Published On: August 2, 2009

Anthem 225 Integrated Amplifier Reviewed

Published On: August 2, 2009

Anthem 225 Integrated Amplifier Reviewed

Packed with, you guessed it, 225 watts, the 225 from Anthem has a lot more power than your average integrated amp. Even more impressive is its price tag: only $1,499. Andrew Robinson gets one it to put it through its paces.

Integrated amps have always made a great deal of sense to me. A good integrated can get you all of, if not better, performance then their separate siblings, save you a bit on cables and shelf space and cost less than most a-la carte options. Furthermore, given the current state of the economy an integrated amp not only feeds the audiophile need without going to debtors prison, it can also prove to be a fine center piece for a recession proof home theater.

Take the Anthem 225 Integrated Amp reviewed here for instance. It retails for $1,499 and features a 225-Watt internal stereo amplifier, a great preamp complete with a very capable MM/MC phono preamp and an RS-232 port for integrating it into a control system or home theater. The cost of Anthem's own MCA 20 Stereo Amplifier, which churns out the same 225-Watts per channel is $1,500 making the 225 a bargain if not a steal right there.

Additional Resources
Read integrated amp reviews from the likes of NAD, Krell, Arcam and many others.
Read a review of Krell's FBI Integrated amp.
Read a review of the NAD C325BEE Integrated amp.

The 225's build quality is first rate and has a level of control and adjustability not usually found with integrated amplifiers at any cost. Beyond its good looks, great features and even better value the 225 has a single, dedicated, front-mounted Aux input for portable devices such as iPods or iPhones.

Now, about that home theater comment I made earlier. My very first foray into home theater wasn't a 5.1 rig the type that usually comes to mind when thinking of a home theater. It was a simple stereo with my TV and DVD sound being fed to a stereo receiver, which powered a large pair of JBL loudspeakers. While I've come a long way since then, I have to say, rocking a two channel home theater with the 225 serving as the system's heart and soul isn't a bad way to go. If you're willing to allow your display or video switcher handle the video and run analog audio to the 225, you can mate damn near any speaker to the 225's massive power output and never look back. I didn't. I've racked up more hours enjoying the 225 in my office feeding a pair of Paradigm Studio 100's with video going to a Samsung HDTV than my reference home theater a floor below.

I know what you're thinking, that's not a home theater. If I put three speakers across the front and two in the back yet didn't tell you only the left and right mains were on I'd bet good money you'd think they were.

High Points
• The Anthem 225's terrific build quality exudes class and just feels solid and reliable from the moment you take it out of the box. It feels like it should cost more.
• Once it's given a chance to warm up (10-15 minutes) its sound is sublime. Seductive yet authoritative, a nimble and airy treble accentuated by a smooth, ever so slightly warm midrange and rockin' bass response is the best way to sum up the Anthem 225. This baby has musical heart and a lot of soul.
• The 225 plays nice with all sorts of music. This isn't an amp only for small ensemble music and Diana Krall, for it can rock AC/DC until the cops show up without becoming harsh or fatiguing.
• The soundstage and dynamic prowess of the Anthem 225 is off the charts good and has no rivals in its price range that I'm aware of.
• While the 225 is only a stereo integrated amp, it is phenomenal when it comes to movie soundtracks and dialog. Cue up a Blu-ray disc and set the disc's audio to uncompressed stereo and prepare to be amazed.
• The 225's internal MM/MC phono preamp seems like icing on the cake, while rather impressive, I'd still call the 225 a bargain without it.


Low Points
The 

225's remote is great to have but it is a bit cluttered and while the buttons are fully backlit (pay attention competition) they are a touch on the small side. Also, the volume control via the remote is a bit touchy, taking a bit of skill to get it just right. 

• I would've liked to see a dedicated subwoofer or LFE output for I can't help but think people who would purchase the 225 might be more inclined to buy stand mounted bookshelf speakers and mate them to a subwoofer than traditional floor standing speakers. 
• Poorly recorded material, especially lower bit rate MP3's are going to be exposed for what they are when played back through the 225. It's not quite the Krell KID when it comes to shaping up downloaded files, keep the bit rate up (256 kbps or better) and you should be fine.

Conclusion
For just under $1,500 retail the Anthem 225 Integrated Amplifier is an astounding centerpiece for any audiophile system not to mention one of the best bargains out there today. If you're a little tight on cash and space the Anthem 225 isn't a bad option when it comes to building a very simple, yet very effective, home theater on a budget. While it won't handle your video processing it will handle anything the latest blockbuster will throw at you and your speakers. While there are cheaper integrated amplifiers out there, very few, if any, have the magic touch of the Anthem 225.

Additional Resources
• Read integrated amp reviews from the likes of NAD, Krell, Arcam and many others.
• Read a review of Krell's FBI Integrated amp.
• Read a review of the NAD C325BEE Integrated amp.

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