Testing the Anthem AVM 50v & MCA 50
I've had the AVM 50v in my system long enough to become thoroughly familiar with its features and performance.
The AVM 50v is one of the finest controllers I've heard or used. With two-channel music it delivers the transparency and neutrality of the most straightforward analog component, and it cranks out decisively dynamic home theater performance with its advanced digital processing. The AVM-50v consistently delivered clean, open and detailed sound with music and movies. Vocal clarity sounded crisp and well defined, and the natural separation of musical instruments (frequently smeared in complex recordings) was keen and distinct, allowing the listener to focus or concentrate on a single musical event or simply enjoy the performance in its whole.
Surround sound events, particularly subtle environmental sounds (such as a doorbell off-screen or a scene depicting diners in a restaurant) came alive in a way that tricks the senses and transports the viewer to that scene, if only for a moment. It's known as 'envelopment' and the Anthem delivers it with startling realism. This is the way music and movies should be enjoyed and the Anthem AVM-50v and MCA 50 carry the audio and home theater experience to its fullest potential.
With its dual power supplies and eight output devices per channel, the MCA 50 delivered a seemingly inexhaustible supply of current to the speakers. The amp's respectable Slew Rate (L) of 20 volts/microsecond contributed to very quick transient response in percussive instruments such as a piano, drums or guitar strings.
I've written mostly about the audio capabilities of the AVM-50v, but the processor also features a Sigma Designs VXP broadcast quality digital video processor with motion-adaptive de-interlacing (L) and video noise reduction performed on a per-pixel basis. I put the Anthem's video processor through its paces with the HQV Benchmark 2.0 DVD standard definition and high definition test discs and it passed all of the tests except a few of the film cadence tests. The processor passed all video resolution and de-interlacing tests on the discs. On a critical note, the Anthem AVM-50v had a few performance glitches, mostly with the HDMI connection and 'handshake' functions. Periodically when switching between source components the processor had difficulty maintaining audio sync with the source component (BD player, HD set-top box) and the audio signal would go out, requiring the processor to be reset by turning the power off for a few seconds. In other instances, the processor's on-screen menus would flash on and off on the screen, also requiring a reset. HDMI is an evolving standard and I suspect the different versions of HDMI currently on the market are at least somewhat responsible for the difficulties.
Update: Anthem software upgrade solves the problem.
This Anthem duo has plenty of digital prowess and pure current horsepower with overall performance that shares space with the best of the best. Audiophiles will appreciate their clean, transparent sound quality and home theater enthusiasts will delight in the processor's control and customization features.
Building a top class system starts with the controller. Despite its complexity, the AVM 50v delivers the rich sound quality of the finest analog audio components, but with superb digital processing and a plethora of useful controls thrown-in. The MCA 50 amp is a robust powerhouse, and I'm sure I never tapped its full potential.
It's difficult to conclude that either component is a bargain - the AVM-50v is $5, 999 and the MCA 50 is $2,799 - but there is little doubt in my mind that with their robust performance, extraordinary sound quality, control capabilities and custom features, they are indeed the foundation of a top class home entertainment system.
- Frequency Response: 10 Hz - 20 kHz (+0, -.2 dB)
- Frequency Bandwidth: 1 Hz - 120 kHz (+0, -3 dB)
- THD + N (noise) Analog Direct Input: 0.006% @ 80 kHz
- IMD (Intermodulation Distortion) Analog Direct Inputs: 0.001%
- Signal to Noise ratio Analog Direct Inputs: 106 dB
Inputs / Outputs
- 7 coaxial digital audio inputs
- 3 Toslink digital audio inputs
- 1 AES/EBU digital audio input
- 7 stereo analog inputs
- 1 stereo analog balanced-line XLR input
- 1 6-channel analog input
- 10 balanced-line XLR audio outputs
- 10 single-ended RCA audio outputs
- 8 HDMI inputs
- 4 component video inputs
- 7 S-video inputs
- 7 composite video inputs
- 2 HDMI outputs
- 1 S-video output
- 1 composite video output
- Two 50-mA trigger outputs
- One 200-mA trigger output
- Three powered IR receivers
- Two IR emitters
- Wake-up/shut-off/sleep timers (Main, zone 2, zone 3)
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 17 ¼" x 5 7/8" x 14 ½"
- Black or Silver finish
- Weight: 30.7 lbs.
- Price: $5999
- Power Output: 8 ohms: 225 watts (200 watts all channels driven) 4 ohms: 375 watts (265 watts all channels driven) 2 ohms: 535 watts (340 watts all channels driven)
- Power bandwidth: 10 Hz - 80 kHz (+0, -3 dB)
- Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz (+0, -0.15 dB)
- Damping Factor: 130 at 1 kHz
- Signal to Noise ratio: 120 dB
- Slew Rate: 20V/microsecond
- 5 balanced-line, 5 single-ended inputs
- 5 pair speaker binding posts
- Three power modes: Trigger, Manual, Auto
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 17 ¼" x 7 5/8" x 17 ½" (height including feet)
- Weight: 61 lbs.
- Price: $2799
- contact: anthemav.com