Should I upgrade from Yamaha A3070 to Arcam AVR550 or Anthem MRX-1120?

hyyam85

Novice Member
I have a Yamaha A3070 currently and running a 5.2.4 setup. It does everything I need it to do, although I wish YPAO can do more for my room. I have the option to add surround back also if I want to.

Now, there is a used Arcam AVR550 and Anthem MRX-1120 in market. I find myself having upgraditis, thinking whether these highly regarded AVR can make my surround setup sound better (I'm more into the surround effects than the bass).

Yesterday I auditioned both of them albeit in different locations and rooms, so they are not an equal comparison. They both sound good. I'm particularly impressed by the Anthem. It seems to make the speakers disappear better. But I'm not sure if I'm just hearing the room because the room with the Anthem is significantly larger with little treatment. The room with the Arcam is smaller but has light treatment. Both AVR did not have room correction set.

I have a very small dedicated room so I always wonder if a better AVR will make the surround sound seems wider. My room is lightly treated. But I know I still have a bass reflection problem that I have plans to fix soon with bass traps. I have Dali Oberon On-Wall for LCR, Dali Zensor 1 fort surround, Q Acoustics Qi65CP ceiling speakers.

Performance is all relative to cost. I think I can get about £700 from selling the Yamaha. The used Anthem MRX-1120 will set me back £1500, around twice the Yamaha. The Arcam is slightly cheaper at £1150, but it might work out similar because of the need for additional amp to drive the height speakers. I wonder whether the difference is big enough to justify the cost. Should I upgrade or keep the Yamaha?
 
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Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Can we assume you have played with the different target curves found in the YPAO menu (Flat, Natural etc), some have disabled it completely too and found it sounds best in their room.

What we know is YPAO struggles correcting low bass frequencies, especially for subwoofer(s). Generally is thought below room transit frequency (~250-300hz) is where the correction is needed most to tackle the room modes and good room eq should be more effective in these frequencies over typical room treatments. Many Yamaha owners have added Antimode 8033 Cinema for the subwoofers and it has made noticeable difference. Naturally ARC Genesis and Dirac Live would allow you to tweak the system in more detailed way with laptop and with higher quality microphone for more accurate results. However there is learning curve for both, ARC is likely bit easier (?). To my understanding AVR550 Dirac Live doesn´t allow you to set separate distances (delays) for each subs, where as Yamaha and Anthem will do that. Someone can correct me if i`m wrong. If you have subwoofers equidistant from listener then it shouldn´t be problem. AVR550 is not too happy with low impedance loads, but your speakers should be fairly easy load however are you going to keep the budget Dalis for long term. AVForums editors used A3050 for many years to power different type of expensive speakers without issues so the A3070 isn`t slouch. Let`s put bump for couple members who may able to help you more:

@dms demoed Arcam AV40 processor, but came back to A3070 as i think it wasn´t that much better? He uses very expensive active speakers for cinema.

@fallinlight had the AVR550 at some point and also newer Arcam AVR30, but still rocks the A3070.

There should be more potential with those room eq`s if you are up for hours of tweaking, but you also have budget level LCR speakers so the money could be spent for Dali Opticon LCRs / Rubicon LCRs (used) or similar high quality speakers and moving Oberons for surrounds perhaps. The Oberon you have are typically partnered with 600£ av-receiver, now you have 2300£ costing Yamaha. At some point you must think about speaker upgrade aswell.
 

fallinlight

Distinguished Member
Ha ha, hey @gasp, always happy to chime - indeed, I'm rocking I think, my 5th A3070, just keeps coming back onto my rack, baby! For the most part, blame high end companies fooling customers, taking their money and giving them unfinished, half broken products in return. The other reason was an instance of poor quality control (constant high pitched whine from an older NAD model, though apparently sadly, they all have this whine). And the main latter reason was because I didn't like Dirac back then - loved it on the AVR30 - and found the soundstage to small compared to my A3070. A wide, expansive soundstage is one of the most important things that in value in my home cinema. It's also one of the reasons I just went back to a on wall non-AT setup, because I prefer the much wider and grander frontstage this affords me. Also sounds clearer and more natural without the AT material covering my speakers.

The Arcam is slightly cheaper at £1150, but it might work out similar because of the need for additional amp to drive the height speakers. I wonder whether the difference is big enough to justify the cost. Should I upgrade or keep the Yamaha?

It will always come down to your own preference, needs, room and experience @hyyam85, but if you like how Dirac handles your sound and soundstage, and don't mind a smaller sounding soundstage, then you should be fine. On one hand, Dirac on the AVR550 did more for my sound by taking out the room more than YPAO ever can, but I felt it robbed too much of the amazing fidelity that I love about the XTZ M6, mainly it's high end. wasn't as much of an issue with my AVR30, though, and with which I used to bump the high end roll off that Dirac applies, back up +3 dB. Dirac also at this stage seemed to just click with me, I understood it better, how frequencies operated in my room and much more about what I had to do with it, which was nothing else, fortunately, just that. I didn't mind what Dirac did for 2 channel music listening with my AVR550, though, it was amazing. And the AVR30 was even better.

There should be more potential with those room eq`s if you are up for hours of tweaking, but you also have budget level LCR speakers so the money could be spent for Dali Opticon LCRs / Rubicon LCRs (used) or similar high quality speakers and moving Oberons for surrounds perhaps. The Oberon you have are typically partnered with 600£ av-receiver, now you have 2300£ costing Yamaha. At some point you must think about speaker upgrade aswell.

I agree with Gasp here. He always gives sounds advice and knows what he is talking about. Also, if your room isn't treated, room treatment could be next instead, that should be one of the biggest improvements for your sound.
 
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Tricky-Ricky

Well-known Member
Every time I see should I upgrade, or my system doesn't sound good and 98% of the time people site YPAO or Audyssey as not giving them what they want, why oh why do you not try and calibrate your system to sound the way you want it without using these artificial enhancement calibrations, nearly all the receivers I have owned I have either re-balanced the initial calibrations considerably or just turned them off and adjusted to suite my ears rather than someone else ideas of what things should sound like after all it's your ears you're trying to please and everyone is different, I feel the same about TV calibration why pay someone to do this and then think well I'm not sure I am enjoying this picture but get used to it because some professional did it, and it cost me ££ so it must be right, beggars belief.
 

hyyam85

Novice Member
@Gasp3621, @fallinlight, thanks for the advice, although I kind of expected the comment about my budget Oberon. I chose this speaker because at the time my dealer can give me a good deal for a set of Oberon LCR (selling the centre as single speaker), I already have the Zensor, and I have very limited space behind my AT screen (around 15cm). I was also considering XTZ Spirit, Arendal 1961 at the time. That bang for my buck made me go for the Oberon. If I were to upgrade now, I have the Arendal 1961 and Ascendo 6" in my sight. If anyone has compared these before, let me know. I can't find a demo of the Arendal. Ascendo sounds promising but more expensive.

I guess my money can be better spent in speakers than the electronics. Thanks for talking me out of it. At the moment, I plan to fix the acoustics in the room. I need some bass traps to control LF reflections, and maybe a baffle wall (I still have no idea how to go about doing this with speakers with rear port). I did some measurements as well, and will try manual PEQ in the A3070 to squeeze the most performance out of these speakers. There is also plan to get minidsp 2x4HD to EQ the subs a bit more.

Every time I see should I upgrade, or my system doesn't sound good and 98% of the time people site YPAO or Audyssey as not giving them what they want, why oh why do you not try and calibrate your system to sound the way you want it without using these artificial enhancement calibrations, nearly all the receivers I have owned I have either re-balanced the initial calibrations considerably or just turned them off and adjusted to suite my ears rather than someone else ideas of what things should sound like after all it's your ears you're trying to please and everyone is different, I feel the same about TV calibration why pay someone to do this and then think well I'm not sure I am enjoying this picture but get used to it because some professional did it, and it cost me ££ so it must be right, beggars belief.
I agree I think I can still do more with YPAO, which is what I will try to do now, although YPAO is quite limiting actually. Arcam and Anthem are widely regarded as better sounding than the mass market Japanese brands. Hence, I am asking the question how much difference will be apparent, particularly in steering surround effects because that is what I am most interested in. I wonder whether different makes do this differently although all are playing the same Dolby Atmos tracks, because I did hear improvements but I am not sure if I am just hearing the room. Demo in my room is the most ideal but is also close to impossible to find dealer or seller who are willing. I have to disagree with your second point about display calibration though. I recently got my projector calibrated professionally. The biggest improvement is in the wider colour gamut. I would not have known that if I did not do it and see the difference. Actually I believe accurate measurement should still the first step, for both both sound and display, to see what the problems could be. It makes tweaking easier later.
 

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