HiFi Meditations- Anthem Integrated 225
Written by Joseph Held.
We talked last week about the Peachtree integrated being a great solution for a smaller area and a reasonable budget. Today I would like to introduce you to a great integrated amp for a larger more sonically demanding application, and yes we get to keep the reasonable budget part of the equation! Every once and awhile a piece of gear comes down the road that is more than the sum of its parts or even its spec sheet. We think of them as little gems, the rare and unique confluence of a great sounding and performing product that does really punch above its weight class. You may be surprised to hear this but there are not many of them, but when we find a gem it gets embraced!
The Anthem Integrated 225 is just such a gem. Before I tell you all about it I should probably say a bit about Anthem. Anthem is a North American company that builds most of their stuff on this continent and when built over seas the attention to detail and build quality is much higher than one would expect. They don’t use “off the shelf” components, they design and build their own. Anthem has built a reputation for bullet proof amps, best in class audio processing, and bulletproof reliability. I have personally pushed a few Anthem amps to levels that would punish other amps into distortion or protection mode. I like it loud!
Back to the Integrated 225, as you may have guessed the Integrated 225 is a 225 watt per channel solid state amp with a volume control attached! The 225 follows Anthems mandate that all their amps offer unreal power at unreal price points. The 225 features buffered inputs for critical inputs to minimize cross talk, a phono preamp that will handle both MM and MC cartridges with an interesting active/passive eq system to handle the RIAA process, and a huge toroidal transformer that feeds Nichicon capacitors that store an impressive 30,000 microfarads.
The upshot is an amp that has an incredibly low noise floor and always has enough juice for any application and the phono preamp isn’t just a tacked on convenience, but a well thought out design.
So how does it sound? In a word; great!
I have had the privilege of hearing the 225 on everything from Paradigm Signature 20’s, Golden Ear Triton 2s, Sonus Faber Liutos, an old pair of Mirage towers, and about a half dozen other speakers. What I am always surprised buy is just how open and dynamic it makes any speaker sound, even speakers that aren’t know for those characteristics. The 225 doesn’t mind if you put on a low efficiency pair of 6 ohm speakers. It just seems to shrug and push even harder. When other amps in the same category would close down the top end, collapse the sound stage and become shrill, the human equivalent of “I need a break!” the Integrated 225 just keeps truckin’ right along. Like a professional marathon runner at a local 5K, the Anthem Integrated 225 doesn’t seem to break a sweat.
I was recently in a client’s home to help set up a 225 to a Sonos ZP90 and a Nakamichi CD player to the pair of Mirage towers I mentioned earlier. We had to make some compromises for speaker placement. And the room was less than ideal for a two channel system but I was stunned never the less. We got a good solid image and even though we were in a room with floor to ceiling windows on 3 of the walls the sound was sweet and didn’t get fatiguing at normal volume levels. Even the Sonos unit streaming internet radio was rich and full. Surprising for such a low resolution source, which are normally so tinny and weak sounding. Was it perfect? Certainly not but for internet radio I was stunned.
All in all the Integrated 225 is a great amp that offers both balanced and single ended connections, a great above class amp, a wonderful phono preamp and a straight forward robust design. I have yet to see one in for service and we see a lot of them leave for new homes! If you need tons of power, a decent phono amp and like it loud or just accurate at any volume, give a listen to the Integrated 225. I expect you will be as thrilled as I am!
And always remember; the proof is in the listening!
Do you have questions, ideas, or products you would like to see reviewed? Let me know what you want to see in this blog in the future! Contact me at JHeld@hifihousegroup.com