Anthem MRX 710 AV Receiver Review
The best just got better
When Anthem launched their first AV receivers back at the end of 2010, it would be fair to say we were impressed.
Design and Connections
Menus and Setup
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.
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.
Anthem MRX 710 AV Receiver Review
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.
Value For Money10
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Surround Sound Formats Dolby Digital
Dolby Digital Plus
Dolby Digital Pro-Logic IIx
DTS-HD High Resolution
DTS-HD Master Audio
Power Output 90 watts per channel Number of Amplifier Channels 7 Bi-amp Capability Yes Multichannel Outputs 7.1
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
Advanced Features Remote App
On Screen Display
Release Year 2013 Colour Black or Silver/Gold
HDMI Type HDMI v1.1-1.3
HDMI with ARC
HDMI with MHL
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