From what I've read, Anthem is among the best room correction, and certainly within your budget.
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+1 @erik_squires -- Anthem has excellent room EQ and sounds great, and from what I've seen they seem pretty reliable too -- something sadly very few AVRs out there can claim. Marantz was bought I think last year by a private equity firm (along with Denon), so not sure how quality and reliability might be affected. Best of luck.
I'm not sure how helpful this is as I have not heard an Anthem surround sound processor.
I recently replaced my Marantz AV8801 processor (top of the Marantz line at the time) with the AV7704 (second tier). To my ears, the AV7704 sounds as good as the AV8801 did and it does Atmos, although I don't have any height speakers at this time. My home theater sounds as good or better than most theaters I've been to.
I have heard the Anthem integrated and the room correction in that piece seems to work really well, but it had a "digital" sound to it that made me very aware that it was engaged. It sounded great, but I was always aware of its presence if that makes sense. I don't get that sense with the Marantz Audyssey room correction engaged for home theater, but I don't listen to the Marantz in two channel mode, if I did it would probably be similar. I prefer no room correction for 2 channel listening.
When I was doing my upgrade I spoke with my local dealer and they said the Anthem room correction is better than Marantz, but they carry Anthem and don't carry Marantz, so a grain of salt must be taken.
I have a separate two channel preamp (Modwright LS 100) that I use for two channel listening. I'm a lot more critical of the two channel aspect of my system than I am for home theater.
I should add, I have run my own 5.1 theater, using an Oppo DVD player and miniDSP.
I was able to get away with no EQ except in the center and subwoofer.
For the remaining 4 channels however I did not need it.
Good room acoustics, matched speaker designs, and bass traps absolutely helped. Would I give up my DSP for "signal purity?" Never, it was amazing.
Yes i have a hifi room with all kinda of money in wires and hydras and power cords and cable elevators and yada yada yada, i dont want or need it in my theater, i want wow holly crap effects and clear sound and clear voices
im using dunlavy sc ivs for fronts which are tall towers, need to find a center and the rest of the surrounds are 10 inch coaxials diy speakers. have 2 dunlavy subs 12 inch behind listening couch and will have 2 18s up near the screen.
ive got a collection of old adcom, and rotel amps for each surround channel and have odyssey mono amps for the LCR. will probably get a pro grade amp for the subs right now they have about 1000 watts and could use more on the 18s.
also open to ideas on a center channel, i think i want something with at least 2 10s in it.
right now have it going as 5.1 with a small marantz reciever with Land R feeding 2 amps , and its pretty good, i wanna get it closer to awesome.
will use 4 of the 10s in the ceiling for atmos same as sides and surround
it needs dsp for sure... which model of mini dsp would be good for this setup? , .
What’s your thing with 10" drivers??? Yeesh. That’s a tough ask for a center channel speaker and most likely a bit of overkill, no? But since you asked, by far the best and most dynamic and neutral center channel speaker I’ve ever heard is the ATC C6C. This thing can pin your ears to the sides of your head without strain or distortion. But then it only has two wimpy 9.5" bass drivers, ehem. But as you lament that last 0.5" of missing woofer diameter, the big dome midrange will punch you in the face to reset your focus. And don’t worry about an amp -- it’s active and has discrete internal amps powering each driver for a total of 350 Watts (not sure if it’s available in passive). Not bad for a center speaker, eh? Short of going to some big, hideous pro center speaker, you might have to fire up your workbench to craft something ballsier than this beast. To quote Ferris Bueller, "If you have the means, I highly recommend it." Best of luck.