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..
Shanling (used as transport)
Muscal Fidelity A-5
and many more