Anthem MRX 700 7.1 A/V Receiver


In Use

For my listening tests, I was using a 7.1 speaker configuration from Definitive Technology including a pair of BP-3000TL speakers with powered subwoofers for the front mains, a CLR 2002 speaker for the center channel, and four Definitive Technology UIW 94/A speakers for the surrounds and rear channels. I used a variety of source devices including an Oppo BDP-95 and an Olive O4HD. My normal reference processor is an Anthem Statement D2, and I'm typically listening to my room and these speakers using Anthem's ARC-1 Room Correction System. I was really looking forward to hearing how ARC performed on the MRX 700.

I started off with some of my standard receiver listening tests. For Gladiator, the MRX 700 did a great job of reproducing the combat scenes and the noise of the crowds and chariots in the coliseum. Bass response during the fight scenes was excellent. The sound of the mace being circled overhead in the "Battle in Chains" scene was perfectly seamless as it transitioned across the rear speakers. In the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, the "Battle of Pelennor Fields" scene sounded fantastic. From the thunderous roar of the army, to the sub-sonic bass of the giant Oliphaunts crossing the battle field, the MRX 700 did a tremendous job of drawing me into the movie. I was particularly impressed with how controlled the bass response was in the room.

In the King's Speech, the dialog between the actors was exceptionally detailed and well placed in the center of the sound stage. I never strained to hear the dialog and the subtle use of music in the surround channels was a beautiful accompaniment to this touching story. I didn't know what to expect with Tron: Legacy, but the MRX 700 did a killer job with the movie's DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 sound track. The use of the rear surround channels at the start of the disc wars was awesome. Bass response and dynamics throughout the movie were tremendous. The MRX 700 created a superb soundstage for this reimagining of Tron. I was completely sucked into the movie and just listened in utter enjoyment as the MRX 700 got out of the way and brought this movie to life.

Anthem MRX 700 A/V Receiver for the Home Theater

Anthem MRX 700 A/V Receiver for the Home Theater

On the music side of things, I was really impressed with how well the MRX 700 performed. With ARC engaged, the MRX 700 consistently produced a detailed and expansive sound stage. The MRX 700 was adept at everything I threw at it. From popular music from artists like Katy Perry, Muse and P!nk, to jazz favorites from Diana Krall, to the soulful angst of Rolling in the Deep from Adele's '21' album, the MRX 700 was simply a blast to listen to.

Anthem MRX 700 A/V Receiver for the Home Theater

During my time with the MRX 700, I had the chance to listen to the 24-bit 176.4 kHz version of the Reveries album from Reference Recordings. This exquisite album contains a collection of pieces performed by the Minnesota Orchestra and conducted by Eiji Oue. One of my favorite pieces on Reveries is "No. 11: Solvejg's Song" from Peer Gynt, Op.23. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to hear the Cleveland Orchestra perform Peer Gynt with narration by actor John de Lancie. Listening to this music played through the MRX 700 brought back fond memories of that evening. The beauty and emotion of the piece came through and I could imagine myself sitting at the performance with friends enjoying this incredible music. I was impressed with how well the MRX 700 sounded especially since I was reprocessing the analog output from an Olive O4HD using ARC on the MRX 700.

Anthem MRX 700 A/V Receiver for the Home Theater

From a video perspective, the MRX 700 did not display any handshake problems when changing resolutions on my satellite box or when changing inputs to another HDMI source. Video output looked great on movie and television content and Blu-ray content like Tron: Legacy was excellent. We will talk much more about the video performance in the benchmark.

From an operational perspective, the MRX 700 was very simple to use. I only ran into one processing quirk. If you are using a 7.1 speaker system with rear surrounds, the MRX 700 does not allow you to select Dolby PLIIx processing as a default listening mode through the "Listening Mode Presets" menu. This means that if you send a DTS 5.1 or DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 bitstream to the MRX 700, you will not get any content from the rear surrounds. It turns out that there is a workaround to this. The listening mode default for DTS can be set to "Last Used" in the "Listening Mode Presets" source menu. By pressing the Audio button on the remote or the front panel while playing a DTS source, you can select Dolby PLIIx processing on the fly. Since the listening mode preset is set to "Last Used", the MRX 700 will remember the PLIIx selection the next time a DTS bitstream is played for that source. It is interesting to note that while the MRX 700 won't assign PLIIx as a default listening mode to DTS content through the setup menus, it does let you assign Dolby PLIIz processing to DTS if you are using front height speakers.

The MRX 700 offers support for the vTuner application which allows access to thousands of internet radio stations from around the world. The MRX provides a graphical interface for vTuner which allows for the browsing of local stations, genres, favorites, stations by location, as well as recently played stations. I was a bit surprised that the local station list in vTuner on the MRX 700 only showed 6 local stations based on my home location. I have another device on my home network which offers vTuner and that implementation lists 35 local stations for the greater Cleveland area. The difference is partially due to the limitation that the MRX does not play WMA encoded vTuner stations. The other missing stations seem to be related to vTuner identifying only the radio stations in my local county and not the stations in the greater Cleveland area. Fortunately, Anthem includes an access code with each MRX 700 that allows for direct access to the website. This site allows for easy access to vTuner and lets you create and customize your own channel groups for the MRX 700. It was a very easy process for me to just create a list of my favorite Cleveland radio stations.

I enjoyed listening to HD radio on the MRX 700 and I was happy to see that I could play music from USB devices. The MRX offers a graphical user interface which allows for quick browsing of music files on USB media. I was happy to see that album artwork is displayed during playback. I was disappointed that the MRX 700 does not offer support for the popular FLAC format. Anthem tells me this is on the feature request list. For now, the MRX supports WAV, WMA, MP3, M4A, WMA 9.2 Lossless, and Ogg Vorbis formats.