Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver Review

Specs

ManufacturerAnthem
ModelMRX 1120
Inputs6x HDMI 2.0a, 2x HDMI 1.4 w/ MHL, 5x Stereo RCA, 3x Optical, 2x Coaxial, WiFi, Ethernet, RS232
Outputs11.2 channel preout, 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x Optical, 2x Stereo RCA
Amplifier Section5x140 watts, 6x60 watts
RoomEQYes
Size17.25" x 6.5" x 14.75"
Weight32 lbs.
Review DateFebruary 8, 2017
Price$3500

Unlike most companies, Anthem doesn’t do a yearly refresh of their receivers. They don’t try to stick in every single new feature that comes out each year, most of which people don’t use. Instead they focus on upgrading when necessary. The updated MRX x20 line of receivers from 2016 is the third release in the MRX line and adds essential features including HDMI 2.0a, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and DTS Play-Fi. Most importantly they’ve kept Anthem Room Correction in place and added support for 11 channels of audio. The Anthem MRX 1120 is a powerful, great sounding receiver that serves as the heart of a high-end home theater.

The Anthem MRX 1120 sits at the top of the Anthem receiver lineup. As the model number implies, it supports 11 channels of amplification inside of the chassis. To accomplish this it uses 140 watt Class A/B amplifiers for the five main channels and smaller 60 watt Class D amplifiers for the rears and Atmos/DTS:X channels. Seven rear HDMI inputs, all 2.0a save HDMI 7, and one front HDMI 1.4 MHL-compatible input provide plenty of connectivity for most users, while integrated WiFi and Ethernet with DTS Play-Fi let you stream music.

All of this connectivity is built on top of a solid analog base and Anthem Room Correction. Unlike most room correction systems, ARC doesn’t operate with a microphone you connect directly to the unit. Anthem ships a separate microphone with that is individually calibrated. ARC requires more processing power than a standard receiver can provide, and this individual calibration file, so it can’t run like Audyssey and others do. A recent update also lets you use an app on your iPhone to run ARC.

What the MRX 1120 doesn’t have built-in is a lot of excess fluff. If you want extra DSP sound modes, you won’t find them here. Anthem provides Movie and Music DSP modes, along with Dolby Surrounds and DTS:X Neural, but that is all. There is a Zone 2 output which is analog audio for PCM sources or it can follow the main input while other high-end receivers can pack HDMI or HDBaseT for up to 4 zones. There is no USB input to allow you to use it as a DAC for a PC or Raspberry Pi, Phono preamp, or video adjustments. While some people use these features, most people do not, and cutting them allows Anthem to concentrate on the sound quality of the receiver instead.

ARC In-Depth

One of the most important selling points for Anthem products is Anthem Room Correction, so it deserves some in-depth discussion of why. Let’s start with the flexibility that ARC offers. You can define and configure up to four different ARC presets. For each preset you can have a different speaker arrangement and different settings for those speakers. If you want a movie mode that is 7.1.4 with Atmos and DTS:X, a TV mode that is straight 5.1, and a music mode that is 2.0, you can define those all inside of ARC. Each will have their own settings for speakers and crossover, and each can be assigned on a per-input level. Switch to your Blu-ray player and you have 11 channels ready to go, while your TV input is only 5.1.

ARC Target Customization

For ARC you can also define what frequencies it should work on. The most important frequencies to correct in a room are the lower bass octaves. Even in my smaller 11’x13’ room, frequencies above 225Hz are short enough that the entire sound wave fits between my speakers and listening position. For these frequencies the room should cause very little interaction. If I use ARC to adjust these, I’m correcting the sound of the speakers which I might not want to do. If I only adjust frequencies below this, now I’m adjusting for the room, which is what I want to do.