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post #61 of 83 Old 02-17-2018, 10:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by xirtam2005 View Post
Oppo UDP-205 - is this any better than the 105, or is the 105 already reaching the max potential of the equipment?
I was actually looking at the 205 for second system.
I read about the 205. Called up Oppo and talked for a while about my system, speakers, wants, etc, etc. The Oppo guy actually told me that for 2-channel stereo, using the dedicated 2-channel output, I am very unlikely that I would hear much or any of a difference. This was from the horse's mouth.
So for the meantime, I bought another 105 for half the price.
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post #62 of 83 Old 02-17-2018, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by audioqueso View Post
I was actually looking at the 205 for second system.
I read about the 205. Called up Oppo and talked for a while about my system, speakers, wants, etc, etc. The Oppo guy actually told me that for 2-channel stereo, using the dedicated 2-channel output, I am very unlikely that I would hear much or any of a difference. This was from the horse's mouth.
So for the meantime, I bought another 105 for half the price.
That's not really an issue, as the 105 is good enough. I am happy with the 105. I would get an Oppo 205 for 4K and improved video over the 105, but as long as the audio is at least as good as the 105, then it's good enough.

I would be very curious to see you test a Marantz AV8802A (since they deals are so good now) and an Emotiva XMC-1.
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post #63 of 83 Old 02-18-2018, 04:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Is there any receiver that is truly transparent for stereo? Yes.. there is.

Equipment used:
Oppo BDP-105 Blu-ray Player
Marantz PM-15s2 Integrated Amp
Emotiva A-500
Anthem MRX 720
Soundmeter
custom built matrix switch
Audioquest hard-type RCA splitter (http://a.co/70CLI16)

***Music***
Day 1: Test as a Pre-Amp

I had anticipated that setting up and configuring the Anthem would take a lot of time, so I didn't plan on doing anything on the first day except hooking it up, and setting up to play some pink noise and white noise for the night. To be honest, the Marantz AV receiver and pre-amp was such a disappointment to me, that I came into this test with the mindset that the Anthem will sound very nice, but kill the depth of the music like any other receiver would.
**Keep in mind, I have a reference in these test. The goal is to play audio as transparent as the Marantz PM-15s2. If you don't understand what that means, read the first post.**
Current setup: Oppo (as source) --> RCA via the dedicated stereo output --> Marantz PM-15s2 (integrated amp) --> B&W 804S
Opened the box, placed the Anthem next to my Marantz, plugged it in, and turned on the Anthem. It was plugged it in between the Oppo and Marantz.
Pre-amp set: Oppo (as source) --> RCA via the dedicated stereo output --> Anthem (analog 1 input, then out via the pre-amp) --> Marantz PM-15s2 (power amp) --> B&W 804S

I configured my first input on the Anthem
Video Input: None
Audio Input: Analog 1
Zone 2: None
Process Analog Audio Input: Off
Anthem Room Correction: Off
Dolby Volume: Off

I didn't do anything else. No ARC setup, nothing. So in this setup, I am using the Anthem as pre-amp only.
I played a few songs just to get an initial first impression. It was very nice. It was actually a whole lot nicer than I expected. It was so nice, that I got curious to see just how nice it was and decided to do some tests.

- Plugged the RCA splitter on the Oppo. Ran one pair of interconnects to the Marantz analog 1. Ran another pair to the Anthem analog 1. Same type/length of cable.
- Ran a pair of interconnects from the Anthem's pre-out to the Marantz's Power Direct input.
- Made sure there was no sound adjustments on the Anthem. Made sure tone controls were disabled on the Marantz PM-15s2.
- Played a test tone using the Marantz as an integrated amp and measured the db level. Pressed stop, then pressed the Power Direct button to change it to act as an amp. Played the same test tone, and adjusted the volume to match the same db level as the Marantz.
Now I am ready to begin.
I played a few tracks at first. Then more music. Played a whole bunch of range of stuff.. Eagles, Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Faye Wong, Vivaldi, Rostropovich, Celine Dion, The Carpenters, Bob Marley, Rage Against the Machines, Jessie J, Squirrel Nut Zippers... a whole bunch.
I didn't mean to at first, but I couldn't stop.
In my initial test with the Marantz receiver and pre-amp, the difference was very obvious. So I imagined it would be just as apparent with the Anthem. No, it was not. Not at all! That is why I couldn't stop.
I started with one track. Hit the Power Direct button... it still sounded the same. Then another track.. did the same... same results.
The Anthem did not kill the depth. The sound did not change at all. With the Marantz PM-15s2, the music sounded like you could touch it. As if there were no speakers. With the Anthem as a pre-amp, it did not change to "just speakers". It remained the same.
This was a unit straight out of the box with only one input configured. Unlike the past units that I tested, the Anthem placed in the middle of the mix did not change the sound at all. This was very exciting!

However, I did find that even with my most basic configuration settings on the Anthem, if I changed "Process Analog Audio Input" to 'On', it degraded the depth and imaging. I played with that a little bit, but always had the same degrading results.

So I decided to set up my next test for that day.
In comes the Emotiva amp.
Oppo (as source) --> dedicated stereo output+RCA splitter+interconnect--> Marantz PM-15s2 (analog 1 input, then out via the pre-amp) --> matrix switching box input 1 --> B&W 804S
Oppo (as source) --> dedicated stereo output+RCA splitter+interconnect--> Anthem (analog 1 input, then out via the pre-amp) --> matrix switching box input 2 --> B&W 804S
In this test, the Anthem and Marantz do not touch each other at all. Both acting as a pre-amp. Once again, used a test tone and level matched both setups.
Played most of the same songs as before... toggled the input on the matrix box while playing music... sound did not change at all.

Result: The Anthem as a pre-amp is very transparent.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Day 1 continues: Testing the Anthem's DAC
At this point, I've already proven to myself that the pre-amp portion of the Anthem is equal to the Marantz PM-15s2's pre-amp. It is transparent.
So now I wanted to hear the digital portion of it. I did not want to throw the Anthem's amplification section into the mix, so for now I am still using the Marantz as a power-amp only.
Anthem input #2 configured:
Video Input: None
Audio Input: Optical 1
Zone 2: None
Process Analog Audio Input: N/A
Anthem Room Correction: Off
Dolby Volume: Off


Oppo (as source) --> dedicated stereo output--> Anthem analog input 1--> B&W 804S
Oppo (as source) --> optical output--> Anthem optical input 1--> B&W 804S

In this test, I thought I would need to adjust the volume each time I switched inputs, but I didn't. Sound levels from both inputs measured the same.
Since the Anthem doesn't have dedicated buttons for each input, I configured my Logitech Harmony to control the Anthem because I didn't want to click on the remote, navigate on the screen, etc, etc every time I wanted to switch sources. So I configured the Harmony remote to switch between the two sources with just one click.

I still have not looked up to see what DAC chips the Anthem uses, but whatever they use, Anthem has implemented it very well.
There is a difference between the Oppo's DAC and the Anthem. But it's not as the case of this one is better than that one.
I found the spacial separation of the Anthem to be slightly more precised than the Oppo. However, I found the lower frequencies in the Oppo's DAC to be slightly more precise and a bit stronger. This was VERY very slight.
Perhaps the most distinguishable difference was when listening to music where the singer was so close to the mic that you could hear their breathing (like Joss Stone's The Chokin' Kind). At the end of a breath, with the Oppo it sounded like you could hear just a tad bit more of the breath.
I tried switching sources. I used my media server's plugged into the Oppo via USB, then used the DAC's stereo analog output. Then I had the optical output straight from the pc go into the Anthem. Same results.
The Anthem's DAC is very very well implemented.
Is it 100% identical to the Oppo? No. There are differences, but every so slight. I would say 99.xx%.
I would say it's like having two brand new red Ferrari's. One of them has 3 hairline scratches on the door. The other has 2 hairline scratches on the roof. You can't see them unless you are so close and at a certain angle. My point is, unless you are looking for it (the same way that you would be looking for a hairline scratch), you are not going to notice it.
When you are enjoying your music, you will be enjoying it every much the same as the other.
Just the same as if you were enjoying staring at one of the Ferrari's. You are not going to see the hairline scratches unless you are deliberately looking for them.

So how good is the Anthem's DAC? I've own several DACs in the past. I ended up selling my DAC1 because I was so content with the Oppo BDP-105's DAC.
And now, I find the Anthem's digital inputs so good that I am content with selling the Oppo.

Day 1 continues: Digital Input test
Markmon, I did this one just for you. I wanted to see if there was any real difference between using optical input or audio from HDMI input.
I configured my media server to output audio via HDMI and optical (I use JRiver). Configured input #3 on the Anthem with audio from HDMI.
I didn't bother with the HDMI display from the Anthem as I didn't need it. I was remoted into the media server using my laptop.
Played a few songs, switched between input #2 (optical) and input #3 (hdmi).
I can't say I heard any difference at all.
So rest assure that all the digital inputs work equally well.

So at this point, I have proven to myself the the Anthem's pre-amp portion is as transparent as the Marantz. And that the DAC is just as good as the Oppo's.

End of Day 1 testing.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Day 2: Testing the Anthem's internal amps

I decided on would continue the next test using 2-channel music only. Mostly the same music as the prior day.
Test configurations:
Oppo (as source) --> optical --> Anthem --> speaker selector switch (Luxman) --> B&W 804S
Oppo (as source) --> optical --> Anthem, out via the pre-amp --> Marantz PM-15s2 (as power amp) --> speaker selector switch (Luxman) --> B&W 804S

I played a test tone using the Marantz, and recorded the db level. Then I played the same test tone using the Anthem's internal amps and matched the db levels.
Now I was ready to start my tests.

Now the difference becomes apparent.
I played the same music as day 1, and just toggle the speaker switch to listen to the output form the internal amp vs the external amp.
The upper highs seem a bit rough compared to using a pro-amp. Like, very high female voices sound like sand paper 3000 grit versus the Marantz' 4000 grit. If you touch it with your hand, you can barely feel the difference.. but you do know that one of slightly more textured compared to the other. Did I notice this with all female voices? No. But it was more noticeable with voices compared to instruments playing the same high tones.
I listened to a lot of music with double bass and cellos. The bass also seemed slightly stronger with the pro-amp versus the internal amps.
The bass still seemed equally controlled and precise between the internal amp and the external amp, but with slightly less umph (not presence). However, this was very slight. Noticeable, but just barely. I heard it.. my wife did not.
One thing that I am very happy to report is that even though I noticed the high voice difference and the umph of the lower frequencies, the depth never changed. It never sounded like the sound was coming from speakers (as it did in my initial tests at the beginning of this thread). This was the biggest thing that turned me away from the Marantz receiver and pre-amp.

Also, keep in mind that these two devices do not have the same amplification power.
So because of that, I swapped the Marantz with the Emotiva. Again, not the same amplification power. I just wanted to see if I had the same results. Yes, I did.
Out of all the test, the bass was probably the biggest and most noticeable difference. Did it sound degraded? No. It just seemed like the external amps had more power (which the Marantz does not)
So does burn-in come into play at this point? I don't know. I may run this same test later. However, I can only do it with the Marantz as I returned the Emotiva today.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Day 2 continues: Testing HT and ARC

This post is already ridiculously long, so I will try to be short for this.

Setup 1: Oppo (as source and pre-amp) --> Emotiva A-500
Setup 2: Oppo (as source) via HDMI --> Anthem

I don't have a way of testing multi-channel on the fly. The matrix switch I made was made with stereo in mind only. I suppose I could modify it, but not this time.
I have always used the same particular blu-ray discs for testing out how well the surround effect are with different speakers and components.
Since I didn't have a way to test on the fly, I didn't listen or try to identify difference the same way I did with music. Instead, I just played some of my favorite scenes to see if anything sounded particularly different, or cooler, or more entertaining.

As I mentioned before, with the Oppo/Emotiva setup, everything sounded very clear, but Audyssey (when I had the Marantz AV receiver and pre-amp) made it everything so much better with movies. Surround effects, vocal, etc.
Once ARC was set up on the Anthem, I played several movie scenes with and without ARC.
With or without ARC, surround effects were entirely more enjoyable with Anthem compared to the Oppo/Emotiva combo. ARC didn't make a night and day difference, but everything sounded very balance with it on. Vocals were easily better balanced (more so with ARC on), and surround effects seemed more effect. That is what I found out last time as well. As much as the Oppo BDP-105 excels at so many things, these AV receivers/processor really do make such a difference with movies.
There really isn't much else to say about it with movies.
I have played quite a few games with it already, but I don't have a way of comparing it with anything. However, I found it more enjoyable playing games with ARC on.

However, one thing I do want to point out.
I played a CD in the Oppo a few hours later after testing the movies. I played it with and without ARC on, but I found that ARC seemed to affect the imaging too much. Did it sound bad? No.. but there were certain aspects that sounded a bit too processed with it on.
I am still trying to see if there is a way to toggle ARC on and off with just a button.


Conclusion

If you own an Anthem MRX 720/1120 and are wondering if the Anthem is adding any artificial sound to it, it's not. It is as transparent as the Marantz PM-15s2 and as transparent as the Oppo directly connected to a power amp.

The Anthem's DAC is equally impressive. Enough that it has replaced my Oppo BDP-105's use as a DAC.

Even the Anthem's internal amp is impressive. Being on par with the Marantz PM-15s2 or the Emotiva A-500.
Could it benefit from using an external amp? Maybe. Perhaps if you have very demanding speakers. In my case with my B&W 804S, I am more than content with the Anthem.
It sounds excellent with movies, does a very good job as balancing my different speakers while using surround sound, and plays music so beautifully that it sounds like the speakers disappear.

So yes, though not cheap, there is a receiver that is truly transparent for stereo.
If you really want to know how good your speakers can sound AND want to run a full surround setup with all the latest codecs, I highly recommend the Anthem MRX 720/1120.
jmacari, nyrep1, e30cabrio and 6 others like this.

Last edited by audioqueso; 02-18-2018 at 04:15 AM.
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post #64 of 83 Old 02-18-2018, 05:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioqueso View Post
Equipment used:
Oppo BDP-105 Blu-ray Player
Marantz PM-15s2 Integrated Amp
Emotiva A-500
Anthem MRX 720
Soundmeter
custom built matrix switch
Audioquest hard-type RCA splitter (http://a.co/70CLI16)

***Music***
Day 1: Test as a Pre-Amp

I had anticipated that setting up and configuring the Anthem would take a lot of time, so I didn't plan on doing anything on the first day except hooking it up, and setting up to play some pink noise and white noise for the night. To be honest, the Marantz AV receiver and pre-amp was such a disappointment to me, that I came into this test with the mindset that the Anthem will sound very nice, but kill the depth of the music like any other receiver would.
**Keep in mind, I have a reference in these test. The goal is to play audio as transparent as the Marantz PM-15s2. If you don't understand what that means, read the first post.**
Current setup: Oppo (as source) --> RCA via the dedicated stereo output --> Marantz PM-15s2 (integrated amp) --> B&W 804S
Opened the box, placed the Anthem next to my Marantz, plugged it in, and turned on the Anthem. It was plugged it in between the Oppo and Marantz.
Pre-amp set: Oppo (as source) --> RCA via the dedicated stereo output --> Anthem (analog 1 input, then out via the pre-amp) --> Marantz PM-15s2 (power amp) --> B&W 804S

I configured my first input on the Anthem
Video Input: None
Audio Input: Analog 1
Zone 2: None
Process Analog Audio Input: Off
Anthem Room Correction: Off
Dolby Volume: Off

I didn't do anything else. No ARC setup, nothing. So in this setup, I am using the Anthem as pre-amp only.
I played a few songs just to get an initial first impression. It was very nice. It was actually a whole lot nicer than I expected. It was so nice, that I got curious to see just how nice it was and decided to do some tests.

- Plugged the RCA splitter on the Oppo. Ran one pair of interconnects to the Marantz analog 1. Ran another pair to the Anthem analog 1. Same type/length of cable.
- Ran a pair of interconnects from the Anthem's pre-out to the Marantz's Power Direct input.
- Made sure there was no sound adjustments on the Anthem. Made sure tone controls were disabled on the Marantz PM-15s2.
- Played a test tone using the Marantz as an integrated amp and measured the db level. Pressed stop, then pressed the Power Direct button to change it to act as an amp. Played the same test tone, and adjusted the volume to match the same db level as the Marantz.
Now I am ready to begin.
I played a few tracks at first. Then more music. Played a whole bunch of range of stuff.. Eagles, Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Faye Wong, Vivaldi, Rostropovich, Celine Dion, The Carpenters, Bob Marley, Rage Against the Machines, Jessie J, Squirrel Nut Zippers... a whole bunch.
I didn't mean to at first, but I couldn't stop.
In my initial test with the Marantz receiver and pre-amp, the difference was very obvious. So I imagined it would be just as apparent with the Anthem. No, it was not. Not at all! That is why I couldn't stop.
I started with one track. Hit the Power Direct button... it still sounded the same. Then another track.. did the same... same results.
The Anthem did not kill the depth. The sound did not change at all. With the Marantz PM-15s2, the music sounded like you could touch it. As if there were no speakers. With the Anthem as a pre-amp, it did not change to "just speakers". It remained the same.
This was a unit straight out of the box with only one input configured. Unlike the past units that I tested, the Anthem placed in the middle of the mix did not change the sound at all. This was very exciting!

However, I did find that even with my most basic configuration settings on the Anthem, if I changed "Process Analog Audio Input" to 'On', it degraded the depth and imaging. I played with that a little bit, but always had the same degrading results.

So I decided to set up my next test for that day.
In comes the Emotiva amp.
Oppo (as source) --> dedicated stereo output+RCA splitter+interconnect--> Marantz PM-15s2 (analog 1 input, then out via the pre-amp) --> matrix switching box input 1 --> B&W 804S
Oppo (as source) --> dedicated stereo output+RCA splitter+interconnect--> Anthem (analog 1 input, then out via the pre-amp) --> matrix switching box input 2 --> B&W 804S
In this test, the Anthem and Marantz do not touch each other at all. Both acting as a pre-amp. Once again, used a test tone and level matched both setups.
Played most of the same songs as before... toggled the input on the matrix box while playing music... sound did not change at all.

Result: The Anthem as a pre-amp is very transparent.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Day 1 continues: Testing the Anthem's DAC
At this point, I've already proven to myself that the pre-amp portion of the Anthem is equal to the Marantz PM-15s2's pre-amp. It is transparent.
So now I wanted to hear the digital portion of it. I did not want to throw the Anthem's amplification section into the mix, so for now I am still using the Marantz as a power-amp only.
Anthem input #2 configured:
Video Input: None
Audio Input: Optical 1
Zone 2: None
Process Analog Audio Input: N/A
Anthem Room Correction: Off
Dolby Volume: Off


Oppo (as source) --> dedicated stereo output--> Anthem analog input 1--> B&W 804S
Oppo (as source) --> optical output--> Anthem optical input 1--> B&W 804S

In this test, I thought I would need to adjust the volume each time I switched inputs, but I didn't. Sound levels from both inputs measured the same.
Since the Anthem doesn't have dedicated buttons for each input, I configured my Logitech Harmony to control the Anthem because I didn't want to click on the remote, navigate on the screen, etc, etc every time I wanted to switch sources. So I configured the Harmony remote to switch between the two sources with just one click.

I still have not looked up to see what DAC chips the Anthem uses, but whatever they use, Anthem has implemented it very well.
There is a difference between the Oppo's DAC and the Anthem. But it's not as the case of this one is better than that one.
I found the spacial separation of the Anthem to be slightly more precised than the Oppo. However, I found the lower frequencies in the Oppo's DAC to be slightly more precise and a bit stronger. This was VERY very slight.
Perhaps the most distinguishable difference was when listening to music where the singer was so close to the mic that you could hear their breathing (like Joss Stone's The Chokin' Kind). At the end of a breath, with the Oppo it sounded like you could hear just a tad bit more of the breath.
I tried switching sources. I used my media server's plugged into the Oppo via USB, then used the DAC's stereo analog output. Then I had the optical output straight from the pc go into the Anthem. Same results.
The Anthem's DAC is very very well implemented.
Is it 100% identical to the Oppo? No. There are differences, but every so slight. I would say 99.xx%.
I would say it's like having two brand new red Ferrari's. One of them has 3 hairline scratches on the door. The other has 2 hairline scratches on the roof. You can't see them unless you are so close and at a certain angle. My point is, unless you are looking for it (the same way that you would be looking for a hairline scratch), you are not going to notice it.
When you are enjoying your music, you will be enjoying it every much the same as the other.
Just the same as if you were enjoying staring at one of the Ferrari's. You are not going to see the hairline scratches unless you are deliberately looking for them.

So how good is the Anthem's DAC? I've own several DACs in the past. I ended up selling my DAC1 because I was so content with the Oppo BDP-105's DAC.
And now, I find the Anthem's digital inputs so good that I am content with selling the Oppo.

Day 1 continues: Digital Input test
Markmon, I did this one just for you. I wanted to see if there was any real difference between using optical input or audio from HDMI input.
I configured my media server to output audio via HDMI and optical (I use JRiver). Configured input #3 on the Anthem with audio from HDMI.
I didn't bother with the HDMI display from the Anthem as I didn't need it. I was remoted into the media server using my laptop.
Played a few songs, switched between input #2 (optical) and input #3 (hdmi).
I can't say I heard any difference at all.
So rest assure that all the digital inputs work equally well.

So at this point, I have proven to myself the the Anthem's pre-amp portion is as transparent as the Marantz. And that the DAC is just as good as the Oppo's.

End of Day 1 testing.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Day 2: Testing the Anthem's internal amps

I decided on would continue the next test using 2-channel music only. Mostly the same music as the prior day.
Test configurations:
Oppo (as source) --> optical --> Anthem --> speaker selector switch (Luxman) --> B&W 804S
Oppo (as source) --> optical --> Anthem, out via the pre-amp --> Marantz PM-15s2 (as power amp) --> speaker selector switch (Luxman) --> B&W 804S

I played a test tone using the Marantz, and recorded the db level. Then I played the same test tone using the Anthem's internal amps and matched the db levels.
Now I was ready to start my tests.

Now the difference becomes apparent.
I played the same music as day 1, and just toggle the speaker switch to listen to the output form the internal amp vs the external amp.
The upper highs seem a bit rough compared to using a pro-amp. Like, very high female voices sound like sand paper 3000 grit versus the Marantz' 4000 grit. If you touch it with your hand, you can barely feel the difference.. but you do know that one of slightly more textured compared to the other. Did I notice this with all female voices? No. But it was more noticeable with voices compared to instruments playing the same high tones.
I listened to a lot of music with double bass and cellos. The bass also seemed slightly stronger with the pro-amp versus the internal amps.
The bass still seemed equally controlled and precise between the internal amp and the external amp, but with slightly less umph (not presence). However, this was very slight. Noticeable, but just barely. I heard it.. my wife did not.
One thing that I am very happy to report is that even though I noticed the high voice difference and the umph of the lower frequencies, the depth never changed. It never sounded like the sound was coming from speakers (as it did in my initial tests at the beginning of this thread). This was the biggest thing that turned me away from the Marantz receiver and pre-amp.

Also, keep in mind that these two devices do not have the same amplification power.
So because of that, I swapped the Marantz with the Emotiva. Again, not the same amplification power. I just wanted to see if I had the same results. Yes, I did.
Out of all the test, the bass was probably the biggest and most noticeable difference. Did it sound degraded? No. It just seemed like the external amps had more power (which the Marantz does not)
So does burn-in come into play at this point? I don't know. I may run this same test later. However, I can only do it with the Marantz as I returned the Emotiva today.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Day 2 continues: Testing HT and ARC

This post is already ridiculously long, so I will try to be short for this.

Setup 1: Oppo (as source and pre-amp) --> Emotiva A-500
Setup 2: Oppo (as source) via HDMI --> Anthem

I don't have a way of testing multi-channel on the fly. The matrix switch I made was made with stereo in mind only. I suppose I could modify it, but not this time.
I have always used the same particular blu-ray discs for testing out how well the surround effect are with different speakers and components.
Since I didn't have a way to test on the fly, I didn't listen or try to identify difference the same way I did with music. Instead, I just played some of my favorite scenes to see if anything sounded particularly different, or cooler, or more entertaining.

As I mentioned before, with the Oppo/Emotiva setup, everything sounded very clear, but Audyssey (when I had the Marantz AV receiver and pre-amp) made it everything so much better with movies. Surround effects, vocal, etc.
Once ARC was set up on the Anthem, I played several movie scenes with and without ARC.
With or without ARC, surround effects were entirely more enjoyable with Anthem compared to the Oppo/Emotiva combo. ARC didn't make a night and day difference, but everything sounded very balance with it on. Vocals were easily better balanced (more so with ARC on), and surround effects seemed more effect. That is what I found out last time as well. As much as the Oppo BDP-105 excels at so many things, these AV receivers/processor really do make such a difference with movies.
There really isn't much else to say about it with movies.
I have played quite a few games with it already, but I don't have a way of comparing it with anything. However, I found it more enjoyable playing games with ARC on.

However, one thing I do want to point out.
I played a CD in the Oppo a few hours later after testing the movies. I played it with and without ARC on, but I found that ARC seemed to affect the imaging too much. Did it sound bad? No.. but there were certain aspects that sounded a bit too processed with it on.
I am still trying to see if there is a way to toggle ARC on and off with just a button.


Conclusion

If you own an Anthem MRX 720/1120 and are wondering if the Anthem is adding any artificial sound to it, it's not. It is as transparent as the Marantz PM-15s2 and as transparent as the Oppo directly connected to a power amp.

The Anthem's DAC is equally impressive. Enough that it has replaced my Oppo BDP-105's use as a DAC.

Even the Anthem's internal amp is impressive. Being on par with the Marantz PM-15s2 or the Emotiva A-500.
Could it benefit from using an external amp? Maybe. Perhaps if you have very demanding speakers. In my case with my B&W 804S, I am more than content with the Anthem.
It sounds excellent with movies, does a very good job as balancing my different speakers while using surround sound, and plays music so beautifully that it sounds like the speakers disappear.

So yes, though not cheap, there is a receiver that is truly transparent for stereo.
If you really want to know how good your speakers can sound AND want to run a full surround setup with all the latest codecs, I highly recommend the Anthem MRX 720/1120.
Super awesome review. I'm really glad it worked out for you.

FYI, I do *not* use my Anthem amps in the receiver at all. When I had Emotivas, the quality between the Anthem and Emotiva XPA was close but the Emotiva provided a little bit more top end detail. When my dealer brought over the McIntosh (which he brought over because I was explaining to him how all amps pretty much sound the same), within a couple minutes it was obvious that the McIntosh had a super warm and musical tone. Now I run only McIntosh out of the Anthem lol.

So do you run subs or anything in that room? Can you set up a 2 channel preset with 2 speakers and a sub and use Anthem's crossover without losing sound quality? I assume you should be able to.

Video: JVC RS4500 135" screen in pure black room no light, htpc nvidia 1080ti.
Audio: Anthem mrx720 running 7.1.4, McIntosh MC-303, MC-152, B&W 802d3 LR, B&W HTM1D3 center, B&W 805d3 surround, B&W 702S2 rear, B&W 706s2 x 4 shelf mounted for atmos, 2 sub arrays both infinite baffle: 4x15 fi audio running on behringer ep4000 + 4x12 fi audio running on 2nd ep4000.
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post #65 of 83 Old 02-18-2018, 02:34 PM
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'Queso, that's some serious testing you've done! Bravo for the time and effort put into this!

Regarding your ARC testing, did you allow correction over the full frequency range, or did you limit the upper frequency?

It might be interesting to test ARC in a bass-managed 2.1 context, using your sub and limiting the correction frequency to somewhere around 300 Hz.

Also, I wonder if ARC resamples 16/44.1 CD tracks, leading to the "too processed" sound you mentioned. In fact, I've been exchanging some emails with Anthem tech support and am awaiting an answer on the resampling question.

Last edited by adam2434; 02-18-2018 at 05:06 PM.
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post #66 of 83 Old 02-18-2018, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioqueso View Post
Equipment used:

Conclusion

If you own an Anthem MRX 720/1120 and are wondering if the Anthem is adding any artificial sound to it, it's not. It is as transparent as the Marantz PM-15s2 and as transparent as the Oppo directly connected to a power amp.

The Anthem's DAC is equally impressive. Enough that it has replaced my Oppo BDP-105's use as a DAC.

Even the Anthem's internal amp is impressive. Being on par with the Marantz PM-15s2 or the Emotiva A-500.
Could it benefit from using an external amp? Maybe. Perhaps if you have very demanding speakers. In my case with my B&W 804S, I am more than content with the Anthem.
It sounds excellent with movies, does a very good job as balancing my different speakers while using surround sound, and plays music so beautifully that it sounds like the speakers disappear.

So yes, though not cheap, there is a receiver that is truly transparent for stereo.
If you really want to know how good your speakers can sound AND want to run a full surround setup with all the latest codecs, I highly recommend the Anthem MRX 720/1120.
Great review. I own an MRX-720 powered by an Outlaw 7500 amp |(200w/5 ch) and a BK ST202 amp for ATMOS 5.2.4 (use 2 channels off the MRX for on wall rears). I have set up my Rotel TT and Sonica DAC somewhat like you have. Analog processing off, no ARC; I even set up a speaker profile with all speakers set to off in the Speaker Setup menu, i.e., negating Bass Management. I am only running the analog output from source, thru the MRX-720, to just my 2 Paradigm Studio 100 V5 floor-standers. The sound is really nice...open and wide soundstage....it adds a whole lot to just 2 channel listening.

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post #67 of 83 Old 02-18-2018, 04:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioqueso View Post


I still have not looked up to see what DAC chips the Anthem uses, but whatever they use, Anthem has implemented it very well.
There is a difference between the Oppo's DAC and the Anthem. But it's not as the case of this one is better than that one.
I found the spacial separation of the Anthem to be slightly more precised than the Oppo. However, I found the lower frequencies in the Oppo's DAC to be slightly more precise and a bit stronger. This was VERY very slight.
Perhaps the most distinguishable difference was when listening to music where the singer was so close to the mic that you could hear their breathing (like Joss Stone's The Chokin' Kind). At the end of a breath, with the Oppo it sounded like you could hear just a tad bit more of the breath.
I tried switching sources. I used my media server's plugged into the Oppo via USB, then used the DAC's stereo analog output. Then I had the optical output straight from the pc go into the Anthem. Same results.
The Anthem's DAC is very very well implemented.

Is it 100% identical to the Oppo? No. There are differences, but every so slight. I would say 99.xx%.
Just as an FYI, the Anthem MRX x20 and Oppo both use the same AKM 4458 DAC which probably explains why you are satisfied with either as a DAC.

Video: JVC RS4500 135" screen in pure black room no light, htpc nvidia 1080ti.
Audio: Anthem mrx720 running 7.1.4, McIntosh MC-303, MC-152, B&W 802d3 LR, B&W HTM1D3 center, B&W 805d3 surround, B&W 702S2 rear, B&W 706s2 x 4 shelf mounted for atmos, 2 sub arrays both infinite baffle: 4x15 fi audio running on behringer ep4000 + 4x12 fi audio running on 2nd ep4000.
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post #68 of 83 Old 02-18-2018, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
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You're welcome.
I hope that this comparison can be informative to any looking for something like what I did.
There is such thing as a receiver that can excel in HT and be as transparent a pre-amp as an integrated amp can. It's not cheap though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markmon1 View Post
FYI, I do *not* use my Anthem amps in the receiver at all. When I had Emotivas, the quality between the Anthem and Emotiva XPA was close but the Emotiva provided a little bit more top end detail. When my dealer brought over the McIntosh (which he brought over because I was explaining to him how all amps pretty much sound the same), within a couple minutes it was obvious that the McIntosh had a super warm and musical tone. Now I run only McIntosh out of the Anthem lol.
I agree. I did a similar test years ago testing out the Emotiva XPA-5 vs a McIntosh amp. I had the review over at HTGuide's forums.
The Anthem seems to handle my 804S very well. You have much more demanding speakers that I do. So I can understand you benefiting from a power amp more than I would.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markmon1 View Post
So do you run subs or anything in that room? Can you set up a 2 channel preset with 2 speakers and a sub and use Anthem's crossover without losing sound quality? I assume you should be able to.
I use one subwoofer. I used it for HT testing. I did not use it for 2-channel testing as I wanted he test to be as pure as possible. So no bass management.
I did end up setting up a second profile with the sub, and changed a few levels more to my liking for HT usage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adam2434 View Post
'Queso, that's some serious testing you've done! Bravo for the time and effort put into this!
Regarding your ARC testing, did you allow correction over the full frequency range, or did you limit the upper frequency?
You're welcome.
Full range.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adam2434 View Post
Also, I wonder if ARC resamples 16/44.1 CD tracks, leading to the "too processed" sound you mentioned. In fact, I've been exchanging some emails with Anthem tech support and am awaiting an answer on the resampling question.
Hmmm... that is a possibility. If you receive an answer from Anthem regarding that question, could you please post it here. That would be interesting information to know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmacari View Post
The sound is really nice...open and wide soundstage....it adds a whole lot to just 2 channel listening.
Yes, I very much so agree!

Quote:
Originally Posted by markmon1 View Post
Just as an FYI, the Anthem MRX x20 and Oppo both use the same AKM 4458 DAC which probably explains why you are satisfied with either as a DAC.
Ahh... that would explain a lot. The only difference would be how the two companies implemented the chip.
Now I am thinking that I may sell both Oppo BDP-105's and get the slimmer BDP-203's instead.
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post #69 of 83 Old 02-18-2018, 08:20 PM
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Just as an FYI, the Anthem MRX x20 and Oppo both use the same AKM 4458 DAC which probably explains why you are satisfied with either as a DAC.
The Oppo 105 has the ESS Sabre 9018 DAC. I think the 103 and/or 203 have the AKM.
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post #70 of 83 Old 02-19-2018, 09:25 AM
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Reply from Anthem tech support:

"ARC does not adjust the sample rate."

So, that makes me wonder if limiting the ARC correction range to bass frequencies below 200 or 300 Hz could eliminate or reduce your "too processed" perception. Just curious...
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post #71 of 83 Old 03-01-2019, 10:17 AM
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@audioqueso
Thank you very much for all the testing you've done. Respect!


@adam2434
Unfortunately, even when limited to 300 Hz, ARC does affect the sound.

Even high pass filter affects the sound, but the effect is much more subtle. The benefit of using subwoofer(s) in the system is much greater.

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post #72 of 83 Old 04-07-2019, 01:46 PM
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Thumbs up Thank you

Hi Audioqueso,
Felt I had to leave a note to send you a big thank you. I have been looking for a home theatre receiver which can play decent music for sooo long.
I have spent hours and hours doing exactly the same tests with my system isolating the DAC and pre-amp and different power amps. I also found the receiver was lowering SQ significantly, in particular the stereo imaging using the DAC in my old receiver was much worse than my chord mojo external DAC. So I had gradually moved to a combination of separates and receiver but this added a lot of complexity when changing inputs and compromises in various ways.

I had never heard of Anthem before but based on your post I googled it and found there were many very positive reviews. Then I found that Australia has the mrx 1120 on special for 4k AUD every 6 months so I bought one.

Pure gold. I have a bad room for sound and ARC has transformed it whilst retaining the imaging and depth of sound I was looking for. Now I have the quality in home theatre and stereo I have been searching for for the last 30 years. I spent the entire weekend carefully fine tuning the ARC and the final result playing stereo brought tears to my eyes, it sounded so good.

So thanks for putting me on the path to sonic nirvana, if you are ever in New Zealand, let me know and I will buy you a beer or two.

Mike
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So thanks for putting me on the path to sonic nirvana, if you are ever in New Zealand, let me know and I will buy you a beer or two.

Mike
You're welcome.
It is nice to finally have the best of both worlds, huh.
Enjoy!
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post #74 of 83 Old 06-25-2019, 12:54 PM
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Just wanted to thank @audioqueso as well. This thread convinced me to pick up the Anthem MRX 720 to replace my Denon X4100W. I have external amplification so I didn't think the Denon could bring down the sound quality too much when I was only using it as a processor, but boy was I wrong.

Speakers: Ascend Acoustics Sierra RAAL Towers & Horizon w/ Mapleshade 4" Maple Platforms & Brass Heavyfeet ・ Ascend Sierra Luna satellitesRythmik FV18 subwoofer x2 ・ JBL GX-1200 subwoofer x5 direct mounted to seats
Components: Anthem MRX 720 ・ miniDSP DDRC-88BM with Dirac Live ・ Outlaw Audio 7140Sony VPL-HW45ES
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post #75 of 83 Old 06-25-2019, 02:32 PM
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The reason you keep buying receivers and AV processors is that they are musically unsatisfying. I have been through what you are going through, and I did not get musically satisfied until I invested in a Bryston SP3 processor. If you can forgo ATMOS, then you will not get any better sound, but you will have to invest in amps. There are no short cuts.
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post #76 of 83 Old 06-25-2019, 03:14 PM
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Same thing with me, bought a Pioneer Elite Sc-57, top of the line at the time, to replace a Nakamichi reciever. Sound was just a little thin(compared to the NAK), then thought maybe a decent 5 channel amplifier, better, but still a little lacking. Just recently bought the Anthem AVM 60 preamp/processor, and wow, what a difference! 2 channel analogue is superb! Home theatre is great (and I haven't even run ARC yet). Not surprising, being Canadian, Anthem started as 2 channel specialists called Sonic Frontiers (in the same town where I live) and were very well known for years. Then Paradigm bought and carried on that tradition. At the time I bought the SC-57, I did consider the Anthem receiver MRX700 and did prefer it for sound quality, but was enticed by the feature rich Pioneer Elite and its prior reputation as a high end receiver. These new receivers, in my opinion, are very good for home theatre, but they spend less time and effort on the analogue 2 channel areas, perhaps thinking analogue stereo is dead. I prefer listening to 2 channel music unprocessed as god intended it!
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post #77 of 83 Old 06-28-2019, 09:22 AM
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You rock audioqueso ! You just made me make up my mind and skip the “typical” upper end AV receivers and go for an Anthem or Arcam (most likely anthem). All your examples of describing your tests, as lengthy as they were in words, gave me the exact opposite internal feelings as I could oh so relate too well with what you meant by transparent. Thank you for the time you spent in doing these tests. You helped a fellow audio enthusiast potentially ultimately save thousands of dollars and priceless amount of headaches trying to get a SR6013 or RZ-830 receiver to sound glorious with my Emotiva XPA-5 Gen 3 and Dynaudios.

Just curious, what speaker cables and power cables going into the preamp and the power amp did you use?
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post #78 of 83 Old 06-28-2019, 10:42 PM
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If transparency in a device is the goal, these kind of things can be measured. Speaking of Marantz, I was surprised to see how poorly the Marantz AV8805 measured. I think it can be difficult if you are looking for a transparent devices for music.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/f...rocessor.6926/
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post #79 of 83 Old 06-29-2019, 05:00 AM
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My last AVR was Yamaha RXa3040 and felt both the Phono section and amplifier wasn't up to it for stereo with Kef Ref 203mk1. So looked for a power amp. Boought a Roksan Kandy Kma 2/3 and so good I bought another to Bi-amp the speakers. Note sound very neutral and almost Valve (US read Tube) like

Now have a Denon AVC X8500 and its good. The Power amps sound close enough to the Roksan to justify their disposal and the Phono section is nearly as good as my much modified Rotel RQ970BX phono amp and the (in)famous EAR 834 Tube phono pre amp.
So probably not as good as High end seperates but comes damn close.
In Fact reminds me of my old Pioneer AX10 AV Amp which had been likened to Krell amps in reviews of the time

Infocus SP8600 DLP, Denon AVC X8500H, Sony UBP X800 player, Kef 203/1 Main, 202C Center, Kef204ds Surround, HTS 2001 Rear Surround and FP, RP, 2x Kenwood SW-X1 12" Subs fitted DLS DS3004BP plate amps.
Vinyl - Technics SL1210, Reson Reca, Decca London Maroon, Denon 103R, Rotel RQ970BX Modified or EAR834P.
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post #80 of 83 Old 06-29-2019, 05:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaby View Post
The reason you keep buying receivers and AV processors is that they are musically unsatisfying. I have been through what you are going through, and I did not get musically satisfied until I invested in a Bryston SP3 processor. If you can forgo ATMOS, then you will not get any better sound, but you will have to invest in amps. There are no short cuts.
Not sure who this is to, but so far at least 4 of us in this thread have settled on Anthem and found them to be great, not musically unsatisfying. Did you even read the thread before posting?
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Video: JVC RS4500 135" screen in pure black room no light, htpc nvidia 1080ti.
Audio: Anthem mrx720 running 7.1.4, McIntosh MC-303, MC-152, B&W 802d3 LR, B&W HTM1D3 center, B&W 805d3 surround, B&W 702S2 rear, B&W 706s2 x 4 shelf mounted for atmos, 2 sub arrays both infinite baffle: 4x15 fi audio running on behringer ep4000 + 4x12 fi audio running on 2nd ep4000.
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post #81 of 83 Old 06-29-2019, 05:54 AM
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^Make that 5. Perhaps s/he has no experience with Anthem?

IMO Anthem's reputation for high quality sound is well deserved. Their AVRs and processors aren't cheap, and that will mean they're not an option for a lot of people. But for those that can afford / justify this kind of purchase, they are a go-to solution at their price points.

Just one more upgrade and things will be perfect.
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post #82 of 83 Old 06-29-2019, 07:06 AM
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@audioqueso

A question:

Which analog input did you use on the Anthem MRX 720, Marantz SR7012 and Marantz AV7702? For example, one of the stereo inputs such as CD?
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post #83 of 83 Old 06-29-2019, 08:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaby View Post
The reason you keep buying receivers and AV processors is that they are musically unsatisfying. I have been through what you are going through, and I did not get musically satisfied until I invested in a Bryston SP3 processor. If you can forgo ATMOS, then you will not get any better sound, but you will have to invest in amps. There are no short cuts.
Sometimes it's useful to compare MSRP as a sanity check.

Audio Advisor has that Bryston SP3 for $9995.
The Anthem MRX 720 is $2499.

At 4x the price, that Bryston darned well ought to sound a lot better than the Anthem! But does it? Has anyone compared these two, head to head?

Probably a moot point as the Bryston is way out of my budget.

EDIT: One question -- Have you compared Bryston to Tinnov? IIRC they are similarly priced.

Just one more upgrade and things will be perfect.

Last edited by Bill-99; 06-29-2019 at 11:26 AM.
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