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Discussion Starter #1
Here are some initial comparisons between the Anthem AVM30 Arcam AVP-700 pre/pros. If you want the background on why I am comparing them, see the Arcam AVP-700 thread. Quick version: I've owned the AVM30 for six months... faulty power supply (I think)... got the Arcam to evaluate while the Anthem is out for repair. Obviously I can't do blind A/B testing until the Anthem comes back, so use whatever grain of salt you feel is necessary for the sound quality choices. They are all hooked up to an Anthem PVA7. I have never heard the AVR300 so I can't help with that comparison. My categories are Sound Quality, Features, Setup/Flexibility, and Style.


Sound Quality for 2 channel Music (the #1 priority for me): The clear winner here is the Arcam. I spent a lot more time today breaking out more and more reference material with which I am very familiar. The sound was more natural than I've ever heard from my setup. The music was quite lively and detailed (with all of the clarity and microdynamics that I want), but there was no harshness or fatigue. For the first time, I felt like there were no compromises with the music, be it crunchy metal, crisp jazz, complex prog rock, mellow accoustic music... they all shined. The AVM30 is very clear and detailed, but can be harsh and a bit sterile depending on the recording. It really shines with well-recorded jazz and prog rock. Heavier music can be fatiguing (especially trebly guitar and piercing vocals), and mellow accoustic music lacks some of the warmth that I look for in that style. In fact, prior to trying the Arcam, I was starting to use my Denon 2900 as an analog direct source for heavy music at loud volumes due to the fatigue factor of the Anthem. For what it's worth, I also connected my older Marantz SR8200 for a couple of days. This is still one heckova music receiver for the price (and probably a cut above the current crop of 8x00s out there - they've really cut back on some of the music-first features like dual diff DACs). It puts out a nice warm sound, with just enough pop and little fatigue factor. The downside is that complex music can sound compressed, and the soundstage is not quite as wide in general. It also lacks the pristine clarity for jazz and "crisp" music. Still, when you consider what they are going for used these days, you could do a lot worse.


Sound Quality for multichannel music: This category depends quite a bit on your DVD-A/SACD player, since the processor is just acting as an analog pre-amp. The sound quality was closer here for that reason, and because imaging owes more to the mix and speaker placement than 2 channel. The Arcam sounded more fluid to me, however. I was never quite happy with the blending of the sub and mains with the Anthem, but I was able to achieve it very quickly with the Arcam. Your results may vary though, depending on how you have it all configured. Multi-channel audio setup can be a complex business. Note: My universal player (Denon 2900) has bass management, so I don't need it on the processor. If this is necessary for you, the Anthem is one of the few processors that can do it. The down side is that it has to engage some additional signal processing so it isn't true bypass.


Sound Quality for HT. I have a very hard time quantifying my findings here, partly because I don't have nearly as many frames of reference. My first reaction is that the Anthem and Arcam are very very close, and both are outstanding. At times, the center channel sounded a bit harsh on the Anthem (perhaps for the same reason as stated above for music). I haven't noticed that with the Arcam, but admittedly, I haven't spent as much time with DD/DTS movies yet. I need a bit more time, but I'm guessing it would be hard to pick a clear winner.


Features: It depends on your priorities. Right now, Arcam has some video features that many want (HDMI switching and video upconversion). However, all this and more will be part of a future hardware upgrade available for the AVM30. Unfortunately, they will come at a cost, and the final price for the updated Anthem may be twice the Arcam. The Anthem also has more support for multi-zones, a couple of balanced ins, and some additional surround formats (PL II game, Anthem logic, etc.). The remotes are identical, and you probably won't use them anyway.


Setup & Flexibility: The Anthem easily wins this category. Where to begin? It has 1/2 decibel steps, a notch filter (very useful), separate music and cinema settings for each input (very very useful), bass management for DVD-A, renamable sources, split second muting to avoid the "pops", more flexible cross-overs, and more. Best of all: frequent upgrades that are downloadable from the Internet. The Arcam has a few unique items, like EQ for each speaker, variable input sensitivity, and better support for "on the fly" tweaks from the remote. I was pleased to find that the Arcam does have some of the settings that I didn't want to lose, like max volume, power on volume, and stereo subwoofer trim (which basically does the same thing as Anthem's music/cinema settings in my system: allow the sub to run 3 db hot for movies and be flat for music).


Style: Not that important to me and very subjective, but for what it's worth: the AVM30 is better looking overall, primarily due to the brushed metal exterior and blue display. The Arcam is kind of plain, but I like the fact that there are fewer buttons (my only complaint with the Anthem's look).


Final conclusions: To declare an overall winner here, you would have to know the listening/viewing habits and priorities of your owner. I am a die hard music-first listener, and that drives my purchases. I'm also of the belief that a processor that can make music sound good, can make a movie sound track sound good too! I really really wanted the Anthem to be my "final solution". You just can't beat features and value relative to what's out there. It's a great company, and I love the upgrades. Yet, I always had a nagging itch that music is just not what it should be with the jump to separates. I've decided that my Anthem will go up for sale, and I will keep the AVP 700. More than anything, I'm so glad to have finally found that "musical nirvana" that I've been draining my wallet to achieve for the past 3 years or so. The feature set also stands up very well with most of the competition out there. The fact that you can get this processor for under two grand with a 10% discount should put the AVP 700 on every audition list. The Anthem is pretty darned great too, and would get my full recommendation for someone whose priorities skew more towards HT than music.


Chris
 

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Great review, Chris, thanks.


Did I hear you say "Stereo subwoofer trims"?


Does that mean you can run two subs as L/R ?


Can you run them with different settings in music and movie modes?


One more question, if I may...are there digital inputs for SACD/DVDA or must these be run analog?


Thanks, Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The name "stereo subwoofer trim" is a bit misleading. It does not refer to stereo subs, but a setting that you can use for your sub when in stereo mode. It's kind of a reduced version of the music/movie mode. Basically, it's just the ability to trim the sub level from when the mode is stereo. That way, you calibrate your sub to whatever level you want it for movies (usually a few dbs hot) and then trim that same number to get back to a flat setting for stereo music.


As far as I can tell, SACD/DVDA is analog only, and runs in bypass mode for the most part. The HDMI switching is video only.


Chris
 

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OK, thanks


That's still a useful feature for the subs, and the multichannel music is not so much a problem as I have a Denon 5910, which has good sound.
 

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One glaring omission on the Arcam is it's inability to apply DPL2x to DTS which will not matter if you have only 5.1 system. I was eagerly looking forward to this Arcam unit but I was somewhat disappointed in the specs especially for a unit that is released in mid 2005. I am afraid Arcam will be outdated pretty quickly. I would have preferred for them to wait a bit & use the latest DSP precessor & HDMI 1.1 & maybe charge a bit more for the extra features. This would have made it a killer unit. IMO the unit seems to have been rushed to the market to replace the previous prepro which seemed somewhat overpriced.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinodk
One glaring omission on the Arcam is it's inability to apply DPL2x to DTS which will not matter if you have only 5.1 system. I was eagerly looking forward to this Arcam unit but I was somewhat disappointed in the specs especially for a unit that is released in mid 2005. I am afraid Arcam will be outdated pretty quickly. I would have preferred for them to wait a bit & use the latest DSP precessor & HDMI 1.1 & maybe charge a bit more for the extra features. This would have made it a killer unit. IMO the unit seems to have been rushed to the market to replace the previous prepro which seemed somewhat overpriced.


Well, I guess there is something to nitpick. It doesn't change that it sounds so excellent. I find it funny that you would say it's rushed while owning the AVM30 (waiting for an upgrade). I guess everything is rushed compared to that.
 

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I am not here to wage a battle of what is better. Trust me I was eagerly waiting for Arcam as I believe Arcam is sonically superior as I own Arcam CD player. When AVM30 came out none of the HDMI specs were finalized & that was almost a year ago. Even without the pending upgrade Anthem is current except ofcourse for HDMI but after the upgrade is done, you can take a guess. That's why I stated that I would have Arcam in a heartbeat if they waited a bit & included some of the desirable features(DPL2x over DTS & HDMI 1.1). Atleast I am trying to carry out a logical discussion rather than being blinded by ownership of the product & in the process ignoring the obvious omissions. I still like Arcam but I cannot get past the lack of certain features. I certainly do admit that AVM30 is not the most perfect processor but I can live with its shortcomings. My priorities are different as I am looking for a processor that sounds good as well as has a decent upgrade path.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I should have mentioned that: I have a 5.1 system, and have no plans to expand to 7.1. Also, I have a 42" ED plasma with component only. My eyesight is not very good, so I am much less critical of video quality, and I would prefer to wait until all that stuff settles down (HDMI versions, 1080p, HD DVD, etc.). Actually, there are only a few must-have features for me: DD, DTS, PLII, multi-channel inputs, pre-outs, optical & coax digital inputs, 3 component inputs, and decent bass management. Pretty darned basic. What has been much more elusive (as I've driven my wife crazy with all the equipment changes) is finding "that" music quality that also works well with HT.


Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #9
For what it's worth, I think Anthem is doing the right thing with their upgrade path and waiting to get it right. The blame should really go to the standards themselves and big companies that can't agree on them. I don't envy these companies that have to decide when and how to release the newest technology.


Chris
 

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I agree Vinodk.

Sound quality, $, HDMI - Arcam.

Futureproof, warranty, looks, bells & whistles - Anthem.

Out of curiosity, how much will it cost for the upgrade (whenever it comes, whatever it is)? I almost bought the AVM30 myself, but passed when the omitted the I-Link. Different strokes for different folks.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick TX
Sound quality, $, HDMI - Arcam.

Futureproof, warranty, looks, bells & whistles - Anthem.
Why is the Arcam warranty worse than the Anthem warranty?


R
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I think Anthem is 3 years and Arcam is 2. The cost of the upgrade is still unknown. The original rumor was $1,000 for the D-1 upgrade which would include a scaler, and less for the AVM30 for everything else. Now it is looking like the AVM30 will get the scaler too, so the update will not be cheap. I don't think there is an official announcement.


Chris
 

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can the Arcam do separate lip synch for separate channels, and can it be adjusted on the fly--from the remote?


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Discussion Starter #15
I know that the Arcam can do lip synch on the fly via remote, but I don't think the Anthem has that option. I don't recall that either of them can do it for separate channels.


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Chris:


Hope I'm not stepping on your toes here if I post a comparison between the AVP700 and my previous pre/pro, the Krell Showcase. Both were connected to my RBH T-2p speakers through the balanced outputs and I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon (wife and kids at the movies) switching back and forth between the two units and an Arcam 300 (used as a pre/pro only).


Compared to the 700, the Showcase sounds slightly "thinner" and sterile. It lacks the Arcams full-bodied sound, especially in two-channel, where the soundstage seems flatter and more two-dimensional. Acoustic music through the Krell seems detailed but not resolving, missing that (by comparison) "there" feeling that a good system and recording can deliver. The Showcase also seems subtly rolled off on the top end vs. the 700 so it feels as though something is ever so slightly lacking, again only noticed by comparing the two units. I just found the AVP700 to be more satisfying, top to bottom.


Hard to believe that the AVP700 is 1/2 the Showcase's $4000 MSRP. In fairness, the Showcase is a 4-5 year old design; proof, I guess, that Moore's law continues to be true.


All thoughts JMHO, YMMV, etc. Regards,


John
 

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Discussion Starter #17
No toe stepping here. I hope this thread will continue with Arcam comparisons. As I implied earlier, my vision is not good. The only upside to this condition is that my hearing is extra sensitive (nature's way of balancing I guess). I've also found that listening with the lights off and no other distractions can really zone in on the details of the music. For the first time since bringing home the AVP700, I just sat back and listened in this way tonight. When I posted the review that started this thread, I tried to contain my enthusiasm. Too many reviews here contain broad generalizations and a dash of hyperbole. Still, as I listened tonight, I could not stop shaking my head. This processor just flat out blew away my expectations. I admit that I've never auditioned the very high end of CD players, or the expensive outboard DACs that are out there, but the 2 channel performance of the AVP700 is so far beyond other brands that I've tried. I have to say a big thank you to this forum for making me aware of it at all. Hopefully there are other die-hard music fans out there that will find it too.


Chris
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Robert
Chris:


Hope I'm not stepping on your toes here if I post a comparison between the AVP700 and my previous pre/pro, the Krell Showcase. Both were connected to my RBH T-2p speakers through the balanced outputs and I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon (wife and kids at the movies) switching back and forth between the two units and an Arcam 300 (used as a pre/pro only).


John
Hi John,


How did the Arcam AVR300 (used as preamp) compare to the Krell Showcase or the Arcam AVP700 ?


Kind regards,

Erwin
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by clauser
Hi John,


How did the Arcam AVR300 (used as preamp) compare to the Krell Showcase or the Arcam AVP700 ?


Kind regards,

Erwin
The two Arcam units were (no surprise) very close in sound. I should state that, for ease of switching back and forth, I hooked the AVP700 to the balanced inputs of my amps and the AVR300 to the RCA inputs. This alone may have been the source of the small differences I heard between the units.


Compared to the Showcase, the 300 exhibited the same sonic advantages that I listed in my previous post regarding the 700. The differences between the two Arcam units were very subtle and relate entirely to listening to music. I couldn't discern between the two units at all in DD or DTS.


The two Arcam models have a slightly different sound, hard to label one as "better". The 300 has a darker upper register but still retains the fullness that was apparent compared to the Showcase. The 700 has a bit more energy in the presence region and I found I preferred it with the silk tweeters in my speakers. If I had a "brighter" rig, might have easily gone the other way. I could be very happy with either unit.


Hope this helps. Regards,


John
 

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Discussion Starter #20
It's hard to believe that the balanced inputs would make much of a difference if you use short cable runs. I think that's one of those "features" that is expected in higher-end pre/pros, but is unnecessary for most users.


Chris
 
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