• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Anthem AVM90 AV Processor Review

Rate This AV Processor:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 7 3.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 15 7.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 94 46.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 86 42.6%

  • Total voters
    202

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
45,235
Likes
247,874
Location
Seattle Area
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Anthem AVM90 home theater 15.4 channel Audio/Video Processor. It was sent to me by the company and is on sale for US $6375.
Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio AV Processor AVP Review.jpg

As you see, the AVM90 sports a gorgeous, high contrast and large display. It is a joy to navigate this feature as it is backed by a speedy processor. To wit, hitting the setup button almost instantly brings up the menus. On many consumer level processors you wait good few seconds before anything shows up. I am also pleased by the nice/smooth feeling when turning volume/menu selector. On almost all consumer brands the volume control is very stiff and unsatisfying. The slight downside is that on-screen (video) is limited to two lines that are overlaid at the bottom.

My reviews are focused on performance and not functionality. In this class of product though, you better do good bit of research into the latter as there are significant differences. As an example, check out the above subwoofer submenu. There are whopping 22 options there! Everything is seemingly programmable down to deciding if plugging in a headphone turns off the speakers or not.

Back panel shows a more modern take on inputs/outputs, leaving behind legacy options:
Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio AV Processor AVP back panel Review.jpg


I liked the simple input menu to select sources with very large icons and instant response of the remote control.

Note that you get a professional quality microphone setup for room calibration and everything is included. Competing consumer products come with decidedly cheesy microphone/stands and advanced Room EQ costs extra.

Measurements were performed after updating the unit to the last firmware.

Anthem AVM90 Processor Measurements
When products have balanced output, I usually focus on that as it usually provides better performance and of course, resilience to ground loops. Such was NOT the case here:
Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio DAC HDMI XLR Measurement.png

That is already good performance but we actually get more by switching to RCA out:
Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio DAC HDMI RCA Measurement.png

I asked Anthem if the XLR output was derived from unbalanced and they said that was the case (we saw the same in a processor I recently reviewed). Going with the better of the two, the AVM90 lands right next to its closest competitor in this price range:

Best AV Processor AVP Review Home Theater.png


Here is how performance varies if you sweep digital input or keep that the same and use the volume control:
Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio DAC Toslink RCA THD vs Level Measurement.png

Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio DAC Toslink SINAD vs Volume Measurement.png


Note that above is with RCA out if you compare it to other tested units with XLR's higher output level.

Dynamic range is excellent by AV standards:
Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio DAC HDMI DNR Measurement.png

Same is true of multitone:
Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio DAC HDMI Multitone Measurement.png


IMD distortion is again, very good for the class:
Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio DAC Toslink IMD Measurement.png


Jitter test shows fair bit of messiness, fortunately at inaudible levels:
Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio DAC HDMI Toslink Jitter Measurement.png


I found a familiar muting problem I have seen below -90 dB in other processors:
Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio DAC HDMI Linearity Measurement.png

I ran this by Anthem but they could not replicate it. They shared measurements with me that was normal. I have supplied my test project file for them to investigate. Will update the review when I hear more.

The typical filter is deployed here and as with its competitors, could use more out of band attenuation:
Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio DAC Toslink Filter Measurement.png

Frequency response is flat:
Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio DAC Toslink frequency response Measurement.png


The less than ideal filtering gives rise to noise in our wideband THD+N sweep at higher frequencies:
Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio DAC Toslink RCA THD vs Frequency Measurement.png

But doesn't explain the small rise in low frequencies.

Figuring someone will ask about the phono input, here is a quick test of RIAA equalization:
Anthem AVM90 Home Theater Dolby Atmos Vision Audio DAC Phono In RCA Measurement.png


Conclusion
We have waited a long time for AV products to break into our "green" level of performance and we finally have a couple of examples with AVM90 being one. So by standards of the category, AVM90 is an excellent offering. Couple of that with very responsive user interface and functionality and you have a very nice package. I hope company aims one grade higher in future products to close the gap further with music-only DACs.

I am happy to recommend the Anthem AVM90 AVP.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
Last edited:
As usual AVR Specifications are complicated, complex and require pages and pages of information to cover the expansive list of functionality and attributes. To try and copy and paste them here, to post in simple text format will eat up multiple pages of real estate. To facilitate access to this information for those who wish to do a deep dive. I am going to just drop a link to the Manufacturer’s listing. This is in “no way” any form of endorsement or collaboration with the Manufacturer. As none exist.

IMG_0535.jpeg

 
Last edited by a moderator:
I think the more correct naming convention for the kinds of layouts these processors can create is "Base level.Subs.Heights". So this particular receiver is a 9.4.6 rather than a 15.4.
 
Incredibly complex. It will probably take me days or weeks, even months, to set it up. I am left wondering why, given its price, digital attenuation is not SOTA and the balanced outputs are the cheap one with worse performance than unbalanced, defeating the purpose. Thank you Amir for a peerless review, it is a pass for me.
 
Well, it certainly ain't cheap but it really is good to see some AVRs finally breaking the mold of mediocrity. Here's to hoping that's the spearhead of better things to come for the product class generally.
 
I'm confused, not being an AV enthusiast. Have a Sonos soundbase under my TV.

What are all the channels for? Who needs/uses 7 HDMI inputs and 4 subwoofer outputs???
 
How good is Anthem's room correction technology (ARC)?
Is it on par with Audyssey MultEQ XT32 or Dirac Live?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯​

Many in the review industry puts it above those 2. I can't offer my opinion since I never owned one.
 
I sold my Anthem receiver after seeing the results of a test here. I wonder if Anthem did the same thing as Marantz, improved the processor but left the receiver(s) as is?
 
What are all the channels for?

Immersive audio formats like Atmos will make use of all those channels. Also, if you have more than a single row of seating, you would add more channels in order to get optimal coverage.

Who needs/uses 7 HDMI inputs

Gaming systems, cable TV box, streaming device, blu-ray player, HTPC, etc. ... it adds up to a lot of inputs.

and 4 subwoofer outputs???

A multi-subwoofer approach is the most effective way of attaining a smooth in-room bass response at multiple listening positions.
 
Same critique like I always have for AVR and AV processors: $6k for 10 years before it is outdated.

Great performance but for $6k, it's not something I would stand up to clap my hands for encore.
Most buyers in this price bracket will likely upgrade after a few years to the new model.
 
@amirm So why did you use HDMI this time? Didn't you just say that it gives false readings because of your noisy PC? So are Marantz Cinema 40's bad HDMI results also valid? And your SINAD chart gives false data because it contains mixed input measurements?
 
At 300 mV it has the highest SINAD among your tested AV devices. Shouldn’t this mean that with high gain amplifiers, (29 dB), that you are getting the maximum transparency in most homes and most speakers at common listening levels? @amirm

We have the 2V/4V DAC reference but should there be a “typical” V for a low/med/gain amp for AV use? It seems like we have the data from your latest reviews but I am not sure where the line should be drawn for your theoretical 85 dB averages with 105 dB peaks at about 2 meters for consistency.
 
On may consumer level processors you wait good few seconds before anything shows up. I think you meant MANY instead of "may"
" I am also pleased by the nice to turn volume/menu selector. It is very stiff and unsatisfying on consumer gear." Is it stiff here or not ? Another set of eyes is always a great idea before hitting that "post" button.
 
@amirm So why did you use HDMI this time? Didn't you just say that it gives false readings because of your noisy PC?
I compared Toslink to HDMI and the results were the same so post the HDMI ones. The level of noise coming out of HDMI on my PC is variable and when I tested the AVM90, it was on good behavior. :)
 
On may consumer level processors you wait good few seconds before anything shows up. I think you meant MANY instead of "may"
" I am also pleased by the nice to turn volume/menu selector. It is very stiff and unsatisfying on consumer gear." Is it stiff here or not ? Another set of eyes is always a great idea before hitting that "post" button.
Thanks. Corrected and clarified.
 
At 300 mV it has the highest SINAD among your tested AV devices. Shouldn’t this mean that with high gain amplifiers, (29 dB), that you are getting the maximum transparency in most homes and most speakers at common listening levels? @amirm
Yes, I noticed that the curve was flatter than usual, showing less penalty.
 
Back
Top Bottom