Bryston on the other hand was a lot quieter, we had to turn the pre-amp up about 8db to match the sound level of the Anthem. The Bryston sounded very laid back. The instruments were more detailed. I found that the bass was a little tubby (in comparison). The sound staging was quite wide, but not very deep. The Anthem was deep but not wide in its sound stage.

Overall, I'm not as 'sold' on the Bryston sound as I was previously. I did really enjoy the Anthem, but was a little surprised to find that it sounded so different from the Bryston. The Bryston made it easier to pick out individual elements in the song, but the Anthem tended to pack more "feeling" into the music.

At home I checked it quickly against my reciever. I used the RCA inputs, and switched between using my reciever as the amp/pre-amp and as the pre-amp only. The Anthem adds a lot to my system.

Honestly the Bryston isn't an option at this point based on price. The ATI 1505 may still be a contender, but the Anthem is available in a 2 and 3 channel version which is much more appealing to me -- especially if I can get my dealer to drop the price a little to make it irresistable

Does anyone have the slew rate for the ATI? Apparently the difference in sound stage "width" between the Bryston and the Anthem was due to a 3x difference in slew rate.

Both of my friends who gave a hand with the listening test were both impressed with the performance/price of the Anthem. They commented that it was quite "musical". My friend who owns all the Krell stuff commented that it was "no bad at all", high praise indeed.

Andrew Low's Avatar Andrew Low
01:28 PM Liked: 10
post #16 of 16
01-19-2001 | Posts: 885
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I got the "right" price from my dealer for the Anthem MCA2 + Anthem MCA3, so I'm going with that combination.

They are on order and will take about a week -- I expect I'll have one big grin on my face when they arrive.

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