Anthem ARC - Well, it's not that great.

Hi Everyone,

I don’t have the time and energy to do a full write up with frequency plots and the like, but I want to say that after pushing Anthem HT processors for a while, I lived with the MRX 540 and it’s ARC and honestly it doesn’t sound good.

Sucks the dynamics out of the soundtracks and at the same time fails to improve the speaker to speaker matching. In other words, you don’t end up with an immersive sound field.

I’m so sad and disappointed. As you know, I am a big proponent of using EQ and DSP correctly to enhance all listening. I’m just sad that the automatic part of the Anthem Room Correction is just not very good.  I suspect some of this may be the forced multi-point measurements that work much better in large auditoriums than in my modest listening room and couch.

I’m keeping the receiver but going back to using my own EQ curves, something impossible to do in the Anthem.






I think it is room dependent, you have a well treated room and it must have overdamped things somewhere. Can you post your before and after graph to discuss, here is mine. This is from my two channel setup in the media room. The before is good but the after is a bit better:

(Paradigm Link Streamer w/ARC>Sony TAZH1-ES dac/pre> Paradigm Active 40 speakers):



Hey Kota, no. As I mentioned, I really don’t have time to do much of a write up. I just didn’t like the results. Compared to nothing, they deadened the sound. Compared to my hand tuned EQ, they never managed to create a coherent sound stage.

I’m afraid I have other things which take up my time and attention. All I can do is just say I’m not impressed. Further, I can see why listeners would be so enamoured of Atmos if Dolby Digital and DTS only got to this level of performance. Hoenstly, prior to Atmos, DD and DTS were really amazing. This is not even close to the best I have heard in my living room.

Also, I think the mic is kind of crap int he upper octaves, so while I don’t have the time to post anything, I would not be using the Anthem measurements as a way of understanding how well it works. It needs third party validation.

In particular, as someone who has actually installed and worked on the electronics for actual theaters, I'm really not impressed with multi point microphone techniques for small listening spaces.  There was a blog  post by the president of Bryston on this and I think he was more or less accurate that it doesn't work nearly as well in a home.

Also, I think the mic is kind of crap int he upper octaves

The mic I use for Audyssey Pro is calibrated to my system and software, it is a step up from the mic's supplied by either Marantz or Anthem.

There was a blog post by the president of Bryston on this

He’s got a dog in the race but I know the processor they have that does Atmos uses Dirac.

Hoenstly, prior to Atmos, DD and DTS were really amazing

You nailed it on this one. The budget studios get for the blueray mix is peanuts compared to the film track. I stream MCH with an X-Box which has an amazing feature. It has a menu to select the format you want to stream in, lossless 2,5,or 7 channel, DD, DTS, and with a paid upgrade Atmos or DTS-X. If I am watching a musical from the 40’s and want to stream it in atmos, done. If I am listening to tidal stereo recordings and want to stream them in DTS, done. Live recordings sound better to me upmixed in DTS. House and pop sound better in my room in atmos. Sunday morning I like two channel stereo with my coffee, and on and on we go.




interested if you have ever used/ heard a Trinnov altitudeprocessor. I’m in the middle of a way too long, home theater, build and have been considering the anthem Avm90, the new Marantz cinema, or the trinnov.  The only challenge being the trinnov dealer is many hours away and twice the price as the other alternatives. Those who have it seem to swear by it but I find that when people buy expensive things they usually think they’re better anyways, sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it is not.  It is supposed to have absolutely amazing room correction and bass correction, great support and easy upgrade ability.  

Hi @esthlos13 - Unfortunately I have not. Maybe I should solicit processors to review? :)

I may suffer from NIH (not invented here) syndrome when it comes to room integration. I really liked the setup I had when I was using hand crafted curves via miniDSP, so I could be that guy who is only satisfied when he makes it himself. :)

OTOH, I had really high hopes for ATC to simplify the amount of gear and cables I needed to have not to mention the time and effort needed for calibration.  At least with Anthem, I was not at all impressed.

Maybe not super, but better than the Audyssey competition. I have been running an MXR310 with updated software quite happily as HT in two houses now in 5.1   Could also be that Anthem amplifier sections are better than most in the price range.  I have no interest in Atmos and really would be happy with 3.1 as I just don't care much for special effects.  Yes, I have heard a super high end 9. something with 3D and I would not pay 1/10 the price for it. It is not my music system. 

One problem is many rely on the DSP to fix speaker problems where it really is better just on lower frequency room issues. EQ alone won't fix room imaging or crappy speakers. The better you start, the better the result. 

Another problem is when many people first experience getting the humps beat down, it seems a bit flat.  No more 4K boost  and no more bass boost. Those issues may be easier to see the difference playing music, not movies. 

Perfect? No but I am not ware of anything better I could afford. Mini-DSP is the only alternative I would pursue if my Anthem died.  It may also be difficult to separate  what is DSP and what is the DAC and amp. Well, might go to 3.1 and the Schiit SYN. 

The mic was designed when ARC only handled low frequencies. As the software improved, the mic did not change.  Without decrypting the calibration file, we'll never know. I imagine it is the same Panasonic capsule ( or clone) as in most cheap condenser mics


Yeah, I used the Anthem ARC in the form of the Martin Logan Perfect Bass Kit, just for subwoofers, and the results were that I much preferred subwoofers without any room EQ.  
If you’re curious, you can read about my write up in the speaker section here:

To be clear, I would sum up my complaints in two issues:

  • Immersiveness
  • Bass response

Listening to well mixed DVDs I don’t feel surrounded by the environment. I feel subjected to it. The bass also doesn’t feel well integrated with the rest of the system. I can hear all 5 main speakers, but I don’t feel surrounded. The front channels never fully merge into 1 audio presentation, and the rear speakers also feel separated from the fronts.

In my experience, this is something you can do with 5 speakers alone, you don’t need Atmos to get to this level of performance. Just good speakers, a good room and careful EQ.  An approach at least a little validated by Floyd Toole's writing on "room correction." 

My personal approach to EQ is very different from Anthem. Anthem picks an ideal curve and tries to get all speakers to match it. I used my mains as the reference and made the 3 remaining speakers match them. I also set the bass to go down to 16 Hz and descend about 1.25 dB/octave.

Another way in which my approach differs from Anthem is that I only use 1 measurement point. Trying to set all 5 speakers to an ideal curve, across multiple measurement points may be correct on average and exactly wrong where I listen.

Lastly, when I do EQ I do so sparingly, attempting to use the least amount of filters and least amount of correction as possible, giving myself more freedom in the bass to fix room modes than in the mid to treble.

For all these reasons I want to try a Marantz HD processor next. The advanced Audyssey levels let you craft your DSP curves completely by hand.

An interesting topic is brought up above, which is what all the extra speakers are for. Are they for effects or immersion?  This argument was compeltely dominated by Dolby in the days of Dolby Surround (i.e. ProLogic for the home buyers).

Dolby Surround was 100% aimed at effects. Wow factor. The internal steering mechanism prevented mixing engineers from even attempting subtle immersive audio environments. They encouraged fly over type of effects, oddly sometimes always going in one direction. Alternative decoders IMHO may do a better job for that 2-channel multiplexed era of movie experience.

Today in the era of discrete channels and now even object based audio encoding this capability has finally been wrested from the electrical engineers and put back into the hands of the mixing engineers where it belongs.

That is not to say movies are better mixed, they are not always, but I think the chance of having spectacular audio environments has certainly come a long way.

@erik_squires , The primary goal of the processor’s auto-cal is to set the distances/levels for speakers, subs, deploy any RSC filters correctly as it sees fit, etc. You will need to make manual fine refinements to distances/levels further from the ballpark it set it to.

The software’s goofy output for auto-eq is for an entry-level user. EQ will need to done manually for the hifi ear. He will go to town with it & adjust to taste as it works for his ears. Yamaha permits a full manual adjustment for multi-band PEQ. Sound United - Denon/Marantz used to provide full manual GEQ control (not sure if they’ve moved up to PEQ yet), etc.....Not sure why Anthem wouldn’t permit that?! I don’t know, i’ve never had an Anthem product.

When you’re taking a multi-point measurement with your cal mic, focus on the primary sweetspot and don’t deviate any additional mic locations from within a foot of the primary sweet spot. Moving the mic around over a larger span (compromising the main sweet spot) may be acceptable to HT guys for movies. If music is the goal, keep it around the primary sweet spot for you. Any other spots can be deemed mother-in-law spots and are not required to sound fabulous.

Ensure that the bedlayer surround speakers are physically at the same distance as the fronts. One can’t keep em 2 ft away from the ears because the room’s the size of a closet and hope the magic delays will fix everything.

If your 5 bedlayer speakers hit low and fall in the hi-fi category, sub positions are sub-optimal, etc, run bedlayer speakers full range (don’t bass-manage/high pass) and dovetail/blend the subs in. Some brands have terrible implementations of bass management. This is all done very well in some brands and not others. It takes a lot of patience, research, focused thought, comprehension, listening, multiple trials and effort to get to a high fidelity multichannel rig (it isn’t as simple as stereo). If not, everyone would have done it by now.


The end goal is to be sitting enveloped in a seamless dome of sound with no individual speaker even being remotely localizable. If one doesn’t have the room for it, he doesn’t and that's about it. There are many tools in object based audio prepros to get you only so far...They can’t fix a chaos room.

@deep_333 FYI, I spent years in the motion picture audio industry. :)

The thing the Anthem does really well is set relative distances and levels.  The EQ sucked and was not fixable. :)