In today’s feature, we’re going to look at and review the Anthem MRX 720. The MRX 720 has been around for a few years now but due to its long lifecycle and recent software updates, it is still regarded as one of the best A/V receivers (AVRs) out there.
But how does it really stack up? This Anthem MRX 720 review will give you a good overall understanding of what an A/V receiver is, why you might need one, what the pros and cons are of the MRX 720, and whether there are any alternatives available that may be worth considering.
Once we’ve looked at that, we’ll finish with some thoughts of our own to hopefully help you make your own mind up about whether the MRX 720 is right for you.
- 1 Anthem MRX 720 Update
- 2 Key Specifications of the Anthem MRX 720
- 3 What is an Audio/Video Receiver (AVR)?
- 4 Why is the Anthem MRX 720 Considered to be a Good AVR?
- 5 Core Features of the MRX 720
- 6 How Does the Anthem MRX 720 Perform?
- 7 Pros of the Audioengine MRX 720
- 8 Cons of the Anthem MRX 720
- 9 Anthem MRX 720 – Alternatives to Consider
- 10 FAQs
- 11 Our Final Thoughts on the Anthem MRX 720
Anthem MRX 720 Update
Before we get into the review, the Anthem MRX 720 is now discontinued. While you may still be able to get hold of it second-hand or from some retailers, you won’t be able to buy it new from the manufacturer anymore.
The MRX 720’s closest replacement is the Anthem MRX 740, which offers a few improvements on the original. We’ll look into that a bit later in the ‘alternatives to consider’ section if you want to find out more about it. We’ll give you the lowdown on how it compares to the 720, so you can decide if it’s worth going for the 740 instead.
Now let’s take a look at our original thoughts on the MRX 720, before we look into newer alternatives you can try out instead.
Key Specifications of the Anthem MRX 720
|Dimensions||H: 6 & ½” W: 17 & ¼” D: 14 & ¾”|
|Maximum Output||4.2 Vrms, subwoofer channel 5.2 Vrms|
|Frequency Response||10 Hz — 31 kHz (+0, -0.25 dB)|
|THD+N (2 Vrms output)||-95 dB|
|Preamp + Amp||-88 dB channels 1-5, -75 dB back/height|
|Price||Check here for the latest price|
What is an Audio/Video Receiver (AVR)?
An AVR is a brilliant home theatre solution. If you have multiple signals that need to be processed then an AVR allows you to do so. For example, if you have a television, Bluray player, and home cinema surround sound system then an AVR allows them to communicate with each other and deliver the best possible viewing and listening experience.
Modern AVRs have been designed to include things like streaming platforms, Chromecast functionality, Alexa support, and internet radio access.
You can almost think of them as a one-stop-shop for all your connectivity needs in the home. As well as allowing you to watch video and stream music, you can also plug in older technology such as turntables, CD players, and tape decks.
This way if you have invested in a quality home sound system you will be able to play pretty much anything you want through it.
Why is the Anthem MRX 720 Considered to be a Good AVR?
Anthem as a brand has been around for over 20 years and in that time has built a reputation for designing and selling excellent amplifiers and preamps for the home. The attractive yet functional design of their products led to their AVR’s becoming some of the industry leaders.
The MRX 720 was one of the products that helped cement Anthem’s place at the top of the music tech market and continue to do so today, despite its discontinuation.
Although the product is no longer manufactured, support is still available and software updates are still being rolled out. Purchasing one remains a good option considering prices have dropped since its discontinuation.
Core Features of the MRX 720
As you would expect, the MRX 720 comes packed with features and connectivity options straight out of the box. Here we’ll take a closer look at the most useful ones.
Total Home Cinema
This AVR has the ability to connect with and process audio for all major formats. The two main ones are;
The revolutionary audio technology totally changes the way entertainment is experienced. By filling the room with sound you can almost feel whatever you are watching and really helps to deliver films and other productions the way the original artist intended.
Described as the next generation of audio codec, DTS utilizes object-based audio to create an immersive listening experience. It does this by positioning sound where it would most likely naturally occur, creating a realistic and multidimensional sound. It also doesn’t require a specific speaker layout so you can get the best sound regardless.
This is perhaps the most important feature to consider when reviewing any AVR or amp. Thankfully the MRX 720 passed with flying colors as we found it to generate clear highs, rich mids, and full-bodied lows that we could really feel without it becoming overwhelming.
Of course, for an AVR to deliver these sounds you need it hooked up to some top-quality speakers but if you already have those you can be certain the MRX 720 will do them justice.
The sound quality did not drop off when streaming music, either. This can sometimes be a bit of an issue due to the compression used to stream. If you’re listening at the best possible quality then you won’t hear any noticeable drop-offs through any fault of this AVR.
It’s worth mentioning that the same can be said when listening wirelessly. We didn’t notice any drop-off in quality or any signal drop-out whilst testing.
Anthem Room Correction (ARC)
This is THE standout feature of the Anthem MRX 720. The word revolutionary gets used a lot when brands market their latest product but ARC really is that, revolutionary.
To simplify what the technology allows the MRX to do you can think of it as a way of mapping your entire room so that the AVR can adapt the sound output and compensate for any obstructions that may be in the way of your speakers.
It does this via a calibration microphone that you connect to your laptop. You then map your room and test the sound levels at different points around it. This data is then processed and fed back into the AVR with the result being a sound that is as close to studio quality as possible.
It sounds complicated but the process of setting ARC up is fairly straightforward and really quite fun if you’re a bit of an audio nerd. It took us about an hour before we heard the pure, natural, and clear sounds the MRX 720 produces in the way audio engineers intended.
Connectivity is key to any successful AVR and this one is no different. You can have the best sound quality in the world but if you can’t listen to any of your devices through it, it defeats the entire point. Luckily with Anthem, this was never going to be an issue.
The MRX 720 features:
- Wireless connectivity
- 8 HDMI Ports
- Sub Out Jacks
- Voice Command
- 2 Coaxial Ports
- 3 Optical Inputs
- 5 Stereo RCA inputs
- MHL supported inputs
- 2 Parallel Outputs
With all of these connection options along with the 11.2 pre-amp and 7 regular amplifier channels, you should have more than enough for your home entertainment system. When we carried out our testing we struggled to think of how the average home would manage to run out of ways to connect.
The overall build quality of the MRX 720 is very good. As you would expect from a premium product, the unit itself feels heavy and its casing feels solid and well designed. This is a large unit and as such you will need to factor its size in when installing it into your home. There are wall brackets available that are sold separately.
Ease of Use
Despite the seemingly complicated nature of AVRs once you have everything connected and set up it is an easy bit of kit to operate. The MRX 720 comes with a backlit remote control and features a simple and easy to use function screen
Warranties are always an important thing to consider when making a purchase. This is particularly true for expensive audio equipment as the last thing you want to encounter is a fault that cannot be repaired.
As the MRX 720 retails in the thousands of dollars it was important that Anthem included a comprehensive one. Thankfully they did and the standard manufacturer’s warranty stands at three years.
This means that should you encounter any issues that are the fault of Anthem within that time frame you will be entitled to a refund or replacement product.
How Does the Anthem MRX 720 Perform?
Given the reputation that Anthem has within the audio industry, it was safe to say that we were expecting big things from one of their most expensive models. In the case of the MRX 720, they didn’t disappoint.
As we outlined briefly earlier, the overall sound quality that this AVR can help you to achieve is phenomenal in itself. Then when you set up the ARC technology it quickly becomes clear why this product sits at the price point that it does.
Anthem describes using the ARC technology as creating a listening experience that is as close to what the original audio engineers intended as possible. We’d be hard-pressed to disagree with that as the results really were impressive.
We put the AVR with ARC through its paces by first listening to a variety of different music genres and then watching several movies whilst using it as a home cinema system. It passed both tests with flying colors but really came into its own when watching films.
The ARC technology made a huge difference to the viewing experience and allowed for a much more immersive film. You can almost feel the movie going on around you like you do when visiting the cinema.
It plays music almost as well as it plays movies. We trialed a range of sounds from smooth jazz through to heavy rock and even spoken word.
The tones were clear, true, and felt very natural. When you take into account the fact that you can pretty much plug any music playing device into this thing and even stream music wirelessly it becomes clear how good it is. We found that it really added to the listening experience in a way that a ‘normal’ amp and set of speakers simply can’t.
Pros of the Audioengine MRX 720
As we’ve already touched on there are plenty of positive aspects to this AVR. Here, we’ve pulled them together for you to see at a glance.
The sheer amount of connectivity options and channels available to you when using the MRX 720 is brilliant. This is a key function of all AVRs but Anthem has managed to include multiple inputs for each type along with voice activation, wireless connectivity, and backward compatibility.
Whatever you are wanting to integrate into your home entertainment system, new or old, will work perfectly with the 720.
High quality is a theme that was present throughout testing. The build quality is the first thing that strikes you upon unboxing with the unit feeling incredibly solid and with a good weight to it.
Next, once you have everything plugged in, comes the sound quality. This is even more noticeable when ARC has been set up and really goes some way to explaining the next element of quality, the price.
By this we mean the price is reflective of the quality components that have gone into the MRX and is pretty high. If you’ve got the funds to be considered one of these then have no fear, it will deliver.
But if you’re thinking a few grand is a bit of a stretch then we’ll let you in on a little secret: there are plenty of cheaper options that perform really well! But more on that later.
Setup and Ongoing Use
There’s no denying that setting up any AVR can be a complicated process. Depending on how many inputs you have going into the unit will depend on just how complicated it is and how long it will take.
That being said, we found that the MRX 720 was relatively simple when compared with others we have tested. Anthem has incorporated an easy-to-use color-coding system on the back of the unit that makes installations a much more simple process.
When all up and running the backlit screen on the unit itself and the multifunctional remote control allowed for easy use from day today. The added ability to use Alexa with the unit came in handy too.
The standard manufacturer’s warranty for the MRX 720 is three years and covers all mechanical and software failures. Having this kind of safeguard in place is great when buying any new product, let alone one worth thousands of dollars!
Cons of the Anthem MRX 720
When testing this particular model there really were not too many negatives that were really worth highlighting. The ones we did find are discussed here.
The cost of the unit at the time of writing is just under three thousand dollars, a lot by anyone’s standards! The only caveat here is that you really do get what you pay for. With the inclusion of the ARC technology, Anthem has designed a product that lives up to its price tag, even if it is a rather large one.
Anthem MRX 720 – Alternatives to Consider
Anthem MRX 740
An upgrade on the 720, the Anthem 740 is currently available, and it’s a good upgrade on the 720. Here’s a quick rundown on how it compares:
4.2 VRMS, 5.2 VRMS
5.2 VRMS, 7.1 VRMS
10 Hz – 31 kHz (+0, -0.25 dB)
20 Hz – 30 KHz +/-0.2dB
THD+N (2 VRMS Output)
Preamp + Amp
-88 dB channels 1-5, -75 dB back/height
91 dB channels 1-5, 86dB
As you can see, there are some minor adjustments that can potentially make a big difference. Designed to deliver superior sound quality, the 740 is a good upgrade from a technical standpoint.
It also looks a little more sleek and stylish, and less bulky than the 720.
The connectivity is good too. It’s compatible with Apple Airplay and Airplay 2, Google, and soon it will work with Spotify and Roon.
Overall, it’s a decent upgrade. If you were thinking of buying the 720 new, the 740 will be a great choice instead.
Pioneer VSX 834
Also an upgrade on previous models, the Pioneer VSX 834 is really easy to use. A legend of the audio market, you can expect excellent quality sound here.
It’s also really easy to use – the 4K indicator, Personal Preset and Bluetooth Input buttons on the front are easy to access, and it’s fairly simple in terms of set up. It’s packed with the latest standards for video, including Ultra HD, HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision. It has virtual surround and height effects, which is really clever.
It’s also a lot cheaper than the MRX 720. While the sound in the MRX 720 may be superior, it’s much more affordable for those on a smaller budget.
This is another great amplifier. It has a higher price point than the Pioneer VSX 843, but the Denon AVC-X3700H is worth checking out if you’ve got a bigger budget to work with. The sound quality is excellent,
It has some impressive specs, and fully supports Dolby Atmos, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS:X, DTS Virtual:X, Imax Enhanced, and all the latest HDMI specs.
It also has a clear, step-by-step setup process. It walks you through it clearly, which is useful, especially if you’ve had no experience in this area.
Question: Are the XLR amp and preamp connections 100% balanced?
Question: Is there a risk of damage to amps if they are powered when not connected to speakers via all available channels?
Answer: This is possible if they manage to output transformers. A lot of tube amps have a tendency to do so, however, solid-state amps used with output transformers tend not to.
Our Final Thoughts on the Anthem MRX 720
The MRX 720 is another fine piece of audio equipment from Anthem. Although the pricing is a little high, if you have the budget you won’t be disappointed.
The ARC technology itself almost makes up for the higher price point to competitors and really has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.
We think it’s well worthwhile investing some time in looking at all the AVRs currently available. As Well as the AVRs from Pioneer and Denon that we outlined earlier, the Marantz 7011 and SR5011 are well worth checking out.