The Anthem D2V has been my main recommendation for a home cinema processor for many years and I have extensively tested it against the majority of rivals. With the advent of Auro 3d and Dolby Atmos there are now a host of new contenders in the shape of Datasat, Storm and Trinov and with both the Anthem and Datasat LS10 in the showroom I have run a few tests to compare old with new.

First off the Anthem is showing its age when it comes to the interface and its facilities and although I think it looks purposeful you could say it looks busy – either way it is not as slick as the simple faceplate of the LS10. Feature wise the D2V is lagging against the latest and greatest from Japan but the LS10 is a stripped down model to say the least and is very much an audio processor even compared to the D2v. The Anthem has the benefit of rudimentary video scaling and a host of legacy video inputs as well as a wealth of analogue and digital connections and one of the finest eq systems; the LS10 has a straightforward HDMI only video pass through and limited connectivity for analogue and digital. With most high performing processors forming the heart of a high quality cinema the connections that both offer are likely to be more than adequate and it is the audio performance that is the key factor.

The Anthem is limited to 7.2 outputs whereas the Datasat can offer 13.2 and Auro 3D to make the most of them.  I tested in 7.2 as the extra channels that the Datasat offers gives a clear advantage to the sound and immersion in the movie. I set up the D2V with the ARC eq system and as expected the sound presented appeared larger than the room with excellent steering front to back and a real sense of space in the mix. The Datasat doesn’t have an auto EQ and I ran the system unadjusted to begin with; the sound was equally as large but far more direct with a punchy and energetic sound. The rear effects were far more in play as a result and the whole mix was far livelier. With subtle adjustments in the eq the sound tightened up and kept up the pace.

Turning to stereo performance and the more flowing presentation of the Anthem came through to its advantage. I tested the D2V with no equalisation to directly compare to the Datasat.  Music was engaging and rewarding both with the straight analogue input and a digital feed to the DAC. On the Datasat the 2ch playback was less impressive and far more matter of fact, instruments were played out accurately but without the coherence you would expect. The analogue input delivered the poorest results although things improved with the digital input there was still a lack of engagement. More work on the EQ could perhaps remedy that but the digital edge to the music was very apparent.

To my mind the LS10 is a focussed cinema processor and sticking to that task it excels – the modest functions and inputs are no hindrance to the product given the sound it can provide. Add in the 13ch ability plus the new audio formats and you have a fantastic product that will form part of my recommendations for dedicated rooms going forward. The Anthem on the other hand excels with a music/movie system – if you are running large front speakers with an eye on music then the Anthem still delivers.  If you limit your system to 7ch’s then your cinema will be in for a treat as well.

The cinema sound was tested with a Triad speaker system, Velodyne subwoofers and AB Amplifiers. I watched a variety of clips from Skyfall, Jaws, Gran Torino and Muse Live in Rome. The 2ch sound was tested with Dali Rubicon speakers and PMC Twenty 26s along with a Plinius SB-301 – I worked my way through G in my collection and listened to Goldfrapp, Garbage, Groove Armada The Gotan Project and Gorillaz.

Visit the Anthem website HERE

Visit the Datasat website HERE

Next Test: The Datasat LS10 versus the Datasat RS20i to see how the Dirac room equalisation software improves things.