Anthem AVM 20 or Integra DTC 9.8

The analog section of my Proceed PAV/PDSD pre/pro is out, and I'm not sure how expensive it will be to repair. If I do need to replace my pre/pro, two reasonable cost alternatives look likely, The Anthem 20 and Integra 9.8, either of which seems to be about $1K used. Video switching is not important to me, but stereo sound quality is. Thoughts re the choice are sought.

You need to be more specific about your uses. The AVM20 is an old(er) unit with good sound but it lacks the newest facilities, such as roomEQ and new codecs. The Integra has all that and its performance with digital sources is very good but its analog inputs are not that great.

I have the AVM20. I can't hear if the DAC's are in or out of the loop. If you feed
it Toslink then it is fine for movies and good for music although you may get
some audible jitter depending on your setup. I found it benefited from a Power
Conditioner (the only item I have that does -so certainly not a world class power
supply in it).

It does not have auto room EQ but comes with three programmable notch filters
which can be adjusted using a test CD and RS meter. The biggest advantage of
AVM20 is flexibility (a huge number of inputs and outputs and extremely
sophisticated programmable input gains and paths for every input - separate
music and cinema configs and excellent quality volume control). Of course it
does not handle all the codecs but if you get the V2 upgrade it covers most
what you'll come across)
My sources are analog (SACD) and digital (CD) output from a Sony DVP-S9000ES in a video-off mode, analog output from a CIA phono stage (Throrens TD 160 II, SME Series III, Ortofon SME 30H), digital output from a PS3-80, and digital output from a Direct TV HD/DVR. The pre/pro feeds Proceed Amp-2 and Amp-3 amps and a Velodyne SMS-1 (LF room correction) via XLR lines. Speakers are KEF 104/2, 200C, and 102/2 surrounds, all biwired. Sub is Velodyne HGS-15. The SMS-1 seems able to handle room correction below 80 Hz well. Video switching is via an HDMI box. Except for the amps, power is through a Monster Power Center HTS 2500.

We use this system for some TV programs, all films, and all music. Music taste tends toward small classic and baroque (e.g. Bach, Corelli) and jazz (e.g. Evans, Coltrane) groups, with the occasional big orchestra piece (e.g. Mahler).

Cary Cinema 11a, although likely more expensive used, is also on my list, but I really hope the PAV can be repaired at reasonable cost.

I also have Benchmark DAC1 which I prefer for music. The AVM20 is fine for analog music but I do detect a slight improvement on a digital input using the DAC1. So the AVM is perhaps "adequate" at jitter rejection (good enough for TV and movies ) but not as good as a dedicated DAC for critical listening to music.

I can't comment on the other pre processors but I have read that the Anthem D1 or D2 is more likely to be more competitive with a separate dedicated DAC....of course the price on a D2 is in another league.

Home theater SOTA is HDMI 1.3, 1080p and 5 or 7.1 using one of the lossless formats on bluray discs - as well as Audyssey MultiEQ.

The standards look like they will hold for a few years - if only because the software industry (ie the studios) have not even begun to take advantage of what is already possible and are unlikely to invest in supporting even newer standards in the immediate future. (For context, there is still considerable debate about consumer bluray adoption versus DVDs)

Audyssey is a third party program sold to OEMs. It will continue to evolve by adding new features since that is the core of its business model. However what is already there is very, very good. Don't believe me, read Stereophile.

The Integra 9.8 does all of this very, very well. The GUI is consistent and is a piece of cake which cannot be said about a lot of its competitors. My new test is to download the owners manuals to compare what is involved in doing various tasks. Try it and see if you like it...

The Integra will easily handle your DirectTV with audio follows video switching rather then mucking about with a bunch of boxes. It will gracefully do this with all of your sources.

It's sub handling (LFE) is very flexible.

It's got inputs up the ying yang though all I use is HDMI - I can't imagine ever going back to anything else in a HT setting

There are no doubt better preamps for turntables and other analog sources. What do you want for a grand...

Seems to me you have to balance your current needs with where you plan to go from here. I would guess that the Anthem represents the near past in technology - I had their PVA-7 amp and they make great stuff. I also (still) have the Integra - and I see myself keeping it a good long while.
The Integra 9.8 seems very attractive, but I'm confused about what seems a consensus that it's not so good for analog. Analog seems to entail less processing than digital, given there is no DAC. Did Integra skimp on the analog circuits in favor of more elaborate digital? I think SACD is available with HDMI 1.3 processing.

Dbphd -

This "bad analog" thing is an opinion that seems to be catching hold on this board - since I have not used the analog inputs, I am not sure if this is an urban legend in the making.

FWIW Integra is Onkyo's upscale brand (the Lexus if you will) The 9.8 was built to be their statement/flagship unit. Each one is handbuilt. More urban myth is that they take a beating on each one. The 9.9 came out at the end of 2008. The same thing with a couple of nice improvements. Again for the moment the standards are standing still.

There is no doubt that it, and the equivalent units from Marantz and Denon are "game changers". They are the kinds of highly complex, feature rich units that the Japanese have always led the world at building. And judging from the number of posts here on HT (something I never saw much of the past few years) a lot of folks are trying to come to terms with all this new technology.

People generally refer to it as "lean" - but never anything "worse". It may be a question of a preference for analog - even thermionics - or simply a question of house sound. If Luxman built one people would probably be happier... And it may be that the Denon or Marantz might suit your tastes better. NAD also builds one.

I have run it with two amps (Anthem and Butler) and found it to be very amp dependent - which suggest to me that it is pretty neutral.

Which brings me back to the point I was trying to make - it is a great HT piece. It worked for me because I was starting with a blank sheet of paper. I built my system around it and it is spectacular for TV and movies. Music sounds just swell too - but I don't use it for critical listening.

FWIW it replaced a B&K receiver - the difference it made to the room was enormous, as is the quantum leap in the GUI. I attribute a lot of this to the Audyssey and the rest to better amps and HDMI sources. My ISF tech ran his high end scopes on the audio and the plot was very good for a difficult room. He had no interest in trying to better it.

But like a lot of people who built combined two channel/HT solutions relying on bypass switches and the like, you need more then an HT solution. That's where it gets tricky.

Can you tell us what the improvements are in the 9.9?

I've download the manual for the 9.8, but have yet to check if it has a pass through like the Proceed PDSD that passes analog from the PAV without processing. If it does, I could use my original PAV as the analog section, and use the analog-dead PAV/PDSD in another system.


9.9 adds DynamicVolume, DynamicEQ and individual ISF settings per input.

Also, the analog is OK but not stellar on the 9.8 and, I suspect, is the same on the 9.9. I plead guilty to contributing to this general impression:

Like my buddy, the learned writer Kal said - the 9.9 (and no doubt the next generation of Denon and Marantz) are all about additional Audyssey features and controlling the individual ISF inputs

IMHO the ISF is the more important

here's the deal - the Integra 9.8 video scaler (Reon) is applied globally - meaning that the same corrections (sharpening, color, noise reduction etc) are applied to every source. Clearly this makes little sense if you have (for arguments sake) a DirectTV HDR, a BluRay and a VHS deck because each needs a different set-up.

So on the 9.8 is you either crap everything up to benefit the lowest common denominator or you bypass the whole thing to preserve the integrity of the BD 1080P source

BTW I am sure that this sounds pretty abstract to someone who has not had the chance to play with this gear - but after you do I hope that the observation moves from clear as mud to clear as gin

With control of individual inputs you can spruce up the sources that need it and bypass those that don't need tweaking - this is a very nice improvement

For a not entirely accurate parallel its like being able to preset audio and EQ for each source instead of having to use one setting for everything...

As far as the by-pass and all that stuff. Since you are a educated, scholarly type I will leave it to you to suss out the details you are interested in

My impression which is not supported by research - is that the Audyssey is either in or out across all sources. I suppose you can switch it off when you want to and run analog "direct" - there is a stereo direct mode

Here is the quote from the manual on the subject:

In this mode, audio from the input source is output
directly with minimal processing, providing high-fidelity reproduction. All of the source’s audio channels are output as they are.

Sound is output by the front left and right speakers.