Join Date: May 2008
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
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I'm looking to upgrade my ageing Denon 3808ci AVR and was able to borrow an Anthem MRX-510 from my dealer (Peak Audio in Halfax, Nova Scotia - these guys are great and highly recommended) to audition in my home. This MRX-510 is their demo unit and is well broken in.
I use a Rotel RMB-1095 for amplification, which drives a Klipsch system (RF-7II mains, RC-64II center, and RS-62II surrounds) with a Paradigm Sub 15 subwoofer (with Perfect Bass Kit EQ applied).
The first thing I did was flash the firmware to the latest revision, reset settings to default, then performed a 5-point ARC EQ. I've had the unit for three days now, moving back and forth from my Denon to the MRX-510 several times. Note that the Denon has had Audyssey run on it, too (though it's the older XT and not XT32), and I haven't performed any further manual calibrations on either unit beyond that.
The good: With Blu-ray movies, the Anthem has a more detailed high-end (I expect partly because ARC EQ only applies to 5K and lower frequencies, while Audyssey does not limit to 5K and below) and appears to engage the surround speakers more. I've heard details in favourite movies that I've never noticed before, and coming from more distinct directions, too. The 510 seems a bit more controlled and refined than the Denon which, for me, might also one of its weaknesses.
The bad: The Denon's low-end (ie, bass) is MUCH more powerful, which translates into much more fun for me, personally. Some of my reference scenes include several parts in Tron: Legacy, especially the Zuse chapter in the End Of Line Club. With the Anthem, like I said, high-end details are more pronounced and enjoyable. But the fun in these scenes for me is the powerful (but not boomy) low end from Daft Punk's soundtrack. It's not the "thump thump thump" that I enjoy about bass notes, it's what I might call "sound energy", though I realize that's probably an inaccurate term. It's also not that the Anthem doesn't reach down, it does - the big bass extension is still there, it's just not nearly as "full" as it is with the old Denon. (Note: Dialing up the Sub 15 a notch only results in unwanted boominess here). Another reference scene for me is the opening of Star Trek Into Darkness when the Enterprise rises out of the water. Again, all the notes are there with the Anthem and each note by itself might be more accurately rendered, but the Denon provides a much more engaging "fun ride" if you will, at the expense of some imaging and detail.
I don't listen to too much stereo music, but I do have a favourite track or two. I compared Rebecca Pigeon's "Spanish Harlem" (SACD in stereo mode) with the Denon on Pure Direct and the Anthem with ARC both on and off. Since I only have the Oppo 93 (not the audiophile 95 or 105) I just left it connected to both via HDMI and let the AVRs handle the DAC processing. I may be mistaken, but it doesn't appear that you can turn on a "stereo only" mode on the Anthem when using HDMI. No matter, they both sounded very similar to my ears, though ironically the Anthem had more bass this time, perhaps because it was using the Sub 15 while the Denon was not.
As always, these are my personal findings in my system in my home. I would absolutely accept the conclusion that my ears are "damaged" listening to low frequency energy that does not exist in the source, but it artificially enhanced by the Denon. Yet, I just cannot get excited about the sound coming out of the MRX.
I really REALLY wanted to like the Anthem. I'm wondering if anyone else has had similar experiences with their MRX-x10 units and if there are further adjustments I could attempt. I would love to hear some counterpoints to what I have discussed above.
My alternatives at this point are not great. I'm also considering the Marantz AV8801 and the much more expensive Krell Foundation, neither of which I can audition before purchasing. So if I can get the Anthem sounding the way I want, so much the better. :-)
Anthem MRX-310 / Rotel RMB-1095 / Oppo BDP-93
Klipsch RF-7 II, RC-64 II, RS-62 II (5.1) / Paradigm Sub 15