Torn Between Two AVRs

I have a dedicated 400-square-foot theater room with a 7.1 surround system used entirely for movie viewing. I currently have a Pioneer VSX-1019 A/V receiver and plan on replacing it with either an Anthem MRX 700 or Arcam AVR400. I am torn between these two models. The Anthem has great room correction and video processing, while the Arcam has more power and lower distortion. I'm looking for the most enveloping sound experience.

Greg Barnett

Tough call—both are HT Top Picks. See our review of the Anthem MRX 700 here and Arcam AVR400 here.

Mark Fleischmann, HT's primary audio reviewer, has this to say in response to your question:

"If your room has any gross acoustic flaws that can't be fixed with an equalized sub alone, then Anthem is the better choice. Arcam's room correction is rudimentary, and even the instruction manual recommends that you get along without it if possible. On the other hand, for sheer sound quality, Arcam is unbeatable. If possible, step up to the AVR600 (also among HT's Top Picks reviewed here) to get the benefit of rail-switching amplification, which switches between different output transistors depending on the demands of the signal, allowing the amp to provide more power into lower impedances with greater efficiency and less heat."

Keep in mind that the price jump from the AVR400 to the AVR600 is a big one—from $2500 to nearly $5000. Whether or not you can swing that, I'd go with Mark's advice in any case.

If you have an A/V question, please send it to

Manbat's picture

The Anthem receiver really impressed, it was detailed, bold and dynamic. At first, it was hard to tell any difference between the Anthem and the Arcam. Further listening with a range of material revealed that the Arcam was slightly warmer and subtly separated instruments. The Arcam had slightly more base whilst the Anthem delivered voices with additional gusto because it is slightly decreased in the bottom range. These differences were subtle and both are excellent receivers and well worth an audition. They were hard to separate with the material or the speakers. However on a second audition and given the slight differences the Anthem wins in both price, technology and reliability. The room correction is amazing and unfortunately the Arcam has reported reliability issues in the forums. The cost difference in Australia is over a thousand dollars extra for the Arcam. With the all round package of great sound, room correction, video processing and cost I think the Anthem is a no brainer. Well done Anthem.

I also have heard both these receivers with a 5.1 set up previously. They were outstanding in producing detailed Blue Ray effects, voices and music. The ARCAM was set up with a M&K 150 system that really performed well with all materials. I was pleasantly surprised. The Anthem performed with equal muscle while driving some VAF speakers in a 5.1 set up. I can’t really comment on a comparison as they were both auditioned with different speakers and subs several weeks apart.

theo's picture

I agree with Mark here on the room correction. The ARC system in the Anthem is something to behold. It truly is jaw-droppoing what it does to your speakers and your home theater in general. I would seriously, seriously, seriously look at the Anthem with ARC if you do not have a dedicated home theater with a treated room. I have an Anthem AVM20 and tested out an AVM50v at home from my dealer.

What ARC did was mesmerizing in my living room, which doubles as a home theater. My speakers warmed up, vocals and instruments were even more delineated--and I've tweaked my speaker placement--and the before and after graphs that you get with the ARC system are amazing. I had 10db differences in certain frequency ranges in terms of both peaks and dips that were tamed by ARC. So, as you can tell, I've personally experienced the benefits of ARC and I just cannot say enough positive things about it and what a difference it can make.

One other item you do want to ask about the Arcam is reliability. Manbat already mentioned it. I know of two dealers (one in northern CA and another in NY) who have stopped carrying Arcam because of higher than normal repair issues. I had inquired about the Arcam line when I went into the dealer in CA because they had carried both Arcam and Anthem and that is what they conveyed. Now, that may just be their experience and it may be a fluke but it is worth asking and most importantly testing out both units in your room with your setup and seeing which one you like better.

Goyoishere's picture

I have the Arcam AVR600 and it is amazing. Best pure sound I have ever heard from a receiver. I have not had any problems with it. I really don't think you can go wrong with either of these products.

peter207's picture

Hi there

I have not personally heard the Anthem and I own an AVR400, BUT every review and opinion I have ever read makes it clear that Arcam has better sound than almost any other AVR on the planet. It would be crazy to choose just to get room correction.

Suggestion. Sort your room out with some acoustic treatment first, fairly easy and affordable, THEN buy an Arcam. The AVR600 is amazing but so is the 400 at a far better price.

Good luck and as Goyoishere says, nice problem to have!

Cheers Peter

Manbat's picture

Any luck in deciding? Both excellent choices...

aragon732's picture

I bought an Anthem MRX700 last September and and was really happy with that product untill January when I started to have one surround speaker poping.

The dealer replaced the unit by a new one , but the new unit was loosing his audio input signals on all sources (even the internal tuner of the MRX700) , most of the time . So a few days later the unit was replaced again .

The first day it was working correctly , but the second day it started again to loose its audio input signal.

The anthem tech help me to install a newer firmware version but it didn't help.

So it's why I'm here , I plan to replaced my Anthem by the Arcam AVR400.

BT_in_Houston's picture

I owned the Arcam AVR 600 since December of 2009 and I couldn't be more pleased. Yes, there was a minor pop/click noise when switching inputs, but there has been a repair for this for some time, so I doubt that new units are affected. I didn't want to part with the receiver to get it fixed, but I finally had the repair done when I sent it in for the video upgrade for 3D compatibility. This receiver sounds better than all others by a mile, and it will outshine quite a few pre-amp/amp separates.