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  Review: Anthem 225 Integrated Amplifier
Some quick info before I get into this. I listen to a wide range of music, Jazz, acoustic, classical,Big band, vocals, Dave Mathews, Oscar Peterson and the Kign Singers, but not into metal, although I do enjoy progressive rock, and quite a lot of ''indie'' music, the unsigned (to big labels) gems.

I prefer neutral and transparent sound, but have the ''vocals'' mid frequency as my favorite ones. I will concede the lowest frequencies but not concede mids if I can help it.

I have owned many, many amplifiers over the last 20 years or so. Solid state, tubes, separates, integrateds, you name it. Manufactured in North America, China, England, Italy, and probably a few countries in between. Back in the old days (that would be around 1973 or so) I discovered that hi-fi was fun, and mainly, simple. Put a vinyl on the platter, raise the volume, and maybe turn the bass and treble a notch or two.
Then came the ‘’high-end’’ years, where a lot of focus was placed on ‘’the gear’’. You know how it goes. I came to a point where I had speakers the price of a new car, tube amps that could heat a small chalet, and cables that could trip an elephant.
The sound was of course glamorous – yet – the ‘’fun’’ aspect was gone – replaced by the ‘’listening for flaws’’ activity over the same 20 cd’s and records in rotation (the ones that sounded good). The other 90% of my music, well, they just didn’t do justice sound-wise to my costly set-up.
I finally let go a few years ago, and took a long break from this ‘’hobby’’. Then I got in again, but told myself I would stop analyzing the music and just enjoy it. I also didn’t care as much if I didn’t have gear that extracted the last ounce of ‘’air’’ around two instruments, or the ‘’sense of the hall’’ an orchestra played in. I actually came to be irritated by all of this hifi blab vocabulary used by reviewers to describe audio products as if they were real people. It does make me laugh today though.
So where does this Anthem 225 come in? It certainly is not the most resolving amplifier out there, although I have owned quite a few 3K units that were no better.
I sincerely think that Anthem put this amp on the market for those of us who want to go back to when it was fun and simple.
This amp does not look particularly modern – it’s actually kind of old school. You could mistake it for a 1970’s machine if you just had a quick glimpse at it.
This 225 is just about honesty. A thunderous 225 per channel of CLEAN power. Defeatable tone controls I can – and do – use with a smile. How did I get along all those years without them? Because I was a snobby audiophile that’s why! I cannot tell you how often those came to the rescue to tame down many a cd’s sound handicapped with digitalis. Or a thin-sounding FM broadcast, or my own acoustic living-room space which is less than ideal.
Build quality is off scale. One review I had a look at said something like ‘’this is no flimsy throw away integrated’’. Let me tell you, they are right about this one. The proverbial tank at around 43 pounds.
I am using the 225 connected with its XLR inputs through a Cambridge Audio DacMagic and a Shanling cd player with the digital output. I also use the 225’s own front-panel Ipod input. Not the most revealing of course, but as good as expected. I intend to get that Wadia wonder box to work in tandem with the DacMagic and my Ipod touch.
I won’t get into a detailed description of the sound but this I will say – the on-line reviews perfectly mirror what I am hearing, meaning a very neutral sound. The bass is very real and organic, contrary to many integrated that come to mind – including some major badges.
I will mention that the phono stage is a pleasant surprise, and actually much better that reported in the reviews so far. My turntable cost more than this amp, and it sounds great.
Above all, I just feel the whole package is just right. Lots of features, awesome power to drive just about anything, tone controls, phono, Ipod input, XLR, great, tasteful casework (the black looks very nice).
For less than $ 1,600.00, it is the proverbial no-brainer. It is a quality, FUN amplifier, and sounds much more refined that its price suggest.
Not a bad deal if one is ready to give up ‘’prestige badge’’ bragging rights. I'm just wondering if Anthem is making any money on those..

Associated gear
DacMagic
Shanling (used as transport)

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Sonicbeauty  (Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)

07-10-10
  Responses
07-10-10: Sonicbeauty
Forgot to mention that the remote is one of the nicer ones I have had the pleasure to use. It feels good in the hand, has all all-rubber wrap-around, and most of all, it is fully illuminated so that you can use it in total darkness. Kind of makes those remotes that come with many McIntosh products look real cheap by comparison...

Cheers!

Sonicbeauty  (Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


09-03-10: Hifisoundguy
I went and listened to one and I was shocked at how good it sounded and not just for the price! This solid-state amp sounded more like a really good tube amp! I liked this amp better than the very very high priced Mcintosh amp that I also heard there! Talk about MAJOR-BANG-FOR-YOUR-BUCK!
Hifisoundguy  (Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


10-14-10: Glenfihi
Heavily considered the Anthem Integrated, it had everything I was looking for accept not having two speaker pair output. Ended up buying a Anthem tuner pre-amp, pairing it with a Carver amp having two pair speaker output. Makes two room listening possible. It does indeed have a smooth and delicious sound. Great sound and useful features, such as balance and tone controls. Headphone and in some cases phono inputs. Really brings the fun and common sense to home audio.
Glenfihi  (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


10-14-10: Musicfanatic
Yes Sonicbeauty
You are right, that the music matters not the gear. But all of us, have been infected by the upgrading virus!
It is highly transmitted by the sudio forums, audio press and audio dealers.
I hope to be cured as soon as possible!!
I have no any experience with Anthem products, but my current Unison Research Unico is a similar example of a logical priced ampl with high performance

Greetings from Greece

Musicfanatic  (System | Answers | This Thread)


10-25-10: Sonicbeauty
Thanks for your comment Musicfanatic, the Unico is one beauty of an amp for sure! I used to own one - one of the best sound for the dollar also.
Sonicbeauty  (Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


10-25-10: Sonicbeauty
Musicfanatic - Forgot to mention - I was ALSO once also infected heavily with the upgrading virus years ago (and it may come back who knows!).

It has been quite awhile since I purchased anything expensive, so I guess I'm cured ! The Anthem 225 made the medicine a bit easier to swallow...while not really giving up much in sound (and NOTHING in build quality) to obscenely-priced amplifiers and prestige names. No bragging rights, just well-reproduced music with power to spare.

Sonicbeauty  (Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


05-17-11: Sonicbeauty
By the way, after I heard the Yamaha AS2000 I became sick again, and I bought it. NOW I'm cured ! (see my review on this unit). The Anthem is still a great amp though and worth every penny.
Sonicbeauty  (Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


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