Anthem sent me their new MDX-8 distribution amplifier which is quite the beast both feature and spec wise. Anthem’s Web UI browser-based setup with full automation compatibility and Anthem Room Correction (ARC) are all packed into one unit. It’s one of the most feature-rich amps I’ve seen to date. This amp also comes in a 16-channel version, which has a few minor input and output differences than the version I am testing. Let’s jump into the review!
- 60 Watts (8 Ohms) / 120 Watts (4 Ohms) with all channels driven, or bridges to provide 200 Watts (8 Ohms)
- 8 or 16 channels of Ultra-Class-D amplification, each supported by Advanced Load Monitoring technology.
- 24-bit/192kHz digital-to-analog converter (DAC)
- Customized preset DSP settings
- Separate zone-specific bass management and subwoofer integration via a passive (RCA) or active (powered by another zone in bridge mode) connection.
- Bridging allows up to 200 Watts for high power applications such as subwoofers.
- Digital switching output allows the linking of digital inputs between multiple MDXs.
- Analog pass-through connections allow daisy-chaining of multiple MDXs.
- IP/RS-232 capability ensures compatibility with leading home automation systems.
- ON/OFF switched via IP/RS-232, 12-Volt trigger, or audio sensing.
Anthem MDX-8 Distribution Amplifier Price:
Amplifier, Amplifier Review, Amplifier Review 2020, Reviews 2020
Depending on how you plan to use it, the MDX-8 can be an easy and quick install or a bit more tedious if you’re integrating it with a home automation system. For that purpose, there are drivers available for Control4, Crestron, Elan, Savant, and URC with RTi coming soon. It’s very impressive to have these drivers available so quickly and for so many systems. I did not use any of them with my MDX-8 but I did use the included ARC Genesis software.
I was quite happy with the detailed, yet short and to the point instructions. After installing the MDX-8, you can load up ARC Genesis on your laptop and begin calibrating each room. I brought the amp to a few of my clients’ homes for some field testing. The level of detail available to dial in each zone is impressive. Of course, each home has different ceiling heights, furniture, and speakers to deal with. Having an amplifier that can adapt to each room independently is a godsend. My only gripe with the design of the MDX-8 is the use of phoenix connectors for connecting the speaker wire. The problem is that my clients, who actually want a higher level of audio quality, already have a low gauge wire running to each speaker, it’s not easy getting 12, 10, or 8 gauge wire into these connectors, I would have preferred to see the usual five-way binding posts.
ARC Genesis, in my opinion, is one of the best room correction systems out there because it’s very easy to use and you can really hear the difference. ARC stands for Anthem Room Correction and as best said by Anthem, “You don’t need an engineering degree to use it. ARC is sophisticated enough to produce real results that you can hear, easy enough to be used by anyone, advanced enough to allow you to customize the settings, and professional enough to give you the kind of results you’d expect from software and hardware costing thousands of dollars.”
Running ARC is simple, you hook up the included USB microphone and run the software. It tells you where to put the mic in each room and runs the advanced calibration settings as needed to make each room sound the best it possibly can. Not only can the highs and mids be dialed in, but subwoofers can be as well. Each zone can include a dedicated subwoofer. Of course, zone matrixing is available and works splendidly for combining inputs and outputs to create larger zones. I spent a good deal of time experimenting with different settings. It’s a very well thought out system and offers all the options you’d ever need. The custom DSP settings for Paradigm speakers is also a nice touch, I wish I had some installed to test, but for the speakers I had on hand, it sounded great.
The Class D amplifier section ran cool in the few racks I temporarily installed it in. After running ARC Genesis, I had each client take a listen to some of their favorite music. I got comments like, “Did you change the speakers too?” and “Wow, this room sounds so amazing now!”. It’s not just a good sounding amp, it’s the extremely well-executed room correction that completely makes this unit shine. If you’re looking for an upgrade or want to impress your clients, this is the amp for you. Well done Anthem!
The MDX-8 Distribution Amplifier is another solid product from Anthem that blends easy setup with excellent audio. It’s very feature-rich with surprisingly easy to adjust settings and delivers a lot for the money. I’m not a fan of the phoenix speaker wire connectors but they work and don’t affect performance in any way. It’s impressive how many control system drivers are available for this amp, so if you’re a low-voltage specialist, this is the one to check out. I like the price point of just $1999, it will remain competitive and it’s also about $600 cheaper than going with four Sonos AMPs. Great work Anthem, I think you knocked it out of the park with the MDX series!