ANTHEM ARC GENESIS RELEASE AND PARADIGM PERSONA AT PULSE CINEMA
We were at Pulse Cinema to check out Anthem's new ARC Genesis room correction software as well as spending some time with models from Paradigm's flagship speaker range, Persona. Naturally, we also seized the opportunity to have a look around Pulse Cinema's base of operations and its three main cinema rooms.
John Bagby, son of Paradigm's co-founder Scott Bagby, presented to us Anthem's third generation of ARC. Dubbed ARC Genesis, the software is now available for both Mac and Windows users. In addition to its streamlined UI, ARC Genesis offers several new performance enhancements, including the ability to phase-align speakers and subwoofers. That latter feature is available for Anthem's STR Series products.
What was great to hear is that Anthem doesn't forget those of you with hardware that's a few years old; ARC Genesis will appear as a firmware update for many of Anthem's established products already out in the wild.
As John Bagby eloquently put it:
We spend time and money in R&D testing and then building speakers to the highest standard possible so that they sound great only for the customer to put it in their crappy room.
Before you start bashing out an angry email to John, who is a rather lovely guy, we get what he means. You see, very few of us have the perfect room in which to house speakers. Anthem and Paradigm have the largest anechoic chamber in the world, whereas we will most likely drop a pair of speakers (or more) in a room with wooden furniture, glass-topped tables, large windows, etc. However, we still want our speakers to perform just as they promise.
Enter room correction. Anthem Room Correction (ARC) technology understands the acoustic characteristics of listening rooms and optimises the audio performance of 2-channel and home theatre audio products to deliver the best possible performance within each unique place.
In short, the software effectively tames resonances, reflective surfaces, and other obstacles that can negatively affect what you hear, especially at low frequencies. For instance, the woofer in the Martin Logan speakers we heard last week and the quartet of woofers per side in the Persona 9H floorstanders we were enjoying at Pulse Cinema, both have active low-ends and so benefit from ARC Genesis.
ARC Genesis also analyses the frequency response of speakers and subwoofers to calculate custom high-pass and low-pass filter settings that ensure natural-sounding levels of deep, well-blended bass throughout an audio system. Moreover, the products are supplied with microphones to take the readings; some specially calibrated serialised mics.
As well as supporting Windows and now, more recently, Mac, ARC Mobile for iOS and Android also supports the ARC Genesis feature set.
The new enhancements for ARC Genesis speed up the optimisation algorithm and improve the quality of results. Further refinements enhance the software's ability to detect and automatically select crossover points, analyse room gain, and calculate target curves for each speaker within a system. When used with Anthem's STR Series products ARC Genesis, aligns the phase of loudspeakers and subwoofers, which is a lovely touch.
Most users will easily spot and welcome the completely redesigned user interface. The improved UI features include a guided workflow, easy to understand language, in-line help menus, interactive acoustic measurement graphs, and the ability to replace measurements on a speaker by speaker basis after finishing the initial set of measures.
We are really looking forward to putting ARC Genesis to the test soon. It certainly seemed to be doing the business in the 2-channel as well as 5.1, and 7.2.1 systems we heard.
Paradigm's flagship range is entirely designed, engineered, and crafted in Canada. Taking five years of state-of-the-art design and engineering to create them, the company is rightly proud of them.
At Pulse Cinema, we were treated to the compact standmount Persona B (above) and the range-topping 9H. Both models presented an impressive level of realism and transparency. What was even more surprising was the fact that the Persona range of speakers aren't as scarily priced as we were expecting, especially after spending some time with them.
One of the keys to Persona's engaging sound is the use of 99.9% pure beryllium. Beryllium is arguably one of the best diaphragm material and, until now, it was found only in very high-end speakers considerably more expensive (no other speaker at this price level uses it). The material is so chosen because it is exponentially stiffer and lighter than other premium diaphragm materials. It also is pretty much dead as far as resonance goes. That all adds up to a superior transient response and virtual transparency, with low audible colouration.
The Persona speakers use beryllium for both its 7-inch midrange and 1-inch tweeter drivers. The resulting sonic response is instantaneous, detailed, and very dynamic. The vocals are consistently perfectly clear.
The Persona 9H looks stunning in the blue finish before us. Its commanding bass response is due to the cabinet not only sporting the pair of visible woofers, but there are another pair of identical back-firing low-end drivers in each side. That's a total of four 8.5-inch active bass drivers per side enabling balanced vibration-cancelling.
Paradigm describes the 9H as:
[A] 6-driver, 3-1/2-way hybrid floorstanding system with active-bass acoustic suspension. Its room correction only applies below 500Hz, and there is no room correction or active circuitry that plays any role in affecting the sound of your system in a range from some 40kHz to 500Hz.
As mentioned earlier, that prodigious low-end can be room corrected through the wonders of ARC Genesis.
Amazingly, the 9H is exceptionally efficient. Its sensitivity is rated at 96dB in-room meaning that you can use low-powered triode tube amps for the treble and midrange with the 9H's active electronics handling the low-end.
You might have noticed the slightly hypnotic grilles over the tweeter and mid drivers. Not only do they look ace, but they are also specially designed waveguides.
The Paradigm Persona 9Hs were being driven by Anthem's STR Pre and Power amplifiers, whereas the Persona B was being pushed along by the equally tempting Anthem STR integrated.
Price and availability
ARC Genesis is available now for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android through a free for download from AnthemAV.com.
The Paradigm Persona range is also available now in a wide array of finishes and customisable options. The Persona B costs £7,809 and the 9H is priced at £33,715.
This outing was, of course, also a chance for Pulse Cinemas to show us around their impressive base not far from Stanstead Airport.
Being predominantly focused on creating jaw-dropping cinemas for discerning customers, there are three main demo rooms - one could fit in your average garage, one dubbed the 'Media Room' which is an upmarket livingroom that has a totally hidden system featuring both television and projector screen that appears at the press of a button.
Finally, the flagship reference cinema which is as impressive as it sounds. Moreover, even their boardroom is kitted out with their entry-level 5.1 system powered by Anthem and utilises Paragim's 'Home' range of in-ceiling speakers. To be honest, we'd be happy with what we heard in this room. Again, ARC Genesis was being used here to mitigate the large, polished boardroom table sat right in the middle of the room.
In the Morrocan-styled Media Room, we were surprised to discover that all that rich, low-end was being provided by one of Paradigm's Seismic subs - this is basically a single driver from the Persona 9H.
Taking into consideration that this compact sub was hidden in a cabinet below the screen, the sound from it was both musical and full. We were played Pappa Was a Rolling Stone being performed live by Gregory Porter as his bassist soloed and grooved away on an upright bass. The rich tones, the sound of string against wood, were truly realistic. We should not have been so surprised, as earlier, on the Persona 9H, we heard a Leonard Coen track with the Canadian vocalist being supported by a fretless bass. Where Coen's baritone could have clashed with the plaintive bass the Persona was clear, decisive and, again, musical.
Check out more photos from Pulse Cinema and our time with Paradigm and Anthem in the gallery. Additionally, stay tuned for reviews of Paradigm's Persona also Anthem's ARC Genesis and STR amplifier.
StereoNET UK’s Editor and Bass playing gadget junkie. He’s captained the good ship GadgetyNews for over a decade, making low jargon high tech a very handy thing. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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