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Anthem AVM 60 Preamplifier Processor Review

The AVM 60 is the first 11.2-channel preamplifier-processor from Anthem.

It supports both the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based audio formats, as well as the Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X upmixers, which can create a 3D surround experience from a stereo or multichannel soundtrack. Anthem includes the latest version of their Anthem Room Correction (ARC) system, which now supports four separate speaker profiles. Like the Anthem MRX x20 A/V receivers, the AVM 60 is ready for 4K UHD TV and UHD Blu-ray, including Dolby Vision. The AVM 60 includes DTS Play-Fi, which supports Wi-Fi streaming from digital libraries on your network or device, as well as from streaming services like TIDAL, Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, and many more. Anthem has an amazing track record of building preamps/processors, and the AVM 60 is an outstanding addition to that legacy.

Highlights

Anthem AVM 60 Preamplifier Processor

  • Includes Dolby Atmos, Dolby Surround, DTS:X and DTS Neural:X processing to create an immersive 3D surround experience.
  • Anthem Room Correction (ARC) with four separate speaker profiles.
  • Supports HDMI 2.0a, HDCP 2.2, HDR (high dynamic range), BT. 2020 wide color gamut, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), and 4:4:4 color subsampling at 4K 50/60 Hz (18.2 Gbps).
  • 4K 50/60 Hz video pass-through and switching.
  • Functions as a DTS Play-Fi receiver and supports the DTS Play-Fi Wi-Fi streaming system.
Introduction

The Anthem AVM series preamplifier-processor (surround processor) is a legend in the A/V industry. We started covering them here at Secrets back in 2001 when Brian Florian published his review of the AVM 20. Back then, Dolby Digital and DTS were the formats of choice and the AVM 20 retailed for $3,199 USD. The AVM processors evolved over time and became increasingly flexible and feature rich. Anthem did something amazing with the AVM series, and they offered AVM owners the chance to upgrade the hardware (for a fee) to match the new model AVMs that were coming to market. This approach lasted for many years and helped Anthem develop a very loyal customer and dealer base. The final model of the original AVM series preamp/processor was the AVM 50v 3D, which supported HDMI 1.4a, 3D-pass-through, and included a high-end video processor, retailed for $6,499 USD and came to market in 2012. The AVM product line also gave birth to the Anthem Statement series processors, which were the pinnacle of performance for Anthem, featuring full time digital upsampling and oversampling. I had the pleasure of reviewing the Statement D2v 3D which is still being sold for $9,499 USD.

ANTHEM PROCESSOR REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
Design:

11.2-channel Preamp / Processor

DAC:

AKM AK4458 32-bit / 768 kHz Differential-Output

ADC:

AKM AK5381 24-bit 96kHz Delta-Sigma

DSP:

Quad core Cirrus Logic CS49844A 32-bit processor

Dolby® and DTS® Surround Sound Processing:

Dolby Atmos, Dolby Surround, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital, DTS:X, DTS Neural:X, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS

Room Correction:

Anthem Room Correction (ARC) with calibrated microphone and stand

Video:

4K 50/60 Pass-through and switching, 4:4:4 color subsampling at 4K60 (18.2 Gbps), HDR (high dynamic range), BT.2020 (wide color gamut), Dolby Vision

Wireless Audio:

DTS Play-Fi (Apple, Android, Windows PC)

Number of Zones:

2

Connections:

HDMI 2.0a:

8 In (includes 1 front-panel input), 2 parallel Out with HDCP 2.2

MHL Support:

2 ports (front-panel HDMI and rear HDMI port 7)

Digital Audio Inputs:

3 Optical and 2 Coaxial

Analog Audio Inputs:

5 RCA

Analog Audio Outputs:

1 stereo pair for line out, 1 stereo pair for Zone 2

Pre-Outs:

11.2 Channel (RCA and XLR), including 2 parallel subwoofers

USB Ports:

1 front for firmware updates, 1 rear for DTS-Play-Fi updates

Network:

Ethernet Port for Wired Network Connection, built-in Wi-Fi

Control:

RS-232C, Remote IR (1 in), 12 Volt-trigger (1 out), IP Control

Headphone Jack:

1/4" front panel output

General Features:

Wi-Fi Remote Control App:

Apple iOS (Android coming soon)

Tuner:

FM Radio

Accessories:

Remote Control

Dimensions:

6.5" H x 17.25" W x 14.5" D

Weight:

20 Pounds

MSRP:

$2,999 USD

Company:

Anthem

SECRETS Tags:

Anthem, Anthem AVM 60, Surround Processor, Preamplifier, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Surround, DTS:X, Dolby Vision, ARC Mobile, Anthem Room Correction, Surround Processor Reviews 2017

Unfortunately, it was no longer viable for Anthem to continue the hardware upgrades using the existing AVM 50 product architecture. As we started seeing the success of Anthem’s MRX series receivers, it seemed only to be a matter of time before we would see the introduction of a new preamplifier-processor based on the MRX platform. At CEDIA in October of 2015, Anthem finally announced the AVM 60 which is the subject of this review. Let’s take a look at how the AVM 60 lives up to the legacy of the AVM product line and see how it compares to the AVM 50v 3D.

Design

Take one look at the AVM 60 and you immediately think that this is another member of the MRX receiver product line. The AVM 60 says goodbye to the tiny buttons that adorned the front panel of the AVM 50 series and takes on the same clean lines and simplified interface of the MRX x20 A/V receivers. The front panel is made of brushed aluminum. The bright blue LED display is flanked by a large volume knob and a standard set of cursor buttons that allow for easy navigation of the AVM 60 setup menus. Directly under the display are six control buttons for setup, display brightness, sound mode, level, zone control and input selection. The AVM 60 supports up to 30 virtual inputs. Rather than clutter the front panel with 30 tiny buttons that might never be used, Anthem kept the design simple. Inputs can be selected from an onscreen menu or by using the front display and the cursor buttons. In the bottom-right corner of the AVM 60 are power buttons for the main and secondary zones. The front HDMI input, USB update port, and a headphone jack are hidden on the bottom-left behind a small door. The exterior case of the AVM 60 has a textured black finish.

The rear panel also looks like an MRX x20 receiver with the notable addition of 13 balanced XLR outputs to support 11 speakers and two parallel subwoofers. The AVM 60 matches the input and output capabilities of the MRX 1120 receiver with eight HDMI inputs (seven on the rear panel, one on the front) and two parallel HDMI outputs. The first HDMI output supports ARC (Audio Return Channel), so you can listen to audio from your television through the AVM 60 without an extra audio cable. Anthem has included support for MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) on HDMI port 7 and on the front HDMI input. The HDMI ports are HDMI 2.0a-compliant and they support HDCP 2.2. The AVM 60 supports HDMI video switching and video pass-through at 4K 50/60Hz resolution as well as HDR (high dynamic range), BT. 2020 wide color gamut, and 4:4:4 Subsampling at 4K60 (18.2 Gbps). These capabilities mean that the AVM 60 is ready for the latest 4K UHD televisions and 4K UHD Blu-ray with support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

Anthem includes 13 unbalanced RCA pre-out connections, five pairs of stereo analog inputs, two pairs of stereo analog outputs (one for line out and the other for zone 2), three optical inputs and one optical output, and two coaxial digital inputs. For networking, the AVM 60 includes both an Ethernet jack as well as built-in Wi-Fi support with two antennas. The networking connections allow for streaming to the built-in DTS Play-Fi receiver in the AVM 60. They also provide network access for the Anthem Room Correction (ARC) system which is also included. For control, Anthem includes IP control, RS-232 jack, one IR input, and one 12-Volt trigger output, which can be used to turn on an external amplifier. The remaining connections are the antenna jack for the FM tuner and two USB ports which are used to update the AVM 60 (front USB) and the DTS Play-Fi module (rear USB).

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If you were making a mental list of the differences between the AVM 60 and its predecessor, the AVM 50v 3D, here are some of the big differences. The analog video components are completely gone along with the video processor. Also absent are the multi-channel analog input, the AM Tuner, Zone 3, the two-channel balanced XLR input, an AES/EBU digital input, two additional 12-Volt triggers, two IR emitter jacks, and an IR receiver jack.

The AVM 60 comes with a backlit remote that is standard with the MRX receiver line.

From a technology perspective, the AVM 60 supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X and speaker configurations up to 7.2.4 with two pair of height channels. The latest Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X upmixers are included to synthesize an immersive 3D surround experience from a stereo or multichannel soundtrack. With the latest firmware, the AVM 60 support the latest high dynamic range formats including HDR10, Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG). The signal processing is done with a Quad core Cirrus Logic CS49844A 32-bit processor. The AVM 60 uses differential-output AKM AK4458 32-bit / 768 kHz D/A convertors and AKM AK5381 24-bit 96kHz Delta-Sigma A/D converters.

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A peek inside the AVM 60 reveals a very similar layout to that of the MRX x20 A/V receivers sans the amplifier section and its big heatsink and cooling fan.

According to Anthem, the AVM 60 was also the first preamplifier-processor to include support for DTS Play-Fi. Located just behind the Ethernet jack on the rear panel is a complete standalone module allowing the AVM 60 to act as a receiver in the DTS Play-Fi ecosystem. This means that you can stream content from a DTS Play-Fi application directly to the AVM 60. We’ll talk more about that later.

Setup

In order to enjoy 3D surround formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, you need to have at least one pair of height speakers in the listening room with two pair being ideal. The AVM 60 supports traditional-height speakers that you might find in a Dolby PLIIz configuration, in-ceiling or top speakers, and of course Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers which have upward-firing drivers to reflect the sound off of the ceiling and towards the listener. If you aren’t yet familiar with the basics of Dolby Atmos, Secrets’ Co-Editor Chris Eberle has provided a great introduction in his article: “Dolby Atmos and Auro-3D: The Technology and The Reality.”

To get started with setting up the AVM 60, I connected my amplifiers and components, and then entered my speaker configuration. For my room, I was using a 7.2.4 speaker configuration with a pair of front on-wall speakers and a pair of middle in-ceiling speakers.

The AVM 60 menus are well organized and easy to use, but they lack the kind of interactive menu system that you find in the Denon or Marantz products like the Marantz AV8802/A. For example, if the Height 1 speakers are selected as “Middle In-Ceiling”, you will see the same option listed again for the Height 2 speakers. Ideally, the middle speaker options should not be present in the list. This really isn’t a problem at all during setup, but it might make you wonder for a moment seeing the options duplicated in the menus.

To help with speaker placement, Anthem has included a series of speaker diagrams that illustrate the various configurations that are possible. It is a simple matter to scroll through and review the diagrams, and then return to the speaker setup menu to make the correct selections for your room.

After speakers, the next step is to check the various source setup menus. The options are extensive and allow for such things as custom input naming, video and audio input selection, speaker profile selection, Anthem Room Correction on/off, Dolby Volume on/off, and listening mode presets. The best thing about the source options are that you can create and delete inputs so you can tailor the AVM 60 to your exact needs.

The next step is room correction. The AVM 60 comes with an Anthem Room Correction (ARC) kit in the box. It includes a calibrated microphone, a tripod, and USB and CAT5 cables. The ARC software is designed for Windows and no longer comes on a handy CD (or shall we say coaster) in the box. With CD/DVD drives being a thing of the past on most modern laptops, Anthem has moved to a really simple download process. The old CD is now replaced with a postcard that directs you to the Anthem website. Simply enter the serial number of your microphone, and the software and the calibration files for your specific microphone are downloaded as a ZIP file.

I installed the ARC software on my Macbook by running Windows 10 in a Boot Camp partition. The ARC software has a number of enhancements including the option to configure up to four different speaker profiles. For example, this allows for stereo vs multi-channel configurations, and also allows for the easy comparisons of settings. For instance, if you wonder how your system sounds with a max EQ frequency of 1 kHz vs 5 kHz, or with or without a subwoofer, it is a simple matter to configure multiple profiles, one for each change, and then switch back and forth between the profiles via the Source Setup menu. Secrets’ Dr. David Rich has published two extensive articles on the latest capabilities of ARC which provides everything you need to know about ARC for the AVM 60 and the MRX x20 A/V receivers. The first article covers the features of ARC-2 as Anthem intended. The second guide is really a super geeks ARC tutorial and it explores some features that push the boundaries of tweaking ARC and getting the most from your system.

With room correction completed, I returned to the AVM 60 setup menus to review the ARC profile options for my inputs. I also entered the speaker distances for each speaker profile. The ARC process does not determine speaker distances, and this has been a manual process since the first AVM came to market. I suggested to Anthem that they could improve the ARC software by allowing the user the option to enter the distances once in the software, and then upload those settings with the ARC profiles. They thought this was a good idea but noted that it would involve adding speaker distance commands to the extensive API command set (both IP and RS232) that the AVM and MRX products’ support. Hopefully we’ll see this as an added feature down the road.

I also checked that the AVM 60 firmware was up to date. The update process on the AVM 60 relies on the front USB port. Simply download the latest file from the Anthem web site, unzip the contents to your favorite USB stick, and insert into the front USB port. If the power was off, turning on the AVM 60 starts the update process. If the power was on, just hold the Select button on the front panel for a few seconds and the update will begin. The entire affair takes less than five minutes and is well worth it. For instance, the support for features like DTS:X, Dolby Vision and HLG all appeared as firmware updates along with plenty of bug fixes. One consistent hallmark of Anthem has been their outstanding customer support. If you have an issue that needs a software correction, they will do their best to make it happen.

Over the years, I have often heard complaints from users that they might not feel comfortable using a PC to run ARC. Perhaps they don’t have a Windows PC available to them, or perhaps they felt it might be too complicated. ARC does have an automatic mode on the PC that is really easy to use if you don’t want to get into the advanced features. You can check-out my review of the MRX 710 receiver which walks through the automatic process if you aren’t familiar with it. But what are you to do if you still don’t want to use PC software for ARC? Anthem has an answer to this question, and it is a feature which is available for the AVM 60 and MRX x20 receivers. It is ARC Mobile.

The ARC Mobile application is currently available for iOS and it allows you to run Anthem Room Correction using the built-in microphone on your Apple device or from an external Anthem microphone connected to the device. In my case, I used my iPhone and was really pleased with how easy it was to use and how good it sounded. From a technical perspective, there are a few differences between ARC mobile and the full-blown PC version. The maximum EQ frequency when using the phone’s internal microphone is 2 kHz instead of 5 kHz. There may also be some minor variations from the ideal room response due to the internal microphone. If you use the external microphone, it does provide the exact same accuracy as the PC version. Of course the PC version provides all the goodies like viewing and printing the correction curves, adjusting the settings, and the option for multiple profiles. But, if you are PC averse, this brings the wonders of ARC to your listening room just by downloading an app from the Apple App Store.

I will give you a quick walkthrough of the application so you can see how simple it is to use.

The ARC Mobile app opens with a simple menu.

The Supported Audio Devices menu shows the full array of Anthem, Paradigm and Martin Logan devices that support ARC Mobile. It seems that the list is growing with every update of the application.

The next step offers a menu of ARC capable devices on the network. In my case it was just the AVM 60. I selected it, and the application then connects to the AVM 60 and displays all the speakers that will be measured.

The next screen asks about the type of microphone you’ll be using. Simply touching the graphic of the microphone continues the process.

The next step is a reminder of how to hold the phone. It is just like using the full version of ARC, but you get to act as the tripod and hold the microphone. You also get to point the phone’s microphone toward the speakers!

After a last reminder about where to measure in the room, the fun finally begins.

Start at the main listening position, and press continue. Ok, so this step does take some coordination to properly hold the phone and not accidentally press the cancel button.

If you wondered about the height speakers, ARC mobile does pause and ask you to point the phone’s microphone at the ceiling.

With position one out of the way, the application walks through the same set of measurements for the remaining four positions.

Once everything is measured, you can put your arm down while the iOS device computes all the corrections and uploads the ARC configuration to the AVM 60.

Here is the final congratulations page of the process.

ARC Mobile takes only a few minutes and is so very worth it. If you haven’t experienced the PC version, then use your iPhone or find a friend with an iPhone, and take advantage of this feature.

In Use

In my listening environment, I used a 7.2.4 GoldenEar Technology Triton One system with a pair of Triton One front speakers with powered subwoofers, a GoldenEar SuperCenter X center channel, a pair of GoldenEar Invisa MPX in-walls as surround speakers, two pair of GoldenEar Invisa HTR 7000 as top-middle height and rear surrounds, and a pair of GoldenEar Aon 2 speakers for front height speakers. I used a McIntosh MC8207 amplifier for my main and surround channels. To power the height channels, I used a Rotel RMB-1095 5-channel amp and Rotel RMB-1080 2-channel amp. I only needed four channels of amplification, but having the extra two amps allowed me to independently power the two pair of height speakers. This came in handy when listening to just the height speakers by themselves to get a perspective on what they were actually adding to the listening experience. I used an Oppo UDP-205 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player and an Oppo BDP-105 as my primary source devices. I was really looking forward to hearing the combination of the AVM 60 and the GoldenEar Triton One system.

I have had plenty of experience listening to Dolby Atmos and the Dolby Surround upmixer in my room, and the results were equally impressive with the AVM 60. Dolby Atmos movies like “Mad Max Fury Road”, “Passengers”, and “In the Heart of the Sea” were brought to life in all their cinematic glory. The AVM 60, together with the GoldenEar Triton One system, delivered on the promise of transforming my listening room into an immersive theater-like experience. The soundstage was huge and exceptionally detailed, the dialog was crystal clear, and thanks to Anthem Room Correction, the bass response from the Triton One speakers was outstanding. The AVM 60 was effortless in handling the full range of these movie scores, from the most dramatic special effects to the quietest moments, and everything in-between.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

If you are looking for a great Dolby Atmos demo, then look no further than the 4K UltraHD version of “Blade Runner: The Final Cut”. The AVM 60 had no trouble passing the 4K HDR10 encoded video to my LG OLED G6 display. This movie is an outstanding example of just how good 4K content can look, with the remastered video revealing details that are just jaw dropping considering this movie is 35 years old.

“Blade Runner” is a sci-fi classic and it has never looked so good. The updated Dolby Atmos soundtrack is no less impressive drawing me into Ridley Scott’s vision of a future Los Angeles. The sounds of the city and the seemingly endless rain make great use of the height channels. The AVM 60 drew me into Decker’s hunt for the replicants, and it delivered the most satisfying viewing of this film that I’ve ever experienced.

Despicable Me, 4K UltraHD with Dolby Vision and DTS:X

“Despicable Me” is the first Dolby Vision 4K UltraHD Blu-ray with Dolby Vision. It features an awesome DTS:X soundtrack, but the real star of this movie is the Dolby Vision high dynamic range video. The AVM 60 had no trouble handling this new video format and the results were drop dead gorgeous. This movie has never looked this good with incredible detail and contrast and an amazing range of color.

I look forward to watching many more movies with Dolby Vision. The AVM 60 presented an immersive soundtrack, but there was limited use of the height channels except for the occasional sound effect. While the AVM 60 supports DTS:X, the Dolby Atmos format is much more prevalent these days with many of the new 4K UltraHD titles offering Dolby Atmos soundtracks. I liked having the option to experiment with both the Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X upmixers, but I found that the Dolby Surround upmixer became my preferred choice.

Sara Bareilles “What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress”

Having the Triton One speakers in my system, I have grown accustomed to the natural sound and exceptional detail that these speakers can reveal. With the AVM 60 in the system, I was reminded of how good these speakers can sound.

I had the chance to see Sara Bareilles on Broadway playing the title role in “Waitress”. Her album, “What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress”, includes the wonderful music that she wrote for the musical. On the track “She Used to Be Mine”, the AVM 60 showcases the full range of her voice from the soulful lower range notes to the emotionally-charged high end. You could hear the subtle consonant endings of each word without any hint of harshness. I appreciated how much the AVM 60 helped me remember the live performance.

Yo-Yo Ma and Friends “Songs of Joy and Peace”

Since this is going to press during the holidays, I wanted to include one of my favorite holiday albums, “Yo-Yo Ma and Friends, Songs of Joy and Peace”.

On the track “Here Comes the Sun”, Yo-Yo Ma’s solo cello and James Taylor’s solo vocals can be distinctly appreciated, yet they blend together to create a gorgeous harmony. The entire album is like this, featuring a wonderful mix of instruments and collaborative vocals on both familiar and less familiar melodies. The AVM 60 is able to extract the delicate nuances of the instruments, giving them each a unique voice. Combined with the natural sound of the Triton One speakers, the AVM 60 creates an emotional connection to the music that I will enjoy listening to this season.

My experience with the AVM 60 regardless of type of movie or music was consistently excellent. ARC did a wonderful job helping manage the bass response in my room, and I really appreciated being able to explore multiple ARC configurations. I also tried ARC Mobile and was impressed with how good it sounded considering that I measured the room with my iPhone. I ultimately used the PC version of ARC, but there should be no more excuses for avoiding ARC.

From a video perspective, the AVM 60 performed well, but I did have my share of issues with HDMI handshake problems when introducing the Oppo UDP-205 into my system. Thankfully, after updating firmware for every device in the system, my issues went away and I am able to use the AVM 60 for pass-through video between my source devices and my display.

It wasn’t that long ago that the A/V manufacturers tried to include all sorts of applications into their products. These apps were for such things as internet radio or DLNA and streaming services like Pandora or Spotify. For several years, it seemed like a marketing game to see who could add the latest streaming service to their A/V receiver. These apps often left much to be desired especially in terms of user interface, and the end user had to wait for the A/V manufacturer to issue software updates. Anthem has taken a completely different approach with the AVM 60 and the MRX x20 A/V receivers by including support for the DTS Play-Fi system.

Inside the AVM 60 is a DTS Play-Fi receiver. Simply download the DTS Play-Fi app to your favorite iOS or Android device, and the application will discover the AVM 60 on your home network. This worked nicely for me, but some troubleshooting can be involved if the two devices are not connecting on the network. Once the DTS Play-Fi application connects, it automatically determines if any software updates are needed for the AVM 60.

It’s then a simple matter of updating and the application will download any updates and install them directly to the AVM 60. Do you remember the USB port on the rear panel of the AVM 60? This can be used to manually load firmware files into the AVM 60 DTS Play-Fi receiver if necessary and if suggested by Anthem support. Once the software updates are loaded, it’s a simple matter to select and configure any of the currently fourteen available media services for use with the DTS Play-Fi application.

The DTS Play-Fi application allows for the configuration of multiple compatible devices on your network, regardless of the manufacturer, as long as the device supports DTS Play-Fi. The application supports the configuration of speaker and stereo pairs, and includes support for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices. Using the application is very simple and worked well for me. Keep in mind that all the streaming for DTS Play-Fi is happening from your device, which for me was my iPhone. This works for the most part, but there were times that I just wanted the phone to be a control app and not the actual streaming source. I also found the placement of the volume control in the app to be problematic as it is placed at the very bottom of the user interface. If you accidentally swipe across the volume control slider, it is very easy to turn up the volume unexpectedly. I would like to see the option to specify a maximum volume for the DTS Play-Fi source for this reason.

In addition to the basic back-lit remote, Anthem offers the Anthem MRX Remote 2 application for iOS which supports the AVM 60.

When the application starts, it automatically downloads the inputs and settings that are defined in your AVM 60 or MRX x20 receiver. This helps personalize the application to your system.

The app provides easy access to the audio and level settings.

It also provides quick access to the surround mode, Dolby Volume, setup and lip-sync options.

The surround modes are intended to be interactive and will have a green check mark placed next to the currently active mode. Despite having the latest version of the application, the surround modes for Neo:6 Cinema and Music are still showing despite those formats being replaced with the DTS Neural:X upmixer.

The info screen does a nice job of showing the incoming video resolution, audio format, audio mode and audio rate in one convenient place. This is so much more convenient than the AVM 60 on-screen status display which has to be scrolled repeatedly to get all this info. I really wish Anthem would provide a comprehensive status display like that found on the Marantz AV8802, which is still my reference for best user interface.

Source selection is very simple but the designers are limiting the source list to only four devices. If you have more devices, you have to scroll to find your favorite source despite having plenty of room on the screen.

The remote application gets confused when the AVM 60 is using one of the new DTS formats and leaves the mode check mark hanging around the top left of the screen. This doesn’t affect the operation of the AVM 60, but it makes for some frustrations using the app.

I should also note that AVM 60 plays digital sources in Zone 2 which is greatly appreciated. I did find that I missed the extra 12-Volt trigger outputs, especially having multiple amplifiers in my system.

On The Bench

By: Robert Kozel and David Rich

My standard benchmark tests were done using analog direct mode so that all digital signal processing was off. On tests using the RCA input, I measured the XLR preamp output of the AVM 60. The source device for both analog and HDMI tests was an Oppo BDP-105. For the analog tests, the input level was 2.2 VRMS into the RCA inputs of the AVM 60. The volume was adjusted for 2 VRMS at the XLR outputs of the AVM 60.

At 1 kHz into the RCA input, THD+N was 0.001881%. We see numerous spurs and a few harmonics throughout the spectrum with the third harmonic at 3 kHz being about 92 dB below 2 VRMS.

At 10 kHz into the RCA input, THD+N was 0.005162%. The second harmonic at 20 kHz is about 96 dB below 2 VRMS. Notice the lift in the noise floor starting around 10 kHz. This lift comes from the New Japan Radio NJW1298 AVR LSI chip used in the AVM 60 and MRX x20 A/V receivers. Let’s take a different view of the noise floor.

Here is the same test with a logarithmic scale. You will notice that the lift starts around 10 kHz but is only about 6 dB higher at 20 kHz. While we don’t want to see this lift at all, the overall effect of the noise floor lift is insignificant and not audible at well below 120 dB, especially at these frequencies.

Here is the same test with the logarithmic scale but this time I have turned on the signal processing. We see the same basic spectrum with more distortion spurs due to the extra processing, but we also have some side bands around the fundamental at 10 kHz. This is some clock jitter on either the ADC or the DAC which should ideally not be present.

Here are the results for 19 kHz, 20 kHz combined test frequencies using the RCA input. There is a visible B-A peak at 1 kHz about 101 dB below 2 VRMS. We see some minor distortion spurs throughout the spectrum. The second harmonics at 38 kHz and 40 kHz are about 90-95 dB below 2 VRMS (6 dBV). You will notice the consistent lift in the noise floor in each of the distortion tests.

I measured the frequency response of the AVM 60 out to 96 kHz. In analog direct, the response is flat until we see a very gradual 6 dB roll-off as we approach 90 kHz. The second plot shows what happens with digital signal processing (analog DSP) and Anthem Room Correction (ARC) enabled. The AVM 60 downsamples the signal to 96 kHz and applies the computed room correction filters for each channel. You can see the correction curve for the left channel in the graph below 5 kHz. The signal rolls off at -6dB to 46 kHz which makes sense since the ADC is rated at 96k samples/sec max.

Here is what happens when we look at the frequency response out to 96 kHz using the HDMI input. The plots are almost identical with the correction curve for the left channel, when ARC is enabled, visible below 5 kHz. Bass management is still in use which is why both plots roll off. We notice a gradual roll off of the high frequencies starting around 10 kHz with absolutely no downsampling of the signal! This is the first time that Anthem has included this much DSP horsepower in their processor implementation and is a major differentiator for the AVM 60.

Now we take a look at the results using one of the HDMI inputs, fed from test discs played on an OPPO-BDP-105. At 1 kHz, and 16-bit/44.1k sampling rate, we see some distortion spurs as well as harmonics throughout the spectrum with the harmonics at 2 and 3 kHz being about 93 dB below 2 VRMS. As with the analog direct tests, the volume was increased 1 dB to bring the single ended output to 2 VRMS with the -5 dBFS digital input to the DAC.

The remaining tests are for HDMI input and XLR output only.

At 1 kHz, and 24-bit/96k sampling rate, THD+N was 0.000813%. We see some distortion spurs as well as harmonics throughout the spectrum with the harmonics at 2 and 3 kHz being about 102 dB below 2 VRMS. We see no side bands around the fundamental which is excellent.

At 1 kHz, and 24-bit/96k sampling rate, THD+N was 0.001285% at 4.0 VRMS. We see numerous distortion spurs as well as harmonics throughout the spectrum with the second harmonic at 2 kHz being about 89 dB below 4 VRMS.

At 1 kHz, and 24-bit/192k sampling rate, THD+N was 0.000833% at 2 VRMS.

At 10 kHz, and 24-bit/96k sampling rate, THD+N was 0.003432% at 2 VRMS. The second harmonic at 20 kHz is about 98 dB below 2 VRMS. We see the same noise floor lift above 10kHz just as we did with the analog 10kHz THD test.

At 10 kHz, and 24-bit/96k sampling rate, THD+N was 0.006977% at 4 VRMS. The second harmonic at 20 kHz is about 88 dB below 4 VRMS.

Here are the results for the 19 kHz, 20 kHz combined test frequencies using the HDMI input with 24-bit/96k sampling at 2 VRMS. We see distortion spurs throughout the spectrum. There is a visible B-A peak at 1 kHz about 96 dB below each test tone at 1 VRMS which is insignificant. The second harmonics at 38 kHz and 40 kHz are about 103 dB respectively below 1 VRMS.

Here are the results for the 19 kHz, 20 kHz combined test frequencies using the HDMI input with 24-bit/96k sampling at 4 VRMS. We see higher distortion spurs throughout the spectrum. There is a visible B-A peak at 1 kHz about 84 dB below each test tone at 2.0 VRMS. The second harmonics at 38 kHz and 40 kHz are about 91 dB below each test tone at 2.0 VRMS.

On the video side of things, the AVM 60 uses pass-through video so our standard scaling tests do not apply. The AVM 60 successfully passed our chroma tests with no loss of fine chroma detail.

Conclusions

THE ANTHEM AVM 60 is the best 11.2-channel processor that I’ve used this year and is highly recommended.

Likes
  • Immersive 3D surround experience
  • Anthem Room Correction (ARC)
  • ARC Mobile
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X and the Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X upmixers
  • Support for HDMI 2.0a, HDCP 2.2, HDR (high dynamic range) and Dolby Vision.
  • DTS Play-Fi
Would Like To See
  • The MRX Remote 2 Application recognize the DTS Neural:X surround mode and allow for more than four sources in the input list without scrolling.
  • Better placement and control of the volume control in the DTS Play-Fi application.
  • More than one 12-Volt trigger
  • The ability to specify speaker distances in the ARC PC application.
  • A future model integrating the multichannel capabilities of the AVM 60 with the analog stage and hardware platform of the Anthem STR preamplifier.

The Anthem AVM 60 has all the technology necessary to support a modern home theater system. It can function as a leading-edge 11.2 channel processor supporting Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. It is capable of HDMI video pass-through and handles the latest 4K UltraHD Blu-ray content including Dolby Vision. It features an updated Anthem Room Correction system, and with ARC Mobile, it is now easier to use than ever. Of course the best thing is that the AVM 60 sounds amazing for both movies and music.

As for living up to the AVM legacy, I think it succeeds very well in delivering a product that offers exceptional functionality and performance for the consumer. If there is anything missing here, it is the analog audio legacy of the AVM product line. I can’t fault Anthem for not including a premium analog audio stage in the AVM 60 considering that they have built a new stereo platform with their new STR integrated amplifier and STR preamplifier. I would like to see Anthem offer a future model integrating the multichannel capabilities of the AVM 60 with the analog stage and hardware platform of the Anthem STR preamplifier. Market demand will ultimately dictate if such a product will ever be sold.

If you are looking for a new 11.2 channel processor, put the Anthem AVM 60 on your short list. The AVM 60 is highly recommended.

The author would like to thank Dr. David Rich for his contributions on this article.

Categories: Processors
Tags: AnthemAnthem AVM 60Anthem Room correctionARC MobileDolby AtmosDolby SurroundDolby VisionDTS:XEditor's PicksFeaturedPreamplifierSurround ProcessorSurround Processor Reviews 2017
Robert Kozel: Robert Kozel is a veteran IT professional, working as the Chief Technology Officer for a marketing services company in Cleveland, Ohio. He has a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics from John Carroll University. His interest in home theater began with the purchase of a Yamaha Dolby Pro Logic surround sound receiver and an unassuming CD player. That receiver sparked a passion for music and movies that has lasted over two decades. Robert has since pursued opportunities to upgrade his gear whenever time and budget allow. He prefers solid performance and quality in his equipment and is not easily won over by the latest marketing feature. Reading the Secrets' DVD benchmark articles inspired his appreciation for the analytical side of home theater. He takes his reviews for Secrets very seriously and offers the readers a detailed description of what it's like to install and use a product. To provide an empirical perspective in his reviews, he adds analytical measurements to his personal observations. The analytical measurements provide a baseline for comparison between products. Ultimately for Robert, home theater is about enjoying the beauty of music and movies. He hopes that his reviews offer readers an understanding of what they might expect from a product and whether it might be a match for their current system and unique personal preferences. When not working with technology or enjoying music or a good movie, Robert enjoys hiking, cycling and travel.