Well thanks to crutchfield for the free two day shipping; the receiver arrived yesterday afternoon. Also thanks to crutchfield for not double boxing the receiver, as their policy states they do.
Oh well, besides the box being a bit beat up, everything inside was fine.
I pulled out the Denon and hooked up the Anthem. I'd like to say the Anthem had more heft, but it didn't, the 3311ci has some heft as well. Build quality, no obvious notable differences. Simple hookup, two HDMI cables from my two Oppos, one optical from the TV, and FR/FL speaker wires for my 2.0 system. (Per my wife's requirement I can't run hdmi from the cable box to the receiver, she wants to simply watch tv when I'm not there without dealing with other 'boxes'.) Then I went through the manual set ups. I chose a split hdmi configuration from my oppo UHD player. Just seems more reliable that was with fewer handshake bugs, even though the 520 with fw update can now pass 4k and all it's current formats. I probably chose this as that is what I had to do with the older denon and I didn't feel like rerouting all my hdmi cables. Yes, it will be a hassle, if I need to get into the 520 menu, but with my simple setup, I don't see having to do that often anyway.
I then did a firmware update. My first USB drive, wouldn't work. I reformatted on my mac as MS-DOS, Guid Partition and copied the file over. The Anthem didn't find the file. I took another drive that I know wasn't formatted on a mac, and that worked, I'll save that stick for FW updates. My Oppos don't have those restrictions on usb drive formatting and they are very anti-mac as well, oh well.
I didn't have a lot of time, so I opted out of pulling out the mic stand, and mic and rebooting my MacBook to windows and doing a full calibration. I opted for the simple iPhone calibration using the internal mic. I ran a 50 ft ethernet cable I bought from monoprice just to do FW updates on the denon as I have no ethernet connection in the living room. I have a wireless bridge I could use, but opted out only needing ethernet for ARC. (The denon had some networking and airplay that I used the bridge for.) Calibration went fairly smooth although the Anthem app, had the irritating habit of quitting and randomly shutting down. I don't know if it didn't like a notification coming in in parallel, or an email coming in while in use, or if it just needs an update for a iPhone 7s+ and the current iOS version. Regardless, after a few random shutdowns of the app, it finally went all the way through. I had to do it twice as the graphic it shows for positions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are not the same as the graphic it shows when it actually starts measurement. It may not matter, but I ran it through a second time memorizing the initial positions the app shows, using those. The iPhone app doesn't give you the option for full 10 positions like the formal windows app, I'll try that this weekend.
Then I fired up one of the Oppos. It happened to have a DVD-A of Diana Krall The Look of Love in the tray, which was burned from a HD Tracks 96/24 download of the album on a program, Burn for OSx. It blew me away. I knew my speakers (Salk Supercharged Songtowers) sounded good, even with the Denon, but I didn't think they'd sound that good. (Insert appropriate audiophile adjectives at this point.) I wish I had taken the time to listen to it before running the iPhone ARC app, I didn't, so I can't judge if the improvement in sound was from a better dac in the 520, better amps, or better room correction, or some combination all three, as i suspect. I know that Audyssey XT did ok when my speakers were Paradigm Studio 10 bookshelves, but it never seem to correctly handle the SCSTs. It corrects all the way out to 20 kHz, and would add 5 db in the upper range for the audyssey flat curve and didn't roll off anything for the audyssey curve,, something I didn't like. It also added some mid bass bloat. I suspect that Audyssey just doesn't handle the ribbon tweeter very well for whatever reason. The ARC won't have that problem, it does nothing past 5 khz. This weekend when I do the full blown app, I'll customize it and reject room correction at the cross over point of the ribbon, which I think is about 2.5-3 kHz. Both seemed to handle the low bass well though where I have some issues with room placement, and I don't have much flexibility with speaker position in this room and room treatments in my wife's living room are out of the question.
One thing I noticed, and it was hard to tell because I was wearing ear protection headphones while running ARC, was that ARC seems to send test tones to both speakers at the same time? Audyssey sends to one at a time. In audyssey you get feedback that it's doing the left, then right speaker, with ARC, you don't just mic position. Does it send test tones simultaneously to both speakers?
Well anyway I listened to about half the album, it was fantastic sounding, controlled bass, without the mid bass bloat, upper registers without the artificial boosting. It sounded more articulate, detailed, less forward in treble, and warmer at the same time. I didn't have to listen but for a couple of minutes to notice a marked improvement. In fact, I cut it all off after about 5 songs. I had come home sick earlier in the day as we have some flu like bug going around work. Setting up the Anthem was a drain, I cut it off and went to bed. More to come....