• The alternatives, Anthem advises, are to use a PC with “one USB port and one card slot and a serial card,” or “two USB ports and a USB to serial adapter” where the USB to serial adapter “must be one that supports two stop bits.” However, Anthem flatly states that “the latter (option) is least preferred,” and the receiver does not come with a USB to serial adapter. Note: Anthem technical support advises that an appropriate serial adapter (Keyspan USA-19HS) is available from Anthem dealers for $29.
• All things considered, the ARC system would simpler and more convenient to use if offered from the outset as an all-USB solution—complete with necessary adapter hardware included in the kit.
The caveats I’ve mentioned aren’t damning flaws by any means, but they do seem a bit “out of character” for an Anthem A/V component. By addressing the shortcomings noted, Anthem could make the MRX 700 a more satisfying product for music-minded enthusiasts and one that is also easier to use.
Anthem makes the following impressive claim for its ARC (Anthem Room Correction) system:
“Anthem Room Correction, three years in development, is the first real implementation of research conducted over 20 years ago by the National Research Council (NRC). The NRC’s goal was to identify the correct in-room target response for a loudspeaker and then to develop a system to achieve this response from multiple loudspeakers in any listening room.”
Anthem ARC highlights
• The ARC system takes a minimum of five sets of in-room measurements, but can—at the user’s option—take up to ten sets of in-room measurements. The system applies those collective measurements in calculating individual correction curves for each speaker. This stands in stark contrast to room EQ systems that take measurements from just one, centrally located listening position.
• The ARC system targets a standard ARC EQ curve that—by design—allows for some “room gain” in the bass region. This means that the ARC system deliberately does not try to force “textbook flat” bass response. In fact Anthem argues that any system that does strive for dead-flat bass response as measured at the listening position “will result in an unnatural spectral balance since it does not take into account the human hearing system.”
• The ARC system offers both automatic and manual modes of operation. When run in automatic mode, the ARC system targets a standard ARC EQ curve and presents detailed “before/after” response graphs for each speaker in the system and for the subwoofer. These graphs allow users to see exactly how ARC will affect each channel before actually apply the EQ curves. However, when run in manual mode the ARC system lets users manually select:
o Crossover frequencies between the system’s speakers and subwoofer,
o Levels of room gain that will be allowed in the bass region, and the
o Maximum frequency at which room EQ correction will be applied.
• Important: at setup time, the ARC system requires use of an outboard PC (or Mac), where the purpose of the PC is to:
o Run the main ARC software package,
o Manage the ARC room EQ measurement process,
o Perform all calculations to generate individual EQ curves for each speaker, and to
o Download final ARC room EQ settings to the Anthem AVR or A/V controller.
o Note that, whenever you make significant changes in your speaker system or in your listening room, the outboard calibration PC must always be brought back into play in order to re-calibrate an ARC-equipped system.
ARC System Hardware
• As mentioned under FEATURES, above, Anthem’s ARC package consists of the following:
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)
• On a practical level, ARC correction curves are designed to run on the MRX 700’s powerful “dual-core audio DSP” engines. Note, though, that these DSP engines serve solely to run the ARC EQ curves when you are listening to music or movies. The DSP engines are not capable of running system setup procedures on their own. Thus, whenever system calibration is necessary, the process must be managed/controlled by the external calibration PC.
• While use of an external calibration PC can at times seem a bit cumbersome or complicated, Anthem cites several key benefits, including: