I do have three small criticisms of the ARC system. First, the fact that the system requires an outboard PC to run measurements and calculate EQ settings is somewhat cumbersome. In an ideal world, it would be preferable to have the D2v be able run test procedures and calculate EQ settings on its own. Second, the fact that ARC requires a serial port connection between the PC and the D2v is problematic, given that most modern laptops no longer have serial ports. (True, you could use a USB-to-serial-port adapter, but Anthem’s manual makes it clear that this is not a recommended option.). Ideally, I’d like to see Anthem create an all-USB version of ARC. Third, I think the PC-to-D2v connection cable needs to be longer to allow for large or irregularly shaped rooms where D2v will be placed relatively far from listening position. These minor shortcomings really don’t undercut the excellence of the ARC system, but they are points I hope Anthem will address over time.
In practice, I found ARC gave excellent results, noticeably smoothing and tightening up low frequency response, yet without smearing mids and highs, and while allowing the fundamental character of the speaker system to shine through. There is very little (if any) of the “DSP haze” that you might hear with some room EQ systems, meaning that the effects of the system—at least when used with an already high-quality speaker system—are very subtle.
I evaluated the video performance of the D2v using IDT’s HQV Benchmark 2.0 discs (both the Standard Definition NTSC version 2.0 and the Blu-ray Disc version 2.0). With both disks, the D2v’s Sigma VXP video processor performance was simply exemplary, with results that looked as good as if not better than those achieved with any other video-processing device I’ve tried.
Several aspects of the D2v’s video performance really stood out for me. First, on the Standard Definition disc, it was impressive to see how the D2v handled the Multi-Cadence tests, offering consistently and almost eerily smooth motion on tracking shots that—as I’ve learned from past experiences—can and often do give other video processors fits. Second, the D2v’s performance on the Standard Definition disc’s Resolution Enhancement tests was spectacular. I would be misleading you if I said the D2v made DVDs look “just like” Blu-ray discs, but it certainly gave DVDs greater apparent resolution than I’m used to seeing—and this without introducing any unpleasant artifacts that I could see. Finally, the D2v gave breathtaking results on the Resolution Enhancement test from the Blu-ray discs. The best way for me to describe the visual results would be to say that, in a subjective sense, onscreen images reminded me a bit of demonstrations I’ve seen of ultra high-resolution 4k x 2k images.
In short, when you watch TV or movies through the D2v, with both SD and HD content, you may have the sense that you are seeing subtle yet significant across the board improvements in resolution and overall picture quality.
Let me begin by saying that perhaps the defining characteristic of the Statement D2v is sonic transparency—a certain “see through” quality that is highly prized in high-end audio components, but is all too rarely heard in home theater electronics. The D2v doesn’t merely sound “somewhat like” an audiophile-grade component; it is an audiophile-grade component. Does it sound as open and as resolving as today’s very best stereo preamplifiers? No, though it is not too far off from those levels. But bear in mind that some of today’s finest stereo preamps cost more than the Statement D2v and P5 combined (gulp!). I think it is fair to say, however, that the D2v is entirely competitive with purist-oriented stereo preamps in the $2k - $3k range, and maybe with models even further up the food chain. This is pretty remarkable when you consider that the D2v must support eight high-quality output channels—not just two—and that it incorporates tons of other onboard video, room correction, and input-switching technologies as well.
In practice, the D2v makes it easy to hear the sonic effects of even very subtle changes in associated system components, so that it is—in a very good way—a sonic chameleon that faithfully shows the characteristics both of the program material you play and of the equipment that you use. This speaks volumes for the D2v’s fundament neutrality. More so than most components, the D2v does a great job of capturing low-level information that presents spatial and reverberant cues in soundtracks and in music, and as a result one of its greatest strengths is it ability to create believable, 3D surround soundstages.