Announcing the McIntosh MX123 A/V Processor

Uncompromising McIntosh sound quality with the latest home theater technologies.

McIntosh is proud to announce the new MX123 A/V Processor.

The new McIntosh MX123 A/V Processor marries a long tradition of uncompromising McIntosh sound quality with the latest home theater technologies to produce an unsurpassed luxury home entertainment experience. It is compatible with all the leading home theater surround sound and object-based 3D audio formats including Dolby® Atmos, DTS:X™ and Auro-3D®. It’s also fully compatible with modern 4K Ultra HD video sources and can upscale lower resolutions to 4K Ultra HD for the best possible picture quality.

The MX123 features upgraded digital audio processing capabilities that results in 2 more discrete audio channels, bringing the MX123 to 13.2 discrete audio channels. These 13.2 discrete channels are available via both balanced and unbalanced audio outputs that can be used in a variety of home theater speaker configurations; 2 additional unbalanced outputs offer further connection flexibility. DSD and ALAC playback support have been doubled to DSD128 and ALAC 192kHz for better high-resolution audio performance.

For video, the MX123 has 7 HDMI inputs and 3 HDMI outputs. All HDMI inputs and outputs are the latest HDCP 2.3 standard, making the MX123 compliant and compatible with digital content protection specifications for well into the future. They all also have 18Gbps of bandwidth to support High Dynamic Range (HDR) formats Dolby Vision™, HDR10 and HLG; 4K Ultra HD at 50/60Hz; 4:4:4 color spacing; Rec. 2020; and 3D video pass-through. Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) functionality is included on 1 of the HDMI outputs. eARC offers improved bandwidth so the MX123 can receive higher resolution audio from a TV to produce the best possible sound quality.

Additional connections include: 4 digital audio inputs; 1 balanced and 8 unbalanced analog stereo audio inputs (including 1 dedicated as a Moving Magnet phono input to connect a turntable); an unbalanced 7.1 multi-channel audio input; 3 component and 4 composite video inputs; 1 USB Type A input; 2 unbalanced analog stereo outputs; and 2 composite and 1 component video outputs.

An exciting new feature on the MX123 is IMAX® Enhanced. IMAX Enhanced is a set of stringent performance standards established by IMAX and DTS® to create a consistent and higher bar for image and sound performance on premium devices. It utilizes a sophisticated, advanced algorithm designed to produce the highest-quality, sharpest 4K HDR images. IMAX and DTS will also partner with award-winning Hollywood sound mixers to use a special variant of the DTS:X codec technology included in the MX123 to deliver an IMAX signature sound experience at home.

Streaming options on the MX123  include Apple® AirPlay 2® along with Bluetooth® and Spotify Connect for easy streaming from mobile devices. AirPlay 2 is an Apple technology designed to control home audio systems and speakers in any room – with a tap or by just asking Siri – right from an iPhone®, iPad®, HomePod™, or Apple TV®. It offers multiroom audio, Siri voice control, and enhanced playback. TuneIn is also included for further music streaming options. To assist with streaming performance and reliability, wireless connectivity has been improved to include 2.4/5GHz dual band support.

Audyssey MultEQ® XT32 is included and will calibrate the MX123 to a home theater’s unique acoustical properties, letting it deliver the clearest and most balanced earth-shattering sound possible. Each discrete audio channel has its own 32-bit premium Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) to produce the best audio quality. Bass and treble tone controls plus a 9-band equalizer offer additional fine-tuning. The MX123 also has the flexibility to create 2 additional zones and send select audio and/or video to each zone.

The MX123 can be paired with a variety of home theater amplifiers and speakers to create a killer cinema experience in the comfort of one’s home. Front panel buttons or a comprehensive remote control allow for easy system operation, and it’s fully compatible with Control4. Complete with McIntosh design fundamentals of a backlit black glass front panel with an illuminated logo, control knobs, an easy to read display, and aluminum end caps, the future of premium Home Theater has arrived.

See us today to order yours!

Not Your Typical Review

One person at a time.  That’s what Buddhists refer to as the best approach for spreading harmony and setting people on the right path.  The same approach should be taken when spreading the word of higher end audio, one person at a time.

Good music provides enjoyment.  Great sounding music stimulates the imagination.  That’s what this stereo review is about; a test to measure the enjoyment and imagination created when listening to great sounding music.  I was the control subject with decades of listening to higher end stereos and a large library of music.  The test subject would never have listened to higher end stereos and would have a limited exposure to the variety and volume of music available.

Based upon the requirements I decided to convert my neighbor, Big T, into an audiophile.  His sources of music were a decades old RCA boombox and an antiquated truck stereo with the doors wide open.  He and his wife would crank out light rock and country music while working in the garage and around the yard.  Knowing that he liked music made him a suitable candidate.  Knowing that he liked beer made him even more suitable.

The journey began about a month after my hip operation, the time I was coming out of the pain killing fog; I decided to upgrade my stereo.  Off I went to see my audio cognoscenti, Darren at K&W Audio.  Darren and I go back a long way, and he goes back even further in the rich history of the audio business.  For 40+ years I’ve been buying great sounding audio gear from him.  I had an idea of what I wanted, and it didn’t take him long to send me home with the following:

  • Prima Luna – Dialog Premium HP Integrated Tube Amplifier
  • Totem – Forest Signature Speakers complete with bi-wire cable.
  • Blue Sound – Vault 2 (Network Hard Drive, Hi-Res CD Ripper, and Music Streamer)

In a period of a year, with the new stereo in hand, I converted Big T into an audiophile and fostered a relationship where conversation, story telling, and music, would be worthy of a radio show.  Sitting around a kitchen table having a beer is one thing, throw in a high-end stereo and life takes on a new flavor.

After the initial break in period, of both my new stereo and my neighbor, I turned things up, both in volume and variety.  Big T became enthralled with all the new music he was introduced to.  There were many evenings full of cheerful, story creating banter with the stereo playing in the background, as well as very frequent interludes of the Prima Luna and Totems cranked to sheer performance with music such as Cowboy Junkies “I Don’t Want to be a Soldier” and Prince “Sign ‘O’ the Times”.

I became more engaged the more I listened.  Buyer’s remorse had long since dissipated and even the cost of the custom, magnificently built, bi-wire Totem speaker cables became worth every penny.

I would never have guessed, but one-night, Big T became mesmerized with Miles Davis’s “Amandla”.   He excused himself from the kitchen table, sat in front of the stereo and asked me to turn it up. Without hesitation, from my iPhone to the Blue Sound, I turned up the Prima Luna like a narcissistic junkie.  I sat at the kitchen table, watching him catch every note pouring out of the speakers.  I knew that the first stage of his conversion was complete; he had entered the jazz zone.  He excitedly talked about the music in the way an audiophile would.  As he described clarity, presence, depth, dynamics, detail, sound stage, imaging, although not in those exact terms, I thought of calling Darren and asking for a finder’s fee on the upcoming sale.

It was like Homer’s Sirens luring in a wayward sailor.  From Miles I took him further into deeper unknown territory.

The relationship almost fell apart after I played Lara St. John’s “Bach: The Concerto Album”.    He found out I had tickets to her concert, and I was taking my son, not him.  His attitude changed once I played him some Buddha Lounge and “Dona Cre Tun”.  I tamed the wild beast.

Each evening I played something new for him.  “Jazz at the Pawnshop”, Beethoven cellos, The Cure, Roxy Music, Opus Recordings, Yellow, he breathed it all in and expanded his musical appreciation to new and wonderous heights.  He heard things on familiar recordings that he had never heard before and heard music he never knew existed.  Even I would excuse myself from the kitchen table, sit in front of the speakers, wind up the stereo, drop my analytical and technical mind, and be truly happy that I bought it.

The stereo plays everything well.  From the quintessential BIS recording of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” to Melissa Ethridge’s Live in New York “I Won’t be alone tonight”. The sound never failed us.  Our top ten favorites became a moving target, changing frequently, and eventually hundreds of songs vied for the position.

We learned to talk about death and laugh.  One-night Big T thought that Amy Belle’s “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” would be the song for his funeral.  He laughed and said he wanted it played on a high-end stereo so it would make people cry.  My first choice was Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House”, although he did prefer the version with Tom Jones and the Cardigans.  Often one of us would discover another song we wanted added to our funeral playlists.   We soon realized that the funerals would go on for days.  Which in turn led to another brilliant idea which I will leave aside for now.

The technical details were easily lost on Big T, but that did not matter.  It was the enjoyment that counted.  Even the 1983 Jose Carreras version of Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” thrilled and inspired him.  He shook his head in disbelief and covered his overwhelmed and palpating heart with his hand.

Big T was a 63-year-old man, and this was his first time in a candy store.  Stashed in my 64-year-old brain were thousands of recordings, none of which he had ever heard.  At some point in the evening I’d suddenly recall a piece of great music and play it.  It was like his first time at bat and I would throw him a 90 mile per hour fast ball.

I started a playlist to begin our evening sessions.  I could play it over and over and each time Big T would be as delighted as the first time he had heard it.  After all, he was still learning, listening, and drinking beer.  The list grew, and so did our crazy ideas.  We would never get tired of “Cool Jerk” by Bootsy Collins.  We thought of opening the “Funk Club” at the empty Canadian Tire store, complete with food trucks.  I thought that every morning, at 10 AM, the entire world should stop, look up to the sky, and listen to Annie Lennox’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, just to make the world a more gracious place. The music fed our imaginations.  Occasionally I would ground us and play Joe Walsh’s “A Life of Illusion”, which also made it into our top 10 and funeral lists.

Female vocalists were high on our favorites.  Joan Osborne lured Big T into a parallel universe with songs like “Midnight Train to Georgia”, “Heat Wave”, “Why Can’t We Live Together”.   It took a long time to get him back.  Amy Belle’s “I Don’t want to talk about it” created tears in his cosmos.   I played Bonnie Raitt, Toni Childs, Mini Ripperton, Phoebe Snow, Tracy Chapman, Sinead O’Connor, Beth Orton, everything I could find.  He was destined to become a groupie.  The music seduced him, he envisioned himself as a young, svelte, and handsome gold-digger.  He woke up from his fantasy and admitted that many of the artists have aged far better than him, but his maturity and insight should more than compensate.

At home Big T would go down the rabbit holes of Google and YouTube, finding new music and videos, and researching artists.  At times we would sync a music video with the song on the stereo.  We watched Robert Palmer “Addicted to Love” on the computer while bopping to the music on the party stereo; even the neighbors were dancing on their patios.

It took a few cases of Modelo beer and many evenings of exploring a large repertoire of music, the weaving of tales and laughter that left us breathless, but the conversion of Big T to an audiophile, and perhaps the other neighbors, is now complete.

Over the past year the stereo components worked flawlessly.  The performance of the Prima Luna cannot be overstated.  It is a magnificent piece of electronics in terms of build and functional design, capability, and simplicity.  It’s like a great race motorcycle with torque, power, finesse, and inspiring looks.  I’ve had some great integrated transistor amplifiers over the years, including class A designs, but the Prima Luna tube is by far the best sounding integrated amplifier I have owned.  Are there better?  Sure, just like everything else but, you will pay a significant amount more to achieve that just notable difference.

The Blue Sound Vault 2 provides for tremendous flexibility to manage and play your sources of music.  Record your hi-res CDs onto its disc and stream CD quality music from online providers such as Tidal.  The interface from the computer, iPhone, and tablet worked like a charm.  The Vault has an onboard digital to analog convertor which is exceptional for its price point.  I already owned a Bryston BDA-1 off-board convertor from K&W.  I found that the Bryston was a little warmer and more open.  However, with the configuration of the system I can easily switch between the two convertors and at times I’m hard pressed to tell between the two.

Housed in a beautiful glossy mahogany finish, the slim, floor standing, two way, bi-wired Totem Forest Signatures, driven by the Prima Luna, and fed by CD quality music via quality digital to analog convertors, encourages me to book a trip to the Austrian Concert Halls just so I can see the orchestra play the music.  These speakers are gorgeous with performance to match.  One superlative, outstanding.  They are articulate and musical at any volume level, disperse sound exceptionally well, and do everything that Big T accurately described when he reached the first stage of his conversion.

I sold high-end stereos many years ago and always remember the elderly lady crying in the sound room.  She described her listening experience.  She could see the piano when she closed her eyes, detail the movements of the keys and the foot pedals.  It was, as she said, “as if the piano was right in front of me”.  That was enjoyment.   That’s imagination.  A great stereo stimulates the mind.

We will continue to laugh ourselves breathless over the tales we weave, drink our beer, and live in the now with the Prima Luna, Totems, and an endless source of great music.  An awe-inspiring and exceptionally engaging combination, and a cosmic upgrade for me.

Your Home Simplified

INTRODUCING CONTROL4
 

Your Control4 system just got better. Bring more to your Smart Home experience by updating your Control4 system to OS 3. It has a clean fresh look, great new features and incredible performance.
 

OS 3 boasts more than a thousand enhancements, and the user interface is where many of those changes come alive. Now you can personalize and organize your favorite rooms, devices, and scenes for easier access. Swipe-and-tap for quick navigation, or customize room and screen saver wallpapers to uniquely reflect your home. Combine these and many more features with a new more responsive OS, and you get a dramatically improved experience.
 

Control4 OS 3 has been thoughtfully designed to provide the best experience no matter what control device you’re using too. Whether it’s a remote, touch screen, TV OSD or any mobile device, the way you use OS 3 is simple and more natural.
 

Now, not all items in older Control4 Smart Home Systems are compatible. So, some systems will need to have some products in them updated to make the jump to OS 3. Contact one of our pro’s, or drop by our showroom to have us assess your system, and the improvements OS 3 offers you today.
 

15% OFF Upgrades!
 

Now is the time to get the new items you want to round out your smart home system. When you update your existing Control4 system with any new Control4 products we’ll give you 15% off!
 

Redesigned Web Portal
 

Your Personal Web Portal has a new look and feel. Visit https://customer.control4.com/ today and check out the great new features of OS3, manage your Control4 system features and preferences, and watch videos on how to use the cool new features.

Sonos Architectural Audio

The architectural category is a new arena for Sonos, but it makes sense that when they decided to enter it, they would do it right. They are looking to build on their historically strong Connect and Connect:Amp products – which powered other manufacturers speakers up ’till now, to now offer a truly complete acoustic solution for your home.  Architectural speakers are a growing segment of the market, and to stand out Sonos had to do their homework.

With a shared commitment to superior sound and great design, Sonos and Sonance partnered on a collection of architectural passive speakers optimized for the new Sonos Amp. Sonos Architectural by Sonance includes in-ceiling, in-wall, and outdoor speakers designed to disappear into any space while providing crystal clear sound, even coverage, high-quality performance, and ease of use.   The creation and engineering of speakers for a specific amplifier is a great first step to creating transformative sound experiences for the home and beyond. Add to that the unique Sonos Trueplay™ feature, which allows you to calibrate the listening environment with the speakers and an app on your phone and you have a truly new offering. This Customized Sound calibration accounts for the size, construction, and furnishings of the room where the speakers are placed and automatically adjusts the EQ for the best possible sound.

Showing off the quality of the amp, just one Sonos Amp can power up to three pairs of Sonos Architectural speakers, for greater sound coverage and more immersive listening. The Sonos Amp allows you to stream all your favorite services and music stored on local devices. Control is simple with the Sonos app, AirPlay 2, and voice control with smart devices. If you already have a Sonos product, simply put it’s like building Sonos all-in-one speakers right into the wall or ceiling.

Spring is fast approaching. If you have a multi-room project in the planning stages, drop by today to get your free pre-wire plan and pre-order your new Sonos Architectural speaker system!

 

Martin Logan Renaisance

Another Renaissance?

How About Another Renaissance?

By Geoff Woods

 

How many times have we heard the expression, “Everything old is new again,” or “There’s nothing new under the sun”?   How about this one, “I’m so far behind, I think I’m in the lead.”  Maybe that one’s just me.

Now, as I approach the half century mark on this planet, it’s become easier for me to see things that have come and gone do often come around again.  We call that “retro”. Unfortunately, not everything comes back though.  In fact, just the other day at the shop, the boys and I were waxing poetic about our misspent youth in the video arcades, and the vitally important role the local video rental shop played in our social development.  Of course, there are many things that SHOULDN’T ever come back – like mullets, huge shoulder pads, and an embarrassingly large number of the bands that I’m slightly ashamed to say I did listen to in the 80’s.

But whether it be pure nostalgia, or a realization that maybe we’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater a few times (and we should make an effort to get that baby back again), there are some things that give “Retro” a really good name.  The Camaro, Mustang, and the Challenger – for a good first example.  They are all doing a great job of teaching young North American men all about proper muscle car envy.  Post Modern architecture, furniture design, and even some clothes can all remind us of the cyclical nature of great style too. TV shows like The Goldbergs, or Stranger Things capitalize on our tendency to look back with fondness and that’s good.  And obviously music.  I recently took in a Sheepdogs concert, and that totally pushed all my happy sense-memory buttons.  If you’ve never heard the Sheepdogs, give them a listen.  I bet you’ll get it.

What about Vinyl!  Nobody is happier than myself about the rebirth and rejuvenation of vinyl and the record store.  When I was in my late teens, the record store was one of those special places where I didn’t feel like a stranger from another planet.  Now 30 years – and a number of formats later, the venerable turntable has once again achieved its deserved place of honor in the style-conscious living rooms of music lovers. In fact, some of the turntables available these days not only deliver an exquisite musical experience, but are easily as beautiful as any sculpture or art object that you could otherwise clutter up a flat surface with.

So now, I would like to propose another retro revolution.  Perhaps more accurately, recognize it.  This time it’s with speakers. Are you ready for it?  Here goes. . .  They need to get big again, and we need to embrace it.

Now, not DOMINATE THE ROOM big, just “This is a space for music and I belong here” big.  I will admit that many of the big speakers of old were, well UG-LY.  Forty years ago, the equation was simple:  bigger box equals bigger bass, and pretty much every speaker manufacturer had us dancing to that tune.  As a result, there were a lot of big ugly speakers out there.  Then came the advent of mini-subwoofer-micro-satellite speaker systems back in the late 80’s, and we threw the baby out with the bathwater again.

Remember the demonstration where the smooth talking, mullet sporting, shoulder padded salesman played music through what looked like a pair of tower speakers, then he’d remove the tower speaker façade to reveal tiny little cube shaped boxes perched on poles to the surprised oohs and aaahs of his captive audience?  What was unfortunately missing from that demo was a decent pair of tower speakers that one could compare to, but let’s not dwell on that now.  It was a revolution. Almost every interior designer on the planet, and much of the female population immediately got on board with the idea of eliminating big speakers from the home.  Almost to a point of religious fervor.  Interior designers and significant others developed a vehement bias against the concept that a device that brings music into our home, (and thus enriches our life), should be in any way visible.

Now, before I alienate every interior designer and spouse (including my own), let me just clarify my thoughts by saying that some of you do understand that speakers don’t get big just for the sake of taking up more space in the living room. My point is, I think we need to officially take the next step and acknowledge that the space taken up by a full-sized quality speaker in the home, rightfully belongs to the speaker, and that is good. Why?  Because the speaker serves a great and noble purpose, and that purpose is important in our lives.  Spiritually, artistically, and aesthetically – they have great value.

Go with me here. Aesthetically speaking, interior design doesn’t begrudge the existence of a sink in a kitchen.  You can’t have a kitchen without a sink, but let’s be honest, as a rule, sinks are not “pretty”.  Yes, you might be able to find some inordinately high priced artistic blend of sculpture and plumbing by Blanco that your interior designer will effusively gush over, but at the end of the day, whether it’s made of stone, steel, or porcelain, it’s still a spokes model for the sewer that has been built into a counter top.  It has a pipe sticking up out of it and a hole at the bottom.

By comparison, let’s look at a speaker:  not a gateway to the sewer, but a window to a beautiful view of the world.   It can soothe us when we’re anxious, it can inform us of current issues and events, it can motivate us to dance or call us to action, or simply put a smile on our face and a bounce in our step.  Every day.  In the same way that a kitchen cannot be a kitchen without a sink, I would argue that a living room has no life worth living without great music, and that comes from great sounding, proudly full-size speakers.

Today, we embrace the easy availability of music that modern life affords us.  If we go back 150 years, the only way to get any music in your house was to bring musicians into your house; as a result, it was something that was only enjoyed by the super-rich and only on special occasions.  They took up some space too. Then came the gramophone (talk about ugly!  They have a kind of antique charm now, to be sure, but . . . no, scratch that.  They were just ugly).  Then in the early half of the 20th century we started to see big console radios arrive in the home. Roughly the size of a refrigerator on it’s side, but styled to fit in with the living room decor of that era. A meaningful piece of attractive furniture for the day (perhaps some still a bit ugly by today’s standards) – nobody was judged harshly or looked down upon for having one.  It was a sign of success in fact, ushering in another new benefit of a modern society.  People were now able to enjoy the luxury of music and information on demand in their home for the first time, and they understood that modern equipment that occupied space was required to make it happen.

These days it can seem that the very idea that you would allow a music reproduction device to occupy space in your room is something to be ridiculed.  But often it’s because people have an image in their head of what that old console, or speakers looked like half a century ago. Nowadays, there are so many beautiful and different styles of speakers out there, that anybody who takes the time to look should be able to find something to suit their taste and appeal to their sense of visual design.

But again, to get there we first need to acknowledge that the full-size speaker DESERVES to have a dedicated place in our homes.  The amount of space they occupy—and the amount of investment that they represent—are a direct reflection of how important music is in your life.

I used the term Renaissance in the title of this article as a direct reference to my current favorite speaker – made by the Electrostatic Speaker company Martin Logan.  Big, and worth giving a listen to for no other reason than to remind us how lucky we are to live in this day and age where an incredible level of music reproduction in the home is so easily attainable.  They are simply amazing.  I opted for these full-size speakers in my home because they are brilliant sounding, and that is a function of their design/size. I couldn’t be happier with the sound or looks. I have no qualms about dedicating the requisite floor space they assume, to be rewarded with the enthralling musical experience they always deliver, on a daily basis.

There will always be those that will argue that a speaker need not be large, or even visible.  While it is true that speakers can be built into walls or ceilings or minimized into something the size and shape of a water glass sitting on a counter, it’s nowhere near the same experience.  If you could, honestly get the same performance out of a $199 Bluetooth enabled stocking stuffer that’s wedged between the vase and a lamp, I’d shut my mouth, pack up my shingle, go buy a squeegee and make my living on the corner of 17th Avenue, but the cold hard truth is that the level of the experience is fundamentally different.

To illustrate, let me go back to the plumbing analogy:  As Charlize Theron showed us in the film “Monster,” all you need to get clean is a small sink in a gas station rest room, but that’s not what we WANT!  We want a luxurious soaker tub or a glass walled shower with an 8-way adjustable massaging nozzle, and no self-respecting interior designer would ever try to talk us out of it.  By way of comparison, a little Bluetooth widget simply can’t do what a free-standing pair of full size speakers can do – both visually and sonically. In the same way that trying to fill a giant soaker tub with an eyedropper would ultimately prove futile, trying to fill an 1800 cubic foot or larger living room with rich warm sound from something the size of a can of coke will leave you just as cold.

Let me wrap my call to arms up by addressing if there are any decent custom install solutions for those that still feel speakers should be heard and not seen.  To that, I do have to answer a qualified yes.  Qualified by three very important caveats:

1) Preparation.  We need to think about it when the room is being built. Wires need to be run to the exact right locations before the drywall goes up,

2) Placement.  Careful thought needs to go into where the speakers will be and how they will project sound toward the finished listening area – without restriction. Arranging the furniture in the space later is not a good plan, it’s a lack of one. And finally,

3) Price.  High quality speakers cost what they cost. So, good in-wall or in-ceiling speakers are also not cheap. If the floor standing speakers that you like the sound of are $3,500 for the pair, you simply can’t expect to find an in-wall solution you will like for $800.  And even then, the very best built-in speakers still won’t match the imaging and performance capabilities of a free-standing tower speakers, because a speaker’s sound is so massively affected by its cabinet, and no high-quality speakers are made out of drywall for very good reasons.  Besides, you won’t be able to take those great sounding speakers with you if you move.

So, for all of these reasons I say, let us embrace the Renaissance of bringing breathtaking music via properly large speaker into our home again.  A beautiful, stylish pair of speakers needs to be warmly embraced in our living rooms again, the same way we happily welcome a beautiful piece of art, Persian rug or a remarkably comfortable, yet inexplicably expensive chair.

STR Amp in Silver and Black

Anthem STR Amp Review

Anthem STR Amp

NEW Anthem STR Integrated Amplifier Review

By Andrew Donald

 

Anthem, the Canadian hi-fi sister company to both MartinLogan and Paradigm, have just released an impressive new integrated amplifier, called the STR. It’s an entirely new architecture that elevates this new offering well above the amp that it replaces, the Integrated 225.

Integrating an advanced preamp with a high output stereo power amplifier, and adding advanced DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter) functions, a Moving Magnet and Moving Coil phono stage and the mighty ARC (Anthem Room Correction) room calibration system into one chassis, the new Anthem STR certainly covers a lot of bases for its $5500.00. The fact that it offers all of this capability and also manages to sound terrific, it’s a relative bargain at that price!

The STR is designed, engineered and built by Anthem at Paradigm’s impressive facilities in Toronto, Canada, and as such Anthem has a tremendous amount of control over the design and manufacturing process to deliver the best finished product. In the early stages of the STR’s design, Anthem decided it was time for their sole integrated amplifier to move upmarket and it’s fair to say that they’ve accomplished their goal admirably

Description:

Upon unpacking it, the first thing noticed is its heft. At 40lbs, it’s no lightweight. Peering into the internals through the top venting also illustrates the care that went into the internal packaging. With a large toroidal power transformer taking the center position, each amplifier channel and their accompanying heatsink flanks it on either side. Behind the aluminium front panel sits four large capacitors (two for each channel) on their own isolated board. The preamp, DAC and phono preamp are on another isolated circuit board near the back of the chassis. The front panel is quite clean with a very prominent display on the left side of the faceplate. It’s bright and sharp with decent contrast when viewed straight on and offers plenty of information over the amp’s functions, with nice graphical icons to liven it up a bit.

Interior of Anthem STR

The I/O offering is impressive for a stereo integrated amp. With one AES/EBU, one USB, two digital coax and two optical inputs for its built-in DAC; the analog section has a set of balanced XLR inputs and four sets of stereo single-ended RCA inputs. There are MM and MC stereo single-ended RCA inputs for the phono stage. The amount of analog outputs are truly luxurious, with single-ended RCA Left and Right, subwoofer Left and Right and line Left and Right outputs!

For firmware updates and control there is a USB-A, Mini USB, Ethernet, RS232 serial, and a 3.5mm 12V trigger Output and 3.5mm IR Input. There are also oversized insulated and non-conductive five-way binding posts for speaker connections free of any interference or ghosting.

The amplifier section of the new STR is a beast. With 200 watts per channel continuously into an 8ohm load, it can also “double down” when the speaker’s impedance halves, delivering 400 watts per channel continuously into 4ohms. It’s also 2ohm stable, continuously delivering a mighty 550 watts per channel! Now, that is serious power from an integrated amplifier.

The built-in digital-to-analog converter is no slouch either. Capable of accepting a hi-resolution digital bitstream up to 24bit/192kHz via its digital coax and optical inputs. It can also upsample non hi-res digital signals up to 24bit/192kHz! Set for the future, the STR can also accept a PCM signal up to 32-bit/384 kHz and a DSD 2.8 or 5.6 MHz digital bitstream through its sole asynchronous USB-B rear input.

Another feature that the vast majority of stereo amplifiers don’t offer is a way to equalize your system to the room it’s in. Anthem has extended their superb room correction system (ARC – Anthem Room Correction) that is built into every one of their surround receivers and surround processors, to the new STR. Instead of relying on an IC in the STR to do the calculations, ARC leverages the power of your PC running the ARC software. With an included tripod mounted microphone connected, ARC digitally compares a room’s acoustic signature to that of a reference.

It measures the response of each speaker relative to the space and eliminates the negative effects of obstacles in the room, adjusting response, correcting phase issues and the negative effects of problematic room reflections, resonances and standing waves caused by the shape of the room and the surfaces and obstacles in the room. It can even do separate EQ’s for two subwoofers in your system, which is perfect for audio systems with a stereo subwoofer configuration!

In practice ARC works extremely well and is very approachable and user friendly. It’s streamlined and easy for those that want that and extremely deep when you want it to be, allowing for a huge degree of customization. It’s a brilliant platform that allows for easy and intuitive experimentation with different speaker and listening positions, crossover, phase and level configurations in real-time while you’re in the ARC software. It’s a calibration system that caters to every level of user.

Anthem ARC Graph

Installation & Listening:

After unpacking the amplifier (the STR in black looks superb!) and connecting it to one of our reference systems comprised of Paradigm’s Persona 5F loudspeakers, a Bluesound Node 2 network music streamer (for accessing lossless CD quality tracks, as well as MQA, from our Tidal Hi-Fi subscription) and Torus RM20 line conditioner, it was set up and gently broken-in for several days. Afterwards we had very lengthy listening sessions and were quite impressed.

The STR’s damping factor is immediately apparent with fantastic control of driver motion that shows off the 5F’s great transient response. The amp’s authoritative bass is very good as well. It really grabbed the 5F’s from the collar and showed them who’s boss! Midrange warmth and smoothness, with a slightly etched character to high frequency detail characterizes the STR well and the soundstage was wonderfully deep and delineated, accentuating the 5F’s already great transparency and imaging capability.

The new STR amp is a power house that can drive a very broad range of speakers. It also has the control and finesse to create a truly enjoyable listening experience that keeps inviting you back for more.

Anthem STR USB Connection

Control4 EA1 SR260

The Control4 EA1 Sale

Sale Price Control4 EA-1

Get your Control4 EA1 Entertainment Controller Delivered today !

It’s a well known issue. The TV Entertainment system is central to any home, but controlling even the simplest system is needlessly complex.  Add in the growing number of interconnected devices in the home and it’s clear that you need an EA1 Smart Controller with the automation horsepower Control4 and K&W can provide.

We want to make it easy for you.  So, for the great sale price of only $999.00 (tax, delivery and installation included!) let’s get the most important room in your home running simply now.  We will end that pain of multiple remotes – or even worse, poor universal remotes that don’t actually do it all.  With the powerful new Control4 EA1 controller and sleek SR260 remote delivered and installed by us, it’s easier and more affordable than ever to get a simple to use actual smart system.

The powerful new EA 1 smart home controller easily operates the typical TV area. Included in the sale price package is the ability to simply control 4 devices, your TV, Cable box, Surround Amplifier, and Blu-ray/ streaming box from the Control4 SR 260 remote control.  Other items can be added any time too, at a very low additional cost.

Along with simple total control of your home’s media system comes the bonus of a world of great new streaming music choices for you, built right into your new Control4 EA-1.  They include Deezer, Napster, Pandora, TuneIn Radio, and Tidal – supporting full rich 24-bit high resolution audio.  Your easy to use and great sounding new system has an on screen display that is beautiful and intuitive. It can also be controlled via an app on your iPad, smart Phone (IOS or Android), or PC too, and all that music and functionality is included, at no extra cost.

Banish your coffee table covered in remotes forever, we know you will love your simple system makeover!  Another great benefit of adding this Control4 platform is, now you can expand the system to automate and control as much of your home as you want, any time you want.  Control all your entertainment equipment in every room of the house, add in lighting control, climate control, door locks, cameras, fans, blinds and so much more. Control4 inter-operates with over 9500 digital products, so the sky is the limit.

This offer is only for a limited time, and ends May 15th, so call to arrange for delivery and installation of your Smart Home controller today!

 

 

Control4 EA1 SR260