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Anthem Statement D1 First Look

by July 04, 2004
Contributors: Steven DellaSala
Anthem Statement D1

Anthem Statement D1

There is quite a buzz building about the Anthem / Sonic Frontiers latest addition to the Home Theater A/V SSP (Surround Sound Processor) world with their new $5000 Anthem Statement D1 SSP. Audioholics forums alone has experienced a good deal of activity about the Statement D1 with some even comparing it to the latest high end receivers and processors.

This mighty looking processor seems to have quite the build quality and aesthetic appeal that appears to be a step up from their previous products which included the AVM2, AVM20 and AVM30.

The Anthem D1 SSP has just hit the market and already there's a v1.02 software update indicating that Anthem is being very pro-active in solving some of the initial software issues. If you are a new owner of the Anthem D1 SSP, you can download the firmware updates here.

Digital Architecture

The Digital Architecture of the new Anthem Statement D1 is comprised of the latest ADC, DAC and Processor technology as illustrated in the following table. All digital audio inputs and outputs are to S/PDIF electrical (75ohm, 0.5 Vp-p), S/PDIF optical (Toslink), or AES/EBU (110ohm, 5 Vp-p) standards. SRC output is 24-bit/192 kHz regardless of input.

Analog to Digital Converters
AKM® - AK5394A
Input Receiver
AKM® - AK4112A
Dual Motorola® 56367 at 150 MHz
Sample Rate Converters
Analog Devices AD1896
Digital to Analog Converters
AKM® AK4395

i-Link, DVI, HDMI Features

We were curious to know why the new Anthem Statement D1 SSP shipped without an IEEE connection. There is a slot for it located on the back panel but at this time the connection is missing. Upon speaking to Anthem they have plans on activating this interface soon. Current D1 owners will likely have to ship their units back to the manufacturer or have their local authorized dealer handle the upgrade. Aside from requiring the connection, the Anthem D1 Processor implements the AKM AK4395 Digital to Analog Converters which do not appear to support DSP interfacing for natively decoding DSD and proper analog filtering for SACD. However according to Anthem they plan on converting the DSD signal to PCM for proper handling of bass management and time alignment, upsampling the signal and utilizing the filtering incorporated for PCM. This is certainly a valid method for handling DSD and minor sonic penalties (if any) are usually outweighed by the benefits of implementing proper bass management and time alignment. Some purists whom insist upon keeping DSD in its native format cant rest easy as there are some high performance universal DVD players that do just that. The Statement D1 offers a set of EXT analog inputs to elect that route if you so desire. Just like the AVM20, the D1 also has the ability to apply proper bass management and time alignment through an additional ADC and D/A conversion stage via their premium ADCs.

One choice DAC currently employed in some flagship universal DVD player, receivers and processors is the Burr Brown PCM 1792. This is a differential DAC capable of supporting multi channel DVD-A and SACD in their native formats with the highest resolution possible.

For detailed information on the AKM AK4395 and the Burr Brown PCM 1792 Digital to Analog Converters, feel free to download the following PDFs from the appropriate website.

AKM D/A AK4395 Specification Sheet (High performance PCM DAC utilized in the Anthem D1)

Burr Brown PCM 1792 Specification Sheet (This is a popular and high performance PCM/DSD DAC found in many flagship A/V receivers and Universal DVD Players)

When carefully comparing the Anthem D1 SSP AK4395 DACs to the Burr Brown PCM 1792 DACs there does seem to be some advantages (at least on paper) to the Burr Brown design such as improved SNR, Dynamic Range,and Channel to Channel Isolation. Theoretically they may prove to be ancillary benefits of sqeezing out even more performance from this well designed product. The downside is these DACs are significantly more expensive and may translate to additional cost to the end user with little to no sonic benefits. In addition, data sheets often quote perfect test conditions that are usually unobtainable in the real world. The best resolution currently realized in the analog domain is limited to about 20 bits or 120dB SNR of resolution, which according to the data sheets, both DAC's can deliver.

According to an AKM Application Note (see page 9) there does appear to be a new DAC AKM4396 that handles both PCM and DSD natively in a 28VSOP package (same as current 4395 DAC). So this may be the future solution and logical choice for Anthem to support DVD-A and SACD at full resolution via i.link. (see Anthems Response here)

Anthem does plan on releasing a hardware upgrade for the D1 in the near future that may add HDMI support, DVI and/or a proprietary interface which are quickly becoming available on many new A/V Receivers and forthcoming A/V Processors. Current owners should anticipate several weeks turnaround with any hardware upgrade like what will be required for the D1 to include these digital interfaces. Audioholics will do our best to promptly report any possible upgrades in hopes that those whom have already purchased the Anthem D1 can send their unit back quickly for a possible faster turnaround time.

Anthem Statement D1 Q and A

Anthem was kind enough to answer some of our questions and fill out our A/V Processor Checklist with respect to the functionality of the Statement D1.

Q&A with Anthem Engineering

How and when Anthem plans on supporting DSD and DVD-A via i.link.

Anthem: Scheduled for end of this year, IEEE1394 will be added, and all AVM 20s, AVM 30s, and D1s can have the retrofit. DSD and DVD-A can both go over 1394 (HDMI is DVD-A only).

Will there be a DAC upgrade to AKM 4396?

Anthem: No. A white paper explaining various issues with DSD and PCM will appear on our site soon.

What are the plans for DVI/HDMI support?

Anthem: DVI - use HDMI/DVI adapter, audio sources will be assignable to HDMI inputs. HDMI - same as #1, details in Audioholics A/V Checklist.

Additional Notes From Anthem Engineering

Additional Notes: The Statement D1 is the world's first upsampling multichannel pre/pro (even DD /DTS go through the upsampling chain) - the upsampling provides elimination of digital noise byproducts (reduces them by 120 dB and up, and 120 dB is already below system noise).

Additional Features

  • AES/EBU input
  • Pro-quality A/D conversion via coax out
  • Simulcast (select one video source and a different audio source)
  • 3 zones plus two record loops (Zone 2 also has OSD via composite and s-video)
  • Center channel EQ that we created by measuring how TV screens affect response (in Paradigm's anechoic chamber) and programming inverse curves in setup according to screen sizes
  • Level matching for each audio inoput source
  • Other extras include timers, triggers, and IR hub with 12V supply

Anthem Settings Editor
Anthem Settings Editor for Windows

Closing Comments

Audioholics is looking forward to a more in depth investigation of the latest Anthem Statement product offering.

The Anthem Statement D1 SSP offers some very noteworthy features such as:

  • Flexible bass management and configurability.
  • High current +12V (200mA) triggered output.
  • THX Ultra2 Certification and Processing.
  • Balanced Outputs.
  • Premium components.
  • Multi room audio/video support.
  • Room Resonance Filter.
  • Bass management and digital delay compensation on analog multichannel inputs.

Our "First Look" mini-review of the Anthem D1 will be updated regularly once we examine this A/V Processor in more detail.

Feel free to discuss the new Anthem D1 in our forums. Once the Anthem Statement D1 SSP is upgraded with active IEEE 1394 (i-Link), HDMI, DVI and/or proprietary interface, we are confident that the $5,000 Anthem D1 Preamplifier A/V Processor / Tuner will prove to be a noteworthy addition to the ever changing and highly competitive A/V Home Theater market. Either way you look at it, this is a hot platform with much potential for future expansion and should remain on your short shopping list when comparing high performance processors..

To understand the benefits of i.link / digital connection for DVD-A/SACD, please check out our commentary in the following review excerpt from the Yamaha RX-Z9.


About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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