B&K ref50 vs Anthem AVM20

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by BrianChim, Nov 23, 2002.

  1. BrianChim

    BrianChim Agent

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    I know the ref50 has only been out a few weeks, but does anyone have any comparisons or impressions on how these two compare. I wouldn't mind even theoretical advantages or disadvantages to start (based on specs). Any info would be helpful as I think I have narrowed it down to these to for a dedicated 100% home theater pre/pro.
     
  2. BrianChim

    BrianChim Agent

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    Anyone?
     
  3. BrianChim

    BrianChim Agent

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    OK, to get things started...I read on another forum (AVS) that the notch filter is a nice option that the ref50 has that the Anthem does not.
     
  4. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    Given the comments John Kotches made recently about the digital front end of the Ref50 and AVM-20 being developed by the same group, plus both having the same Motorola chipset, most of the features between the two are the same. Some of the differences are:
    • The Ref50 is $400 retail less than the AVM-20
    • The Ref50 has the Presets feature, the AVM-20 does not
    • The Ref50 has a notch filter as an option, the AVM-20 does not
    • The Ref50 has a few more inputs than the AVM-20
    • The AVM-20 has variable sub phase control, the Ref50 has an invert option
    • The AVM-20 can have 2nd zone balanced outputs, the Ref50 does not
    • The AVM-20 has an additional proprietary surround mode (AnthemLogic), the Ref50 does not appear to have one
    Of course, there is the matter of which one sounds better to you in your system. That might be the tie breaker should the above differences not tip the scale one way or another.
    Michael
     
  5. BrianChim

    BrianChim Agent

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    Good point. Can someone comment on sound quality. I have read in the past that some have preferred the sound quality of the Anthem AVM20 to the ref30, and would assume the ref30 should sound similar in character to the ref50. I don't remember the exact phrase used to describe the ref30 sound. It seems to me however, that especially in home theater/movie playback there is not going to be a big difference. And yes, I know, listen to both in my system to see which sounds better to me. Comments appreciated though.
     
  6. Guy Usher

    Guy Usher Supporting Actor

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    Flip a coin on this one. . . Why do they make Cadillacs different colors?
    IMO since Sonic Frontiers is now owned by Paridigm and again IMO starting to suffer from the Big Buisness, all for the bottom line mentality I become curious. Never thought much of B&K processors, fine amps, I suppose they have to have a Pre-Pro with their name on it.
    I really liked Antmems attitude when they first came out, big bang for the buck, innovative trying to place their Pre-Pro in the 2400 spot and do more, better than anything in the 3500 slot. Not so long ago you couldnt find anything negative about anything from Anthem now I am not so sure, still a fine piece just more to think about. At this point I would still put my money in the Anthem, if for no other reason than its heritage.
     
  7. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    The key point here is that the analog stage following the digital stage is of critical importance. So, you still have that portion in the picture.

    B&K gets more unit purchases of the digital core, as they are purchasing for both the processor (Ref50) and receiver (AVR-507). Given the higher volume of purchases, it is quite possible that it lowers the manufacturing cost enough to account for the lower price of the Ref50.

    Regards,
     
  8. Paul Gere

    Paul Gere Second Unit

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    Michael's list is a good comparison, but I've got two more "features" to add:

    "Tech support" and "Upgrades"

    I've read some dissappointing posts about B&K's service/ response level and availability of upgrades. I state this just from memory of what I've read around here and have no firsthand experience, positive or negative.

    Compare that to Sonic Frontiers in the last 3-4 mo:
    = v.1.16 (free software download), v.2.03 (hardware [purchase required] and free software download), v.2.06 (free software download).

    = To boot, I've had several email correspondences with Tech support that were same-day responses.

    If you want a world class company with responsive personal support, I highly recommend the folks at Sonic Frontiers/Anthem. You'll get many more folks from this forum who'd agree, I'm sure.
     
  9. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    One more difference that I was reminded of over at AVS:
    • The AVM-20 can have separate or global speaker crossovers, the Ref50 only has a global crossover
    Brian,
    "I have read in the past that some have preferred the sound quality of the Anthem AVM20 to the ref30, and would assume the ref30 should sound similar in character to the ref50."
    I have had a chance to listen to the Ref50 in the same system that had the Ref30. As far as I could tell, there was little sonic difference between them.
    Michael
     
  10. BrianChim

    BrianChim Agent

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    Michael,

    How would you characterize the B&K "sound".
     
  11. Marc_E

    Marc_E Supporting Actor

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    Guy,
    How is SF suffering from 'Big Business'? Have you been following the upgrade thread and SF's rapid turn-around on minor software bugs/glitches discovered by owner's? What big company reacts the way they have? IMO None.

    Paul is 100% correct and to expand on the software thing, V2.0, then 2.03 (correct DPLII bug), then v2.06 (correct another small bug and add DD-EX auto function and a few other things) all in about 3 months!

    B&Ks track record: IMO poor CS response, long wait on Ref30 upgrade (yes due to chip availability) and, I may be mistake about this, but not upgrade on the ref30 until after the release of the ref50 (replacement) AND how much is that upgrade? I do not know myself but I would bet it was more than SF's $300 upgrade.

    My 2cents.
    I would (and did) pick Anthem and love my AVM-20. Not to say the the ref30/50 aren't great to. I think it is a coin toss as Guy put it as far as the units go. The above is what tipped my decision.

    Marc
     
  12. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    "How would you characterize the B&K "sound"."
    EDIT: I originally had my comments here about my in-home audition of the Ref30 and the AVM-20, but have decided to remove them. While I truly believe that the AVM-20 has provided a measure of audio improvement in our system that several other processors and preamps did not (including the Ref30), it doesn't matter. It is our preferences that made the AVM-20 a good fit for us, possibly along with system synergy. I will try to not generate these kinds of detailed comparisons in future posts. The remainder of my response below is left intact.
    Which is to say that anyone considering either of these processors (along with the others in this price range, like the Stage One, SP1.7, RDC-7, TG III, etc.) should really try to audition them at home, over a couple of days and for at least several hours each day. I realize that this isn't always possible, but to rely on anyone else's opinion (including and especially mine! [​IMG] ) may lead you to a disappointing decision.
    Michael
     
  13. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    Guy,

    "Not so long ago you couldnt find anything negative about anything from Anthem now I am not so sure, still a fine piece just more to think about."

    Mostly due to growing pains, I would wager. Anthem has not been much of a player in the surround processor "game" until recently, but they are making up a lot of ground quickly. By doing so, some problems have arisen, but as has been commented on earlier, Anthem does take its customer support seriously and has been quite responsive to their AVM-20 owners, both in communication and with software fixes.

    Michael
     
  14. Guy Usher

    Guy Usher Supporting Actor

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    BTW I did say I would put my money on the Anthem, I have some concerns about their growth, however with Sonic Frontiers (Paridigm) behind them those concerns arent about sound Quality or service issues. I have not been impressed with B&K except for their Amps which I do like. Again just my opinion, based on my experiences.
     
  15. Gary Press

    Gary Press Auditioning

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    Earlier this summer I requested information from both B&K and Anthem. Anthem immediately answered my e-mails with good information and professionalism - I was treated as an appreciated future customer.

    I'm still waiting for B&K to reply to multiple e-mails.

    Listen with your ears; judge the flexibility you need for daily operation; and then take into account the ability to communicate with the manufacturer.

    Happy Listening - cause that's what it's all about!

    Gary
     
  16. Gary Press

    Gary Press Auditioning

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    Earlier this year I requested information from B&K and Anthem.

    Anthem replied immediately to my e-mails with helpful information; professionalism and showing respect for a possible future customer.

    I'm still waiting for any reply to my multiple e-mails sent to B&K.

    Compare by first listening with your ears; judging the flexibility needed for comfortable daily operation and then take into account your ability to communicate with a manufacturer.

    Happy Listening - cause that's what it's all about.

    Gary
     
  17. Joe Burger

    Joe Burger Auditioning

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  18. Brian Fitterman

    Brian Fitterman Stunt Coordinator

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  19. Jerry Klawiter

    Jerry Klawiter Screenwriter

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    I would much rather speak to a tech within seconds
    when I have a problem or need and answer, I rather not spend a lot of time typing trying to get my point across and then get a reply that is not right because my point was'nt clear enough, Then only to start all over again with a new email and possibly a new tech and again wait for the reply.
    I agree, B&K should just remove the email from the web page and place their Toll Free number up instead.
    I see nearly the same discussion at AVS.
    So here is a cut-paste of my reply posted there.
    Most people don't or can not understand the complete flexibility of the software and the Ref 50 and a few of the other B&K products.
    The pre-sets are plain and simply to die for,[​IMG]
    You can turn any and every adjustment the ref 50 is capable of into a single pre-set.
    That means you could if you so desired, set your Ref 50 up in 40 completely different configurations with all the available settings set differently and make each one of these as a single pre-set, you get 40 for zone 1 and 40 for zone 2. One could easily go overboard here, but it sure makes life nice for those dialed in 5 speaker configurations, then one for seven speaker configurations, Say you like to listen to FM rock in two channel, But you like FM Jazz in 1-7 channels with or without additional processing, make those your pre-sets. And so on with all the different sources with these speaker configurations. Get the idea? some sources just are not as good as others,
    The ref 50 makes it very easy to set these all up to your liking, Then save the settings as your default if you like, just in case of a long term power outage, or save them on your computer. Now if something goes very wrong. Your back into business within seconds. I think everyone enjoys tweaking some, But once you have it, you rather not loose it completely.
    You can even take a analog dvd-a or SACD input from the 5.1 ins and apply processing if you would like. Maybe you have a not so good sacd disc that is only two channel, you can make it a PL-II seven channel or five or what ever. Even stereo seven or five channel, or add DTS NEO to it.
    You can add any processing to that input if you so choose to, with any speaker configuration., or keep it in the direct mode.
    I will not say that these configurations will always give you the best sound,
    But with all the different listening tastes out there, It's that flexibility that counts and it's fun to play with, at times sounds pretty darn good!
    You have control over the delay settings and such.
    So now instead of one or two given proprietary settings from the manufacture. You can make your own and save them as a pre-set.
    The MX-700 remote is a great remote, I personally use a Pronto Pro, But I would not have a problem using the Ref 50 remote for every day use
    An AVM20 owner will need to step in and let me know if some of these options are capable with the AVM20?
    Jerry
     
  20. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    B&K sucks if you contact them via e-mail. If you call them up they are very prompt and knowledgeable and will go the extra length to explain/discuss issues with their products. They will also do a lot of upgrades (atleast on their amps) and fixing free of charge even after the warranty expires. They, in short, stand fully behind their products. I agree that in this day and age they ought to be better with their website but I figured its not one of their top priorities. They update their site after the products hit the streets. They never respond to e-mail (atleast they never have, mine). I guess they are just not IT savvy. Otherwise their customer service is top notch and I wouldn't have any problems buying from them. I find it much better to call up and be hooked up to a tech service rep in one minute rather than wait a few hours for e-mail response that doesn't answer the right questions and then go back and forth. It always takes me more time to resolve a problem via e-mail than on the phone directly with a rep.

    So I wouldn't worry about their customer service and focus solely on the performance and features of their products.

    My 2 cents.
     

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