Anthem AVM 2 A/V Preamplifier

AVM 2

  • Latest generation Motorola DSP-56362 chip
  • Crestron TM compatible; Phast Link TM upgradeable, Firewire TM provision
  • 3 independent paths/zones
  • Auto detect DSP modes: Dolby Digital; DTS; Dolby Pro-Logic; MPEG2. Audio Modes: Stereo (5 modes); Mono (3 modes)
  • AM (6 presets) and FM (18 presets) tuner section has selectable Stereo, Mono or Hi-Blend settings
  • Fully Universal and Learning, programmable backlit remote
  • Headphone Output (connected in parallel with MAIN path)
  • High Definition video switching
  • Center channel equalization

  • User Reviews (23)

    Showing 1-10 of 23  
    Doug Archer   Casual Listener [Jan 10, 2015]

    I have now owned AVM 2 and MCA Series 2 amp for 15 years with Paradigm Reference Studio 100 speakers and sub with 15 inch driver, 2 Paradigm rears and Paradigm center. I just spent my first $75 to clean the volume control on the AVM 2 otherwise these two units and speakers have now run for 15 years with no serious problems. My remote is looking a bit used, the door to the battery is broken and the light no longer works. Otherwise the remote works fine. How could I not highly recommend this equipment. Now to find another remote would be nice. If you are looking for long lasting equipment that kicks ass then you will like Anthem.

    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    TransHuman   AudioPhile [Jun 25, 2003]
    Strength:

    DACs, Connection Flexibility, Setup Program.

    Weakness:

    Electronics, electronics, Anthem's support/repair turnaround.

    About a year ago I wrote a review outlining the problems I had had with the AVM-2. Sad to report those problems have continued and the unit is back at Anthem for a second time. My center channel in Pro-Logic and DD5.1 is completely dead. Only cycling the power several times causes the channel to activate and then for a short period of time. I hope that my reviews will balance all of the shining reviews that new owners have given the unit. While I still think it's an outstanding unit at face value, please be aware of the faulty electronics contained within. Converstations with others in the field have reinforced the lack of quality electronics in these units. One source says he refuses to sell the unit anymore. I also have to be critical of Anthem's support or lack thereof. While the 5 year warranty has saved my wallet from an expensive situation, I still find it unacceptable that they took over 1 month to fix my unit last time only to have it break again. So far it's been in the shop one week this second time. Time will tell if Anthem has improved their support/turn around.

    OVERALL
    RATING
    2
    VALUE
    RATING
    3
    Bob   AudioPhile [Mar 12, 2003]
    Strength:

    The AVM has excellent build quality, very good 2-channel stereo, excellent 5-channel stereo (now my preference for music listening, and never thought it would be out of the gate), very good video and excellent 5.1.

    Weakness:

    The only thing I can think of is that for users not accustomed to menu-driven sets may find the AVM’s initial set up and operation is a little confusing. However, after a few weeks, operating and changing settings becomes very intuitive. And as far as reliability is concerned I have no complaints so far

    I have had my AVM 2 for about 6 months now and I love it. The two-channel stereo is very good, and the 5 channel-stereo and 5.1 are even better. I will spare you naming a list of all the unit’s capabilities and inputs; let’s just say the AVM’s flexibility is excellent overall. And in opposition to some posters, I find the remote’s functionality, ease of use and effective range from all angles to be excellent. The AVM’s sound in 2-channel is as good, or better, than that of many dedicated 2-channel pre-amps. The sound is open with excellent sound staging/imaging – within the limits of the source material and recording quality that is of course. This brings up an excellent point; the AVM’s transparency really brings out the recording quality of your listening material. In fact, I’ve become more conscious of the recording quality of CDs that I listen to than with any other stereo that I have owned. For instance, on several jazz CDs that own I can now clearly hear the air around the reed on a sax where before this level of detail was not readily apparent. The other thing that I have noticed was a considerable increase in quality by using the AVM’s digital inputs over its analog inputs with my Denon DVD/CD unit. The AVM’s Brown Burrell DACs are much better than those found in many DVD/CD units and should be taken advantage of. (By using the AVM’s DACs, you are effectively reducing the functioning of your DVD/CD player to a transport mechanism only. Given the excellence of the Brown Burrell devices, the advantages of this option should be inherently apparent to owners of most mid-level players.) To be honest when I first got the unit home, I was in too much of a hurry to get it up and running. It wasn’t until some time later that I took the time to read the owner’s manual with an emphasis on understanding the setup options. The unit’s built in speaker placement adjustment (virtual speaker placement options) and speaker level adjustment (white noise generator) deserve special attention. For owners of sets that include mix and match speakers or where speaker placement is less than optimal, these functions will really bring your set to life. I also eventually switched over to running the video input from my DVD through the AVM; again I found this to be superior to my original setup which by passed the AVM. The other benefit realized here is the ability to see the full menu of all setup options clearly without having to endlessly scroll. My only complaint with the AVM has more to do with the inherent nature of the DSP processed sound than with the AVM itself. After a couple of hours of listening, thoughtful listeners will find all the DSP settings to be a gimmicky waste – and not just those found in the AVM but all units on the market. Instead of the DSPs the AVM folks should have included a chip that was programmed to provide a graphic equalizer capable of modifying the response of each speaker individually. Now that I have my system setup fully worked out, I find that most of my listening is no longer in 2-channel. The AVM’s 5-channel stereo option is wonderful (for extended 5-channel listening, the rear speakers should be set to play at very low levels with a 3 to 4 millisecond delay, just enough to add a three dimensional effect but not enough to be obvious). Movies and concerts in 5.1 are simply wonderful. And as to 5.1 versus 7.1, just check the number of concert DVDs and movies available in 7.1. Lastly, room size limitations with regard to the placement of an extra set of speakers combined with budget constraints make 7.1 less desirable anyways. Equipment: AVM 2 Nakamichi PA 7 (drives front mains) Denon POA 8303 (drives center and rears) B&W Matrix 801s (front mains) B&W CDM CNT(center) B&W CDM 1NT(rears) Denon 1000

    Similar Products Used: To many to list. A few years back I owned a record and stereo store for 8 years.
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    DMolisher   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 20, 2003]
    Strength:

    Flexible bass management; low noise; good sound quality on both MUSIC & movies; good DAC's & ADC's; very solid construction; no need for OSD (though it's there if you want it)!

    Weakness:

    Slight, brief hum when remote is activated; no analog bypass option, except for the sole 5.1 input; not the latest in processing tech (no DPL-II, DTS Neo:6, 6.1 or 7.1-channel stuff, etc., though my brief exposure to these left me thinking I'd never miss any of them!)

    I recently upgraded from my NAD T760 A/V receiver to separates. This was harder than I thought. Many preamps I auditioned (incl. Rotel RSP-1066, Audio Refinement Pre2DSP, Acurus, Adcom) had glaring flaws and/or inferior (or, at best, similar) sound quality to my receiver! I even considered just getting NAD's new T752 receiver, but even this unit proved to be worse than their older T760 in some ways! Since I could not see spending over $2000 on a pre-pro (or receiver), I effectively ruled out everything except a half-price demo of Anthem's AVM-2. It was the only unit that just WORKED as it should, while sounding at least a little better than my old receiver. In particular, hums, pops, clicks, and noise in general were nearly nonexistent with the Anthem. (There is a very slight hum each time the remote is used, which I found unusual, but this disappears after a few seconds.) Sound quality (from analog or digital CD input using my NAD C541 CD player) is noticeably superior to the other aforementioned preamps, with the exception of Audio Refinement's Pre2DSP in *analog bypass* mode (ONLY; the digital circuitry in this AR unit appears to be very noisey, unfortunately, among other issues). If I have any complaint, it's that the AVM-2's sound might be a little too smooth (and less open, airy, and dynamic than the best); unfortunately, there is no analog bypass, except for the sole 5.1 analog input, but luckily the DAC's and ADC's are quite respectable (noticeably better than those in my old NAD T760 receiver, e.g.). Unlike with my old NAD T760, connecting the C541 CD player --or even my inexpensive Toshiba SD-4800 DVD player-- digitally resulted in CD playback on par with the C541's analog output, using its own pretty nice DAC. And I really like the fact that the AVM-2 allows separate level controls for the LFE channel and the summed subwoofer information! This turned out to be a must for use with my REL Strata III subwoofer, connected both to the high-level front speaker terminals (the preferred connection for music) and the low-level RCA subwoofer (needed for the LFE channel in movies): if the "subwoofer" level wasn't reduced, relative to the LFE, then I got very boomy bass (probably due to mid-bass information being doubled from both connections) unless the REL's main volume was set so low that the LFE information was somewhat wimpy during movies. I can finally get strong LFE effects without the bloated mid-bass resulting from enabling bass management with my dually connected REL! I also really like the fact that the front display can be effectively used in place of the OSD (On-Screen Display). This is particularly helpful since the component connections do not carry OSD info. (which is probably best, for optimal picture, anyway; indeed, I don't even route my component cables through the pre-pro, not that I've noticed any problems with this approach). By the way, this unit is very solidly constructed, weighing as much as many receivers! Indeed, it's power supply is better than that in many power amps! At the price I paid, the value rating should definitely be a 5; but at the MSRP, not better than a 4. I was disappointed to find that no one seems to make a really good pre-pro for under $2500 :( Since I didn't compare the AVM-2 to other units in its MSRP range of $2500-$3500, and since the new AVM-20 v.2 is surely better in every way for only a little more (MSRP), I give the AVM-2 a 4 overall as well.

    Similar Products Used: Rotel RSP-1066, Audio Refinement Pre2DSP, Acurus, Adcom, NAD T760, NAD T752; Chiro C-500 5-channel amp; NAD C541 CD player; Toshiba SD-4800 DVD-A player; Toshiba Cinema Series 50HX81 RP-HDTV; Thi
    OVERALL
    RATING
    4
    VALUE
    RATING
    4
    afiore   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 26, 2002]
    Strength:

    Two channel stereo quality. Easy operation. It does not introduce problems into the system. It just continued to improve with every new tweak, such as better interconnects and speaker cable.

    Weakness:

    The remote is difficult to master initially.

    High quality unit with tremendous flexibility and great sound. I have enjoyed every minute listening to this unit and using it in my home theater.

    Similar Products Used: Adcom
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    TransHuman   AudioPhile [Sep 03, 2002]
    Strength:

    Chassis, software, video switching/outputs, connection flexibility.

    Weakness:

    Poor QC at Anthem/Sonic Frontiers, poor repair turn around.

    The unit is well built and has plenty of setup flexibility. The software is outstanding, and it's video switching, filters are quite excellent. HOWEVER, at just over 1 year old, I've had the main DSP chip fail. Repairs took over 1 month due to the recent reogranization/closing at Sonic Frontiers. Now, just three or four months after the repairs, my center channel output is failing. I have inconsistent sound in DD5.1 and Pro Logic settings. At over $2000, I expect better electronics and better repair turnaround.

    Similar Products Used: Denon Pro/Amp.
    OVERALL
    RATING
    3
    VALUE
    RATING
    3
    Shawn T   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 07, 2001]
    Strength:

    Two channel sound, build quality, balanced outputs/input, variable speaker calibration and setups, beautiful piece, Bass Management

    Weakness:

    None

    I spent several months researching this site and others to find the right A/V processor. I did a lot of comparisons, and in the end I purchased an Anthem AVM2 and an MCA 5.

    The most important thing for me in a HT system was to preserve the two channel sound. I spend most of my time listening to music, but I do enjoy a loud DVD on weekends, and I don't have the space or money to have two systems.

    After several months of listening, I couldn't be happier with my AVM2. The pre stage in the Anthem is extremely neutral. It has beautiful clarity and sound stage. The Motorola DSP and Burr Brown 24 bit D/A converters are pretty standard now, but somehow the Anthem stays more neutral than other pieces I have listened to. It is a GREAT two channel pre amp on it own.

    Then add on the DTS/DD 5.1 processing and wow!!! You have got two great systems in one. Build quality is excellent. I have sent a couple of e-mails to Sonic Frontiers with some questions, and they have answered me in the same day - great service. The Firm ware upgradability is a nice touch. And it is the only unit in its class that comes with a 5 year warranty. I have read some complaints about the remote, but I have had any problems working it. It seems simple enough to me.

    In my mind it is absolutely the best overall A/V processor in its price range, and I believe that it rivals the sound of most of the higher priced pieces as well.

    Sonic Frontiers - it was worth the wait for the AVM 2. You hit a home run with this one.

    As a side note, make sure that you pair up the AVM 2 with an amp that has got balanced inputs. I have got an Anthem MCA 5, and I ran the system for a couple of weeks with RCA interconnects, while I was waiting for my balanced cables to come in. The balanced set-up is a clear step up in virtually all levels of sound quality. Take advantage of it!

    One of the reasons that I was considering not buying the AVM 2 was that it didn't have 7.1 like most of the competition. Hah! What a joke. I don't think that 7.1 will ever become popular. Who the hell has got the room for an extra two speakers? I have to hide the rear speakers from my wife as it is. Don't listen to the 7.1 hype, buy the AVM2.

    For anyone who lives in or near Southern Ontario, I highly recommend the guys a Fairview Hifi in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Excellent knowledge and service.

    My system

    Anthem AVM 2
    Anthem MCA 5
    Audioquest Coral XLR interconnects x5
    JM Lab Cobalt 810 fronts
    Kef Q15's wired in series for center (thanks Ray)
    Paradigm Titans in rear
    Paradigm PW-2200 sub
    Audioquest Slate speaker wire

    Similar Products Used: Several NAD two channel components, B&K AVP1000, Rotel 960ax
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Harley L   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 15, 2001]
    Strength:

    5:1 channel Balanced out, 1 balanced in, OSD, remote, ease of use, sound, software upgradable from Sonic Frontiers web site.

    Weakness:

    No 7:1 (I don't miss it much anyway)

    I bought my Marantz SR-14ex in Dec 2000 and was quite happy with it, until I heard this machine. I was wandering through my local audio shop pondering my next upgrade when I bumped into the VP of sales for Sonic Frontiers. We talked for a few hours on systems & componants and I mentioned I wanted to play around with different amps, he suggested their MCA-2 & MCA-3 (as I figured he would). Now, this was no 'Nuance salesman ploy' you get at International Stereo, this guy was for real. A friend of mine has the Anthem amps and loves them, so I thought I'd give them a shot. Needless to say 3 days later I owned both of them AND the AVM2. This thing is amazing. It's the easiest to hook up and use pre-amp I've ever seen. The on screen display is a breeze and within minutes my home was filled with pure sweet music like it had never been before. I use 1 laser source, a Marantz DV-18MKII. I run 2 Goertz silver interconnects to the AUX of the AVM2 and 1 Monster digital to the Disk2. The digital sounds a bit reserved, but open up the Marantz direct (bypassed) and this baby sings beautifully. I've tried everything from hard rock to jazz and it all sounds great. I had a slight popping in the speakers when I changed modes, but a simple hook-up to my computer to upgrade the software from their web site and the problem was solved. I run it completelly balanced to the 5 channels and through 2 Paradigm reference 100v2 in the front. I'll never say I'm done upgrading (what audio nut would?), but I am going to hang on to this piece for a while, I really love all that it does.

    Similar Products Used: Marantz AV-550, SR-14ex
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Doug   Audiophile [Mar 30, 2001]
    Strength:

    Ease of use, lots of connections, sound, adjustable parameters, build, remote

    Weakness:

    Little lacking in "slam"

    I recently replaced my Krell KRC-2 preamp and my Vantas DD processor with the Anthem AVM-2. I was not sure how I would like going from a Krell preamp to another preamp. The more I use the AVM-2 the more I like it. It definitly has a different presentation than Krell but I like it. The AVM-2 provides much more fine detail to the music that the Krell was steam rolling over. I even like the different sound modes for listening to cds. I especially like the 5 channel stereo. There are lots of connections, rca and xlr outputs, does DD and DTS, sounds great, and is reasonably priced. What more can you ask for. One thing to add, you should definitely have a power conditioner for this product. I use the API Power Wedge 116 mk 11. For reference system:
    Anthem AVM-2
    Krell KSA-250
    Anthem MCA-5
    Pioneer DV-37
    Mirage M3
    Mirage MCSi
    Definitive Technology BP6B
    DIY Silver interconects and speaker wires
    Pioneer Elite PRO 98

    Similar Products Used: Krell KRC-2 and Vantas DAP-S50
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    tom mangiaracina   Audiophile [Jan 09, 2001]
    Strength:

    straight forward operatation, easy on screen scrolling menu's with an abundence of refining parameters,great sound especially for music,parameter for dvd audio,mutiple component inputs with main component out for
    HD or prog-scan, balance XLR inputs and outputs

    Weakness:

    for the price i cannot find any, to my dismay had i done a little more reserch i could have gotten it for $2000, i got ripped off,

    easy operation, great on-screen menu's, tons of ins and outs
    all inputs have availible coaxial and XLR in's as well as s-video and composite,dolby digital,plus a 5.1 direct input, dts,vcr,satellite,tuner,tv,cd,unfortunatly no phono input,
    i have an extensive LP collection.lots of home theater parameters like tv screen size that adjusts the center channel EQ which remarkably enhances the dialog,plus a seperate center channel EQ,seperate level controls for each input an excellent feature because as we all know every unit is has slightly different output level ,power up level control so you don't accidentally blow your speakers upon powering-up, As far as sonic performence what $2000 pre-amp wouldn't sound good through
    audio vectors,it's crisp, clean, excellent bass response,stereo imaging is beautiful. I thought i had good sound with my parasound, and for the price I did, BUT, the differnce is remarkibly noticible,I bought it mainly for home theater, but i find myself listening to more music then i have in years,if any knows the feeling of sitting in
    a high end audio shop and wondering why everthing always sounds so much better in the store than in your home,i think i've brought that sound home.For the money it's as good as it gets.

    Similar Products Used: parasound psp 1500-dd pre-amp, accurus poweramp, audio vector m3 signiture speakers,toshiba 6200 dvd, sony 61hs10 rptv
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Showing 1-10 of 23  

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