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Which AV receiver do you prefer with Focal speakers?

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

This is my first post on these forums. As a bit of background, I'm located in western Canada (Calgary), and I do quite a bit of work with pro audio products. While I'm familiar with the pro audio/mixing realm, I'm fairly clueless when it comes to the mid to high-end home AV receiver market. I figured I'd sign up here, and seek some advice. The mods are more than welcome to delete this post if it goes against the rules, or has been beaten to death. To date, I've narrowed down my search to the Anthem MRX1120 & Arcam AVR550. Both seem to be decent quality pieces competing in the same market space.

Here's my questions/comments regarding the Anthem MRX1120 and Arcam AVR550:


  • I'm primarily concerned with quality. Which receiver has the better build quality, and which one features the best internal components?
  • I may be able to pick up an Anthem MRX1120 for over a $1000-$1500 less than the Arcam AVR550. Price certainly has to be a factor, but I'm willing to pay for quality.
  • I plan on pairing the receiver with either the Focal Chorus or Aria line. Which amp matches best with the Focal brand? I'm familiar with the Focal speakers, and have heard numerous demos at local dealers. Unfortunately, I've been unable to test them with the listed amps. I believe the dealer was using an Onkyo at the time.
  • I realize that the Anthem MXR 1120 has a higher amplifier channel count. I'm not too concerned with this, especially if I'm sacrificing quality (versus the Arcam).
  • Lastly, I prefer a more 'relaxed' sound for long listening sessions, especially with movies. I'd prefer a home audio setup that can smoothen a harsh or unideal mix. Since I won't be mixing on this setup, I'm not necessarily going for accuracy. I'm going for fun. I mix on PMC TWOTWO near field speakers. I'd consider them forward and bright, which is great for dealing in FX, EQ and compression. However, they're a little bit overkill (IMO) in terms of my budget/style for home theatre.
  • Feel free to offer some suggestions with regards to a nice speaking pairing with either AV receiver. I like the idea of going with Focal (as I've heard their home audio line), and I'd consider their pro line to be a fun, and more relaxed speaker (versus Barefoot/ATC/PMC).

I certainly don't plan on buying anything prior to trying. I wanted to acquire more insight from these forums, prior to hassling dealers. IMO, it's very hard to compare audio products unless you're testing in the same room.

Thanks in advance, and I look forward to hearing the responses.

Kind regards,

Phil
 

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From what I have read, the Arcam AVR550 will provide better sound quality due to its support for Dirac Live room correction. Unless you already have a very well acoustically treated room, the Dirac room correction should provide better results than Anthem Room Correction (ARC) according to all reports that I have read from folks who have heard them both. ARC is still reported to be way better than Audyssey, but Dirac, as used in the Arcam AVRs trumps them all.

Although the Anthem MRX1120 does have 11 amplifier channels, 6 of them are low power (50 watt) D-class amps. These may work for you if you don't have low impedance speakers. I don't know If so, you could save money that would be needed for 4 extra amplifier channels for Dolby Atmos heights with the Arcam AVR550.

I am planning on getting the Arcam AVR550 myself, unless I can find the money for the AVR850, which has the unsurpassed G-class amplifiers. :)
 

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Both are great; many here love Dirac. I myself didn't notice much difference between Dirac and ARC in my room.....but pretty good chance it was due to me messing something up with the Dirac calibration.

Really can't go wrong w/either and my bet is it comes down to personal preference rather than one being clearly better than the other.
 

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I see on the dedicated thread, that Arcam released a firmware update so that Dirac is finally supported on the height channels. That now brings it to parity with the Anthem, but I went Anthem (MRX-1120) a few months ago as there were no Arcam dealers anymore in Washington and the Oregon dealers didnt have the new receivers on demo. An Anthem dealer 60 mile from me had an MRX-720 on demo and so I could go play with it and hear it. I would have demoed both if I could have though - I had high excitement for the Arcam, but the shrinking dealer network killed it for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Arcam & anthem

Thanks for the comments.

I'll commit to something in the coming months, after I move.

It's tough to go with the Arcam, considering the ridiculous markup in Canada. I heard the Anthem MRX 1120 earlier today. It sounded great at the dealer. However, the dealer was a huge Pioneer fan, and pushed me in that direction.

Pending on prices, I may even go with a preamp box (from Marantz, Integra or Anthem). The Genelec G series has caught my eye, and it may be a better solution for me. I love that they're metal, compact and are built like tanks. Plus, plenty of movies are mixed on Genelecs.

Why haven't powered monitors caught on in the home environment? I'm surprised that companies don't put amps in their main/tower/left-right channels. I realize that the answer is cost, but with modern class-d tech, home setups have the potential to kick ass.

It's a little strange at how different the pro audio world is compared to the home audio market. The stuff used to mix has evolved far differently than the home audio solutions claiming to be flat. I'm not dissing one or the other.., just an observation.

Cheers,

Phil
 

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Why haven't powered monitors caught on in the home environment?
Home user comfort zone is to have absolute control of amp choice. A mysterious amp inside the speaker takes that away, unless (try explaining this) it's a subwoofer. Having to run AC cables or outlets as well as interconnects instead of speaker cable can also be an issue. Despite all the performance merits which arguably outweigh the above, rave reviews and great technical writeups like these weren't enough to maintain interest:

www.biline.ca/audio_critic/audio_critic_down.htm issue 25
www.stereophile.com/standloudspeakers/597
www.audio-ideas.com/reviews/loudspeakers/active-40.html
www.soundstage.com/revequip/paradigm_active40.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Anthem + Genelec

Home user comfort zone is to have absolute control of amp choice. A mysterious amp inside the speaker takes that away, unless (try explaining this) it's a subwoofer. Having to run AC cables or outlets as well as interconnects instead of speaker cable can also be an issue. Despite all the performance merits which arguably outweigh the above, rave reviews and great technical writeups like these weren't enough to maintain interest:
Thanks Nick for the great reply.

I totally get the inconvenience of running an XLR cable, plus an AC power chord to each speaker. However, I'd much rather get the power blocks/amps out of the receiver, and run along balanced connectors.

I feel like a product like your Anthem AVM 60 with a 5.1 Genelec G series setup would be killer!

Do you have a preferred dealer in Calgary that's moving more stock than others? If not, I'll simply hunt them down myself. K&W seem to be floored with your product range.

Thanks again,

Phil
 

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I feel like a product like your Anthem AVM 60 with a 5.1 Genelec G series setup would be killer!
It is!!!

The company I work for carries Anthem/Paradigm and Genelec. I do wish more companies would go the active route as it offer a lot of advantages over passive speakers. I wish Paradigm still made active speakers but I understand they might not be great sellers. I don't know how well their Shift A2 sells but it a great speaker at its price point, I have a pair in my family room. I think some Active Prestige speakers would be great!
 

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Thanks for the comments.

I'll commit to something in the coming months, after I move.

It's tough to go with the Arcam, considering the ridiculous markup in Canada. I heard the Anthem MRX 1120 earlier today. It sounded great at the dealer. However, the dealer was a huge Pioneer fan, and pushed me in that direction.

Pending on prices, I may even go with a preamp box (from Marantz, Integra or Anthem). The Genelec G series has caught my eye, and it may be a better solution for me. I love that they're metal, compact and are built like tanks. Plus, plenty of movies are mixed on Genelecs.

Why haven't powered monitors caught on in the home environment? I'm surprised that companies don't put amps in their main/tower/left-right channels. I realize that the answer is cost, but with modern class-d tech, home setups have the potential to kick ass.

It's a little strange at how different the pro audio world is compared to the home audio market. The stuff used to mix has evolved far differently than the home audio solutions claiming to be flat. I'm not dissing one or the other.., just an observation.

Cheers,

Phil
The Arcam receiver is exceptional sounding. You owe it to yourself to demo one if you can. I really liked the fact that Dirac Live could be run on a Mac computer. With Anthem I would have had to use VM software and run Windows to use ARC. Still don't understand why Anthem does not support OS X. Arcam just released a new firmware update and a new version of Dirac Live. I do have to say after re-running Dirac with the new version, sounds even better then it did before the update. It sounded great before and it was hard to believe that it sounded better after the update. Anyhow, before you decide give a listen to the Arcam receivers.
 

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Made your choice?

Thanks for the comments.

I'll commit to something in the coming months, after I move.

It's tough to go with the Arcam, considering the ridiculous markup in Canada. I heard the Anthem MRX 1120 earlier today. It sounded great at the dealer. However, the dealer was a huge Pioneer fan, and pushed me in that direction.

Pending on prices, I may even go with a preamp box (from Marantz, Integra or Anthem). The Genelec G series has caught my eye, and it may be a better solution for me. I love that they're metal, compact and are built like tanks. Plus, plenty of movies are mixed on Genelecs.

Why haven't powered monitors caught on in the home environment? I'm surprised that companies don't put amps in their main/tower/left-right channels. I realize that the answer is cost, but with modern class-d tech, home setups have the potential to kick ass.

It's a little strange at how different the pro audio world is compared to the home audio market. The stuff used to mix has evolved far differently than the home audio solutions claiming to be flat. I'm not dissing one or the other.., just an observation.

Cheers,

Phil
Have you already chosen your new AVR and Speakers? Hope you have been able to demo them at home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Choices & Decisions

Have you already chosen your new AVR and Speakers? Hope you have been able to demo them at home.

I think I'm going to get killed for stating this, but my wife and I decided to go with the Yamaha YSP-5600 and the matching sub with our Vizio P65. I'm sorry to let you down! Our living room is fairly small, and this seemed like an OK compromise.


I have a project recording studio, so I have some nice Genelec monitors and sub (8340 and 7360 series) in the basement. I'll probably end up getting a Yamaha or Anthem preamp and go XLR into a 5.1 setup of those (within the next few years).


I'm still at a loss as to why the home audio market hasn't embraced powered monitors like the pro audio world!


As for the sound bar, the YSP-5600 is fantastic for TV viewing and movies. It really shattered my expectations in that department. However, it's lacking in the music category.


Cheers,


Phil
 
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