Dave’s Faves – Anthem Integrated 225

Anthem I-225 $2000, 225×2 Stereo Integrated Amp

 

Integrated Amp Anthem

Sometimes we look past the tried and true. If a product doesn’t have the latest bell, whistle, hat or horn, we tend to forget it. We shouldn’t.

Even though I’ve been in the biz since the early 70s, I’m guilty as charged too. Some products are just so good, for so long, that they remain remarkable even after the initial promo buzz subsides. Should they have to be redone every year to maintain their importance? Nope, not if they’re built that well to begin with. That is the case with the Anthem I-225.

In the Anthem I-225 we have a full analog, stereo integrated amp for $2k. The power is rated at 225×2 (8 ohms) but we’ve never seen one do less than 258×2. Let’s agree to call it 250×2 going forward.

The Anthem I-225 is so good that it will do a very nice job with any speaker we sell. Sure, Bryston power amps for thousands more will beat it. But since speakers matter more, you might get the speaker you love and get I-225 instead of spending $10k on electronics and backing into the speakers. Further, the I-225 is so good that it takes an entry priced speaker like the Paradigm Atom ($400pr) and makes it sound like a tower. Yep. The testosterone of this amp muscles up your speakers dramatically.

Let’s consider what a good power amp alone would run you. A nice 200×2 amp from a myriad of manufacturers starts at about $1500. That’s about 50×2 short of the I-225. Not that it’s a huge difference but, every little bit helps. The I-225 is a class A-B design, so it weighs 45 pounds and is very muscular- thick and powerful in the bass. It can throw bar bells around the room. We have some very fine Class D amps now. They are all leaner and thinner in the bass. If your speakers are capable of full figured sound… why not give it to them? Our offerings from Paradigm, Bryston and Magnepan really shine with I-225 in front of them.

To remind you again, I-225 is a full analog product. Both the pre and power sections are analog. The phono is analog. The volume control is motorized analog. The back lit remote is a smartie and will control other products. The power cable is detachable in case you want to go there. I-225 is a tank! Its heart is a massive Advanced Generation Toroidal Transformer. It has filter capacitance of 30,000uF. These are very low ESL-ESR Nichicon filter caps. These are fed by two precision voltage regulators. Amplifier topology is fully symmetrical complementary Class AB. It runs 6 bipolar output transistors per channel. Think 12 cylinders instead of the 4 most competitors use.

It has MM phono in, one set of XLR ins and 5 other high level ins. It has two outputs, one is a preamp out, the other is a line level out. It has tone controls with a tone defeat switch. It has a 1/4” headphone jack. It has an iPod mini input jack on the front. The speaker connecting is done through heavy duty binding posts as you would expect to see on a separate power amp.

Where is the DAC? Anthem says, the world of DACs is a moving target. Don’t build one into your preamp or integrated amp. They think anything you buy today, will be surpassed in short order. When you can buy a fantastic outboard DAC like the Emotiva DC-1 DAC $500, you can see their point.

The size is reasonable, 5 7/8h, 17 1/4w, 18d.

From Good Sound! Comparing I-225 to NAD C372 (150×2 $1000):
“The build qualities aren’t in the same league. The I-225 is 15 pounds heavier, and looks and feels like it. With its thicker, sturdier chassis and faceplate, it’s a far more substantial component that makes the C372 feel flimsy in comparison. The NAD sounded fatter and more rounded, whereas the Anthem had more bite and seemingly better control. The NAD C372 has a warm, friendly sound, but it’s not as refined or as precise as the Anthem. The Anthem costs more, but in the final analysis it was a clear step up from the C372, particularly when you factor in the features (including the excellent phono stage, build quality and power output. To me, that’s all worth it.”

Good Sound! Has it right. The dynamic range and bass impact are the best you’ll hear for $2k.
The midrange is balanced, not thin in balance with the bass. The top end is surprisingly smooth. All told, to find sound you will prefer, you’ll have to more than double the price and consider Bryston products. This makes I-225 a conspicuously smart purchase.