Anthem MRX 710 7.1 A/V Receiver


The Design of the Anthem MRX 710 A/V Receiver

The first thing I noticed about the MRX 710 was the simplicity of the front panel. The tiny buttons from the first-generation MRX series are gone and the MRX 710 no longer looks like a distant cousin of the Anthem processors. The MRX 710 has very clean lines and maintains a compact form factor for an A/V receiver. It is slightly deeper than the MRX 700 at 15-5/8" deep, and it weighs a little less at 30.8 pounds. The front panel is made from brushed aluminum. The bright blue LED display is flanked by a large volume knob and a standard set of cursor buttons that allow for easy navigation of the MRX 710 setup menus. Directly under the display are six control buttons for setup, display brightness, sound mode, level, zone control and input selection. The second-generation MRX receivers support up to 20 virtual inputs. Rather than clutter the front panel with 20 tiny buttons that might never be used, Anthem kept the design simple. Inputs can be selected from an onscreen menu or by using the front display and the cursor buttons. In the bottom-right corner of the MRX 710 are power buttons for the main and secondary zones. The front HDMI input and a headphone jack are hidden on the bottom-left behind a small door. The exterior case of the MRX 710 has a textured black finish.

The rear panel of the MRX 710 is well organized and is color coded to help distinguish inputs from outputs. Inputs have a black background while outputs have a white background. This same scheme is used on the Anthem A/V processors and I was glad to see it continued.

The MRX 710 receiver supports eight HDMI 1.4a inputs and two HDMI 1.4a outputs. The HDMI outputs support Audio Return Channel (ARC), which allows you to listen to audio from your television without the need for an additional cable. As we continue to migrate away from analog video, Anthem has reduced the number of analog video inputs on the MRX 710 and completely eliminated analog video output. The receiver supports two component video inputs and just one composite video input. The MRX 710 supports five sets of stereo analog RCA inputs and five digital audio inputs (2 coaxial and 3 optical).

The MRX 710 includes a USB input on the rear panel that is only used for firmware updates. The second-generation MRX receivers no longer support direct connection of external USB devices and there is no longer a dedicated iPod MDX 1 dock connector on the MRX 710. Accordingly, Anthem has eliminated the multimedia application from the MRX receiver line. I think this is a good move since the built-in media player applications included in so many receiver and processor products these days are simply inferior to dedicated media players like an Apple TV or Roku. Anthem has also dropped support for the vTuner Internet Radio application. This is functionality which is easily provided by an external media player.

The Ethernet connector on the MRX 710 rear panel allows you to use the new ARC 1M system and it supports IP control of the MRX 710 which will come in very handy for custom installers and home theater enthusiasts who use control products like iRule. Anthem has announced that MRX remote control applications for Android and Apple iOS will be coming in the future. Since the MRX no longer has a built-in multimedia application, the network connection is technically not required once ARC 1M has been configured.

Anthem includes a complete set of 7.1 channel pre-outs should you want to use the MRX 710 with an external amplifier. The speaker jacks on the MRX 710 support a full complement of seven speakers. The sixth and seventh amplifier channels are assigned to the main surround-back channels by default. If you don't need surround-back channels in your system, then the extra channels can be used to power speakers in Zone 2 or they can be used to bi-amp the front speakers. On the previous generation MRX 700, these extra channels were available as front-height speakers but Anthem has dropped support for Dolby PLIIz on the MRX 710 and now allows for bi-amping, which was not available on the previous generation MRX receivers.

The remaining connections on the MRX 710 back panel allow for antenna connections for the AM/FM tuners. Anthem is not including an HD Radio tuner on the MRX 710 since their research indicated that most people just used AM/FM tuners as background music for a secondary zone. The MRX 710 includes an IR input and one IR output as well as an RS-232 jack that can be used to control the MRX 710 with an external control system. The RS-232 jack is no longer used when configuring ARC or when upgrading the MRX 710 software. A 12 Volt DC Trigger is also included which allows you to turn on another device, such as an external amplifier for zone two.

The MRX 710 comes with just one basic remote that does not control other devices. The first-generation MRX receivers came with a secondary remote that was used for zone two operations.

From a technology perspective, the second-generation MRX receivers have evolved quite a bit from their predecessors. The second-generation MRX receivers have a more capable DSP which allows ARC 1M to have more filters and ultimately a room-correction curve that is closer to target. The processing in the second-generation MRX receivers approaches that of the AVM/D series Anthem processors, but the processing in the AVM/D series is still the most powerful that Anthem offers to date. On the video side of things, the second-generation MRX receivers offer 4K upscaling and pass-through and they support 3D. Anthem has also incorporated Advanced Load Monitoring into the MRX receiver which constantly monitors voltage and current to ensure that the output transistors in the amplifier are kept within safe operating limits. Amplifier temperature is controlled with a 2-speed fan inside a heat sink tunnel and this allows the MRX receiver to protect itself from damage in situations where speaker impedance is low and volume is high.