As some of you know, I recently acquired my AVM-20 and I promised some of you I would post a review on this board after getting a chance to play with my new toy. Seeing as I will be going to the East Regional Final in Syracuse, N.Y. on Sunday, I figured I would post this now so I would have most of Saturday to answer any questions. First of all, let me describe my system for a starting reference point. My speakers are all Paradigm Reference Series, 40's in front, 20's in the rear and the CC. I have an Anthem MCA-5II amp with a Sony SCD-555ES SACD player, Sony DVP-360 DVD player and an Anthem AVM-20 processor. Interconnects are all Outlaw Audio PCA's, with Tributaries and DH-Labs digital Coax. My speaker wire is DH-Labs Silver Sonic T-14. My subwoofer is a Mirage BPS-100. Everything is calibrated using Avia and I am NOT running my sub hot at all. I am presently running a 5.1 setup only as space constraints prevent a 7.1 setup, so I cannot answer any THX-EX questions or anything of extended surround nature. Seeing as most of you are looking at this processor for Home Theater applications I will start there. I've had the unit for a full 7 days and have watched about 5 movies in full and parts of others. I theme I am going to continue to come back to in this review is clarity. This processor absolutely imparts no sound of it's own onto the signal. It is just such a clean sounding output, it's truly amazing. One thing I love about this unit is how well it separates sounds. For instance, when there is a bunch of activity going on-screen, it never jumbles the sound. There is no "wall of sound". Every sound is separated from one another. What I mean by that is if there is music in the backround and a fight going on-screen, you can easily pick apart minute details in the sound. Nothing is lost or clouded. Gravel under the shoes, wind through the trees, everything is clearly defined even with the presence of other ambiant sounds or music soundtracks. This unit picks up the faintest details and really lets you know they are there. A good example is in the movie "Rock Star". Say what you want about this movie as a film, but for a reference, it's great. Plenty of concert footage and great use of surround applications. There is a scene in the movie where Mark Wahlberg's character is auditioning for the band Steel Dragon . He sings about 30 seconds of material and the band cuts him off. He's standing there in complete silence, crapping his pants while the band decides to keep him as their singer or not. Very faintly, he's got a rapid breathing going but it is very very subtle. The AVM-20 picks it up and really lets you know that the character is waiting with baited breath on the outcome. Details like this really add to the enjoyment of the film and it's stuff like this my previous receiver just could not replicate. As far as surround usage goes, again in this film you really feel like you are in the middle of the crowd. Surrounds are much more prominant and have a far greater impact with the AVM-20. There is a feature with this unit that provides a center channel EQ depending on what size TV you have. I have tried it on all settings, and I feel it's basically a worthless feature. It sounds great no matter where you set it. Dialogue is clear and detailed. If you had a larger room or maybe a unique placement of your center channel this feature may have some benefit, but I couldn't really tell much difference to tell you the truth. I must say that there were certain material I used that really shined with this processor and that included "Rock Star", "Die Hard" in DTS, and the Metallica S&M DVD concert. For music, I have no complaints at all. It really gives the music some air. Details like picks on the guitar strings really come into focus. It's tough to describe what something "sounds" like using words but the best way I can describe music on this thing is that it appears to be unrestrained and almost played at a quicker pace. Soundstage is so good on this unit, that while playing Suzanne Vega's "Solitude Standing" I actually had to get off my ass and go to my center channel speaker to see if it was on. I really thought I was playing in a multichannel mode even when I was in 2-channel. As far as soundfields go, I'm not a big fan of these modes, so I am biased. I tried listening to music in ALL of the soundfields. Hall, Church, Club, 5 Channel Stereo, etc. I found that the Cinema Logic mode was well done with some recordings and not with others. Some recordings took the vocals and kept them in the L/R channels (which I prefer), some recordings threw it into the center (which I hate). So, I found myself really enjoying this mode for some material and hating it for others. I hated all the "artificial" soundmodes like Club, Hall, Theater and Church. Just not my cup of tea. Also, I tried the 5 channel Stereo mode and thought it would be fantastic for parties, but not for general listening. Hearing two full channels behind you can be distracting, but like I said, useful for parties. An interesting thing I noticed was when doing A/B comparisons of the digital out on my DVD player and 555 unit. I would be hard pressed with a gun to my head to tell you the difference in the two units when used as a transport with the Anthem. This is a HUGE compliment to the AVM-20 as everyone knows the Sony 360 is one of the WORST DVD players ever made. It sounded HORRIBLE when used as a transport with my previous receiver and now sounds like a $1200 player with this processor. Truly amazing at how good it sounds in this mode. I have a great SACD player but use the unit as a digital transport for Redbook because the Anthem DACS are so good, plus I don't run full range speakers so I can use the bass management and time alignment features this way. Music sounds incredible on this unit and that's all I can say. I set my crossover at 60htz, although I've played with it and I'm not sure if I don't like it better at 80. Analog passthrough for SACD is nothing short of breathtaking. There is absolutely no grain to the music, no additional sound in the background and any brightness I experienced before the Anthem is now gone. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" sounds awesome as does Billy Joel's "52nd Street" in multichannel, and I know this is not the best of my SACD recordings. Use and setup of the feature set is incredibly easy after just an hour with the remote and manual. I can navigate the menu set without the use of any on-screen display. Speaking of the display...it's one of the major drawbacks to the unit. Sometimes, depending on ambiant lighting, I can barely see the display. Othertimes it's crystal clear. I don't know why Anthem didn't use a black background here. Would have been much easier to see. I don't use any macros, never have, so the remote suits me just fine. Controls all of my gear perfectly and even my two female roommates can use it easily and that tells me it's not as bad as some have said previously. Is this a perfect unit? Of course not. It's $1500 at least more expensive than the Outlaw 950 and doesn't provide DTS-ES or Dolby Pro-Logic II. I would be interested to see how DPL-II sounds for TV applications when the upgrade comes about. I'm also interested in Sonic Frontiers Music Logic mode they are going to debut with this upgrade for music applications. All and all, this unit is at least twice as expensive as any of my other gear. However, I have ZERO buyers remorse and really feel that this unit has measurably increased my enjoyment of both music and movies and that's the biggest compliment I can pay a piece of gear. You should really look into this unit if you love to hear things as they were intended to be heard. I love it. It's awesome.