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Anthem AVM90 AV Processor Review

Rate This AV Processor:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

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

    Votes: 15 7.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 92 46.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 86 43.0%

  • Total voters
    200

johncapra

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The AVM won't be a bottleneck for music listening because the measurements indicate the device is transparent in terms of distortions, so basically what goes = what goes out in terms of waveform.

On paper, it will be a bottleneck if you pair it with an ext. DAC (just an example) that has better distortions specifications.

Your Eversolo's dac chip has about the same specs as the AVM90's, but implementation ia likely a little better, and it probbably has a better preamp section too, so the AVM90 may become a bottleneck. Again, that would be on paper only, in a level matched listening, I would bet 10:1, it would't sound different either way.

Since you have the A8 already, I would suggest you use it with the 90's analog input, or directly with a power amp such as the AHB2, or one that has comparable specs.
Thanks Peng, really appreciate the response. I have considered connecting the Eversolo directly to my amp (Parasound A21+) but comparing that against the AVM90 as a preamp would be difficult, and brings me back round to the idea of a preamp that is at least as good as the preamp section of avm90, so I could maximize the best of the AVM90 and separate DAC.

When you say "On paper, it will be a bottleneck if you pair it with an ext. DAC (just an example) that has better distortions specifications." Do you mean the DAC specs or the analog specs (or a combination of the two)? Apologies if this should be obvious.
 

peng

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Thanks Peng, really appreciate the response. I have considered connecting the Eversolo directly to my amp (Parasound A21+) but comparing that against the AVM90 as a preamp would be difficult, and brings me back round to the idea of a preamp that is at least as good as the preamp section of avm90, so I could maximize the best of the AVM90 and separate DAC.

When you say "On paper, it will be a bottleneck if you pair it with an ext. DAC (just an example) that has better distortions specifications." Do you mean the DAC specs or the analog specs (or a combination of the two)? Apologies if this should be obvious.
I mean the A8's output specs vs the 90's. For example, the A8's spec for SINAD is 120 dB, that's more than 10 dB better than the AVM90's. I doubt anyone can tell the difference between 120 dB and say, 102 dB SINAD.
 

rlal

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I have one question regarding the Xlr or balanced output of processors.

It was mentioned Anthem AVM90 XLR output was derived from unbalanced output. I was looking at the Arcam processor spec.
Arcam spec says "16 transformer less balanced XLR output channels"
Does this means that XLR output is derived from balanced output? Can some one please let me know.

Thanks.
 

peng

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I have one question regarding the Xlr or balanced output of processors.

It was mentioned Anthem AVM90 XLR output was derived from unbalanced output. I was looking at the Arcam processor spec.
Arcam spec says "16 transformer less balanced XLR output channels"
Does this means that XLR output is derived from balanced output? Can some one please let me know.

Thanks.
No it does not mean that. Which Arcam avp, can you get more detailed info?
 

peng

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Okay. I was under the impression that XLR in high end processors are all balanced. I was mentioning about Arcam AV41 processor.
The outputs are balanced. Some people want their avps to be input to output end to end balanced. The only one that is known to be differential/balanced from input to output is the Denon AVP-A1HD, launched many years ago. Such schemes are often referred to as fully balanced. Fully balanced end to end doesn't mean better sound quality, but some people just want it regardless.
 

welwynnick

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The outputs are balanced. Some people want their avps to be input to output end to end balanced. The only one that is known to be differential/balanced from input to output is the Denon AVP-A1HD, launched many years ago. Such schemes are often referred to as fully balanced. Fully balanced end to end doesn't mean better sound quality, but some people just want it regardless.
We were discussing this earlier.
Curiosity got the better of me, and I just bought a AVP-A1HD.
I haven't fired it up yet - I pulled it apart as soon as I got it home, but looking forward to hearing it.
I think there ARE benefits to fully balanced equipment. Lots of Amir's tests show less noise, less distortion and especially less power supply breakthrough, even with digital inputs. I know you think it's a waste, but I think it shows the benefit of balanced comes from rejection of internal interference as well as external interference to the cables.
Nick
 

peng

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We were discussing this earlier.
Curiosity got the better of me, and I just bought a AVP-A1HD.
I haven't fired it up yet - I pulled it apart as soon as I got it home, but looking forward to hearing it.
I think there ARE benefits to fully balanced equipment. Lots of Amir's tests show less noise, less distortion and especially less power supply breakthrough, even with digital inputs. I know you think it's a waste, but I think it shows the benefit of balanced comes from rejection of internal interference as well as external interference to the cables.
Nick

Congrats! I assume you got a good price on it, and if you change your mind later, send it to me. For <$500 shipped I'll be happy to take that 70 lb/80-85 lbs boxed thing away from you.:p

You believe what you believe, I believe maths and science don't lie, best theoretical benefit for such costly implementation is 6 dB reduction in noise from input to output. The typical balanced schemes do not do differential balanced configuration still can achieve very close to that, and the Gene measured the AVP-A1HD, and it did not have better SNR than the AV10, AVM90. Even if it does, say pick the best FFT achievable under a specific condition, such as at 1V, 1 kHz test:

You can see that the AVM 90, at 2 V, still beat the Denon by roughly 6 dB, though both are at the level believed to be below the threshold of audibility, and worth emphasizing that the Denon's SINAD was pulled down by a single 3rd harmonic and such low order harmonic probably have threshold as high as 60 dB or even higher, but we are not talking about audibility but strictly about the fully balanced Denon's measured SINAD against the output balanced Anthem or Marantz flagship. It probably was still the best measured AVR/AVP at the time though, just time time changed lots of things...

I was surprised that the apparently cost no object Denon had the non flagship TI DAC IC, whereas the AVR-5805 did use the TI flagship DAC IC, had the Denon AVP used the same TI chips as its AVR cousin, it would likely have measured as good or better than the AVM90 and AV10, but of course we'll never know, though in theory that would likely be the case.

From Gene's measurements:

image



Gene like that scheme for the added benefit of reduced or eliminated the even order harmonics, but keep in mind to achieve that you need the two legs to be identical and that's a tall order because DAC, volume control, opamps (discreted or IC), even caps and resistors have tolerances so that one is a hit and miss thing, though there will be some theoretical reduction, you still have to go with measurements.

Bottom line, regardless of what all the talks above, AVPs, that would represent the vast majority, that don't implement fully differential/balanced signal path, do not show better SINAD than those (may be a couple more aside from the Denon) that are "fully balanced" on the test bench.

To be clear, I am in full agreement with you in terms of theory, just not in real world use, where I believe other factors could be far more important and impactful on the final bench test results, let alone in terms of "audibly better/worse".

By the way, I read a lot about that Denon, there were multiple report of failures of some sort at the roughly 8 years mark. That could have been due to the heat generated by the large number of parts used and relatively high bias current, lack of eco kind of gadgets so if you are going to keep it, I would suggest you use an external fan, even if the unit is well ventilated.
 

rlal

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The outputs are balanced. Some people want their avps to be input to output end to end balanced. The only one that is known to be differential/balanced from input to output is the Denon AVP-A1HD, launched many years ago. Such schemes are often referred to as fully balanced. Fully balanced end to end doesn't mean better sound quality, but some people just want it regardless.

Basically fully balanced output from end to end doesn't mean the sound quality. This make things difficult and we need to look at the measurements.
Okay, thanks for the info.

I was thinking like what welwynnick has posted. End to end balanced means it is better for noise rejection.
 

rlal

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Congrats! I assume you got a good price on it, and if you change your mind later, send it to me. For <$500 shipped I'll be happy to take that 70 lb/80-85 lbs boxed thing away from you.:p

You believe what you believe, I believe maths and science don't lie, best theoretical benefit for such costly implementation is 6 dB reduction in noise from input to output. The typical balanced schemes do not do differential balanced configuration still can achieve very close to that, and the Gene measured the AVP-A1HD, and it did not have better SNR than the AV10, AVM90. Even if it does, say pick the best FFT achievable under a specific condition, such as at 1V, 1 kHz test:

You can see that the AVM 90, at 2 V, still beat the Denon by roughly 6 dB, though both are at the level believed to be below the threshold of audibility, and worth emphasizing that the Denon's SINAD was pulled down by a single 3rd harmonic and such low order harmonic probably have threshold as high as 60 dB or even higher, but we are not talking about audibility but strictly about the fully balanced Denon's measured SINAD against the output balanced Anthem or Marantz flagship. It probably was still the best measured AVR/AVP at the time though, just time time changed lots of things...

I was surprised that the apparently cost no object Denon had the non flagship TI DAC IC, whereas the AVR-5805 did use the TI flagship DAC IC, had the Denon AVP used the same TI chips as its AVR cousin, it would likely have measured as good or better than the AVM90 and AV10, but of course we'll never know, though in theory that would likely be the case.

From Gene's measurements:

image



Gene like that scheme for the added benefit of reduced or eliminated the even order harmonics, but keep in mind to achieve that you need the two legs to be identical and that's a tall order because DAC, volume control, opamps (discreted or IC), even caps and resistors have tolerances so that one is a hit and miss thing, though there will be some theoretical reduction, you still have to go with measurements.

Bottom line, regardless of what all the talks above, AVPs, that would represent the vast majority, that don't implement fully differential/balanced signal path, do not show better SINAD than those (may be a couple more aside from the Denon) that are "fully balanced" on the test bench.

To be clear, I am in full agreement with you in terms of theory, just not in real world use, where I believe other factors could be far more important and impactful on the final bench test results, let alone in terms of "audibly better/worse".

By the way, I read a lot about that Denon, there were multiple report of failures of some sort at the roughly 8 years mark. That could have been due to the heat generated by the large number of parts used and relatively high bias current, lack of eco kind of gadgets so if you are going to keep it, I would suggest you use an external fan, even if the unit is well ventilated.
Thanks Peng for these details. Appreciate your effort in giving lot of details.
 

peng

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Basically fully balanced output from end to end doesn't mean the sound quality. This make things difficult and we need to look at the measurements.
Okay, thanks for the info.

I was thinking like what welwynnick has posted. End to end balanced means it is better for noise rejection.
You are welcome, more details, in case you are interested in:

To be clear, it is 6 dB better for noise rejection in theory. The non fully balanced schemes are also balanced at least at the output stage so it is also possible to yield close to 6 dB noise rejection, depending on how well they implement the stages that are not balanced. The output stage is important because it then allows you to use balanced interconnects with power amps that have balanced input, so that the noise induced in the long interconnects (say >3 meters) could be much reduced if not eliminated. Again, there are noise within the preamps that could be eliminated by balanced stages but for well designed preamps, the majority of noise ended up in the power amp would be from the long interconnects between the preamp and power amp. That's why most users especially in the pro side, that typically have to use long interconnects, balanced output is a must whereas the so called truly or fully balanced implementation is not their priority, as long as again, they get their balanced output and that the final stage is in fact balanced.

The reduction or elimination of second harmonic is theoretically a big advantage on paper, but in practice, a) many people don't mind a dose of 2nd and 4th harmonics, may even prefer to have some lol... b) even without the ability to cancel out the even harmonics, well designed preamp processors already have very low 2nd, and 4th, and negligible from 8th harmonic and up anyway, so it they are already so low, cancel or not won't make audible differences.

Take a look of an mid range AVR, yes, just and AVR that has 9 channels of power amps jammed in a small box:
See how low the 4th and 6th harmonics were, like -125 to -130 dB, who can hear those?


index.php
 

rlal

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Peng,

Thanks for more details which gave me more insight.
Yeah in pro world they use balanced connection as much as possible.
 

Descartes

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The outputs are balanced. Some people want their avps to be input to output end to end balanced. The only one that is known to be differential/balanced from input to output is the Denon AVP-A1HD, launched many years ago. Such schemes are often referred to as fully balanced. Fully balanced end to end doesn't mean better sound quality, but some people just want it regardless.
It is good for very long run of cables where you can pick up RFI and EMI noises
 

peng

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It is good for very long run of cables where you can pick up RFI and EMI noises
To be clear, I would say even not too long runs, such as only 4 meters, will benefit from balanced outputs, but don't need those so called fully balance schemes.

So, the balanced outputs of the Anthem AVMs will do.
 

Bulldogger

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The outputs are balanced. Some people want their avps to be input to output end to end balanced. The only one that is known to be differential/balanced from input to output is the Denon AVP-A1HD, launched many years ago. Such schemes are often referred to as fully balanced. Fully balanced end to end doesn't mean better sound quality, but some people just want it regardless.
Theta Digital currently does this. The Xtreme D-2 was a four channel dac option that has 8 TI PCM1704 chips ran in balanced configuration, two for each channel. The analog step ladder resistor volume controls after DA are also dual differential. The newer Xtreme D-3 card uses stereo chips, the PCM1792a for a dual differential scheme to output 6 channels of balanced output followed by dual differential analog volume controls as well. The digital filters are proprietary FIR filters running on FPGA.
 

peng

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Theta Digital currently does this. The Xtreme D-2 was a four channel dac option that has 8 TI PCM1704 chips ran in balanced configuration, two for each channel. The analog step ladder resistor volume controls after DA are also dual differential. The newer Xtreme D-3 card uses stereo chips, the PCM1792a for a dual differential scheme to output 6 channels of balanced output followed by dual differential analog volume controls as well. The digital filters are proprietary FIR filters running on FPGA.
Adjusted for inflation, such an unit would likely cost more than the Denon AVP-A1HD, and it should, as it packs a lot more features than that Denon.

Just noted that PCM1704 does not really have "SOTA" specs, wonder why such an high end AVP would use it, the PCM1792 is much better, though seem a little old now. I also find it a little sad that many of such expensive AV devices would tend to save a few $ on the DAC ICs, even volume, ipa ICs, while spending a great deal of effort on "implementation". I agree implementation is often more important, but that's more reason to use the best available ICs. After all, if the chosen ICs limit the potentially best possible SINAD (just one metric, an example) to say 102 dB, such as the PCM1704 used in the D-2, then even the best implementation would not result in measured SINAD of better than around 108 dB, still great if that is actually realized by the best implementation including the use of dual differential schemes end to end, but spend a hundred dollars more using the PCM1792A, or ES9038 Pro is not going to kill their budget, I would guess....
 
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Bulldogger

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Adjusted for inflation, such an unit would likely cost more than the Denon AVP-A1HD, and it should, as it packs a lot more features than that Denon.

Just noted that PCM1704 does not really have "SOTA" specs, wonder why such an high end AVP would use it, the PCM1792 is much better, though seem a little old now. I also find it a little sad that many of such expensive AV devices would tend to save a few $ on the DAC ICs, even volume, ipa ICs, while spending a great deal of effort on "implementation". I agree implementation is often more important, but that's more reason to use the best available ICs. After all, if the chosen ICs limit the potentially best possible SINAD (just one metric, an example) to say 102 dB, such as the PCM1704 used in the D-2, then even the best implementation would not result in measured SINAD of better than around 108 dB, still great if that is actually realized by the best implementation including the use of dual differential schemes end to end, but spend a hundred dollars more using the PCM1792A, or ES9038 Pro is not going to kill their budget, I would guess....
Xtreme D-2 dacs with PCM1704 have been discontinued for several years now. Theta currently ships only the Xtreme D-3 and a Premium D-3 dacs. Current msrp of 18 channels of Xtreme D-3 dacs is 18k. The Premiun D-3 dacs will cost you $9k for 18 channels. The Premium D-3 have specs that are close to Xtreme D-3 dacs. However the older discontinued dacs still work. Hey they don’t call them Extreme dacs for nothing.

I only mentioned this to say that Theta still builds like this currently and did so before the Denon. I like Anthem. They make great products. Every demo I’ve had with one of their prepros was very enjoyable. A
 

GXAlan

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Xtreme D-2 dacs with PCM1704 have been discontinued for several years now. Theta currently ships only the Xtreme D-3 and a Premium D-3 dacs. Current msrp of 18 channels of Xtreme D-3 dacs is 18k. The Premiun D-3 dacs will cost you $9k for 18 channels. The Premium D-3 have specs that are close to Xtreme D-3 dacs. However the older discontinued dacs still work. Hey they don’t call them Extreme dacs for nothing.

I only mentioned this to say that Theta still builds like this currently and did so before the Denon. I like Anthem. They make great products. Every demo I’ve had with one of their prepros was very enjoyable. A

For what it’s worth, Theta is owned by ATI amplifiers and the Monolith HTP-1 is manufactured by them, although the software is done by Momentum. The HTP-1 is optimized for the gain of the Monolith amps and does very well in SINAD with a plain single DAC.

That said, at this point unless you already were in the Casablanca system, technologies like Trinnov Altitude32 are probably the better choice if you are playing at that price point. It will be interesting to see if Theta offers Dirac ART at some point.
 

Bulldogger

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15k for 18 ca
For what it’s worth, Theta is owned by ATI amplifiers and the Monolith HTP-1 is manufactured by them, although the software is done by Momentum. The HTP-1 is optimized for the gain of the Monolith amps and does very well in SINAD with a plain single DAC.

That said, at this point unless you already were in the Casablanca system, technologies like Trinnov Altitude32 are probably the better choice if you are playing at that price point. It will be interesting to see if Theta offers Dirac ART at some point.
Yes. ATI builds Trinnov amplifiers as well and a lot of electronics for various brands. There is no link between Monoprice and Theta, other than ATI manufactures both, same as Trinnov amplifiers. ATI owns Datasat and Theta The Theta processors offer a greater SINAD than Monoprice and the older dacs that Trinnov was using for sure and maybe the new ones too. I salute Trinnov for updating their dacs. Trinnov doesn't make excuses. They intend for their products to have the fewest compromises. Trinnov is doing great things. If you don't need over 18 channels, Theta Casablanca V is a much better value, maybe half the price if you were to buy both used. Yes Theta is 100% developing Dirac ART. Seems to be a hold up with all of the other companies besides Storm?

My experience is that one should spend the most money of the best quality speakers that you can afford. I believe that will make a bigger difference than the processor one selects. I like Anthem. It's been on my radar. However, I already owned a Theta Casablanca and the upgrade to Casablanca V made more sense. I run all external dacs and the CBV was one of the cheaper with a digital output for the 12 channels I plan.
 

WillBrink

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Many in the review industry puts it above those 2. I can't offer my opinion since I never owned one.

I use Anthem STR integrated in my 2.1 system and I will never live without room correction and DSP again. However, I have no experience with the others so can't make comparisons.
 
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