Frequently Asked Questions

Will Anthem Room Correction (ARC) software run on a Mac or Apple computer?

All versions of Anthem's ARC software runs on Windows only, but it is possible to run it on a Mac directly. Apple support running Windows operating system on your Mac at native speed with their Boot Camp software. Once Windows is installed via Boot Camp, you may install and run ARC from your Mac.

For more information, please visit Apple's knowledge base article on installing Boot Camp here: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1461

I have a D2v / AVM 50v. Can it be upgraded to D2v 3D / AVM 50v 3D?

Yes. There are two versions of the upgrade kit and the one that applies depends on your unit's serial number. If it is 142626 or newer, the cost of the hardware is $500*. Please contact your dealer.

If the serial number of your D2v or AVM 50v is before 142626, the cost of the hardware for the 3D upgrade is $1500* as the main video processing board must also be changed. Please contact your Anthem dealer, our tech support, or your country's Anthem distributor.

*Pricing is for US and Canada only and does not include shipping. Labor charges may also apply. Outside of US and Canada please contact your distributor for pricing.

Are the XLR connections on the amps and preamps truly balanced?

Yes. All three pins of the XLR connection are part of the circuit, which means it's a real balanced connection. (If pin 3 is sent to ground or left open, as is sometimes the case, then an XLR jack is an adapter, not a balanced input.) The purpose of balanced connection is cancelling out certain types of interference and ground loops.

What about the whole circuit from front to back - is it fully balanced?

No. At some point the signal must become single-ended, or interference can't be cancelled. This is better done sooner rather than later in the signal chain. The purpose of a balanced stage within a circuit is cancelling out nonlinearities arising in the circuit itself, and/or to double the signal level while cancelling out some noise. This is purely a means, not an end. We use a balanced arrangement in specific areas within a circuit where it makes a meaningful difference. Doing this to an entire piece of equipment for the sake of using the catch phrase "fully balanced" may achieve nothing but a significant increase in cost, or worse if the two halves of the circuit aren't matched well.

I read on a forum that an input impedance of 10k ohms is considered low for an amplifier - how come you don't use something higher?

It's right where it should be for a solid state amp. 10k would be too low for a tube input stage, since high-frequency rolloff would result.

Are the amps bridgeable?

No. Besides the issue of adding cost for something that most people will never use, an amp loses its ability to drive lower impedances when in bridged mode. Bridging may be useful for PA systems that get reconfigured from venue to venue, but for the home it makes more sense to use the right amp from the start. If more power needs to be added afterwards, and the speakers happen to be biampable, then biamping is a much better solution.

Doesn't passive biamping waste the amp's power because each channel still has to amplify the full range signal and not just the highs or the lows?

No. With the jumpers removed on a biampable speaker, the impedance of each section is not the usual 4 or 8 ohms, but several hundred if not more at the frequencies that the amp is "not supposed to be amplifying". Higher impedance means less current draw. No meaningful amount of current, no wasted power.

According a recurring audio-myth, only an active crossover should be used for biamping, in order to split the band before the power amp instead of inside the speaker, thereby reducing the amount of work each amp channel has to do. While active crossovers do have their place in PA systems, it should be noted that equalizers are also a part of it.

A generic active crossover on its own merely divides the audio band into smaller ones. The carefully custom-designed crossover in a high performance home audio speaker does a lot more. It is responsible for correcting frequency response aberrations of the individual drivers, maintaining phase coherence between drivers, optimizing off-axis response, balancing levels between drivers, setting up impedance, at times improving woofer performance by rolling off not just the top, but also frequencies that are too low and cause it to misbehave, and other things that vary according to model.

Tearing out the speaker's own finely-tuned crossover to replace it with an active crossover with generic controls almost guarantees that, just for starters, frequency response will be altered. Different sound doesn't mean better sound. Using the passive crossover in the speaker is indeed the correct way to biamp.

(What's biamping? It's using one amp channel for the speaker's mid-high frequency drivers, and another for the low-frequency drivers. The speakers must have separate inputs for this - be sure to remove the jumpers from the speaker inputs first or amp will become instant toast! If one amp starts running out of power, usually the one driving the woofer, then the other side remains clean instead of becoming part of the problem, a double-win. This is the very idea behind bass management and powered subwoofers in home theater systems.)

The specs say that the amp uses x number of watts. Does this mean that it uses this much electricity all the time?

Far from it. The numbers are maximum ratings, which occur during moments that all channels peak simultaneously.

I can hear excessive buzzing from the transformer and/or speakers from a distance - what's wrong?

Most common cause is a dimmer somewhere in the house. Try turning all dimmable lights off completely, regardless of where they are in the house. Unplug all automatic night-lights. If the buzz stops, turn the lights back on one by one to find the one affecting the power line, and replace it with one that doesn't. Please contact your local home theater retailer/installer for more info on electronic dimmers that are suitable for home theater (even with remote control!).

I'm getting a hum/buzz from the speakers and/or horizontal bars on the video image - how do I solve this?

This is a ground loop, and often needs to be dealt with on a case by case basis, but in general, can be traced by disconnecting things from the back of the preamp one by one. When the hum stops, take the power cord of whatever was disconnected and try powering it from a different outlet. If the noise is more like a buzz, start by disconnecting cable TV. If it stops, an isolation transformer for the cable line may be required - please contact your cable company or home theater retailer. Depending on their nature, ground loop problems may also be taken care of by using XLR connections (if available) instead of RCA.

Why do the power cords have two prongs instead of three?

To help prevent ground loops, which occur when there is more than one ground path. Often misunderstood, the ground conductor prevents the chassis from becoming live if the AC line touches it. We use double insulation instead, something that may sound unfamiliar, but you've seen it before on power tools. This method may cost a little more, but no one can resort to using a 3-prong to 2-prong adapter to open a ground loop ("cheater" plug in this case since the green wire is used for decoration instead of safety).

XLR connectors - male or female?

Inputs are female, outputs are male, which means the cables have male on one end and female on the other. This is standard.

The power amp's ratings say that its maximum consumption is 15A (or 1800W or 1800VA). The subwoofer also uses up to 15A. There's only one 15A circuit available in the whole room for a 30A requirement - can I use the system with it or do I need to add ano

Since rooms with only one circuit tend not to be very large, another circuit is usually not needed. Breakers need time to heat up and shut off, and the typical movie soundtrack explosion doesn't last long enough for this to happen. On the other hand, bass-heavy music in all-channel mode at high output levels for extended periods could end up tripping the breaker, but if that actually happens in a room like this then there are bigger things to worry about, like permanent ear damage. In any case, a licensed electrician can always be hired to fish a new line to wherever one is actually needed, a job that's easy or difficult depending on what's between the service panel and the new outlet.

Which analog audio connection should I use, RCA or XLR?

Generally, RCA is fine for the typical 3 to 6 foot connection. For longer connections, or for those in interference-prone environments, XLR is the better choice. (Note that running a low-voltage connection alongside an AC power line is not a good idea to begin with.)

I want to biamplify some of my speakers. Can I use the RCA outputs on the preamp to feed some amp channels and the XLR outputs to feed others?

Although they put out a signal simultaneously, using them for biamplification will cause an imbalance since the XLR outputs are louder. It's a lot simpler to just use a Y-splitter.

But doesn't Y-splitting the preamp's audio output damage the signal?

No. This fear may have roots in observations that splitting a cable TV signal can add noise to the picture, or that plugging two sets of headphones into a portable player can reduce output to each set, however, neither of these has the same impedance relationship as line-level audio, which lends itself well to splitting. In fact, the only difference here with preamps that already have parallel outputs of the same type is that the Y-splitting is done outside instead of inside.

Do amps get damaged if powered on when speakers are not connected to all channels?

They can if they use output transformers. Most tube amps do, whereas solid state amps with output transformers are extremely rare.

Can Y-splitters be turned backwards and used as a mixer?

Not really, because current takes the path of least resistance, and the two outputs (which have low impedance) will try to feed each other instead of the actual input where you really want the signal to go (which has higher impedance).

I want the preamp to be in analog-direct mode when playing a stereo source, but I also want to use the subwoofer at the same time. How do I do this?

The traditional way - with the analog crossover hookup that came with your sub (if it has one). However, analog-DSP mode is recommended over this, and not just for prevention of connection headaches. See next question.

Couldn't you just keep the front L/R outputs analog-direct while a sub channel is tapped out of the DSP?

Not a good idea because the bass would lag behind the main channels. A/D conversion, D/A conversion, and processing cause delay, therefore if it's done to the sub, it should also be done to the main channels. That way, the signals stay in alignment, or even better, can be time-aligned according to the speaker distance settings in the setup menu. All filters, analog or digital, add noise and cause delay, and on technical grounds, digital ones have better performance (opinions to the contrary always seem to have been created before anything that was designed properly - or anything at all - was actually tried).

On the Statement D1, can I turn off the upsampling?

No. The D1's reconstruction filter is made for a 24.576 MHz sample rate, which all incoming sample rates are turned into. Switching off the upsampling would mean that the reconstruction filter can't do its job becaue the sample rates would be on a whole different planet from it, so to speak.

Which digital audio connection should I use, optical (TOS) or coax (RCA)?

Whatever's available. Coaxial has the advantage of lower cost (any 75-ohm cable works), can handle very long runs, and can be cut to custom lengths, whereas its potential disadvantage that a ground loop can be formed. The advantage of Toslink is that a ground loop cannot be created by it.

I have two subwoofers and want to use them in stereo. Can the surround preamp's subwoofer outputs run in stereo?

No, although the same job can be done by disabling the sub channel in the setup menu, then hooking up the subs through their own crossovers to the front left and front right channels. This is not recommended because a stereo subwoofer configuration has little value. Few recordings contain real stereo bass info, (e.g. large pipe organ using widely spaced microphones) and unless the subs are located outdoors and away from the ground, they can't reproduce it anyway. Inside a room, running them in mono instead is beneficial because they can be moved to wherever they create the least amount of resonance individually, and as a combination, make each other's response peaks and valleys less severe. As well, a "bass spaciousness" effect can be dialled in with the phase control if it's available on one of the subs (which is what happens when two widely spaced microphones pick up a low frequency source - same long wavelength, different phase between the two).

I'm not comfortable with my continuous, pristine analog signals being sliced up and turned into digital so they can be processed by the DSP, but this is what your surround preamps do. What's the thinking behind that?

Analog-Direct mode can always be used, although misunderstanding of how PCM works persists 20+ years after it began in the audio world, with the same old mention of ideas started by people who took some graphics of sine waves turning into stair steps from textbooks but missed the words they came with and the graphics that followed. A long time ago, it was proven that all the information in a signal, audio or otherwise, is retained under the following conditions: 1. Sampling frequency is at least twice the frequency of the signal, and 2. Input to ADC and output from DAC is bandwidth-limited accordingly. Sampling frequency determines what the highest signal frequency that can be recorded is, and number of bits determines how much dynamic range is available (or, where the noise floor is), and that's the end of that story. The next step is putting this into practice. It's a law of nature that when filters restrict bandwidth, there are certain side effects. For the rest of this story, rewind to the tech brief mentioned in Q18.

When I'm watching movie channels and the surround preamp plays the audio, some movies are way louder than others even though I don't touch the volume control. Why is this?

Some movies have more dynamic range than others. During dialog, 5.1-channel sources can sound like they're a lot quieter than 2.0 sources (including ones that are downmixed from 5.1), but in reality, the peak levels are the same while the average levels are different. If 5.1 soundtracks sound pretty quiet during the dialog, when the sound effects start you can still wake up the neighbours. The preamp just plays what it gets.

Are 7-channel versions of the more powerful amps coming out?

No, because they'd either need very large heatsinks or a noise-producing fan to stay cool. The usual thing to do is connecting a 2-channel amp on the front L/R speakers and a 5-channel amp on the rest. If 12V triggering is used, our surround preamps can also be programmed to automatically turn one on or both depending on which input is selected.

How do I connect a turntable?

Turntable connects to the input of a phono preamp, and phono preamp output connects to preamplifier input (e.g. Aux). A phono preamp takes the signal from a cartridge (needle), boosts it to turn it into line level, and turns the frequency response that's cut into the grooves back to normal. An old receiver can be substituted for a phono preamp - connect the turntable to the receiver's phono input, and connect the receiver's tape output to the preamplifier input (e.g. Aux).

In Analog-Direct mode, how can the signal stay analog when the volume control is digital?

The audio signal going through volume control is always analog regardless of input type. A numerical readout for the volume setting does not mean the audio becomes digital.

Do the amps have a warm sound or a bright sound?

None of our components are designed with a "sonic flavor" other than playing exactly what's in a recording. Unfortunately with pop CD mastering, pushing levels way into overload regardless of how much distortion this adds is all too common. Recordings of acoustic instruments with minimal or no processing during mastering sound more natural, therefore they are a much better test of how natural-sounding the playback equipment is.

Are they better suited for music or for movies?

Sound reproduction equipment doesn't know the difference between a music signal and a movie signal, or for that matter the musical score within a movie soundtrack. Accurate for one means accurate for the other.

Can a preamp with 2 volt output be connected to an amp with 1 volt input?

Yes. These voltage figures are just a reference level for a steady sine wave when measuring frequency response, distortion, and noise. This is not the same as maximum level. With music, the voltage changes constantly (steady waves don't make for very good music) and also varies according to where the volume control is set.

What is the peak current rating of your amps?

This spec is rarely provided by anyone since it has little use, reason being that the test condition is never provided. For all we know, it could have been with something like a 2 millisecond tone burst into a half ohm load. It is therefore not very useful for making comparisons. Also, peak-to-peak looks even more spectacular since it's double the peak rating. The everyday spec showing continuous power output into the lowest specified impedance says a lot more as long as the THD is also provided.

How much headroom do your amps have?

Careful - headroom numbers are usually misleading. A smaller figure is better here because headroom should really be called "how much does the power supply sag while stressed for more than a fraction of a second".

What's the Anthem code for my brand X universal remote?

You have to check the list that came with your remote.

Should I leave the amp on 24 hours a day?

Not recommended. It needs very little time, especially if actually playing something, to reach operating temperature and sound its best.

I'm trying to choose a power amp - which one should I get?

Check the speaker's impedance, sensitivity, and power handling. Start by making sure the amp is rated for the speaker's impedance. Many people tend to look at the power handling capability first, though when listening to music as opposed to test signals, this spec is not as important as it may seem. The higher the amp's capacity, the better, regardless of the speaker's power rating (without getting into extremes). A less powerful amp compresses signal peaks earlier, and speakers don’t like being fed with distortion from an amp that's always clipping because it's underpowered - this is a very common cause for speaker damage. Also note that the lower the sensitivity, the higher the power that's needed to produce the same listening level.

Other factors besides the specs:

If all channels are run through the preamp's bass management, less power is needed from the main amplifier. Bass takes up a lot of the energy in the typical recording, and bass management shifts a lot of this burden to the subwoofer.

Size of room - the further you sit from the speakers, the more the volume has to be turned up to compensate.

I never turn the volume up very high. Will the most powerful amp in the lineup still sound better?

It can, because requirements are ultimately dictated by the signal peaks, not the average levels. When playing recordings with peak-to-average ratio of, for example, 20 dB (i.e. not pop recordings) and playback level is set for average output of 3 watts, the peaks still need 300 watts to play cleanly. Each 10 dB increase requires 10 times the power output to prevent clipping.

Since a "high-current" amp puts out more power into 2 ohms than 4 or 8 ohms, should I use a low impedance speaker to get more volume?

Maximum output of a speaker depends on its overall design, not how low its impedance is. The real question is, whatever it is that the speaker requires, can the amp deliver it?

Why did you leave out the locking tabs on the XLR jacks?

That's a result of deciding to put jacks on the back of the chassis rather than the bottom. When these connectors first appeared, they were meant for microphones, where a cable fighting a losing war against gravity can ruin someone's day.

Your instructions say not to use a line conditioner - how am I going to protect my equipment against surges then?

Though they do often get confused with one another, line conditioning and surge protection are not the same thing. You can protect against surges a few different ways, but two things have to be kept in mind: If the surge protector isn't connected to a good low-impedance ground, it's a bad start, and protecting the AC line but not the other connections from outside, such as cable, still leaves doors open where surges could sneak in.
Many different manufacturers make various devices that can be installed at the service entrance or inside the electrical panel, or plugged into the wall (two broad categories are MOV-based vs series-mode). Wall outlets with protection already inside them are also available. The best thing to use depends on which problem you're trying to fix. The nature of the wiring, your geographical location, and the size of the home are all factors.

Are dedicated circuits with isolated ground and hospital grade outlets beneficial towards removing background noise?

If sharing circuits causes overload, dedicated circuits are the usual remedy. They cannot block noise from other parts of the house because back at the service panel, everything is still connected together.

Isolated grounding (insulated grounding might be a better description) may help prevent computers in large commercial installations from crashing, but can also introduce more problems than it solves, especially if mixed with conventional grounding.

If home theater one day starts using electrodes that are stuck to a patient's skin, hospital grade outlets may become standard issue, although some people prefer them anyway for their increased mechanical reliability.

Noise may always be present if you put your ear right against the speaker. This can be considered normal and acceptable as long as it can't be heard from a few feet away. Note that the more efficient the speaker, the louder it plays everything including the noise floor.

Any problem when biamping with two different model amps?

Unless both have the same amount of gain, one will be louder than the other and result in either too much bass or too much treble. The input level of the louder one has to be brought down by some means. This can turn out to be a little more complicated than what it's worth.

If I use two stereo amps that are the same model, should I put each one across both speakers (one amp for bass, the other for treble), or one on each speaker (one channel for bass, the other for treble)?

Whichever sounds better, if there's a difference at all. Advantage with first way - the bass can't intermodulate the treble. Advantage with the second way - the hungrier bass channel might be able to steal a little power from the treble channel if the two channels share the same power supply. It all depends on the amp's design and the program material.

I'm mostly interested in music. Do your surround preamps compromise sound quality compared to 2-channel preamps or outboard DACs? Do you make any without a tuner or video circuitry?

No and no.

The preamp made rattling sounds as I took it out of the box. Can I get a replacement?

It's normal for the front panel buttons to shift around and make rattling sounds when the preamp is moved around. Please double-check the source of the sound.

What about lifespan - don't light bulbs always seem to fail the moment they're switched on?

And after enough hours in use, but if comparing amplifiers with light bulbs, maybe it's more appropriate to contrast the soft-glowing never-failing heating filaments inside old vacuum tubes. Filaments inside light bulbs have to be run on the verge of burning up, or they don't produce light efficiently.

Do the center and surrounds need less power than the fronts?

No definite answer, because:

Speakers vary. Some need more power than others.

Setups vary. For example, if level calibration is turned up by 3 dB in one channel, it'll use twice the power.

Source material varies. With action scenes, the center channel can be the hardest working aside from the sub. With multichannel pop music, the surrounds can have peak levels as high as the fronts, more so if the bass guitar and kick drum, often mixed into the fronts, are redirected via bass management.

Surround modes vary. Out of those which turn 5.1 input into 7.1 output, some make the surrounds louder, others make them quieter.

Are your 12V triggers toggle or discrete?

Discrete. If your amp has a toggle style trigger input and you can permanently leave its power switch on, it's likely that you can still use a preamp with discrete trigger output to control it - plug the amp's power cord into a triggerable power bar (check with your dealer).

(Discrete means that "on" is a constant 12V and "off" is 0V. Toggle means that a 12V pulse turns the amp off if it's on, and on if it's off. We do not use the toggle system because if you want to turn the amp on, and it's already on, it turns off.)

Can you do a software change so when the sub and any main speaker are set to two different crossover frequencies, there's no gap or overlap in the overall output?

If we wanted to, but this would create unwanted side effects and defeat the purpose of the advanced crossover. Our manuals explain how and when to use it, and it doesn't involve assorted frequencies according to the lowest frequency seen on each speaker's spec sheet.

I'm new to home theater and find all these settings intimidating. Can you assist?

Certainly, though it's not as hard as it seems - you don't have to use every option just because it's there. Use if necessary and as necessary. The most important things are entering info about which speakers you have, how far each one is from the listening area, and calibrating their level.

I just set my system up with a big subwoofer but the bass sounds thin. What's wrong?

Most likely, the Bass Peak Level Manager is set very low. Note that many powered subs of various sizes already have their own overload protection, in which case the Bass Peak Level Manager should be left at 0 dB. If you have to reset it and find the test tone frightening, disconnect the sub while you change the setting back to 0 dB, then reconnect it.

The preamp shuts down by itself. What's wrong?

If it displays a message saying it's overheating and will shut down, the problem is the ventilation, not the preamp. If it doesn't display the message, start by checking timer settings in the setup menu and firmness of power cord connections.

I'm confused by the all-channel power amp spec - could you explain?

First, when comparing specs between different amps, compare single-channel ratings to single-channel ratings and all-channel ratings to all-channel ratings. The thing is, not many manufacturers provide all-channel rating. We do, and it's only to show that the power drop on each channel when driving all channels instead of just one is at worst not even 1 dB. With receivers, it's not unusual for the all-channel power to be only 1/4 to 1/3 of the rated single-channel power, which means a drop of 4 to 6 dB.

Where do I set the volume control to get full watts from the amp?

Depends on what you're playing. With music and soundtracks, the level is always changing, and so are the number of watts coming out of the amp.