Author Topic: Official Anthem MRX 720/1120 thread (II)  (Read 5545 times)

Offline desray

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Official Anthem MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« on: February 17, 2019, 08:27 »
Something odd happened just now as I post using using the Tapatalk app and now the entire thread has gone missing. Very unfortunate. All the useful information from the original thread had gone missing after I did a post about half an hour ago. Sigh.

Anyway life goes on. This 2nd thread will allow members to continue post and share their views, comments and questions in relation to Anthem AVR.

Caution: be careful using Tapatalk app when doing your posting.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: February 17, 2019, 08:45 by desray »

Offline winwinc81

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Re: Official MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2019, 08:40 »
is it the one that we went to your place for demo and your audyssey explanation?

Offline desray

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Re: Official MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2019, 08:42 »
is it the one that we went to your place for demo and your audyssey explanation?

Yep...unfortunately.  :'(

Be careful to those using Tapatalk app to make posting, especially when you are the thread starter.

Offline winwinc81

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Re: Official MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2019, 08:47 »
Firstly, thanks Desray for inviting today for the demo. We definitely had a great chat on Audyssey and some other room correction methodology. It’s been a great afternoon.

I've to disclaim first, as a HT system dealer myself, any feedback does not constitute that i am "angkat-ing", "sar kah-ing" or deliberately “praising” desray setup just because he is the moderator and I am a dealer, neither am I in any occasion judging any of his rig that it is no good, and that, he should be using whatsoever equipment that I should be recommending as a dealer.

First off, the room – the room is dark, which is great for movie for sure. It is adequately treated, carpeted, with corners traps and some acoustic panels. Not huge traps or panels, but definitely sufficient enough to “catch” or “tame” unnecessary sound reflections. 2 recliners side by side…and the first thing you will be wondering, where is the MLP 😊. Front stage is pretty nice, small computer screen below knee level, screen at eye level with center speaker in between. Towers slightly toed, with surrounds, back surrounds, atmos upfiring speakers, sub placement is diagonal upper left to back right when facing screen, placement seem well positioned. I wouldn’t doubt if its correct or wrong since AV enthusiast definitely try to follow white papers as closely as possible unless limited by awkward room layouts.

PQ – the PQ is simply amazing! The colors are vivid, and definitely sharp! Few occasions I asked, “is this in 4k?” but actually in 1080…this shows that the quality is simply amazing… the black level is superb. No doubt about its black color. Definitely live up to its name. It simply shows what it supposed to show, what it is intended to show from film maker point of view, no need to adjust the sharpness level (I guess) or the contrast in order to see the slightest details... playing movie in 24hz is just like what is being watched in cinema, simply awesome! One thing that is unusual for me is the display lag when switching between the menu and movie…. But for the great PQ, nothing to complain about.

SQ – Doesn’t play loud, the loudness is also where it supposed to be intended. Can distinctively hear the crisp and high frequencies…cos the room is treated, or just as simply as different room correction method (Audy vs ARC), maybe the room is small so easier to control, or cos my personal setup is in the living hall which is more challenging to notice any difference? A bit lacking in the midbass maybe? but I don’t think we played any “midsbass” movie hence nothing to compare also…In my most honest opinion, any room correction is just as great! Why ? Because Desray will educate you from scratch when you have a chance to visit him, Hence the best answer is for you guys to find out yourselves, go with open mind and absorb like sponge lol.

Up Firing Atmos, you will be surprise how great it sounded. Whoever tells you that upfiring is no good, you should go with discreet in ceiling channel etc etc, its just personal opinions… it is up to personal preference and most important, how to make the best out of your existing room modes is the most important. Since the room height is not really high, I think the best for that kind of situation is upfiring already. Its just as good as inceiling.

The bass is adequate for the room size for sure.. not loud, just nice… nice enough to make my leg hair move is good enough :D, bass shaker installed, I like them! It add to a bit of a tactile experience for lower frequencies… did a little test of switching the shakers off, quite surprise that actually the bass shaker is not needed at all… but its this kind of nitty gritty details that add on to an overall experience. 😊

The setup of not playing loud reminds me of BadEnglish setup. BadEnglish stereo is one of the best I’ve heard. Gotta hear to believe. Kennyluck2000’s bass can send your heart out to the moon and back, djblackfm midbass, surround, low frequencies all up another level, Rock123’s 150 inch screen setup is enough to fill your left to right views..… so on and so fourth… Desray, BadEnglish, Kennyluck2000 and many others, we cant deny that speaker positioning is the utmost important. To make the best use out of the room modes and speaker positioning in any awkward layout, and giving any room correction methods the opportunity to calibrate all position and doing it correctly can definitely yield satisfactory results.

Overall experience – Absolutely pleasant! Movies played are: A Quiet Place, Ready Player One, Live by Night, Goosebumps, Great Wall.. I think that’s it, good enough to showcase the bass, mains, surrounds and heights. It’s not harsh and loud and definitely not “whack all you can” kind of feeling. I love it! I should start hearing in lower db from now on lol…
We did more knowledge sharing than demos, question fired and answered, pondering question which makes yourself answering to your own question is fun! I would agree with desray that without really spending quality time to review a product or demo session, which is the main thing that keeps the forum alive, with the necessary sufficient information can be beneficial to other forum members or new members.

I’ll try to do more reviews like this whenever I visit members place for demos, and if I have the opportunities to play with new products. I may not be a strong reviewer, but I guess honest opinion from my personal point of view as a member and not a dealer will be sufficient enough to raise more questions and answers.

Thanks once again for the invite. And thank you all for reading such long post.

Offline desray

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Re: Official Anthem MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2019, 08:53 »
Thanks winwinc81 for reposting your thoughts. For me, I'm actually more saddened by the fact that some of the more important salient points in my review which I have captured were lost. While it is sad for me but I take comfort that at least I did not accidentally remove other member's thread using the Tapatalk app. For that, I can never forgive myself.

« Last Edit: February 17, 2019, 08:59 by desray »

Offline winwinc81

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Re: Official Anthem MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2019, 08:59 »
Welcome. i just happened to not having a habit of shutting down my laptop and the doc i used to pen down my thoughts were left open and not saved.

Offline desray

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Re: Official Anthem MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2019, 11:19 »



   

The new ARC Genesis coming soon in Apr this year...to get notified via email, go here: https://www.anthemav.com/support/arc-genesis.php

New Features Include
- Improved User Interface
- Supports both Mac & Windows
- Improved Algorithms
- New Target Curve Adjustments
- Save, Stop, Start and Resume
- Remeasure Individual Speakers


 ;)
« Last Edit: February 17, 2019, 11:25 by desray »

Offline kaydee6

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Re: Official Anthem MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2019, 13:13 »
Thanks winwinc81 for reposting your thoughts. For me, I'm actually more saddened by the fact that some of the more important salient points in my review which I have captured were lost. While it is sad for me but I take comfort that at least I did not accidentally remove other member's thread using the Tapatalk app. For that, I can never forgive myself.



You can always rewrite from present perspective. 😬

Offline desray

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Re: Official Anthem MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2019, 14:22 »
You can always rewrite from present perspective.

It’s a lesson learnt. It takes a lot of effort and time to do reviews. So it is kind of a bummer for me. Let’s continue to keep this thread alive.



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Offline Supra_yap

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Re: Official Anthem MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2019, 19:06 »
Today Peng came to my place check Rythmik E15hp . Woofer is working fine. But the muffled sound was cause by sub woofer placement and centre speaker produce a bit of low frequency. . After Peng suggest to 1 to 1 swap placement,  sound so much better.  He also guide me how to tune the subwoofer. And try to improve my environment as i have a lot of glass panel.

I also need to recalibrate anthem 1120..

Thank you Peng..

Where can i purchase miniDsp. I need to Tune 2 subwoofer for low frequency  and very low frequency
« Last Edit: February 17, 2019, 19:12 by Supra_yap »

Offline desray

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Re: Official Anthem MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2019, 20:09 »
Today Peng came to my place check Rythmik E15hp . Woofer is working fine. But the muffled sound was cause by sub woofer placement and centre speaker produce a bit of low frequency. . After Peng suggest to 1 to 1 swap placement,  sound so much better.  He also guide me how to tune the subwoofer. And try to improve my environment as i have a lot of glass panel.

I also need to recalibrate anthem 1120..

Thank you Peng..

Where can i purchase miniDsp. I need to Tune 2 subwoofer for low frequency  and very low frequency


Glad to know that you are improving the sound every day as you go along. :)

Offline desray

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Re: Official Anthem MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2019, 20:24 »


For those who know me will instantly know that I’m a big fan of what Audyssey does for the Home Theater market. Over the years, Audyssey has been a household name for most AV enthusiasts around the world. For those who had attended my Audyssey calibration sessions, you probably heard what I mentioned that apart from Audyssey MultEQ XT32 calibration software, 2 other calibration suite that I always want to get are the Dirac and the Anthem Room Correction (ARC). However both are easy to get as there are niche players that serves the HT geeks - meaning those who like the get down-and-dirty with their calibration in order to get the best home theater surround sound experience from your gears. Audyssey reigned the more ubiquitous consumer-grade AVR market for its ease of use.
I admitted that when Denon announced her latest flagship AV Amp, the almighty AVC-X8500H, I am tempted to jump on the upgrade bandwagon but only to hold back due to it hefty price tag. I took a hard look and made a comparison with my almost 3yrs old X7200WA flagship AVR from Denon and decided to wait till the price dropped to around $3K before I take the plunge. The longer I wait, the more I read up the hardware specs and its features and the more I am convinced that I don’t need to get another AVR with the “same” Audyssey MultEQ XT32 calibration suite incorporated. It just can’t get that excited anymore...I mean sure, more power and love for the better built quality, top-end hardware components, meaner raw power per channel amongst other things...but it is still Audyssey. I decided to give Hwee Seng a call to ask about the availability of the Anthem flagship MRX-1120 which cost around the same price as the Denon AVC-X8500H. The female sales rep told me ALL ANTHEM PRODUCTS currently out-of-stock in Singapore and I will have to make 50% deposit to do a pre-order with Anthem as they don’t do any stock-up. According to Hwee Seng, Anthem products did not sell well on our little red-dot. Next I asked about the MRX-720 and as I’m about expect the same answer from the lady sales rep - i.e. no stock but to my surprise, she told me that there was actually one “unclaimed” unit of MRX-720 in their warehouse now. Without any hesitation, I told her I’ll take it.

The key differences between the 720 and 1120 models lies in the latter’s built-in discrete power amplification to do a full 11.2 channels in order to do a full 7.1.4 setup without the need for external power amplification and both models sport the same power ratings (140w/ch) for their channels. Of course, the 1120 utilize higher grade hardware components in order to command a higher premium price tag! Fortunately 720 comes with pre-outs that supports 2 height channels (for Atmos and DTS:X speaker setup) and since I already have with me 2 power amps in my current HT setup, 720 seems like a good alternative for me. More importantly, I can save more than $1K+. With a little bit of luck and some “persuasion” and a friendly nudge to Hwee Seng, I got myself a good deal and the rest is history...And so my Anthem Room Correction (ARC) journey begins…

Unboxing
The following day, my MRX-720 arrived. I’m glad to see the DTS:X badge imprinted on the box to confirm that it already has DTS:X installed at the factory floor instead of a OTA update. [Note: For those unaware, when the MRX 520/720/1120 AVRs were first released back in the late 2015, DTS:X feature, like most AVRs released during that period, requires a OTA software update to get the DTS:X processing to work]

The remote controller
First impression when I saw the ARC toolkit, I was impressed that it actually came with a nice package containing a USB cable, a network cable, the ARC MC1 calibration mic and even a tripod with boom arm extension to house the mic, all neatly packed in a box of its own.

Nice touch! Anthem clearly wanted to save on cost as the carton that houses the AVR looked like a cheap cardboard put together last minute as long as it serves its utility - i.e. to transport the AVR safely from factory to home, it will suffice. The user operating manual comes as a surprise, unlike the traditional black/white printing featured in just about every Denon and Marantz products, Anthem on the other hand decides to make it into a book/magazine replete with color images and clear wordings. It is actually an exact replica derived from the PDF format except it is in a book style. 2 booklets, one in English and the other in French.

The main highlight of the show is the MRX-720. It is almost as heavy as my Denon X7200WA AVR. First impression when I saw the MRX-720, I’ll admit I am not impressed with its non-descript facade and that “fappy” hinge that houses a HDMI (MHL compliant) and the USB input for firmware update).

Another quick glance at the rear connection ports also failed to lift my spirits...equally unimpressive to say the least. And worse of all, I saw the imprint, “Made in Vietnam” as opposed to my Denon X7200WA which is made in Japan. “Beauty is but skin deep”, clearly designing an appealing product is not Anthem’s strong suit but what it lacks in design more than make up for it performance - later to that.

Offline desray

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Re: Official Anthem MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2019, 20:27 »
Streak of bad luck?!
While setting up the physical AVR was a breeze, it quickly turn into a classic “waiting game” for me for the rest of the day! The MC1 mic that comes with the package did not have a matching serial number in Anthem’s very own database. The issue with this “simple” yet frustratingly annoying thing is that the mic comes pre-calibrated by the engineers at their factory to ensure accurate readings during calibration, hence came the offset readings saved in a small script with its proprietary file format. With a mismatched serial number, I am unable to proceed with the calibration since I am prompted to supply the little mic calibration file to get things going. Call it a blessing in disguise and because of this little unfortunate hiccups, I am but forced to read up the entire operating manual in less than half an hour, to find out where and how to get in touch with Anthem support back in Ottawa, Canada. Not a thing in the entire manual states about the need for a calibration mic file. With no choice, quickly google for other Anthem community based forum and managed to locate an email pointing me to the helpdesk. Quickly send out an email requesting for my calibration mic script. It was the longest and most unproductive day while I idling around, waiting for an email reply from the Anthem support team. While waiting, I began to worry that the “mismatched serial number” or worse, the MC1 mic that came with the package probably not going to work since each mic is “factory tuned” to its corresponding serial number and if my serial number is not found in the database, does that mean I have with me a “dud”?! The more I think of it, the more disappointed I get…

[Firmware Update: ONLY via USB update. No OTA support? That's a first!]

Finally after an agonizing 1 hour wait after and wasted 4 hours to search for help online, Anthem support finally replied and forward me my MC1 mic calibration file. I quickly responded by asking about my concern and the chap reassured me that it is the CORRECT file and I can proceed to upload it to my laptop/PC. Total time wasted - About 5 hours! Like I say, I took this “spare” time to read up the literature and understand the way ARC works and how to navigate around the ARC 2 software (only worked in Windows. For Mac OS users, you need to do a bootcamp to get Windows installed for it to work. There is another less accurate way to do it which is to use the iOS Anthem ARC app for calibration). By the time, I got everything up and running, I have to say it a very intuitive, easy to use yet so powerful software (the ARC 2) for pre and post calibration values to be reviewed as the user go along. For the very first time, you can include your very own “house-curve” to your subwoofer and play with the crossover settings between your speakers interacting with the subwoofer(s) is as easy as supplying the values and hit on the calculate and then upload the “new” targeted “curve” into the MRX-720.

3 Key differences between ARC and Audyssey MultEQ XT32
Before we talk about the differences, let me mentioned first point out that both calibration methods set out with the same objective - i.e. to optimize by way of EQ’ing your speakers and subwoofer interactions in “your” room setup. Apparently the approach they use is vastly different. Below are some key differences which I have uncovered along the way:

#1 - No distance measurement
You need to manually enter the distance (in ft or m) for each of your speakers in your setup. Fortunately, I have with me my last Audyssey distance readings which I can quickly deploy. For those who do not have these values in advance, you can use the old but gold standards - use a measuring tape or a laser pointer distance measuring device for more accuracy.

Interestingly you can choose to input the distance before or after the calibration process has completed. This is a tell-tale sign indicating that distance (although we know affects the delay where sound from the various speakers and subwoofer reach the listener at the Main Listening Position or MLP) is not factor during the calibration process. The reason for that is due to the way MC1 mic works. If you compare the Audyssey calibration mic with the one used for ARC, you will immediately spot the difference in one using the normal copper wire used in most speaker cable while the other use a computer-grade USB cable to connect to your laptop/PC so as to send the readings to the ARC 2 software for computation. And it is because of the USB connection used by the MC1 mic that make distance prediction/calculation near impossible. Without going too “nerdy”, the USB-based MC1 mic when relaying data or signal in this case over to the laptop/PC will almost faced with “delay” and it is this “electronic delay” that ultimately affects the accuracy of the distance setting. Hence the decision is clear, omit the distance calculation and let user input it.

However I do foresee an issue in setting the subwoofer distance. For those who have had used Audyssey will know by now that the distance for subwoofer(s) always appeared to be greater in distance and this is to account for the electronic delay and the characteristics of a subwoofer being omni-directional and producing mono-aural frequency compared with speakers which have a more “directive” presence. How then are we going to input the distance value for 2 subwoofer(s)?

#2 - Absence of a 2nd subwoofer measurement
To make matters worse, there is NO dual subwoofer calibration field to calculate each subwoofer frequency response relative to the MLP. In fact, ARC engineers decided to put dual subwoofers into a “single” container and called it Subwoofer. This is different from Audyssey implementation where 2 subwoofer will receive an “individualized” treatment when calibration is being performed. Later I found out the reason in one of the audioholics write-up cum interview with the creator of ARC, Dr Peter Schuck where he mentioned that when measuring a low frequency response from more than one subwoofer makes little to no incentive to take in separate subwoofer(s) readings before the calibration commence. In his own words, he responded by saying, “ARC treats the subs as a mono group because once walls, a floor, and a ceiling are involved, there's no such thing as “stereo” bass, at least at subwoofer frequencies.”  The stereo bass here refers to dual subwoofer implementation. Having say that, it does not mean that one can forgo the subwoofer level readings (SPL reading to get to 75db) before the proper calibration measurement. In the ARC 2 software, one can choose the Quick Measure feature to quickly analyze 2 things. The optimum placement for your subwoofer(s) and the level readings to read 75db. The quick measure function provides the user with a real-time graphical curve representation as you move your subwoofer(s) to different locations or when you turn your phase knob. The idea is to get a relatively “close” downward sloping curve with no major dips in db within the typical 40 - 80 Hz frequency band where most of the bookshelf speakers likely to have a crossover frequency setting in those regions. That is where the 2nd subwoofer comes in to help with the “even-out” approach. Recall one of the biggest benefits of having dual subwoofer implementation is to smooth out the bass response in your listening environment with more headroom to spare but without the need to over stress or over work one of the subwoofers. So in theory, if you are unable to achieve good results in one location for the 1st subwoofer, the 2nd subwoofer placement when placed correctly will usually solve the nulls and the peaks in those region that the 1st subwoofer have. For more info in optimized placement of subwoofer(s), please google for more details. The general rule of thumb is to use same make and model subwoofers to ensure uniformity when it comes to readings.

[Fun fact: Something different from what I know, at least from my past Audyssey experience is the recommended SPL readings for the subwoofers. In ARC, they recommended 70-71 db SPL readings for each of the dual subwoofers and the value get successively lower when you added more than 2 subwoofers. The SPL readings from the subwoofers (regardless of the quantity) will read approximately 75db when all worked in concert]

For phase control, the effects to the frequency is almost negligible, so the best way to get your subwoofer(s) to work best with ARC is to move the “beast” itself. Good luck to those owning a ported subwoofer with huge enclosure!

Once you are satisfied with the placement of your subwoofer(s) and its corresponding curves. We can proceed to commence a full measurement for the entire speaker arrays. It is important to get the subwoofer placement right the first time round. But do not be dismayed if the curve didn’t get as flat as you want it to be. ARC will still help to do it at the electronic EQ level but it may not be always ideal. So don’t overlook the importance of this initial step.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2019, 20:30 by desray »

Offline desray

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Re: Official Anthem MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2019, 20:29 »
#3 - Minimum number of calibration positions (5 versus 3)
Another key difference is the number of minimum positions required before ARC “think” that it have all the necessary computational data it needs to come up with a  “EQ-solution” to solve your in-room response issues you faced in your listening environment. Audyssey requires a minimum of 3 to a maximum of 8 positions while ARC allows up to 10 different positions to have a much a more comprehensive representation of your actual in-room responses. If you have a bigger listening space, go for all 10 positions if you can.

[Note: Both shared the same concept that the 1st position is the most crucial and should always be right in the middle or closest to your prime listening position. Like Audyssey, the first readings will pretty much be the baseline for averaging of the coefficient in readings later on. If you screw up the 1st position, be prepared to re-do again]

Is ARC really more powerful than Audyssey?
Ironically speaking, Audyssey MultEQ XT32 implementation in a AVR is actually far more complex and requires more computational powers to make it work wonders. The built-in DSP chips that does all the surround sound format (e.g. Dolby Atmos, DTS-X) processing all take up valuable computational powers, leaving very little to almost no room for further modification of a “targeted” frequency. Audyssey preferred to make it as simple for user as possible while ARC’s approach is different. The latter give the “power” back to the user to allow the “geek” in you to surface! It is apparent that software based calibration toolkit is the ONLY way to do all sorts of customization to get that elusive midbass that Audyssey is unable to deliver “to a certain degree” without sacrificing performance.

As this is just a review, I will not tread deep into the jungles of calibration tweaks etc. But the key selling point of ARC is the well-implemented software combined with the hardware (MC1 calibrated mic). For the most accurate readings, Anthem’s ARC toolkit truly delivers a better calibration package when compared to Audyssey. But I applauded Audyssey for making calibration user friendly albeit the lack of refinement for pro users.

Once you get a hang of it, running the ARC 2 software is easy. In fact, it is so much fun and takes up less of my time when doing calibration despite the fact that ARC requires you to perform a minimum of 5 positions before it can compile the results. Compared to Audyssey, the time taken to perform the 3 minimum position readings roughly takes about the same time for ARC to finish its 5 positions! That is how fast a software based as opposed to a SoC based works! Deliver more in less time...Ask Apple about their yearly AX chips upgrades.

Vastly different calibration results
Now let’s take a look at what ARC does to my HT system. What a vast difference and frankly I got a shock when I saw those results. Literally all my speakers crossed the 100Hz regions (into the territory of a near satellite speakers) despite my KEF R100 is more than capable of producing discernible bass notes in the 80 Hz region.

It defies all logic and NEVER once did Audyssey ever give me such results hence you can imagine how perplexed I must have been when I first took sight of these crossover settings. Could it the MC1 mic is faulty or the offset readings in the mic calibration file is wrong?! Although it showed me vastly different results from what I have expected all these years with my Audyssey, the one tell-tale sign that I am heading in the right direction is Subwoofer High Pass Filter (HPF) registering a 26 Hz cut-off for my JL Audio E110 where the lowest frequency it can go is 25 Hz region and my E112’s lowest frequency is 22 Hz. What this mean is that the high frequency above the 26 Hz will be filtered and allow to pass through to the speakers to reproduce and anything below that will be routed as LFE (0.1) signal to the subwoofer to handle. The Low-Pass FIlter (LPF) for LFE remains as the de facto 120 Hz based on the industry standards.

Clearly the way ARC sets out a clear path for more bass (LFE) to be routed to my JL Audio to reproduce instead of relying on a more traditional and somewhat conservation crossover value between the speakers and the subwoofers. But never did I expect such a high crossover settings (> 100 Hz) for all my speakers. This requires a very granular tweak to get the correct rollover order right in the High Pass Order and Audyssey simply have no room to do such refined adjustments. Based on ARC’s recommendation, the optimized rollover for a smoother bass response between the various speakers with the subwoofers will be in the region of 3rd Order (bandwidth) at 26 Hz. For a more powerful subwoofer which can go as low as 20 Hz without distortion, you can opt for for a “flat” order to extend the lower-end of the curve for that infrasonic low grunt oomph!

[Note: ARC will not recommend these adjustments to inexperienced user such as myself when taming the subwoofer with a “whip” that you can’t handle with certain level of proficiency in understanding how LFE works for your subwoofer. So it is best to stick to the optimized setting if you are not sure what you are doing lest bottoming your subwoofers]
« Last Edit: February 18, 2019, 20:42 by desray »

Offline desray

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Re: Official Anthem MRX 720/1120 thread (II)
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2019, 20:32 »
Anthem’s focus on Sound

If we look back at the inception of Anthem as a company, it is not hard to see where Anthem’s primary focus lies in her range of products rolled out to the home theater market - i.e. to focus chiefly on professional studio-grade audio calibration to get the best cinematic experience to your home environment. Paradigm (parent company) bought over an audiophile studio company known as Sonic Frontier) to form Anthem. Since Paradigm wanted to focus her R&D in audio, it omitted the video enhancement features found in most of today’s high-end consumer grade AVR, Pre/Pro and AV Amps.

If I recall the specs correctly, it utilize audiophile’s favourite son, the AKM-4458 DAC chip to accomplish it sonic feat. This literally means it can decode DSD file up to 24bit/192Khz using its built in DAC. This is what differentiate Anthem from the conventional AVR manufacturers like Denon & Marantz, Pioneer, Onkyo and Yamaha, The latter group wanted to provide consumers with a “All-in-One” package for the best bang for your bucks but focusing just enough to get the everything working as it should but never excel in any specific areas. There is literally no sight of any Video settings in the menu. The product brochure only mentioned that it is HDCP 2.2 compatible for playback of 4K DRM content and HDMI 2.0a to take full advantage of wider color gamut (WCG - BT2020) like HDR, HLG and DV and nothing else. What I have gathered from other sources is that the video processor built into the AVR is meant for the display of OSD (On-Screen Display) to show the menu overlay and other key information like, the Input Selection, file formats, surround sound formats and bitrate of the media files been played amongst other things. Denon and Marantz on other other hand provides a dedicated Video Processor of high quality for proper scaling of non 4K content like 1080p to make it more 4K like.

Unlike most conventional AVR choice over wireless music streaming protocol in the likes of AirPlay and Bluetooth. Anthem takes on a different path and opted for the DTS Play-Fi wireless music streaming service to ensure near audiophile grade music streaming experience via Wi-Fi for a more reliable throughput rate for bigger audio media.



In some of the more audio-centric review of the MRX-720, Anthem claimed that it is one of the few AVRs out there in the market that can downsample and re-sample a high bitrate audio file format for Play-Fi streaming without sacrificing too much clarity and details. Clearly I’m no audiophile but it is definitely very reassuring that playback of MP3, AAC and FLAC files can be played back at high quality.

Dolby Atmos/DTS:X and Auro 3D clips
I did not have much time to go through my demo archive but I intend to find some time to do more testing. But I did allocate about 45 mins yesterday evening to go through a bunch of familiar clips from Dolby Labs, DTS Inc and even Auro 3D to get hear for myself the difference that ARC make to my current system.

I put in the Dolby Atmos Demo clips featuring the jungles of Amazon, Horizon, Audiosphere, fallen leaf and Shattered baseball scenes and for the very first time, I am beginning to feel the “thump and the oomph” from both my JL Audio subwoofers working in concert. In the past, Audyssey has calibrated my subwoofers reasonably well but ARC has taken it to the next level. Even my KEF R50 Dolby Atmos enabled speakers which crossover at a more “specific” values at 225 Hz for my front Dolby channels and 130 Hz for my rear Dolby channels also brings out an even more “elevated” sound effects compared with what I have used for my Audyssey setup. The most distinct improvement in terms of object based clarity came with the Shattered baseball scene. Recall the shards of broken window glass panes “knock” against the ceiling hanged overhead lamp, the impact is much more “pronounced” and I have noticed for the very first time that the glass shards hit on the hard wooden floor has a loud thud that sends a low bass note to my Aura bass-shakers for the first time. As I have placed a 50 Hz low pass filter for anything lower than 50 Hz to be sent to the bass shakers to simulate the rumble. This is something else as I have never felt that before from that particular scene.

For the DTS:X demos, I played back Cacophony, Function of music, the Forley artist, Nightlight and Darlingside’s The Ancestors MTV to get a sense of things in the the DTS:X department. Both Cacophony, Function of music and the Nighlight scene stood out the most for me. In the Cacophony (of sound), precise imaging of the footsteps and the eerie soft breathing rhythm sound as one draws air and exhale at the side can also be picked up with more clarity. So much more nuances. This is truly a great clip to “pick out” sound localization with eyes closed. For dialogue intelligibility test, the interviewed male articulating about how he felt and dispensing his wisdoms on the function of music can give you an idea how well your center channels “lock-in” the dialogue with the ambience sound effects like crumpled papers and playback of the old cassette recorder deck and the screechy sound made by the turntable on the vinyl records as it slowly spins its tune is a joy to listen. The Nighlight scene (no dialogue) is filled with great dynamics from start to finish. It truly brings out the best when all your speakers + subwoofers worked in tandem to provide a broad spectrum of dynamics in brilliance mix of DTS:X object based sound.

Auro 3D utilize the DTS-HD MSTR (lossless high bitrate). There is only one demo clips spanning nearly 18 mins long and I just let it play. Perhaps I did not have a compatible Auro 3D sound decoder to take advantage of the Auro 3D mix, it is not as impressive as I would like to get when compared with a true Object-based sound mix. But that is not to say that the MRX-720 did not handle Auro 3D mix poorly. I would prefer to say that it performed equally good with my X7200WA calibrated by Audyssey and that says something. With a dearth of Auro 3D material, I can see why Anthem is not incorporating Auro 3D sound processing anytime soon in the MRX AVR range of models.
I will be doing some real-time testing on full length movies on a bluray later tonight and provide my 2 cents worth in due course. But suffice to say that I am very very impressed with ARC at this point.

Music / 2 Channel
For music, I took the opportunity to download the DTS Play-Fi app to take advantage of the high-performance DAC chip for my music playback. As I only played a few musical tracks and a couple of Mandarin ballads by Tsai Chin, I can already tell that my subwoofers really blended in well with the speakers. One neat and cool feature of Anthem’s unique feature is the assigning of 4 different profile speaker configs to suit different speaker setup for different needs. For instance, I can set a 5.2 or 7.2 speaker config for all my music listening without engaging the heights (or in this case, my front and rear Dolby-enabled speakers) for that natural sound at ear levels. I really do not see the need and the benefits of DSP mixed ambience sound to envelope you in a native 2 channel source such as songs. Even though I have spent only about less than 10 mins or so on music (not my priority here), I can safely say that it had far exceeded my expectations. I will do more music testing in days to come and as always, I will provide my 2 cents worth in this area.

Conclusion
So is it any good? Worth upgrading from Audyssey MultEQ XT32 for movies? And who is it for? At this juncture, I guess you already know the answers to all these questions. The Anthem MRX-720 gets an affirming recommendation by me. 2 thumbs up for the amazing calibration it does for my home theater system. Just when I thought it could not get any better, Anthem’s ARC proved me wrong. I am truly amazed at how well the MC1 mic worked in tandem with the ARC 2 software and allowed more advanced user the flexibility to make fine alterations to the post-calibrated frequency responses for the desired effects. This is truly one great AVR for all home theater enthusiasts out there in the XP forum.

The price is a bit on the high-end and it lacks a plethora of features found in most conventional AVRs like the omission of a dedicated Video Processor for better video reproduction. At this point, the video signal only pass-through from source direct to your TV monitor or HT Projector and all video processing will either be done at the source (e.g. bluray player) or the TV/Projector itself. However this should not be the reason to stop you from getting the Anthem for your next upgrade (in the near future) as we usually leave the video processing to the TV/Projector which sports a better video processor to clean up those artifacts etc. If sound is what you truly after, then Anthem MRX-720 deserves a place in your X’mas wishlist this year. The only gripe, apart from the hefty price and non-descript outlook is the end user support locally. With no dedicated service center and Hwee Seng been the exclusive distributor here in Singapore, many may not wish to take the risk and that is understandable.