Anthem Electronics was born out of a well-regarded, purist-oriented Canadian high-end audio company called Sonic Frontiers. (In fact, if you look closely at the shipping cartons for Anthem equipment, you’ll still see the tastefully subdued logo for Sonic Frontiers International embedded in the graphics on the boxes.). My point, here, is that audiophile values are and always have been a core element of Anthem’s corporate DNA, meaning that superior sound quality is arguably the main reason for choosing the brand. In short, you don’t buy Anthem gear if you merely want “pretty good” equipment; you buy it (or not) because you’re looking for something that is audibly a cut above the norm.
The ultimate expression of the “Anthem sound” is found in the firm’s Statement D2v A/V controller and Statement P5 multichannel amplifier, which The Perfect Vision reviewed last year and continues to use as reference components in the TPV listening room. As you can perhaps imagine, those Statement-class components are flexible, versatile, and sound terrific (and they are arguably priced reasonably for the level of quality on offer). Even so, the fact is that Anthem’s Statement-class components are priced well beyond the means of many prospective buyers (this writer included).
What’s an enthusiast to do, then, if he or she wants Anthem-grade performance but cannot swing the hefty five-figure price that the firm’s Statement D2v/P5 combo commands? Answer: consider as an alternative Anthem’s flagship MRX 700 A/V receiver, which sells for a much more manageable $1999. In this review, we’ll take a careful look at the MRX 700 to see how much Statement-class goodness has trickled down to this comparatively affordable receiver.
• Very conservatively rated at 7 x 70 Wpc, 5 x 90 Wpc, or 2 x 120 Wpc, with an amplifier section that, claims Anthem, produces “more ‘real’ power than the competition.”
• Incorporates Anthem’s signature ARC-1 room correction system—the exact same room/speaker EQ system used in Anthem’s flagship Statement D2v A/V controller. The ARC package bundled with the MRX 700 receiver includes:
o Calibrated USB microphone and microphone clip
o Matching, calibrated software installation CD ROM
o Telescoping, boom-type microphone stand
o 12-foot USB microphone cable
o 15-foot serial cable (connects the MRX 700 to your PC)
• Tuners: AM/FM (with included minimalist antennas), HD radio, and vTuner Internet radio (via Ethernet input).
• Audio inputs/outputs: HDMI (4 in, 1 out), digital audio (5 in, 2 x Coaxial, 3 x Optical; 2 out, 1 x Coaxial, 1 x Optical), USB (2 ports—1 x front, 1 x rear), stereo analog audio (7 in; 3 out, 2 x Rec out, 1 x remote zone out); 7.1-channel analog audio (no input, 1 out); headphone (1 out)
• Coming soon: Anthem MDX 1 dock
• Decoding/Listening Modes supported via a dual-processer audio DSP system:
o Dolby: True HD, Digital Plus, Digital EX, Pro Logic IIx (Movie, Music, Game), Pro Logic IIz, Virtual Speaker (Wide, Reference), and Dolby Volume and Dynamic Range.
o DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-ES (Matrix, Discrete), DTS 96/24, DTS Neo:6 (Music, Cinema)
o Proprietary Modes: AnthemLogic-Music, AnthemLogic-Cinema, All Channel Stereo
• Video inputs/outputs: HDMI (4 in, 1 out), component video (3 in, 1 out), composite video (4 in, 3 out)
• Video processing:
o Converts composite and component video to HDMI
o Supports scaling up to 1080p60
o Supports 1080p24 mode
o Supports 3D sources via available software upgrade
• Remote controls: MRX 700 comes with two remote controls—a comparatively extensive remote for use in the main listening space, and a smaller, simpler remote geared for use in Zone 2.
• The MRX 700 does not provide multichannel analog audio inputs.
• The MRX 700 does not support direct decoding of DSD bitstreams.
• Anthem’s ARC room EQ system requires an outboard PC to run set up measurements and setup procedures (not a problem, per se)—specifically one that “must be running Windows XP or later and have one 9-pin serial port (for connecting the receiver) and one USB port (for cnnecting the mic)…”