Anthem MRX 700 A/V Receiver Page 3
Kudos to Anthem for including a high-quality microphone (you could hurt even a bass player swinging this thing around on stage). You also get a substantial short-base microphone stand that you place in each listening position to be measured. No more balancing a microphone on Freckles the cocker spaniel’s head and hoping he doesn’t wake up.
The MRX 700 comes with a CD that contains the ARC software and a file with the frequency-response profile for the microphone. You can upgrade to the latest version of the software from Anthem’s Website at any time, but your microphone’s profile is only available on the CD, so be sure you do your first install from the CD, not the Web.
Once you’ve installed and updated your software, connected the microphone to the computer and the computer to the AVR, things are pretty much the same as with any other room-correction system. I took measurements from five seating positions in my room, although ARC will accommodate up to ten measurement locations. As a reviewer, I like the fact that I can save configurations and restore them later if I change speakers. It comes with the job.
Sign In Please, MR. X
I thought I’d had too much Beatles, but then I saw a stupid black-and-white photo on Apple’s Website, and Abbey Road was back in the CD tray. Anthem Logic Music activated the surround channels (but not the center) and added a bit of width and depth without making “Because” sound cartoonish.
The subtle effect of blending in surround channels also softened the harder edge of my early digital copy of “You Never Give Me Your Money.” The spring reverb when the band croons “down” came through with an ethereal beauty that really made me appreciate the artistry of the past that we take for granted in a Pro Tools world. The room-EQ’d Anthem was definitely making sweet tunes.
On to the new Kings of Leon CD, Come Around Sundown. Sound quality was rich and justly done—no digital artifacts here. I cranked it as loud as my speakers and ears could handle, and I didn’t hear the Anthem’s amps complain. The MRX 700 offers a gutsy perspective that’s both warm and detailed. On “Radioactive,” the mix is broad and deep. The Kings have mastered a signature sound that the Anthem was only too happy to expose—stadium rock on steroids. The difference between straight Stereo and surround-channel-embellished Anthem Logic Music was once again subtle but enjoyable.
Inception is a mind-bender of a movie, with a beautiful and powerful soundtrack by veteran composer Hans Zimmer. Quite ingeniously, he slows down an instrumental version of “Non Je Ne Regrette Rien” (literally, “No, I have no regrets”) to signify the perception of time from within a dream. The Anthem has a lot of dynamic subtlety, which this movie allowed it to express distinctly. The MRX 700 was terrifyingly realistic during the bridge scene at the end of the movie. Mind you, this is with Revel Ultima2 speakers (reviewed in HT’s July 2009 issue), which won’t suffer imposters. Anthem’s audiophile breeding and its years of experience in building high-quality separates is clearly in force here. My home theater absolutely came to life.
In Inception’s avalanche scene, a lesser system might just generate a lot of white noise. This might be passable, but it wouldn’t produce the same effect as the Anthem did. The MRX 700 let me hear the subtle dynamic shifts in volume as the stampede of snow in the far distance became airborne and then came crashing and pounding back against the mountain to continue its destructive tear. Foley effects snapped as the Anthem demonstrated an amazing sense of attack, the type you rarely hear without electrostatic speakers. I always know when I’m at theater reference level because a good bass whack will send my Revel B15a subwoofers’ grille covers flying. When the lights came back on, it was time to collect those fabric biscuits off the floor and put them back I place. With a lesser system, I might have turned the volume down, but with the Anthem, the sound quality was so pure and uncompressed, there was never a sense of fatigue. In fact, I kept leaning further and further into the sound because perfection was in the details.
Je Ne Regrette Rien
The Anthem MRX 700 is a great-sounding AVR but not one of the Swiss army knife variety. There’s no parade of logos across its front panel, but what it has works extraordinarily well. It owes its excellent sound to both the highquality amplification section and proprietary room correction, which can overcome some limitations in your room and to a much lesser degree, your speakers. It comes down to your priorities. If they begin and end with firstrate sound, you should visit your Anthem dealer. You certainly won’t be disappointed. Finally, high-end audio with an affordable price tag.