New gear aquired - REVIEWS

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Anthony A.

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I recently picked up 2 new pieces of gear that I thought were worth mentioning if anyone is looking for them. I bought a used Anthem AVM 20 processor this summer to replace my Denon 3803 receiver that I was using as a pre/pro. Last month, I picked up a new Blue Circle Music Ring (mr1200) from a local dealer. I would like to offer a review of these 2 pieces and if anyone would like to know more, simply post away.

My gear consists of:

Martin Logan Ascent i Speakers
Pass Labs x250 Amp
Anthem AVM 20 Pre/Pro
Jolida 100 Tube CDP w/ MOD 1
Blue Circle MR1200
Nordost SPM interconnects
Nordost Vishnu Power Cords
TG Audio SLVR Power Cords
Blue Circle BC68 Power Cords
Speaker Cables - had Nordost Red Dawn, looking for something else presently
Mana Acoustics Sound Stages
BDR Cones
HRS Damping Plates


I have come to really appreciate the Anthem AVM 20. I once owned an Anthem MCA30 amp and then sold it when I bought the Pass Labs amp. Since the AVM 20 is the lowest of their current pre/pro's, I bought it for the time being so I could enjoy its features and "sound" until I could afford all of my other gear. Once that is done, I will re-sell it and buy a new D1/D2. But since that is a few years away, I opted for the cheaper one. Well let me begin by saying that it is in every way better than my previous Denon. Don't get me wrong, the Denon was a receiver and worked very well for that purpose. But, it was not as effective when used as a pre/pro. The Anthem has all the features and much, much more than you'll ever need in a HT processor, and excells beautifully as a preamp. I mainly test gear in a 2 channel environment first, and then shift it to HT. Well, the most prominent characteristic the AVM 20 portrays is its naturalness. It really is a neutral component. In fact, it is so neutral that I honestly forget that it is there, doing all the work. It has no sonic signature, as I can tell from my experience with it, and it does everything smoothly and effortlessly. Music flows right through it, and HT, well it is the best I have heard in my setup. I tried it out with "Saving Private Ryan" and oh my, was it sweet. The opening scene (like 1/2 an hour) is so detailed and smooth, voices are as natural as I have ever heard. The gunshots, the sand, the water, everything is done perfectly and in cue. There is absolutley nothing I can complain about. I have not yet fully set it up for HT, but I am currently using it as a preamp for my 2 channel setup (unitl I get the TV and cables going in my room). Music is just as natural and voices are so real. I could only imagine how much better the D1 would sound. Note that I have not really fiddled around with its internal dacs as much (I run the tube CDP analogue), but they too are far superior than many preamps I have heard. Either way, its a win win.

Then came the Blue Circle Music Ring 1200. It handles 1200 watts of power and is a fully "balanced power" unit. It is similar to the equitech units and the bpt ones. It has filters built in to it, along with its balanced power output. Now let me start by saying that my house is about 15 years old. So electrical wiring is pretty much the same as a new house. No ground loops present (thats always a plus- atleast the electricians did a good job) and no dimmer hum (thats an even bigger plus as the dimmer is super close). Anyways, I really thought that the unit would make a day and night difference. All the talk about balanced power and how it is a must to get the best out of a system, so I wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately, it was not a day and night difference as I had expected. But I ended up keeping it. Why, you may ask? The truth is, everything sounded so much better with it. Again, not day and night, but background was blacker and voices literally hung in the open air. Vocals clearly benefitted from it, as did stringed instruments. I really, really liked the way vocals now sounded. They were even more real than before. The unit does not produce any hum at all and weighs quite a bit. It is solidly built and performs exactly as it should. I would encourage anyone looking for line conditions, balanced power, etc. to demo this unit. It really changed my systems performance for the better and it took nothing away. Isn't that what a good piece of electronic should do: Improve the signal without taking away anything you had previously (the good things that is, not the junk on your lines). I always find a tradeoff with gear.... I love this but I hate that. The MR1200 adds only more clarity to the signal it receives and clears out the noise. Thats it. And needles to say, I kept it and will NOT get rid of it. My system sounds much smoother now and I really know it is getting nice clean power. On a side note, my amp and speakers are not plugged into it and I probably wouldn't suggest it anyway. But you're the boss, so try it out for yourself. Anyways, if anyone has questions or comments, please post as I would be nmore than happy to give my experience.


Anthony
 
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Robin

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Excellent Review...

Anthony A.,

Great review of your new gear... :D I am particularly interested in the neutralness of the sound from both the Anthem AVM 20 and the Blue Circle Music Ring MR1200. The improved sound quality you experianced is fantastic... :D

I would love to see your system. You should consider posting your system on the "Member Systems" section of the ML Club.

Again, outstanding review, Thank you.

Cheers

-Robin
 

Spike

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Consider adding a pre-amp

Anthony A. said:
Since the AVM 20 is the lowest of their current pre/pro's, I bought it for the time being so I could enjoy its features and "sound" until I could afford all of my other gear. Once that is done, I will re-sell it and buy a new D1/D2.
Your system qualifies as a high-end 2-channel rig, why not use the AVM as a dedicated processor and get the matching pre-amp from Pass Labs when the funds allow? Just a thought...

Spike
 

Anthony A.

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I really would like to setup my ht first, and then concentrate on adding a second (smaller) 2 channel rig. For the time being, I have my to use my room as both an HT and 2 channel setup. As much as I listen to music, I enjoy HT a lot more and so I am currently concentrating on that. In the future, I will see what arrives as funds permit. I am currently building a dedicated HT in the basement, so my setup is in my bedroom at the moment. I will send a pic in the near future in the "members" area.

Anthony
 

Reverb

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Nice review,

Wait until you get a D1, O’ buddy, are you in for a treat. The D1 is not light-years better then the AVM20/30 but it does one-up them, and everything you said in you review about the AVM-20 the D1 just steps up to the next level and delivers a full out assault on the senses.

One of my favorite things about Anthems gear is it’s ability to walk that fine line between sounding too warm or too cold. With the right combination of gear it just sounds right.

Take Care.
 
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