Anthem is a Canadian AV brand that specialises in high-end, performance-driven power amps, processors and AV receivers, and is distributed in the UK by the same company that brought us the brilliant Paradigm Cinema CT 100 speaker system (Anthem AV Solutions).
On test here is the Anthem MRX 300, an entry-level AV receiver aimed at a more mainstream market, but when an entry-level product comes with a price tag of over £1,000, you know you’re still deep in high-end territory.
The Anthem MRX 300 is very much aimed at enthusiasts, not only because of its focus on performance but also because it’s bundled with more advanced calibration software than you’d normally expect to find with an AV receiver.
On the downside, it eschews frills like networking functionality, internet radio and USB music playback (the last two are reserved for the step-up MRX 500 and MRX 700, £1,599 and £2,099 respectively) but still has a decent-looking spec, with 7 x 80W of power, decoding for all the major audio formats, 3D support and a whole host of listening modes.
Anthem MRX 300 Design
What you also get for the money is impressive build quality. Lifting it from the box you can feel the heft and solidity of the metal bodywork, while the thick brushed aluminium front panel and firm controls add to the overall sturdiness.
The front panel is busy, with controls dotted all over the place, including a direction pad for controlling menus, direct input selection keys and a chunky volume dial. There’s also a large display panel that by default gives volume, source and format in large blue letters, but can be used to view the setup menus too. Towards the bottom is a recess that runs the width of the front panel, which houses composite and analogue stereo inputs, plus a headphone jack – all covered by a sliding panel. The lack of front digital inputs or HDMIs is a bit of a shame.
Design wise it’s more esoteric than most mainstream amps, utilitarian some might say. Its straight lines and front panel that overhangs the sides – hinting at the fact that it can be rack-mounted with an optional kit – mark it out as a serious-looking receiver aimed at enthusiasts. It’s not exactly pretty then, but its tasteful black finish means it stops short of eyesore status.
Anthem MRX 300 Connectivity
The rear panel doesn’t quite offer the all-encompassing selection of sockets you might expect for the money. There are no multichannel audio inputs, and you’ll only find four HDMI v1.4 inputs, which is fewer than most similarly-priced Japanese models. The single output won’t please those who want to feed two displays simultaneously either, but to be honest most users will be more than happy with what’s on offer.
Elsewhere there are five digital audio inputs (three optical, two coaxial) and two outputs (one of each type), six sets of analogue stereo inputs and two outputs, 7.1-channel pre-outs and zone 2 output. On the video side you get three sets of component video inputs and one output, plus three composite video inputs and three outputs. A 12V trigger, RS-232 and IR sockets have custom installation covered, while a radio antenna jack and an input for an optional iPod dock complete the line-up.