Receivers

Anthem MRX 500 7.1 A/V Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction to the Anthem MRX 500 7.1 A/V Receiver

A quick internet search turns up a number of very positive reviews for the Anthem MRX 700. The MRX 700 is Anthem's top of line receiver. In my internet search, however, I didn't find any reviews of the two other receiver models. Incidentally, the MRX 700 has basically gotten nothing but positive reviews as far as I could tell. Meanwhile, Anthem's other two receiver models; the MRX 300 and the MRX 500, may very well suit those who don't quite need all the power and features of the MRX 700 or those who have real world budget constraints.

So I decided to spend a little time with the middle receiver, the MRX 500. A very big part of the story is that all three Anthem receivers include the complete Anthem Room Correction (ARC) system. This is an amazing inclusion at the available price points for the line. Let's see how the $1,499 MRX 500 stacks up.

ANTHEM MRX 500 7.1 A/V RECEIVER SPECIFCATIONS

  • Design: 7.1 A/V Receiver
  • Codecs: Dolby TrueHD , Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital EX, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-ES (Matrix, Discrete), DTS 96/24
  • Power Output: 2 x 100 Watts RMS into 8 Ohms - Two Channels Driven; 5 x 75 Watts RMS
  • THD+N: 0.1%
  • DACs: 24/192
  • 2-Zone Operation
  • AM/FM Radio Tuner
  • Anthem Room Correction (ARC)
  • Dimensions: 6.5" H x 17.25" W x 15.25" D
  • Weight: 34.3 Pounds
  • MSRP: $1,499 USA, $1,649 CAN
  • Anthem
  • SECRETS Tags: Receivers, Surround Sound, Room Correction, 5.1

Design of the Anthem MRX 500 7.1 A/V Receiver

As with each of the three Anthem receivers, the MRX 500 is a 3d-ready 2- zone 7-channel surround receiver. Anthem originally planned to release a massive 9-channel receiver, the MRX 900, but that project has been cancelled due to the market realities for that size and class of surround receiver.

To start things off, I want to emphasize that the MRX 500 embodies Anthem's legendarily solid and masculine build quality. The case has a sturdy heft with a textured finish while the front panel is a substantial brushed aluminum affair with a two-line dot matrix display.

Robert Kozel recently reviewed the Anthem MRX 700 on for Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity (Link). In his review of the MRX 700, Robert did an excellent job of providing a rundown on the three Anthem receiver models. So I will primarily focus my comments on some of the features and design elements that were not covered so thoroughly by Robert.

Dropping down from the top of the line MRX 700 to the MRX 500 naturally means that you will see a lower power output rating (100 wpc versus 120 wpc). Anthem rates their receivers for stereo operation using the FTC method. The MRX 500 is rated to deliver 100 wpc continuous into 2 channels driving an 8 ohm load from 20 – 20k Hz at less than 0.1% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion). I remember when all amplifiers were rated this way. That was back in the halcyon days of stereo, before the multi-channel beasts started to roam the earth. Ahem, well, what this means is that the MRX 500 can be expected to produce useful power output into actual speaker loads.

Bear in mind that the power rating drops to 75 wpc continuous into 8 ohms with 5 channels driven continuously. No distortion measurement is given by Anthem in this case. In any event, it would be very rare that a receiver would be called upon to produce peak power to five or seven channels simultaneously. In day to day practice, I found that the MRX 500 had ample power output to drive a number of different speaker systems despite the wide range of sensitivity ratings of each and also considering my theater space is relatively large.

Here is a shot of the MRX 500 transformer and forced-air cooling fan.

The transformer design in the MRX 500 is an iron core EI transformer as opposed to the lower-noise torroidal design found in the MRX 700. There was no noticeable transformer hum in any of the auditioning I did with the Anthem MRX 500. Also, I bench tested the MRX 500 and the results were almost identical to the test plots that Robert Kozel posted in his review of the MRX 700, despite the different transformer designs. Clicking on this link will bring up the bench test results of the MRX 700 (Link).

This image shows the outlet side of the cooling tunnel. There are 2 large output devices for each channel of amplification. Also, unlike the sparsely populated cases of mass market receivers, the MRX 500 case is literally packed with goodness, contributing immensely to its mass and solid build quality.

The MRX 500 does not have HD radio or RDS as found in the MRX 700. There is old-school analog AM/FM as well as internet radio using vTuner for those who favor quantity over quality. I personally use internet radio only for background music. As with the MRX 700, the MRX 500's internet radio is via Ethernet only, however you could run out and purchase a wireless bridge if you wish to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi.

The MRX 500 has a dual processor dsp circuit that includes the heralded Anthem Logic listening modes along with the full suite of Dolby and DTS modes. There are front and rear USB inputs for playing music libraries off your flash drives or external hard drives. Cover art, when available, is displayed on your TV during playback. The MRX 500 is compatible with the soon-to-be-released Anthem MDX 1 iPod dock via a proprietary rear-panel connection.

There are two things on the audio side that are not included - a phono stage and multi-channel analog inputs. I don't see these omissions as a major problem in this day and age, but many prospective buyers may have an issue with the exclusion of either or both of these. I personally have an SACD player with good internal DAC's that I did not use with the MRX 500. But my Oppo BDP 83 SE sounded great playing SACD's through the MRX 500. For vinyl, I have a Parasound JC-3 phono preamp so I had no issues enjoying my vinyl collection during the review period.

The Anthem MRX 500 includes Dolby Volume which I do not use very often. Since the MRX 500 is not THX certified nor does it have Audyssey room correction there is no Dolby Loudness control/Dynamic EQ which I often use. And my family loves Dolby Loudness even though they don't know that it is typically engaged on our system or that it even exists for that matter.

On vinyl and other stereo sources, I tried the Anthem Logic music mode, but preferred the Dolby Pro Logic II music mode due to its inclusion of the center speaker. This is due mostly to the wide spacing I use for the main speakers when I have plans to use my front projector. Consequently, I did adjust the DPL II panorama, dimension and center width controls and found that the MRX 500 had no on-screen adjustment for this. The adjustments must be done via the front panel display. This wasn't a major issue, but it was not very convenient as the Anthem receiver sat in an enclosed cabinet at the back of my theater.

On the video side of things, the MRX 500 is 3d-ready. I have not made the leap to 3d (yet) so I was not able to test this capability for myself. This receiver has a single HDMI output on the rear panel. I like a second HDMI out whenever possible as the HDMI splitter I have sometimes doesn't play nice with receivers. The MRX 500 does not have a front panel HDMI input. Front-panel HDMI inputs are useful primarily so that my kids can get a crack at playing video games on the big rig until I send them packing to their own rooms with their gaming rigs in tow.

The included Genesis Torino video processor didn't pass all the tests run by Robert Kozel. In actual practice, though, I thought the subjective performance of the video section was more than passable and even bested a number of other receivers I've had in my system over the years. I could happily live with the video performance I saw. Bear in mind that I didn't use any analog video sources and it is in the MRX series transcoding of analog to HDMI where many of the very rigorous bench tests fell short of a passing score.

Kudos goes to the sliding panel that hides/reveals the front-panel inputs. It slides this way and that to show or hide the connections. I like this so much more than the detachable little plastic covers that disappear after the first few uses only to turn up several months later when you move a bookcase and discover that they suffered the dismal fate of having become a chew toy for one of your free-ranging house pets.

The MRX 500 comes with the same pair of remotes as the MRX 700. One is a full-function backlit model and the other is a smaller non-backlit device for the second zone.


Setup of the Anthem MRX 500 7.1 A/V Receiver

The time has come to setup the MRX 500. Although it doesn't have all the connectivity options some people would like, this does make for a refreshingly uncluttered back panel. It is particularly easy to read the labels on the various inputs and outputs. And, likewise, the spacing of the jacks is similarly wide enough to allow the use of premium connectors. Thank you, Anthem.

Now then, the pièce de résistance of the Anthem receiver line is the inclusion of a complete Anthem Room Correction (ARC) system. As with all Anthem ARC systems, the one included with the MRX receivers comes complete with a set up disc and a high quality USB electret condenser microphone with a serialized microphone compensation file on the disc. It also includes a decent quality boom-style microphone stand.

All you need to provide is a computer to run the set up system. The mic connects to an available USB jack while the computer communicates with the MRX 500 via an RS 232 serial connection. I used a tower with my display as the monitor. So the serial connection to the receiver worked flawlessly. If you want to use a laptop, you can get a serial to USB adapter at your local PC supply house.

This ARC system isn't quite the same as the one Anthem builds into their Statement D2 or AVM 50v Preamp Processors. The ARC systems in the MRX receivers have less processing power than the systems included with Anthem's separate Pre-Pros. Likewise, the correction range is from 5 kHz and down while the more expensive systems operate out to a limit of 20 kHz. Despite all that, I found the performance of the ARC system bundled with the Anthem MRX 500 to be much better than the common room correction systems that are included with a number of mass market receivers I have tried.

Running the ARC system is a little more intensive of an operation than running Audyssey or the proprietary systems from Pioneer, NAD, H/K, Yamaha, etc. but it provides so much more flexibility for custom controls and visualizing the results of your work. Unlike lesser systems, the ARC system nailed the crossover and level for every speaker system I tried. It doesn't automatically set the distance due to the uncertainty over actual latency of the PC in use. You need to use a tape measure to manually set the distance of each speaker.

On the EQ side of things, I was impressed how closely ARC's measurements of the speaker response corresponded with measurements I made using my reference speaker testing set up. It also provided very effective frequency smoothing in relation to the target curve. You can define your own custom target curves and you can tailor the bass management to movie or music listening. The preferred bass management is selectable by source in the set up menu.


The Anthem MRX 500 7.1 A/V Receiver In Use

I did not observe any subjective issues with HDMI video quality. All my video sources are HDMI and I don't utilize a single analog video input anymore. In fact, I found the digital video switching of the Anthem MRX 500 to be superior to a number of the receivers that have passed through my system.

As I mentioned in the previous section, the Anthem MRX 500 had some issues communicating with my HDMI splitter. This is pretty typical of many of the receivers and processors I have tested. I generally ran the Anthem on "Through" mode for the most pure image. When I would try accessing the on-screen menus while in "Through" mode, the screen would blink a few times as the splitter confused the MRX 500 and eventually the screen would come back up without ever displaying the menu. I quickly learned how to change the video mode to "Auto" using the front panel display so I could access the on-screen menus. I switched back and forth between each video mode throughout the review period in order to access the menus as needed. This really was nothing more than a minor inconvenience in actual practice. (Anthem informed me that the latest firmware update should solve this problem. I was not able to test this upgrade, but it should be available by the time this review is published.)

A good test for the MRX 500 video switching was the engrossing Blu-ray of The Lincoln Lawyer. I thoroughly enjoyed this suspenseful, thought-provoking movie. The video quality of the transfer is a top tier effort. Both the interior and exterior shots are rendered with excellent detail with natural colors and skin tones. The film grain was also preserved on the Blu-ray. The MRX 500 did not appear to soften the image to any appreciable extent and I was in fact drawn more in to the experience due to the very solid picture.

The audio on The Lincoln Lawyer is no slouch, either. There was great bass response during the times it was called upon and this movie has many different environments – jail cells, houses, interrogation rooms, court rooms, etc. The MRX 500 captured the essence of each environment in a realistic, nuanced way.

A more "actiony" movie to test the Anthem MRX 500 was the Liam Neeson thriller, Unknown. In this movie, Neeson plays a biochemist who is in Berlin for a conference. He winds up in an accident and suffers amnesia. The plot unfolds as he tries to pull the pieces of his memory back together again. One very important point about Anthem processors and their receivers with ARC is that they have in my opinion the best bass response I can muster in my theater. People and reviewers probably don't talk about this ARC quality enough. Whether it is a movie or music, Anthem's products deliver the smoothest and best-defined bass I have ever heard in my system. And the MRX 500 is no exception. During the big chase scene in Unknown, the bass from the Anthem was so well integrated with the rest of the audio, I was simply blown away. My notes actually said "Whoa, Nellie"! This movie also had a number of scenes with very clean video that passed through the MRX 500 quite nicely.

I didn't really enjoy The Lovely Bones very much at all. I found the story to be extremely saddening on so many levels. But it is a good point of discussion regarding the sound quality of the Anthem MRX 500 receiver. To begin with, the musical score by Brian Eno sets the tone of the movie and shows off the musical prowess of the MRX 500 quite handily. Starting with the bass again, it was pinpoint with the appropriate weight . . . it was not boomy or muddy in any way. The movie's core audio theme involved bell sounds and the sound of jangly things. The jangly sounds were clearly contrived, but the sounds of bells were so believable through the Anthem MRX 500 that I had one of those experiences where I paused the movie because I thought I heard an actual phone ringing in the other room. The film transfer did tend to over-emphasize the sibilants in voices and the Anthem let that come through unvarnished as well.

I actually watched Robin Hood in 2.1-channel mode because I was evaluating a pair of mid-sized bookshelf speakers at the time. This was a great opportunity to showcase the Anthem MRX 500's power output capabilities. But first, let's talk about the video qualities. The video through the MRX 500 was about as detailed as I could have imagined. A little too detailed when you consider it revealed how clean the actors were in this movie. They are just a little too clean to appear the least bit authentic. That was the single most negative thing about this movie . . . it's too Hollywood.

Besides that, there was a seamless transition in the sub crossover. The sound came through with a clean and airy treble. Plus, there was plenty of power on reserve for the battle sequences. Even in stereo, there was no hole in the middle while the ambience and environmental sounds were very lively. Finally, the orchestral score had good bloom and vocals floated in front of the screen. There was a very surprising scale with the music during the closing credits.

Now I'd like to run the Anthem MRX 500 through its paces on a couple of surround music selections. First up was the multi-channel SACD of Sir Colin Davis conducting the London Symphony Orchestra on Handel's Messiah. There was a subjectively very low noise floor through the MRX 500. It was not quite the inkiest black that I can remember, but it was about as dark a grey as one could imagine. The soundstage reached into every corner of my room and emulated the actual performance space with a wide and airy extension. The MRX 500 also delivered plenty of power to render the macro dynamic peaks at levels consistent with a live performance. But the sound was nuanced as well and everything held together the same at lower volume settings. This benefitted from the low noise. The strings took on the organic, wooden quality that lesser amps might smear into a more homogeneous mass of sounds. I was very impressed by the MRX 500 here.

I closed out my critical listening sessions with the SACD of Bach Organ Works. Kari Vuola performs these works on the organ at the Naantali Convent Church in Finland. This is becoming one of my favorite recordings for listening tests of surround systems. The Anthem MRX 500 filled my room with an amazing surround bubble. The receiver traced the subtlest dynamic shadings and demonstrated excellent power capabilities in filling my large room to convincing levels. The MRX 500 created a continuous soundscape loaded with timbral detail. I once again found the bass response from the Anthem MRX 500 to be on a par with the best bass I've heard in my system ever. It blends so seamlessly with the satellites and its weight and tonality is as close to ideal as I have ever heard.


Conclusions about the Anthem MRX 500 7.1 A/V Receiver

I can't remember being more impressed with a mid priced surround receiver than I was with the Anthem MRX 500. It has a top tier room correction system that is one of the most accomplished and flexible correction schemes on the market. It also comes complete with a calibrated mic and a quality mic stand.

As far as the power output capabilities are concerned, this receiver drove a wide variety of speaker systems to satisfying levels without any obvious signs of strain. The MRX 500 doesn't have every conceivable bell and whistle in the universe, but Anthem's engineers smartly committed their resources into enhancing the quality of the essentials while throwing in a generous helping of useful creature comforts. For my part, I'll take the Anthem's smooth and confident sound, substantial build quality and clean, well-integrated bass any day of the week. Do yourself a favor and audition an Anthem MRX 500 before making a decision on any receiver. You may find that the Anthem MRX 500 has everything you need and everything you want.

FEATURED COMMENTS

HMDI switcher
Written by Paul , October 14, 2011

How cumbersome was your issue with the switcher? The lack of two HDMI outputs on this receiver is among the biggest obstacles for me in considering this line of receiver. The other is a lack of MCH analogue input (though I may break down and replace my venerable DVD-A/SACD player with one that is HDMI equipped in any case).

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MRX 300 reviews
Written by Shadez , October 15, 2011

I find it puzzling that there seems to be no MRX 300 reviews anywhere. Since it's basically exactly the same processor as the one highly regarded in the 500 and 700, minus the network capability and a little less output, this should be regarded as even better performance/price wise. 500 and 700 are good compared to the competition, but the 300 compared to others at the same price point, really is a no-brainer - but for some reason there isn't that much focus on that model. Just seems odd to me...

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I love my new Anthem
Written by Doc Greene Sr. , October 15, 2011

I totally concur with this review, but I splurged and bought the Anthem MRX 700. I just like to play it a little louder than most folks and I am using every input on the 700 for something.

The sound is what moved me the most. It is hard to believe how much better this sounds than the Denons, Yahmahas, Onkyos and Pioneers. I do recommend that you have a pro do your set up though. So buy it from an Anthem Dealer that is CEDIA or ISF certified. Preferably both.

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    Splitter and MRX 300
    Written by Jim C. , October 17, 2011

    Paul:

    The issue with my HDMI splitter started out as a pain until I learned how to switch the HDMI processing from Through to Auto using the display. I just switched the MRX 500 to Auto so I could access the on-screen menus and then I switched it back to Through when I was done. I don't access the menus very often, so it was no major inconvenience.

    I wouldn't have needed to do this if I simply set the MRX 500 to Auto or to a fixed resolution, I just perceived a slightly better image with Through versus Auto. Like I said in the review, Anthem has told me that the new firmware update will correct this issue.

    Shadez - I believe Cory Potts from Secrets is working on an MRX 300 review right now that should get published in the coming weeks. Please keep an eye out for it!

    Thanks,

    Jim

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    No Anthem for me =(
    Written by Ricky D , October 21, 2011

    Took the bigger brother MRX700 home for a 2 week trial recently, connected it up to the amazing Monitor Audio Apex 5.1 speaker system. Sadly I had to bring it back to the store out of pure disappointment, none of which were functional. Having read reviews on this site and countless others I was expecting it to top my 3-year old Denon AVR-3808A by a landslide. But no matter how carefully I set things up with (or without) ARC the sound never fell into place. And it certainly didn't overdo the end-result I experience with my Denon.

    Doing a direct comparison to the Denon the Anthem MRX came off as rather subdued, almost to the point of sounding anemic. Gone was the forecefullness, envelopment and the lively punch of the Denon with it's Audyssey calibration system. Its clear that the Dynamic EQ feature seems to fit my speakers, room and personal taste way better than what ARC could achieve. There is much talk about ARC bettering your bass and LFE channel, but in my case it was way TOO clean, and lacked any kind of presence and vitality. Quite the opposite of what I expected. No amount of re-calibration would cure the problem either.

    In this case the difference was truly night and day (a phrase I seldom use for electronics) and not in Anthems favour. I doubt I'll ever try an Anthem again, but I'm glad alot of people enjoy them. It just didnt bring on any improvements.

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    Anthem for Processors & Amps not Receivers
    Written by Geddy , October 21, 2011

    I also tried the MRX700 in my own theater and found it very lacking. The unit was very buggy and the amps just didn't hold a candle to my B&K AVR. The admins of this site are certainly Amthen /Paradigm fans,but in the end, its their opinion and mileage varies...

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    After a certain point, all change is incremental, for better or worse
    Written by McD , October 21, 2011

    For years I carefully avoided listening to very high-end gear for fear I would be hugely dissatisfied with my own.

    I broke that rule once and listened to one of my reference discs (Leonard Cohen "Tower of Song" on a $20k Macintosh system. I was pleased that it was only a little better sounding than what I had.

    So, it's probably good to not expect a life-changing revelation with any upgrade.

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    I have the MRX300
    Written by Richard , October 23, 2011

    I bought an MRX300 that replaced a Denon 2807. It is also paired with a Parasound 2250 2Ch amp. I had the amp previously with the Denon, and if I didn't I would have bought the mrx700.

    Overall, I am very happy with the sound the MRX produces vs the Denon, and with a bit of work, got ARC figured out too. I didn't need the features of the 500/700 so with the 2Ch amp I have, thee 300 is perfect.

    Have updated firmware with no problems, and as I said before, I really like the sound. I guess it's all personal opinion, but I thought the sound came more alive and had greater depth and clarity vs my Denon. I don't need all the features either that come with the latest receivers, so to me for in that price range...I'd rather pay for ARC.

    My plans eventually are to add a 5ch amp, and move up to one of their pre-pros...but the 300 will last me for a few years to come I'm sure.

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    Turn off Dolby Volume
    Written by SVinTO , December 26, 2011

    Trolling other forums reveals that most users of Anthem receivers left Dolby Volume ON, (which it is by default.) Turning it off produced a remarkable difference.

    I wonder if those who returned their units on this forum tried it with Dolby Volume off and were still unsatisfied?

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    Dolby Volume 
    Written by Jim C. , December 27, 2011

    SVinTO:

    I'd like to explain my comments in the "Design" Section of this review.

    Dolby Volume performs two basic functions simultaneously:

    1) It performs volume levelling to adjust the gain for consistency between sources and content material as well as to promote a better listening experience at low volume settings.

    2) It performs complex equalization to compensate for human hearing characteristics in response to the actual volume level in the room.

    In practice, I do not like to use volume levelling as mentioned in (1) above because it tends to compress the dynamic range inherent in the material. There are some cable channels that have loud commercials and if I'm interested in watching one of their programs, I like to save the program on my DVR so I can skip through the commercials.

    Equalization as in (2) above is a very good idea, but with Dolby Volume you can't turn on the Dynamic Equalization without implementing the Dynamic Compression algorithm.

    That is the main reason I prefer the Audyssey implementation. You can turn on Audyssey Dynamic EQ without using Audyssey Dynamic Volume. (But you must use them both if you turn on Dynamic Volume.) Furthermore, Audyssey Dynamic EQ is integrated with the auto setup routine so the system is aware of the absolute sound pressure levels in the room which is a key aspect of the sytem knowing the proper correction to implement at any given moment in time.

    Your comment did bring out an error in my original review that I would like to correct here. The sentence in the "Design" Section that reads -

    "Since the MRX 500 is not THX certified nor does it have Audyssey room correction there is no Dolby Loudness control/Dynamic EQ which I often use. And my family loves Dolby Loudness even though they don’t know that it is typically engaged on our system or that it even exists for that matter"

    Should have read -

    "Since the MRX 500 is not THX certified nor does it have Audyssey room correction there is no THX Loudness Plus or Audyssey Dynamic EQ which I often use. And my family loves Audyssey Dynamic EQ even though they don’t know that it is typically engaged on our system or that it even exists for that matter"

    Thank you for your comments!

    Jim C.

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    MRX500 with outboard amps
    Written by John S. , December 30, 2011

    I have had the MRX500 for about 9 months. After switching from a B&K AVR, I thought is was a little light on amplification. I picked up a EMOTIVA 3 Channel amp as a test (bought used from a local), and found the combination to be almost perfect for my B&W 704 speakers and center channel. I added a EMOTIVA UPA2 for the rear channels and use the 500 for only the 2 surround channels. The MRX500 is very clean when combined with outboard amps. My rear speakers are POLK LSi15's, and at 4 Ohm needed a bit more as well.

    The combined systems seems to be a bit more than its parts. Keeping the MRX500 and the Emotiva amps!! The OPPO 93 was added during the year, and the SACD performance as well as the FLAC performance through the system is a joy.

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    My MRX-500
    Written by Ian K , January 02,2012

    Hi there

    I went from a Yamaha RX-V2700N to the MRX-500 and i must say that when i first hooked it up, I hated it. I thought that i made a huge mistake. I have it hooked up to Paradigm Studio Refernce speakers. The fronts are Studio 100's, Centre is a CC-590, surrounds are ADP-490's. I have 2 PS-1000's for subs, and a CC-370 for a rear centre. So I am only running 6.2. I did some reading and found out that this Dolby Volume Control (which turns on by default) is actually more like a "Night Cinema" mode. You pick the level then it suppresses the sound so NOT to awaken your kids if sleeping or scare your neighbors (if applicable) It is very easy to turn it off permanently in the settings. Once I did this, re-ran ARC, It was the most beautiful sound i could imagine. This Dolby Volume Control is NOT recommended by me at all. Try this unit with it turned off. I went after and bought the Anthem MCA-50C now running bi-amp, MCA-50 runs the bottoms and the MRX-500 runs the mids and tweets.

    Anyways thats my 2 cents. no matter WHAT you listen to at home? May it be the most incredible sound to all of you!!

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    ANTHEM VS DENON AV PROCESSORS
    Written by joeb , January 15,2012

    I am trying to decide between the Anthem MDR 700 and the Denon 4311 AVR for my home entertainment system. I've always connected Denon with Walmart electronics. Are the "higher end" Denon AV processors such as the 4311 better quality than the Denon stuff you find in Best Buy and Fry's? Is it on par with the Anthem MDR 700? I believe the Denon probably has more bells and whistles, but the Anthem is much better build quality and more reliable. Need help on this. Comments appreciated.

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    dolby volume
    Written by xrx , January 16,2012

    SVinTO:

    I'd like to explain my comments in the "Design" Section of this review.

    Dolby Volume performs two basic functions simultaneously:

    1) It performs volume leveling to adjust the gain for consistency between sources and content material as well as to promote a better listening experience at low volume settings.

    2) It performs complex equalization to compensate for human hearing characteristics in response to the actual volume level in the room.

    In practice, I do not like to use volume leveling as mentioned in (1) above because it tends to compress the dynamic range inherent in the material. There are some cable channels that have loud commercials and if I'm interested in watching one of their programs, I like to save the program on my DVR so I can skip through the commercials.

    "Equalization as in (2) above is a very good idea, but with Dolby Volume you can't turn on the Dynamic Equalization without implementing the Dynamic Compression algorithm."

    Are you sure about this last part Jim? I have an Onkyo TX-NR3008 and you can turn Dolby volume on, and within the Dolby volume menu you have the option of turning the leveler off, setting it to low, medium or high.

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    Dolby Volume
    Written by Jim C. , January 19,2012

    xrx:

    Thank you for pointing that out. Since I read your post, I decided to talk with the engineer at Dolby Laboratories who developed the Dolby Volume system. I'm glad I made contact with him. Up until now, most of what I knew about Dolby Volume came from their website, some press releases and various owners' manuals. Most of those sources are very short on technical details. As it turns out, Dolby Volume has a lot to offer and has much more functionality and sophistication than I knew about.

    Let's talk about the Anthem implementation. Some of my misunderstanding in this situation has to do with the Dolby Volume controls being split between two different menu trees as well as a three-way toggle button on the main remote.

    As it turns out, the Dolby Volume Leveler can be set from Low to High with nine steps in between. It can also be turned off. This control is in the Level Calibration Menu Tree.

    Dolby Volume can be set to default off or on in the advanced source setup menu tree.

    With the MRX receivers, Dolby Volume is integrated with the ARC system so the Modeler knows the absolute SPL in the room when applying EQ, etc. to the signal.

    This means that you can use the modeler with the leveler off which is what I prefer. So I'm going to use Dolby Volume more in the future because its modeler is indeed very sophisticated. I just don't want any signal compression. I hope this all makes sense.

    Thanks!

    Jim Clements