Originally Posted by Nick @ Anthem
The unintended consequence of direct mode for a prepro's stereo inputs, something in our products since 2001, is countless requests for the ability to use a sub at the same time. This would be of little value because analog filters add more noise than using DSP to get the job done.
Today ARC is in the mix along with desire to return to less complicated setup. The number of people who have been saying that there are too many things in the menu outnumber those who have been saying that there aren't enough. DSP+ARC vs direct has been compared countless times on the prepros which do have direct mode and the results are to my knowledge unanimous. Without an ARC demo I don't know how much more there is to say.
This may be a bit of a stream of consciousness so I apologize ahead of time
Comparing the digital output of my Essence ST soundcard with its analog out to the MRX-700. I can say that using the digital input to the MRX sounds much better to me than using the analog even after rolling op amps in the soundcard. I'm not sure, that would be the case if I sent it analog from say an Arye Dac, a W4S DAC2 or a Oppo BDP-83SE.
I think part of the problem is that most 2ch audiophiles have been educated that it's all about bit perfect (digital) and purity (no more additional processing than necessary).
In computer audio all you hear about is bit perfect low jitter digital transmission to a DAC (either an external box or in a receiver). You have many pre/pros and receivers that market direct analog inputs with no signal processing or direct analog inputs with no signal processing that turn off the video boards because they make noise. Audiophiles have been educated that, Less is more.
It's difficult for a person to get their arms around the fact that you can spend 2X the price of an MRX-700 on an external DAC. Yet at the end of the day, you are totally dependent on the A/D conversion and ARC software in the Anthem being good enough that the quality of that 2X external DAC still makes a difference.
Conversely, just because something has a direct (unprocessed) analog input doesn't mean it sounds good. I used a Cary 303-200 CDP with an Anthem D2, Pioneer SC-07, and an Integra 9.8 in direct mode and I can tell you that the Integra was terrible because of its analog input stage. Sum of the parts is more important than a minimalist approach but changing the audiophile paradigm (no pun intended) that been passed down the audiophile family tree that less is more in 2 channel audio is difficult. To that end, I'd like to get a high-end USB dac for my music player but don't want to spend the money knowing that what I hear from it may have more to do with Anthem's influance on the sound than that of the DAC