Anthem Room Correction Overview
Anthem receivers have been Audio Advice favorites for years. Anthem’s history of making robust power amps enables them to leverage their amp technology and put it in their receivers, making them some of the best sounding home theater receivers we have ever heard. Two other factors have also helped them stand out from the crowd, great sounding DAC’s, and excellent surround sound processing that puts you right in the middle of the action, but Anthem's icing on the cake has been Anthem Room Correction (ARC).
The dimensions of a room affect the way a speaker sounds in the room due to the ratio of room dimensions causing dips and peaks in the sound. Just a few years ago, home electronics did not have the computer processing power available to do room correction without negatively impacting the sound. In recent years, many types of room correction processes have been developed, with ARC being one of our favorites.
Anthem has a distinct advantage over other companies in the room correction area by having participated in the ground-breaking Athena project at the NRC, investigating the relationships between listening environments, psychoacoustics, and digital signal processing. We have always been super impressed with ARC in how big a difference it can make in how your system sounds. It can be truly incredible!
Today we are taking our first look at the latest version of ARC, called ARC Genesis. Audio Advice was lucky enough to get a beta version of ARC Genesis to play with before it was released, so we thought it would be fun to give you a glimpse at what you can expect with this new version of ARC.
One reason we continue to be impressed with Anthem is how they did this upgrade to ARC. Many current or previous versions of Anthem receivers are compatible with ARC Genesis—a free upgrade! That’s right, an improved room correction technology that is free to Anthem owners of ARC based products. Anthem could have used this to launch a new generation of receivers, tempting owners to upgrade. Instead, they rewarded their loyal owner base with a free upgrade! Please note, ARC Genesis does not work with the first generation of ARC compatible products which relied on RS-232 connections for data transmission. If your Anthem, Paradigm, or MartinLogan product was compatible with ARC-2, Paradigm PBK, or MartinLogan PBK, it works with ARC Genesis.
Anthem Room Correction (ARC) Genesis Improvements
Anthem has finally addressed the first question half of our clients ask us about Anthem Room Correction, will it work with my Mac? Well, until now the answer was no, but with Anthem Room Correction Genesis, we are happy to say the answer is yes! No longer will Mac owners have to borrow someone’s Windows laptop to set up their system. We are delighted to see this.
With Anthem Room Correction's initial version, it could take hours to do all of the calibrations. ARC-2 significantly improved the speed, and we have to say ARC Genesis is even faster. Of course the more speakers you need to measure, the longer it takes, but we found ARC Genesis to be super fast for a room correction program.
Another significant improvement is the ability to go back and redo a measurement without having to start completely over—especially handy if external noise comes into play (think a barking dog) on your last measurement. With ARC-2, you had to start completely over, but with Anthem Room Correction Genesis, you can redo that measurement.
Playing on the theme of making things easier, Anthem Room Correction Genesis also lets you redo things and tell the system which speakers you want to remeasure. In the older ARC-2 world, if you moved around your main speakers or subwoofer or upgraded some of your speakers, you would have to remeasure everything, but with Genesis, you can specify which speakers you want to remeasure. For those of us who like to play around with things, this is a big deal!
The user interface got a complete facelift with Genesis. ARC-2 was pretty decent, but Anthem did a complete redo of the interface for ARC Genesis. In Genesis, many things previously not exposed to the end user are now adjustable.
For the audiophile, Anthem Room Correction Genesis is now fully flexible on the frequencies it adjusts. With ARC-2, you could set a frequency limit on how high up in frequency the adjustments occurred but it was global, for all speakers. Let’s say you have high-performance electrostatic speakers, for example, a MartinLogan. MartinLogan suggests that you not apply any correction above 300 to 400Hz. With Anthem Room Correction Genesis the limit is adjustable per pair of speakers, so your main left and right speakers can be different from your center, which can be different from your surrounds, and so on.
By exposing more of the behind the scenes adjustments present in Anthem Room Correction, there are risks of some users pushing things too far by applying too much boost, especially in the lower end. ARC takes this into account when it makes the final adjustments to keep from driving an amplifier or speaker beyond its limits. Sometimes a room has such a significant dip at a specific frequency that it is impossible to correct for it. We like the fact ARC takes all of this into account.
Anthem's Improved Anthem Room Correction Software Screenshots:
This screen is where you tell the system the exact configuration for your Anthem receiver. The visuals change as you select different speaker configs which is a great way to confirm you have selected the proper setup.
For our example here we have a 5.1 system. You then tell the software how many passes you want to take on the measurements.
Here we see the result of the first set of measurements.
This screen is where you can play around with the curve before ARC does its calculations. Room Gain is an interesting aspect that is unique to ARC. The Anthem team believes your brain and ears get subtle cues from the room and if the room is causing bass boost, you should probably leave it that way from a level perspective. You are now able to change this if you wish. As you move these sliders, you can visually see what happens, which is cool!
These two shots give you a visual example of what happens if we apply a deep bass boost. The top black line represents the bass increase we programmed in.
Tilt is another nice feature that is visually easy to see what it does. The top shot shows a roll-off on the upper frequencies starting at 500Hz, whereas the bottom one shows a boost starting at 4650k. If you want to build a target curve that has some roll-off or tip-up at the top end, it's simple to do using the tilt function.
You have much control over the subs. With ARC Genesis you can set the high-frequency extension, low-frequency extension, and slope.
Other adjustments to the target curve can be made here as well. You see this option for all of the channels as pairs, which is super flexible.
In our testing, and speaking with the engineers at Anthem about ARC Genesis, we have come to the conclusion the new version is all about making it more straightforward, exposing far more adjustments, and enabling the person who likes to play around with things significantly speed up measurements as you no longer have to start from scratch each time. The result, when you compare ARC-2 to ARC Genesis is going to be pretty similar in most rooms from a sonic perspective if you leave things alone and run the software.
However, for someone who wants to play around with it, you’ll find it super fast to make small changes, listen, change again and hear what happened. You can even do one change at a time now to hear the difference.
Our advice is varied based upon the type of listener you are. If you are more of a casual listener and are happy with the sound of your Anthem product, there is no need to rush out and use ARC Genesis. On the other hand, if you love to play around with your sound, ARC Genesis is a blast, and you should download it as soon as possible!
We want to thank the team at Anthem for continuing to push the audio limits which enables us all to benefit from the improved sound!