SQ : Anthem receiver vs. processor

Hi everyone,
I’m on a quest to simplify my life and get rid of my separates. In terms of a range of options, I’m probably settling on Anthem. My choices are:

  • MXR 720 - 7 Channel receiver ($2,500) and use external amps for L and R
  • AVM 60 a pure processor ($3k)
  • Classe SSP used (~ $3k)

I’m wondering if any of you have direct experience comparing the sound quality of each? I have an external DAC I’ll be using for music sources.

The processor total cost of ownership is significantly higher, not to mention space and wiring required.
Not sure which sounds better but have read that the preamp/processor, DACs, ARC, are the same for the AVM 60 and the MRX 720. Can’t remember where I read that but best to confirm that with Anthem. My guess would be that the AVM 60 would have a slightly lower noise floor because of lack of on board amplification.

This might be where I read something.

If my NAD T175HD pre/pro takes a dump anytime soon and I can’t find the newer T187 pre/pro at a good price, I will look for the best deal I can find on either the AVM or MRX.

Thanks for the link, Bill!

The Anthem AVM60 pre pro is the same as the preamp processor/DAC section of the Anthem MRX1120 av receiver, not the MRX720. The MRX1120 is Anthem’s flagship av receiver, which retails for $3500 new. The MRX720 is a step down from the MRX1120. 
caphill :

The only thing I can see it stepping down in is wattage and channels.

Do you think there's more?

In receiver land, you generally want the biggest receiver so that you have the largest power supply.  This will give you the most bass/midbass power and also have smoother sound overall.  The increase of watts/channels is the reason why the manufacturers have to build a larger power supply.
aux - That's an interesting perspective. I hadn't thought of that. So, for the same level of sound, the larger receiver has a stiffer power supply.

If you're like me, and 2-channel is your passion but you also want a good, satisfying, and entertaining HT experience, I'd find it VERY hard to justify the considerable added expense of running a separate AV processor and multichannel amp.  You're only using the AVR to power the center and surrounds, and the MXR 720 is no slouch.  It's really hard for me to fathom you using the MXR 720 in this role and being in any way disappointed in your HT experience.  I'd put the additional funds into a better integrated or stereo separates -- no question.  Best of luck. 
The reason I’m going through all this trouble is that in the past I’ve had 3 HT processors:
  • Emotiva
  • Onkyo
  • Theta Casanova
And the Emotiva and Onkyo were really terrible. Practically jokes compared to the much older Casanova. Of course, the Casanova had no HDMI, or advanced decoding past DTS, but for music and movies it was in a completely different league.
I finally ended up getting an Oppo, Parasound P7 and Class D amps along with a MiniDSP to do Center and subwoofer integration duties, along with a Mytek DAC.

I’m not looking to get a Theta Casablanca IV ($25K) for cheap, but I’d like to not be disappointed in the way I was with the Emotiva and Onkyo again.

Many recommended the Classe SSP, but the idea of an all-in-one receiver is really appealing to my space situation right now. If the DAC is decent, this may replace everything I've cobbled together.

I’ll go have a listen to the Anthem line this weekend.

@erik_squires why go with anthem when Dirac Live seems to be cornering the Hifi/ht room correction market ?.

difference between the 720 and the AVM60 is the AVM has a toroidal transformer.
I care more about signal quality than room correction. 

The idea of an all-in-one AV receiver will not satisfy your two-channel needs for music playbacks. It compromises your stereo performance. The higher end and better build AV receivers will of course sound better than the entry level ones but they will not perform on the same level as good stereo integrated amps or separates.

caphill -

<< sigh >> I know. At this point i'm limited by space, and clutter.
If things get bad, my amps have switchable inputs, so I can use the RCA for HT listening, and the XLR inputs from my DAC for music directly.
I own an Anthem AVM60 and a P5 Satement amp. I can only say that if quiet and accurate is what you are looking for than go for it.
Thanks @alkaloid!

I think I'm going to go purchase the AVM60 this weekend.

@eriksquires . Really curious as to your feedback on the Anthem pre . Just picked up a Anthem Statement p2 amplifier and I am contemplating getting a Anthem preamp . There is a local Anthem dealer where I live and heard the P2 and Statement processor years ago driving Paradigm signature 8’s and it was great !
We'll see. I still have my Parasound P7. Worst case scenario I run the Anthem through it. :)

If you don't care about room correction or 4k HDR Dolby Atmos etc etc then you should highly consider a used discontinued Classe Sigma SSP (early version) that can be had pretty cheap in used markets nowaday. Its stereo performance is better than any HT processors for under $10k. The Anthem AVM60 is great for surround movies and is equipped with spectacular ARC2 (Anthem Room Correction), 4k HDR Dolby Atmos etc. 
I've thought about the Classe's, and many give them raving reviews for 2 channel. I think I'd like to get something newer.

I know I said I don't care about room correction, but truth is I do at least for the sub.

@maplegrovemusic This weekend, definitely! I'll go audition locally. My dealer is closed on Fridays, so Saturday I hope to make a decision on the Anthem.

The Classe Sigma SSP Mk2 version supports latest formats and codecs eg Dolby Atmos DTS-X 4K etc. It retails for $6k new but not sure if it's still being in production. You can probably find a used one in used markets at discounts. 

Most powered subs such as JL Audio have their own built-in EQ and crossover. 
It shouldn't be an issue. 

Cause the Anthem AVM60 stereo performance is lacking imo. 
Yeah, I've read about the SSP Mk2. It's a possibility.

My office just seriously downsized though, so maybe right now is not the time to drop a rent payment on a HT processor.


I know the fact that you are into class D amps. Classe Sigma Amp5 five-channel amp (class D) will compliment the Sigma SSP preamp processor really good and is very compact in size exactly the same size as the Sigma SSP. And the two stacks combined (Sigma SSP + Sigma Amp5) are very compact and about the same size as a big AV receiver but the Classe Sigma combo will perform and sound way better than any AV receivers. From time to time I spotted a used Classe Sigma Amp5 here on Audiogon or TMR or ebay or Audiomart etc as well as the Sigma SSP (both Mk2 & early version).

I personally am not a class D amp guy so I personally wouldn’t buy the Classe Sigma Amp5 but the Sigma Amp5 is a very good class D amplifier. It has smooth highs, sounding very resolved clean fast highly detailed sound very transparent and excels in PRAT.
I’m sure you would like the Sigma combo.
Hey Caphill!
That's really interesting about the Classe amp! I'll do more research before deciding.

I've been reading a little bit about the Classe Sigma Amp5.
It's an interesting creature. Completely in house design, and, unusually, it is a true Digital Class-D amplifier, as opposed to an analog Class-D.

So, sadly, all incoming analog signals are converted to digital, signal processing to compensate for the amplifier stages and aging is applied, before it reaches the outputs.

Still, as a small high end HT solution it looks very interesting!

Re : Classe Sigma class D amps, I’m not so sure if the incoming analog signals are converted to digital upon input but I know that Classe uses DSP to regulate the amp. It is Classe’s proprietary class D design.

I don’t use Classe Sigma Amp (class D) to power my front and surround speakers in my dedicated HT room but instead I use the Classe Sigma Amp (class D) only to power my overhead ceiling Atmos speakers for Atmos setup in my dedicated theater room.
I use all Classe Delta series class AB analog amps to power my front LCR speakers and surround speakers. I’m using 3 Classe Delta CAM-600 monoblock amps (class AB) to power my B&W 800 D3 front speakers and the matching B&W HTML1 D3 center speaker. Using 2 Classe Delta CA-2300 stereo amps (class AB) to power my surround and surround back speakers. And using 2 Classe Sigma Amp2 stereo amps (class D) only to power my overhead ceiling Atmos speakers for Atmos setup.

You can email Classe technical support group and ask them and confirm the info with them.

However, I’ve heard the Classe Sigma SSP paired with the Classe Sigma Amp5 class D amp before at the store and they sounded great together especially if you like class D design amps. But when I heard the Sigma SSP paired with the Classe Delta series class AB amps they sounded better for sure. The Delta series class AB amps had more body volume and fuller sound than the Sigma series class D amps. Had more mid-bass and bass power too and sounding more punchier and much quieter design than the Sigma series class D amps. The Delta series class AB amps, especially the CAM-600 monoblocks, are indeed better amplifiers overall than the entry level Sigma series class D amps for sure but cost much more than the Sigma series class D amps. They aren't in the same league.
That’s all I can say.

@caphill The proof ultimately is in the playback. :)

I want to keep my Mytek Brooklyn in the mix if possible. If the ultimate amp is going to do an A/D conversion on input it kind of defeats the purpose.

I miss my Theta Casanova. The DAC was so good, and A/D so good I truly did not care.
  it sounds like you will continue to use your Brooklyn for music. My advice would be to go cheap with an AVR.  The most demanding requirement for AVR is music reproduction.  Most AVRs in the $500 and up range do a decent job with dialogue, explosions, etc and let the video processing be done by the player.  Make sure your AVR or processor will handle a 4 or 8 K display or whatever you are using.
Another advantage of going cheap is that in a couple of years as Tecnhnology advances, there might be an AVR or processor that will have a DAC that will top the Brooklyn, and you will only have to make one move to upgtade.

Not sure if the Sigma Amp5 class D amps would digitize its inputs upon entry. You should email Classe Audio technical support group and find out. Wouldn’t think it converts its inputs to digital. When I first listened to the Classe Sigma SSP + Sigma Amp5 combo at the store we used different source components to listen to music using both high end ARC Reference CD player as a source going analog into the Sigma SSP with the Sigma SSP set in bypass mode and streaming directly via USB input on the Sigma SSP, and they each sounded very different.
My friend who happens to own a hifi store said that he also tried using different HT preamp processors with the Sigma Amp5 class D amp and each sounded different. So it made me think that if the Sigma Amp5 amp converts the input to digital regardless of which preamp and front end components used they would all have sounded the same, right? 

I knew you like class D amps but I would pair the Sigma SSP with Classe Delta series class AB amps or Parasound Halo amps (class A/AB) or any good quality class AB amps if I were you but you said earlier that space is an issue for you and the Classe Delta series class AB amps and the Paradound Halo A21/31/51 are huge and very heavy, and the Classe Delta series class AB amps cost much more than the Sigma class D amps.

Not sure if the Sigma Amp5 class D amps would digitize its inputs upon entry. You should email Classe Audio technical support group and find out.

Classe calls their amps "digital Class D" which indicates this, plus this from the Amp5 SoundStage review :

This input stage uses a proprietary analog-to-digital (A/D) conversion stage shared by the SSP-800 and CP-800,

So I’m pretty sure. :)

There's nothing wrong with this approach, by the way. It just makes it kind of useless for me to bother with a separate DAC.

The Theta Casanova did this with all analog signals, and it did it very very well.



Eric, did you see the Krell S1200U up for sale at $2199?   It's not a 3D model, which means that it probably has the HDMI 1.3 board, but it's a great price.
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I went to Brooks Berdan in Monrovia. A great store, with the repair center in the middle and opwn to view. Highly recommended!

But they only had one Anthem AV receiver and it was not hooked up.

Le sigh
My work situation just radically changed. I'm going to have to put off any kilobuck buys off till next year. :(

Sorry to hear about your work situation. I just wanted to throw out there that if you are using a 2.1 setup for music, keep that subwoofer connection in mind. If it's connected to the receiver you end up buying, it won't be part of your stereo setup should you run the DAC into a separate stereo amp.