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Anthem MRX 710 AV Receiver Review

The best just got better

by Steve Withers Feb 3, 2014


Home AV review

99

SRP: £2199.00

Introduction

When Anthem launched their first AV receivers back at the end of 2010, it would be fair to say we were impressed.

The combination of the refined power and sophisticated processing found in both the MRX 700 and MRX 300 resulted in a level of performance that made a mockery of their respective price points. However what impressed us the most was Anthem Room Correction (ARC), a genuinely game-changing piece of software that took the performance of these receivers to an entirely new level when compared to the competition. The fact that the MRX 300 was only £1,099 - a price that included ARC, a calibrated microphone and a tripod stand - just beggared belief, winning the Anthem a highly deserved AVForums Best Buy award. The MRX 700 impressed us even more and was also rewarded with a Best Buy Award. They weren’t perfect of course, their looks were fairly plain, the build quality could have been better in places, the features were minimal and the HDMI inputs limited but, bang for buck, nothing came close.
Now the Canadian manufacturer is back with their new line-up which is comprised of the flagship MRX 710, the mid-range MRX 510 and the entry-level MRX 310. The new receivers have had a facelift, with a more attractive design, a revised remote control and an increased number of HDMI inputs and outputs. There’s also 4K upscaling, faster HDMI switching, networking over Ethernet and software updates via USB. Best of all, ARC has been upgraded and now includes much faster processing, greater precision and a redesigned user interface. You can also control ARC 2, as the revised version is called, using a provided CAT5 cable rather than the old serial connector. In this review we're taking a look at the top-of-the-line MRX 710, which includes 7 channels of amplification at 120W per a channel. It's impressive on paper but can it live up to our impossibly high expectations?

Design and Connections

The MRX 710 has a very attractive design, with an elegant and understated black brushed aluminium facia that is refreshingly free from clutter. It’s good to see an AV receiver manufacturer who realises that you just don’t need loads of buttons and controls on the front, you can do all that from either the remote control or through the menu system. If you keep it simple it looks better and is less likely to scare consumers, who must be terrified by the front panels on some AV receivers. The build quality is very good and overall the MRX 710 has a well made and nicely engineered feel, with dimensions that measure 439 x 372 x 164mm and a weight of 14kg.

On the left hand side there are some basic navigation controls for moving around the menu systems and a drop down flap, behind which is a headphone jack and an extra HDMI input. In the middle is a large blue LED display that is both informative and easy to read from a distance. Beneath the display are some basic buttons for setup, display brightness, mode selection, level selection, zone 2 selection and input. The MRX 710 supports up to 20 virtual inputs that you can cycle through these using this input button or the one on the remote control. On the right hand side there is a large volume control and two power buttons - a main one and one for zone 2.

Finally an AV receiver manufacturer has realised you don't need loads of controls on the front panel.

One of the few criticisms that could be levelled against Anthem’s previous generation of receivers was that they were rather limited when it came to HDMI inputs but that’s definitely no longer the case. The MRX 710 has eight HDMI 1.4a inputs, seven at the rear and one at the front, along with two HDMI 1.4a outputs. The HDMI connectors support ARC and 3D and the input HDMI1 accepts a 4K signal. The emphasis is very much on digital connections, which makes perfect sense and Anthem have wisely dropped a lot of the pointless legacy connections that still clutter many an AV receiver’s back panel. Anthem also use a clever colour code for the connections - inputs have a black background and outputs have a white one. There is now an Ethernet port, which is handy for IP control and is used to run ARC; as well as a USB port for firmware updates. There are 7.1-channel pre-outs, along with option to either use the back surround channels for a second zone or to bi-amp the front speakers. Finally there are some analogue stereo inputs, an IR in and out, a 12V trigger, a RS232 serial connector and a FM/AM antenna connector.

The remote control has also had a makeover, with a simplified layout and a more substantial feel. This makes it comfortable to hold and easy to use, thanks to a clear and intuitive design. The keys are laid out sensibly, allowing you to control any aspect of the MRX 710 without being faced with hundreds of tiny buttons. There is also a backlight, which makes the remote easier to use in a darkened home cinema. Anthem don’t currently have a remote app available but apparently one is in the works. Last year Anthem provided a second, smaller remote for controlling zone 2 but this has been dropped with the new line-up. Instead there are controls for zone 2 at the bottom of the newly designed main remote control.

Menus and Setup

In terms of setup, Anthem have gone out of their way to make this as straightforward as possible and thanks to some clever design it takes no time at all. The sensibly laid-out and colour-coded rear connections make plugging in your various devices and attaching the speakers simplicity itself. The menu system is also well designed and intuitive to navigate, making the rest of the setup process relatively painfless. It’s also worth pointing out that the menus seem larger than the previous generation, which makes them easier to read.

There are sub-menus covering the HDMI Output Configuration, the Speaker Setup, Bass Management, Listener Position, Level Calibration, Input Setup, Volumes/REC Output, Network/Remote Control and Display. One of the really useful aspects of Anthem’s menu design, is the ability to create up to twenty inputs, depending on your requirements. You can separate the audio and video assignments for each input and, best of all, you can assign the same HDMI source to different input setups. So, for example, you could assign your Blu-ray player to both the Blu-ray input and the CD input and then configure each differently.

The menu system is well designed, comprehensive and highly flexible.

Features

Some reviewers may feel that compared to the competition, the MRX 710 is rather light in terms of features but that very much depends on your point of view. In terms of the features that really matter, we feel the MRX 710 has everything it needs. There are plenty of HDMI inputs and outputs, along with support for ARC, 3D and even 4K pass-through and upscaling. The MRX 710 has seven channels of built-in amplification and also offers 7.1-channel pre-outs, along with the option to use the amplification for the back speakers to either power a second zone or to bi-amp the front left and right speakers instead. Anthem have dropped support for Dolby Pro Logic IIz and thus there is no option to have height speakers but we really don’t feel this is a great loss. The same goes for DTS Neo:X support or the inclusion of pre-outs for extra width and height channels.

The MRX 710 includes a built-in AM/FM tuner but Anthem have dropped support for the vTuner Internet Radio application, along with their multi-media application. The MRX 710 also no longer supports direct connection of external USB devices and the dedicated iPod MDX 1 dock connector has gone, although again this is no great loss. You just don’t need all these apps, multi-media and internet features on an AV receiver because there are already plenty of other devices that can handle these tasks and do them better. The ideal AV receiver should just concentrate on doing the important things well and that means an effective setup and great sound. In this respect the MRX 710 fits the bill perfectly, with a combination of advanced processing combined with well engineered and effective amplification. This means that on the Anthem, the Ethernet connection is only for IP control and ARC, whilst the USB port is just used for firmware updates.

Anthem’s latest generation of receivers now include superior digital signal processing (DSP), which allows ARC 2 to implement more filters and ultimately create a room-correction curve that is closer to the intended targets. It also means that the software runs much faster than in the previous generation and the overall experience is slicker and more user friendly. Anthem has also incorporated Advanced Load Monitoring into the MRX 710, which constantly monitors voltage and current to ensure that the output transistors in the receiver are kept within safe operating limits. The temperature of the amplifier is controlled with a two-speed fan inside a heat sink tunnel and this allows the Anthem to protect itself from damage in situations where speaker impedance is low and volume is high. Of course the single most important feature found on the MRX 710 is Anthem Room Correction, so let’s look at it in more detail and find out how the latest version of ARC differs from the previous generation.

ARC 2

The first thing to mention is that, like the previous generation, an Anthem receiver comes with its own calibrated microphone in the box. There’s also a tripod stand, an installation CD with the ARC 2 software on it, a USB cable for the microphone and a CAT5 cable for connecting the receiver to your network. The fact that you can now control ARC 2 over your network is good news because the previous generation used serial communication which could be a real pain to implement. You need to use the provided CD to install ARC 2 onto your laptop because a calibration file is automatically copied into the ARC 2 file directory, which contains the serial number for the specific microphone included with the receiver. Once you have initially installed ARC 2, you can then look for any updates on the Anthem website and the software will run on Windows Vista or XP.

Once you have installed the ARC 2 software, you then enter the distances to your speakers in the Listener Position sub-menu. You can choose between feet and metres and the increments are 1 foot or 0.3 metres. Once that is done, all you need to do is connect the microphone to a USB port on your laptop, connect the MRX 710 to your network and place the microphone in the sweet spot using the provided tripod stand. ARC 2 has both an automatic mode and a manual mode but for most people the automatic mode will be the best option. You just run the automatic version of ARC 2 and follow the instructions. The software looks for the receiver on the network and checks the microphone and the support file match. This is because each microphone’s frequency response is measured precisely in the factory and then used to create the calibration file.

ARC 2 is the best auto-calibration and room EQ software that we have experienced on any AV receiver.

The automatic version of ARC 2 will take you through the entire process, beginning with selecting the number of speakers and the configuration. Then you can select the number of measurement positions, the system defaults to five but you can go up to nine. ARC 2 then begins measuring at the first position before promoting you to move the microphone to the second position and measuring again. The software will do this for all the positions you have requested and once all the measurements have been taken, ARC 2 processes the data and uploads it to the hard drive on your laptop. Then ARC 2 automatically uploads the room correction parameters and speaker levels to the MRX 710. Once this process is complete, you are given the option to preview the results and if you say yes, the software produces a full calibration report. This is a really nice touch and the ten page report shows all the before and after measurements for each speaker, along with speaker levels and crossover targets. The entire report can even be customised and printed out, which is great news for any professional installers out there.

The user interface for ARC 2 is a massive improvement over the previous version, it is very informative, beautifully laid out and genuinely useful. There are graphs for all the speakers and they show the uncorrected room response, the target and then the corrected room response with bass management. They also show the uncorrected room response with bass management and there is a Curve Viewer which allows you to view the plots for each speaker and see the equalisation curve that is being applied. There is also a Quick Measure feature that takes real time graphical measurements for a specific speaker, this is particularly handy for finding the best place to position the subwoofer. And we haven’t even begun to mention all the manual features, which are just too numerous to cover in the scope of this review. Suffice to say, the only room equalisation software we have seen that’s more impressive than ARC 2 is Dirac Live but that costs £600 just for the software and microphone; but with Anthem you get all this for free!

Video Review


Sound Quality

We had a good idea of what to expect, having already reviewed Anthem's MRX 300 and MRX 700 AV receivers but even our fairly high expectations were exceeded. We have always found that whilst Anthem's power numbers might not seem as big as some of the competition, they are actually based on some semblance of reality. As a result, despite only being listed at 120W per channel, the MRX 710 had plenty of power to fill our home cinema with immersive sound that delivered plenty of impact. That it could do this without embarrassing itself after the Datasat/Dirac Live processor/power amplifier combination we had reviewed previously is a genuine compliment to Anthem. In fact, whilst it isn't a fair comparison when you consider that the Datasat combo will set you back over thirty thousand pounds, the MRX 710 was able to hold its own in a way that a £2,199 AV receiver just shouldn't be able to.

This is in no small part due to the latest version of Anthem Room Correction (ARC) which equalised all the speakers in the room so effectively that they, and the room itself, just simply disappeared. The impact that ARC had on the overall sound quality was a revelation and the combination of B&W speakers and SVS subwoofer were perfectly integrated with one another. The result was a truly cohesive sound experience, with a nice sense of tonality and some extremely precise imaging. The audio performance of the MRX 710 was simply stunning, with a wonderfully realised sound field that delivered precise localisation and effects. There was a superb level of detail in the performance, with genuine clarity and dialogue was always clear, instruments sounded natural and bass was beautifully integrated.

It was the way the MRX 710 integrated the bass that really impressed us. It was tight and controlled but also fast and well timed, so the low frequencies supported the rest of the sound stage, enhancing the experience and delivering impact precisely when it was supposed to. Among the many films that we watched was Pacific Rim, which we have found can bring a lesser system to its knees with its wonderfully bass heavy soundtrack. Not so with the MRX 710 and the as the Jaegers and Kaiju fought it out, the Anthem kept pace with the storm. We were equally as impressed when watching Rush, as the sounds of engines and crowds surrounded us and helped transport us back to that incident-packed 1976 F1 season. We also watched Captain Phillips and again the MRX 710 played its part, delivering the soundtrack in such a way that it plunged you into the drama and ratcheted up the tension. Overall the performance was classy, subtle and controlled, never sounding overbearing but able to go suitably loud when needed.

As we have found with previous Anthem receivers, the MRX 710 was capable of sounding wonderful with both multi-channel audio and two-channel stereo. We listened to a variety of music, from the Manic Street Preacher's latest album Rewind the Film, to the complex arrangements on Howard Shore's orchestral score for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. We also ploughed through the recently released Fisherman's Box which, with over 130 tracks, is almost every recording from the two years Mike Scott and The Waterboys spent making Fisherman's Blues. With a mixture of rock, gospel and folk music the MRX 710 did a wonderful job of delivering Mike Scott's original vision for the album. This is level of performance with two-channel stereo is something of a rare feat but if you're looking for an AV receiver that can sound as good with your music collection as it will with your movie collection, then look no further.

Quite simply, the Anthem MRX 710 is the best sounding AV receiver we have reviewed to date.

Conclusion

10
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Pros

Cons


I own this 7
I want this 16
I had this 0

Anthem MRX 710 AV Receiver Review

Somehow Anthem have done the impossible and made the best receiver on the market even better. The MRX 710 is a genuinely remarkable achievement that combines pure performance with a level of sophistication normally only found in products that cost ten times as much. Anthem appear to have addressed all the issues that people had with their previous generation of receivers, improving the build quality and making the design more attractive. They have also increased the number of HDMI inputs, revised the remote control and added useful features such as 4K pass-through and upscaling. Anthem are also to be congratulated for having the courage to remove unnecessary analogue connections and for dropping pointless features to concentrate on what is important - sound quality.

In order to achieve this they have updated their Anthem Room Correction software and ARC 2 is nothing short of a revelation, with a completely redesigned user interface and an improved level of performance. The fact that you now control ARC via your network is a welcome improvement and thanks to superior digital processing the software is more precise and runs much faster. Anthem also include a dedicated calibrated microphone, a tripod stand, a USB cable and a CAT5 cable as part of the package and the new software is easy to install and use. The rest of the receiver is equally as easy to setup, thanks in part to a well laid out and intuitive menu system. The MRX 710 is also very flexible, with configuration for up to 20 different inputs and firmware updates over USB.

The audio performance of the MRX 710 was simply stunning, with a wonderfully realised sound field that delivered precise localisation and effects. There was a superb level of detail in the performance, with lovely imaging and clarity. Dialogue was always clear, instruments sounded natural and bass was beautifully integrated. The overall performance was classy, subtle and controlled, never sounding overbearing but able to go suitably loud when needed. As we have found with previous Anthem receivers, the MRX 710 was cable of sounding wonderful with both multi-channel audio and two-channel stereo. This is something of a rare feat but if you're looking for an AV receiver that can sound as good with your music collection as it will with your movie collection, then look no further.

We often wonder how Anthem are able to deliver such a performance at this price point and once again the Canadian manufacturer has managed to surprise us. The MRX 710 would be worth buying if it was twice the price but at £2,199 it is nothing short of a bargain. The Anthem MRX 710 is, quite simply, the best sounding AV receiver that we have reviewed to date and is therefore the reference point against which all the other receivers will be compared.

Reference Status

The Rundown

Sound Quality

10

Features

7

Connectivity

9

Build Quality

8

Value For Money

10

Verdict

10

Our Review Ethos

Read about our review ethos and the meaning of our review badges here.


    1. Mark Hodgkinson

      Mark Hodgkinson Reviewer & News Writer Staff Member

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      Anthem have launched their new line-up of AV receivers and we take a look at the flagship MRX 710. Can it live up to our expectations?

      Short answer - yep, and then some, longer answer....

      Anthem MRX 710 AV Receiver Review | AVForums
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    2. dan1210

      dan1210 Member

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      wow, better than the last models...i demoed the original mrx series and was impressed although i ended up with a rotel/denon combo, i couldnt get on with anthems awful interface and general look of the receiver.
      these new models look to be a huge improvement over the last ones, may be looking at the 310 for processing now, nice work!
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    3. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      I should point out that, when it's released, the MRX 310 will only be a five channel receiver with 5.1-channel pre-outs. I guess the MRX 300 was just too good for the money and was stealing sales away from the MRX 500 and 700. This time Anthem have a much clearer delineation between the entry-level and higher-end models.
    4. AidenL

      AidenL Member

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      I only have a 510, but really pleased to read this review - fantastic performance by Anthem !
    5. Russ 66

      Russ 66 Member

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      I've got the MRX 300 and I think this is the best receiver I have ever heard, can't wait to hear the new ones.
    6. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      As far as I can see, the only real difference between the MRX 510 and 710 is the amplification and power supply, everything else is identical and obviously you get ARC 2 with all three models.
    7. buglebum

      buglebum Member

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      Had an MRX-700 a while...not really that impressed. It's not that it's bad, it's just nowhere near as good as everyone makes out.
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    8. Johnjay1969

      Johnjay1969 Member

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      I had €200 deposit on an mrx-510 but after i heard & had a bit of time with one i decided another €1500 was out of the question... Sound on AV Receivers hasn't really moved on in the past 4 years or so IMO, just features. Its really nicely built, looks great in the flesh.
    9. Quaddy

      Quaddy Active Member

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      anyone know if there is an equivalent to the audyssey dynamic eq on these high-end anthem units, to keep in check highs and lows in volume?
    10. Canti1982

      Canti1982 Member

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      Looks like another great piece of kit from Anthem, almost tempted to upgrade. The other reasonable option which I have considered is the 300 (which I already own) with a seperate power amp which could be had for similar money, as to which is better I have no idea.
    11. BobbyMac

      BobbyMac Active Member

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      Nice review, only nit picking bit is Dirac Live & Calibrated Mic would come in €760 not £2k
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    12. Jaunty

      Jaunty Member

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      Looking forward to a 510 version without all those hot expensive amps in as a cheap pre-pro....
    13. buglebum

      buglebum Member

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      I'm really not surprised at all, would hazard a guess that most people feel like this - based on my experience with the previous fleet and the press opinion Vs the users opinion.

      Let's be honest, it's just because Anthem are seen as an underdog. Even that isn't a deserved title imo, £$£$£$£ cough cough ;)
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    14. BobbyMac

      BobbyMac Active Member

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      Not going to happen as it would kill off the AVM 50 / D2V sales and if I was a betting man a new Statement processor will probably be released by the end of the year when hopefully HDMI 2.0 becomes mainstream
    15. Canti1982

      Canti1982 Member

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      Ok they might not be as refined as something costing 2-3 times more, but they do work and there is something to be said for that. Plus you can upgrade them by adding additional amplification should you feel you need it.
    16. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      They don't have a proprietary feature, just Dolby Volume/Leveller.
    17. Johnjay1969

      Johnjay1969 Member

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      So don't mind the loyalty of mrx-300 who might have liked to upgrade to the '310... Looks like Anthem are being clever forcing prospective buyers to have to go with a 7-ch 510 or 710, while plucking new customers for the mrx-310...

      Lets not forget; Anthems idea of "entry" vs. the competition is the cost of a flagship Marantz, Yamaha, Pioneer etc.
    18. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      That's not strictly true, in the examples you give only Marantz's flagship is equivalent in price to the MRX 310, the Pioneer flagship is about the same as the MRX 510 and the Yamaha costs more than the MRX 710.
    19. drillo

      drillo Member

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      Steve - I have owned a Denon 4810 for 4 years and have been itching to upgrade from its audessy XT to XT32. Id be loathe to no longer use the heights and wides that I have installed and run - if you have heights and wides is the 710 so good that you'd happily give up those for 7.1? Basically is anthem the best 7.1 amp but perhaps not the best 11.1 or is so darned good its worth forgoing the other 4 speakers?
    20. Johnjay1969

      Johnjay1969 Member

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      But the competition will come down in price whereas the Anthem won't unless Anthem themselves reduce the cost... I was comparing the Yamaha rxv a3030 as an opposite to the mrx-710, The Yamaha is going for £1999... The Anthem will probably stay at £2199, but i also realise the 710 is likely the best value in Anthems line up. Ive seen the '510 & it looks & feels like a high quality unit though.:)
    21. Dean

      Dean Member

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      Is the Anthem really noticably better than the Yamaha and Pioneer high end AVRs? Is it mainly down to the EQ set up is it more the electronics in the receiver?
    22. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      If you're looking for 9.1 or 11.1 receivers then obviously the MRX 710 isn't for you. Personally I've never been convinced by width and height speakers and even in demos where the film has been remixed to take advantage of height speaks I haven't been that impressed. Most films are still mixed in 5.1, although that is changing, and I'm happy with a 7.1 setup. In that configuration I think the MRX 710 sounds fantastic but if you want the extras channels there are plenty of great AV receivers out there.
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    23. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      I think ARC plays a big factor but I also think that the MRX 710 is a well designed amplifier that benefits from Anthem concentrating on the basics rather than trying to be all things to all people.
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    24. witchdrash

      witchdrash Member

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      Looks great, will definitely keep an eye on Anthem for my next amp upgrade, even though I ended up with a Pioneer last time, because the 300 and 500 simply didn't have enough HDMIs, and I've seen car crashes more attractive than last years models :)
    25. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      Can't argue with that but I think Anthem have definitely addressed those issues with this generation.
    26. witchdrash

      witchdrash Member

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      Definitely looks like it, ARC blew me away when I was looking 18 months ago (ish) but kind of defeats part of the point of an av receiver when you would need to add an extra HDMI switch to it :)
    27. Johnjay1969

      Johnjay1969 Member

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      When you hit a certain price-point on receivers, say a grand plus the sound difference is minimal IMO. I don't think there would be a lot say between Anthems mrx710/Pioneer LX87/Yamaha 3030 etc. To get more genuine power i think you would need to look at a quality pre/power combo...
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    28. drillo

      drillo Member

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      Thx for the response Steve
    29. KelvinS1965

      KelvinS1965 Well-Known Member

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      Steve did you notice any noise from the fans on this amp? Or any problems with the start of tracks being cut off? I was considering the 510 myself, but reports of those issues has put me off a little, though I hope to be having a demo of the 510 soon anyway. Eventually the AVR will go into an external equipment rack anyway so the questionable looks (though better than the old models) and fan noise wouldn't be such an issue, but in the meantime it'll have to stay in the same room.
    30. Steve Stifler

      Steve Stifler Member

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      IMHO, having had Lexicon, Onkyo, Denon and Yamaha, my MRX500 its easily the best of the bunch. I anticipated the review would be good, and it has certainly proved to be. Nice review Steve - thanks
      JEz
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  • Sound

    Surround Sound Formats Dolby Digital
    Dolby Digital Plus
    Dolby Digital Pro-Logic IIx
    Dolby TrueHD
    DTS
    DTS Neo:X
    DTS-HD High Resolution
    DTS-HD Master Audio
    Power Output 90 watts per channel
    Number of Amplifier Channels 7
    Bi-amp Capability Yes
    Multizone Yes
    Multichannel Outputs 7.1

    Processing

    Advanced DSP Modes Yes
    Advanced EQ Options Yes
    Auto EQ Setup Yes
    Video Processing Yes
    4K Video Processing Yes
    4K Video Passthrough Yes
    3D Video Passthrough Yes

    Features

    Advanced Features Remote App
    On Screen Display

    Product Properties

    Warranty Yes
    Release Year 2013
    Colour Black or Silver/Gold

    Connections

    HDMI Type HDMI v1.1-1.3
    HDMI with ARC
    HDMI with MHL
    HDMI v1.4
    HDMI Inputs 7
    HDMI Outputs 2
    USB Ports 1
    Component Inputs 2
    Composite Inputs 1
    Digital Audio Inputs Coaxial 2
    Digital Audio Outputs Coaxial 1
    Digital Audio Inputs Optical 3
    Digital Audio Outputs Optical 1
    Analogue Audio Inputs RCA 5
    Analogue Audio Outputs RCA 2
    Subwoofer Pre-Outs 1
    LAN Ports 1
    Headphone Out Yes
    RS232 Connector 1
    Triggers 1
    IR Input 1
    IR Output 1
    Speaker Terminals Bare Wire
    Banana
    Spade
  • New Anthem AVR Range has the focus on the future

    by Mark Hodgkinson

    Anthem already make some of our favourite AV Receivers, the new range promises more of the same but these are a bit more future-proofed

    Oct 30, 2013

    Home AV News

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