Home Theater Advancement: Sonic Frontiers' Anthem AVM 2
Not so the Anthem AVM 2 from Sonic Frontiers. The Canadian company's most recent home theater processor/preamp is built around the latest generation Motorola DSP-56362 chip and is claimed to be "future proof" by virtue of its upgradeable firmware. The AVM 2 sports both a bi-directional RS-232 port and a FireWire connection.
Tired of futzing with surround sound setups? The AVM 2 has an auto-detect feature that will automatically establish the best decoder for the program in use. Dolby Digital; DTS; Dolby Pro-Logic; and MPEG2 are all fully supported by the Anthem's digital signal processing circuitry. The unit also features five modes of stereo and three modes of monophonic reproduction. A built-in tuner will accept six presets for AM and eighteen for FM, which can be optimized by selecting the mono, stereo, or hi-blend mode. Dolby Digital sources can be tweaked with one of four compression schemes, and there is also a late-night listening mode that trims the dynamics and frequency extremes so you can enjoy movies or music without disturbing your neighbors.
Do you have several sources that sound different from each other? No problem. Each of the Anthem's inputs can be optimized for tone, balance, and dynamics, with the settings kept in memory. The Anthem's headphone output is in parallel with its main outputs, allowing headphone use either with or instead of loudspeakers. The center channel can be equalized separately from the other speakers in the system. The AVM 2 is said to be "DVD-Audio ready," with an analog bypass.
Integration into high-tech home environments is made easy by the AVM 2's compatibility with Crestron controllers; it can also connect to Phast systems via an upgrade option. Sonic Frontiers' latest creation was built with flexibility in mind: it can control up to three different systems in separate parts of the house, thanks to its independent signal path design, which allows simultaneous feeds of different programs to systems other than the main one.
Sonic's engineers seem to have thought of everything for the AVM 2's audio section, but its video performance is also world-class. High Definition video switching insures that there will be zero image degradation when changing from your progressive-scan DVD player to your HD receiver, for example. All user-programmed settings are kept in memory until they are changed; but there is no need to do so when switching from one format type to another. The password-protected memory insures that only authorized users or service technicians can change your settings once you have calibrated your AVM 2.
Sonic Frontiers promises technical support will be available over the telephone for all customers. Bundled with a programmable, universal backlit remote control, the Anthem AVM 2 carries a suggested retail price of $2799.