Anthem AV receiver better than Denon as a preamp

I asked this question in a previous thread and it turned into a bit of a gongshow, so I am going to try it again, but ask a very specific question this time.

Once again, I NEED to utilize an AV receiver in my setup. I have a 3 channel Bryston 5Bst amp utilized through the preamp outs on my Denon 2808ci to power my front L front R and center. The AVR powers the rears and a second zone (my patio).
I am not in love with how my Denon performs as a pre for music ( but a separate 2 channel pre is not an option for many reasons..respectfully, please don't suggest). I am currently looking at the Anthem MRX line of AV receivers.
Does anyone have any experience using these ? Would this provide me a significant enough improvement over my Denon when using as a preamp (and powering my rears and 2nd zone)?
I think what you are hearing is that the good receivers may be 10% or 20% different, but a lot of that is in the amps, not the preamps. You are probably not going to see a huge difference in the 2 channel pre-amp performance from most of the good ones. What differences you hear will probably be as much personal taste as anyting. Anthem, Arcam, NAD and maybe Marantz are probably the options. The best thing to do is try to get a local trial, if possible. If you can get the Anthem locally at a good price, you should be able to get a trial. If not possible, maybe try the NAD from Spirit Sound with a 30 day return (I think they have a 30 day return). Or some other brand if you can find a 30 day return. That will probably give you an idea of whether you hear enough difference to be worth it. I doubt you are going to get any definitive answer without listening.
Don't take my opinion about Anthems as gospel Dallyd. Most here seem to like them. I have heard the MRX line in 2 channel mode with no processing and simply wasn't impressed. They reminded me of mainstream AVR's I had before I bought a separate 2 channel preamp with HT bypass. Thats why I equate them to Denon and suggested you might as well keep what you have.

I have heard the Arcam 400 & 600 in 2 channel mode on numerous occasions and thought they were much better. If I was in need of a do it all AVR, especially for 2 channel, these Arcams are the way I would lean. WRT the 360, can't say - never heard it and I won't comment either way on a product I never auditioned. I would suggest that you check out its specs, compare it to the 400 & 600 and go out and audition it.

But you seem to leaning toward Anthem so perhaps you should just go for it. Maybe you can get a trial. In the final analysis, its your system and you have to discover what sounds best to you. Not by asking us - you'll get different opinions like mine. To my ears, I simply cannot reaffirm your leaning toward Anthem. Best of luck to you in whatever you do and I hope you find the sound you are looking for in an AVR.
Paraneer, when you heard the Anthems were they in your system or somewhere else? If the latter, what equipment were they hooked up to and how was the room/setup? Did you hear the Arcams in the same setup or somewhere else and with what equipment? Just trying to get a sense of context and variables involved in your assessment since they're so critical. Thanks.
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