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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had my trusty AVM-30 for 6 years when I decided to upgrade to a pre with HDMI switching and some kind of room correction functionality. Short version: I bought and returned two new units, and in the end went with an older used one and am very happy. And it was cheaper.

My priorities are sonic performance for movies & tv (I have a separate 2-channel setup for music) and flexibility to integrate with the rest of my setup. I have 5.1 speakers and no intention of adding more.

The Emotiva XMC-1 was the dark-horse since I am a fan of Anthem gear but given the rave reviews I gave it a shot. Sonically it performed really well, but a few things turned me off-- yes the marketing is a little over the top and yes the remote looks like a sience-fair project built from off-the-shelf radio shark parts. The sound was great, but it was really sensitive to AC line noise that was never a problem with the Anthem. The front display was a bit obnoxious too-- I like my displays quiet and understated. You can turn it down or off completely but there's no option to leave just the LED display on and the button lights off. At the end of the day it was not my cup of tea. Emotiva service was gracious and accepted the return without quibbles.

Next I tried the Anthem MRX-710 for the same price. Its ARC software is awesome and it's a receiver so I could theoretically decommision my Rotel 5-channel amp, bonus. I wired it up as a pre-pro to try it out. Sonically it was great, and no A/C interference. Features were solid except one thing; the "Copy Main" feature on the AVM-30 is nowhere to be found. That's the thing that lets you copy the main zone to other zones regardless of source. Without that feature there is no built-in way to play HDMI audio in both the living room and kitchen simultaneously, an absolute requirement in my home. If the source can output audio to optical/coax and HDMI sumultaneously you can do it that way but not all sources have that ability.

I kept the MRX-710 in my system for a week and tried to like it but ultimately decided that even though the HDMI were nice, it was sonically actually a slight downgrade from the AVM-30. That shouldn't have been such a huge surprise given that it's receiver going up against a dedicated prepro that cost quite a bit more, even though it's 10 years old. Anthem accepted the return no questions asked.

Does newer technology with mid-market circuitry outperform older technology with high-end circuitry? Nope, in my experience the newer codecs and dacs are nice but the biggest part of the sound still comes from the analog guts.

So I found a nice clean used Statment D2 for $1600. MSRP was $7000 eight years ago. It has HDMI switching, 24/192 upsampling, ARC, and is the only one of the bunch that clearly SOUNDS like an upgrade from the AVM-30. Build quality is impeccable. And you can route HDMI audio to all three zones at once! Missing are: Dolby Digital Plus, but the fireTV I use for Netflix outputs 5.1 PCM so that's fine; and hi-bitrate codecs like Dolby True-HD for which I have no source material; and 3D (see True-HD). I do miss Dolby Volume management and the setup interface is dated. I can live with that.

That's the post I was looking for when I started researching upgrades. I couldn't find it anywhere, hope it helps somebody. YMMV, opinions are mine only, etc.

My system:

Anthem Statement D2
Fronts: Naim 202/250 powering ATC-SCM11 speakers
Center/Surr: Rotel 1085 w Snell speakers
Sources: FireTV, Mac Mini w/Kodi, Chromecast, Weiss dac for music
 

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What did you do to remove subjectivity from the listening? Just from reading here, you rated what was the most expensive as the best and then the Anthem you went into thinking that had lesser circuitry. It seems very much like your results were what your subconscious wanted.
 

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In that price range I would add the Marantz 7702 to your short list, I came from an AVM 20v2 (essentially an AVM30) combined with an Oppo 95 to a Marantz 8801 an Oppo 105. I"m currently using the Marantz 8802 and the reports of owners that switched from the 8801 to the 7702 are very,very positive. The sonic upgrade from my Anthem was well worth it going to the 8801 and at this point and if it were me I wouldn't hesitate to at least give the 7702 an serious audition;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
What did you do to remove subjectivity from the listening? Just from reading here, you rated what was the most expensive as the best and then the Anthem you went into thinking that had lesser circuitry. It seems very much like your results were what your subconscious wanted.
Thanks for the response. The point I was trying to make is that the newer dacs and codecs get all the attention but they're only a small part of what goes in to the sound. The non-digital guts have changed relatively little in the last 10 years and you can now get some very high-end stuff for a steal if you don't really need DolbyHD etc.

Just something to consider. It wasn't fun or cheap shipping the big heavy pre-pro's back to the mfrs, but it was a good learning experience worth sharing.
 
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