Review Price £1,099.00
Anthem MRX 300 Features
The Anthem MRX 300’s most attractive feature is Anthem Room Correction (ARC), which calibrates the unit’s performance based on your room’s acoustic properties. What separates ARC from most other auto setup modes is that it’s not integrated into the receiver itself but runs separately on a PC.
Bundled in the box alongside the software CD-ROM are a microphone and stand, which are used to measure the acoustic properties of your listening room. Both the receiver and microphone have to be connected to USB ports on your PC – in the receiver’s case you have to use the RS-232 port, but if your PC lacks RS-232 then you’ll need a serial-to-USB adapter (Anthem provided us with a Keyspan). You also get a USB cable and extension cable in the box.
Before you get to the measuring bit, you have to set the speaker distances manually in the unit’s setup menu. You can also set the parameters you want ARC to measure, giving you a great deal of manual flexibility – including separate configurations for movies and music – but if you’re a complete novice then it can do everything for you.
Run the software and the receiver plays test tones from each speaker, which are picked up by the mic and measured. To make sure the sound is optimised no matter where you sit, you should take readings from various positions around the room – the minimum is five and the maximum is 10.
ARC then calculates the correct output levels, crossover frequencies and EQ, producing a series of graphs for each channel. These show the measured response (with all the troublesome peaks and dips), the target response and the calculated response after correction. These results are then uploaded to the receiver, and because they’re saved on your PC you can upload them again in the future if you need to.
It might all look a bit nerdy and complicated, but it’s not quite as impenetrable as it seems – and there’s a good chance you might not have to carry out the procedure yourself as Anthem recommends that its dealers install the receiver for you where possible.
Enthusiasts will no doubt love it, particularly because of the dramatic impact it can have on performance – do a before and after comparison and the improvements are obvious. And on a more basic level, getting all this extra hardware in the box feels like a real bonus, as it would no doubt cost a bomb to buy it all separately.
With no DLNA, internet radio or USB playback to jazz up the feature list, we’re left with just the basics. The MRX 300 decodes all the key audio formats, including Dolby True HD, DTS HD Master Audio, DTS-ES, DTS 96/24 and Dolby Digital EX. There’s also a range of listening modes, including AnthemLogic Music and Cinema, Dolby Pro Logic IIz, Virtual Speaker, Dolby Headphone and DTS Neo:6.
The Anthem MRX 300 offers video processing too, including upscaling to 1080p via HDMI, composite/component-to-HDMI video conversion and passthrough for 1080/24p and 3D signals.
Anthem MRX 300 Operation
The Anthem MRX 300’s onscreen menu system is excellent, using a highly logical structure, clean fonts and discreet icons to jazz up the look. The main menu is split into the key areas – video outputs, speaker configuration, audio/video setup and presets, displays, triggers and general settings.
A Quick Setup mode guides you through basic stuff like the connection type, output resolution and your speaker arrangement – including whether you have the sixth and seventh channels on surround back or Pro Logic IIz front height duties.
This user-friendly layout is a godsend because there is loads to tweak, offering amazing versatility for those with complicated systems. You can store parameters and listening modes for individual source inputs, as well as make detailed manual adjustments in the Speaker Configuration menu, including bass management, levels and distances (although if you’re using ARC you’ll only need to fiddle with the latter). There are far too many options to discuss here, but rest assured that the Anthem MRX 300 leaves no stone unturned.
In the box are two remotes – a larger main handset and a smaller one for use in a second zone. The main remote boasts a thoughtful layout, with clearly separated menu controls in the middle and labels spelled out in large capital letters. It’s easy to find frequently used stuff like source switching and volume control, and thanks to the built-in backlight it’s easy to use in the dark too. The smaller remote pares things down to the basics, with central menu controls, a cluster of input selection buttons and clearly marked volume keys.