Canadian speaker maker Reference 3A has just introduced a brand new model to its loudspeaker line-up - called the Sema Zen.  This new model is said to offer engaging musicality effortlessly presented in full scale and transparent imagery.

Highlights of the Sema Zen include:

  • Two specifically designed and hand built (in Reference 3A’s own facilities) 8 ¼” hyper exponentially shaped woven carbon full range drivers are meticulously pair matched.  Main drivers cover a wide range of the music and are directly coupled to amplifiers to minimize interruptions and alterations to the musical signal flow.
  • Each driver is housed individually in precisely sized non-resonant semi-spherical bamboo resin enclosures.  Dense front baffle supporting the main drivers is acoustically isolated from the main cabinet to reduce cabinet resonance noise dramatically.
  • Beryllium dome tweeter, mounted in an acoustic wave guide is perfectly aligned between the main drivers and is also acoustically isolated from the main driver baffle for more stable sound propagation.
  • Several perforated braces are angled and installed internally across the cabinets at critical points to reduce cabinet wall vibrations and to diffuse long vertical standing waves.  A long and formed spine brace (separate from the cross braces) is installed asymmetrically  for the entire length of the cabinet to brace the rear, front, top and base panels of the cabinet and support the rear sides of  bass drivers.    All inner cabinet corners are filled with gussets to further “densify” the cabinet structure as well as reducing corner nodes.
  • Four well matched bass drivers mounted in a line array (below) are mechanically grounded to the vertical spine brace to stabilize the drivers’ operation and drain potentially harmful mechanical vibrations.
  • A simple high pass filter (one high quality capacitor) is utilized to protect the beryllium dome tweeter from low frequencies.
  • A simple low pass filter (one high quality coil) is used to gently roll off high frequencies from the woofers.
  • Solid metal stabilizer pods with large adjustable brass coupling spikes are mounted to support the cabinet.
  • Patented Surreal Acoustic Lenses are used to reduce noise caused by air turbulence in cone drivers.
  • Patented Magnetic Conduction Wave Guides in bi wire configuration are used for faster and more dynamic signal transfer.

Frequency Response: 27 Hz to about 40,000 Hz.
Sensitivity: 93 dB. 1 W/Meter.
Impedance: Very even 8 Ohms.
Amplifier Power: 5 to 200 Watts.

Dimensions, each unit:   
Height:  168 cm. (67 inches)
Width:  34 cm. (13.5 inches)
Depth:  73 cm. at base, 55 cm. at top, 48 cm. at middle (29, 22, 19 inches)
Weight:  100 Kg. (220 lbs.)

MSRP:  $21,900.00 CAD

For more info, please visit

shomi - Image (Custom)

shomi, a new subscription video-on-demand service, promises to deliver a superior user experience and most popular content to Canadians this fall.  Available initially on tablet, mobile, online, Xbox 360 and set top boxes, shomi will launch in beta first to Rogers and Shaw Internet or TV customers.  shomi will be available starting the first week of November for $8.99 per month.

shomi features prior seasons of the most popular shows on TV today, iconic series from the past, cult-classic and fan-favourite films, as well as a library of family-friendly kids programming.  With exclusive past-season streaming rights to titles – such as Modern Family, Sons of Anarchy, Sleepy Hollow, Shameless, 2 Broke Girls, Vikings, New Girl, 24: Live Another Day, Chicago Fire, The Strain, and American Horror Story – along with first-window premieres, it’s more bang, less blah.  shomi combines a team of programming experts with algorithmic technology to help you pick what you actually want to watch – whether it’s finding hidden gems, rediscovering old favourites, or remembering why you fell in love with a title in the first place.

shomi the numbers (and this is just at launch, with much more exciting content to come!):

14,000 episodes and titles
11,000 hours of TV shows
1,200 movies
340 TV series
30% of content is Canadian, including TV shows and classic films

Enhanced features include trailers and factoids for movie titles to help customers make their selections, while a visually appealing interface delivers a theatrical experience.  With up to six profiles per account, shomi offers a great solution for the connected home, as customers can watch on two devices and their set top boxes – all at the same time.

shomi is a joint venture owned equally by Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications. shomi will operate as a standalone entity with its own management structure.

For more info, please visit

Angie's Audio Corner 2nd Year Anniversary

This Thursday, August 28th, Angie’s Audio Corner will be celebrating its 2nd year anniversary and all music listeners are invited. Angie’s Audio Corner is an audio store unlike any other - it’s a historic 2 storey-house that features a different music system in every single room. It’s a giant playground where music lovers can listen to music components from an amazingly broad selection of the finest brands, hand-picked by owner Angie Lisi.

This all-day event will allow customers to meet special industry guests including Johnnie and Eva Bergmann (Bergmann Audio), Mike Latvis (HRS), Kevin Wolf (VANA), Michael McCormak (Belcanto), John and James (Meridian / Sooloos), Jacques Reindeau (Oracle), and Allan (Sumiko). Company representative from Focal, Kimber and Audioquest will also be present.

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The food and live music will start at 5pm. Musical guests will include Whiskey Jack, Dean Peer and the Liquid Trio. Performances will take place both indoors and outdoors.

And if all this wasn’t enough, various draws for prizes will be held throughout the event.

Angie’s Audio Corner is located at 12261 Yonge Street (corner of Yonge and Stouffville Rd.), Richmond Hill, ON, L4E 3M7. If possible, please RSVP to this invite by calling 905-773-7810.

And while you’re there, be sure to check out the brand new Annex store, situated on the same property in a separate building. This new store is filled with previously enjoyed audio components, classic vintage pieces, and tons of records and CDs.

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  Angie's Audio Corner 2nd Year Anniversary

On Thursday, August 28th, Angie’s Audio Corner will be celebrating its 2nd year anniversary and all music listeners are invited.  Angie’s Audio Corner is an audio store unlike any other - it’s a historic 2 storey-house that features a different music system in every single room.  It’s a giant playground where music lovers can listen to music components from an amazingly broad selection of the finest brands, hand-picked by owner Angie Lisi.

This all-day event will allow you to meet special industry guests including Johnnie and Eva Bergmann (Bergmann Audio), Mike Latvis (HRS), Kevin Wolf (VANA), Michael McCormak (Belcanto), John and James (Meridian / Sooloos), Jacques Reindeau (Oracle), and Allan (Sumiko).  Company representative from Focal, Kimber and Audioquest will also be in attendance.

IMG_6507 (Custom)

The food and live music will start at 5pm.  Musical guests will include Whiskey Jack, Dean Peer and the Liquid Trio.  Performances will take place both indoors and outdoors.

And if all this wasn’t enough, various draws for prizes will be held throughout the event.

Angie’s Audio Corner is located at 12261 Yonge Street (corner of Yonge and Stouffville Rd.), Richmond Hill, ON, L4E 3M7.  If possible, please RSVP to this invite by calling 905-773-7810.

And while you’re there, be sure to check out the brand new Annex store, situated on the same property in a separate building.  This new store is filled with previously enjoyed audio components, classic vintage pieces, and tons of records and CDs.

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Bryston BDP-USB Digital Player

If you are looking for the perfect partner for your USB DAC, look no further than Bryston’s brand new BDP-1USB Digital Music Player.  This new player is a simplified, less expensive version of the company’s BDP-2 digital player designed for music listeners with DACs that feature only a USB input, and for circumstances where USB is the best sounding way to connect your source.

When used with a USB DAC the expensive custom audiophile sound card found in the BDP-2 serves no purpose. The BDP-1USB eliminates this cost and saves you money with no sound quality penalty. The system is powered by a noiseless linear power supply which will not pollute the delicate digital audio path or your AC mains. It can also comfortably manage complex music libraries of up to 30,000 tracks stored on either locally connected USB drives or your home NAS.

A vast array of features such as UPnP compatibility, Squeezebox emulation, DoP (DSD over PCM), and more are all built in to an intuitive and attractive firmware accessible from practically all web browsers.

Comfortably control your BDP-1USB from your chair using Android or iOS tablets and mobile phones using the built-in interface or your choice of various 3rd party apps.

Bryston BDP-1USB Highlights:

  • Linear Power Supply - not switching common to computers and other digital music players
  • 4 USB inputs/outputs any of which can be used to connect mass storage or Digital to Analog Converter
  • Back bottom USB provides high current for large capacity buss powered hard drives
  • Fast Ethernet 100mbps connectivity to network
  • Connect to music stored on NAS
  • UPnP/DLNA Client, Server, Renderer availability
  • Large library support up to 30,000 tracks
  • Gapless playback
  • Intuitive Graphical User Interface accessible by virtually all web-browsers including on mobile devices.
  • Support for FLAC, Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV, MP3, and a huge variety of other audio formats
  • Seamless control with iOS, Android, or other mobile devices
  • Bit perfect digital audio playback
  • Compatible with Asynchronous USB DACs
  • DSD over PCM (DoP) playback with compatible DACs
  • 5 year parts and labor warranty

For more info, please visit

update tv and stereo outside

The 17th annual Markham Jazz Festival is running now until Sunday, August 17th in Markham, Ontario, and all jazz fans are invited! At the same time Update TV & Stereo’s “Elevated” store is hosting a special in-store event, allowing music lovers to learn about various audio topics and score some special deals.

Three daily seminars are being offered inside the store covering the topics of Cables, Turntables and Speakers. You do not want to miss these! Update TV & Stereo is also hosting a very special factory-authorized Nordost sale on cables, power products and accessories.  This is your chance to maximize the performance of your system.update tv and stereo

For more info, please check out

For more info about the Markham Jazz Festival, please check out

update tv and stereo

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Helping You Realize the Full Potential of Your Audio System

If you have upgraded some of the cables in your audio system than you are already aware of the difference that high quality cables can make.  If on the other hand, you’ve never tried higher quality cables in your system, we encourage you to give it a try and discover the improvements for yourself.  Many music lovers are astonished to discover how significantly better and more realistic music sounds with good cables and accessories in their system.  So what’s the best approach to upgrading the performance of your system?  Start by doing some research on the topic because not all cables and audio accessories are made equally.  While there are a number of very well regarded cable and accessory manufacturers, there are also plenty of manufacturers that make unjustified claims about their products.  Before upgrading any parts of your system, we recommend reading articles and reviews from a few reputable sources.

Just as with loudspeakers and audio components, it is always best to audition cables and accessories if possible.  Nothing compares to hearing with your own ears whether an audio product or accessory improves the sound of a system.  In some cases, certain components and accessories change the sound of a system, rather than improving it, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.  In the worst cases, some products actually degrade the sound.  A regional show, where dozens of companies showcase their latest gear, is a great place to hear demonstrations of various audio components and cable products.  Most audio video retailers will also gladly demonstrate the sonic improvements that a well matched cable can bring to an audio system.
In this feature article, we would like to expand your knowledge on the subjects of cables, power products and resonance control devices.  We would like to also introduce you to Nordost, one of the most respected audio and video cable makers in the world, and its wide range of products.  Finally we also address some of the common questions that you might have as a music listener and reader of this magazine.

Meet Nordost
Nordost’s humble beginning dates back to 1991 in Massachusetts, as a cable manufacturer specializing in the audio field, utilizing precision conductor solutions first developed for the aerospace industry.  All Nordost product designs have a firm foundation that starts with scientific research and development, and finishes with extremely precise building techniques.  The company’s design philosophy is to produce cables that have a low mass design, with an optimal signal transfer and perfect impedance matching. The company understands that cables, by nature are filters. It is therefore their goal to filter the sound as little as possible so that you are left with an impression of the music, not of the cabling.  Its first product, the Flatline Gold speaker cable introduced in 1992, is a perfect example of this, deriving technology originally used by NASA for their space shuttle program which resulted in a cable that was extremely durable with a geometry that offered impressively low capacitance and inductance while achieving very high signal speeds.  For more than two decades now, Nordost has continued to push the envelope of cable design and technology, in turn improving the performance of audio systems around the world.  Today, Nordost offers a full range of analog and digital audio and video cables, as well as numerous power products and resonance control devices designed to improve the sound of audio systems.  Nordost proudly designs and manufactures all of its products in Massachusetts, USA.
Now let’s take a look at some of the common questions and concerns that audio and video enthusiasts might have about cables.  The topics below are explained thanks to insights and answers provided by Nordost.Nordost Purple Flare Power Cord (Custom)

What benefits can you expect by upgrading the cables in your system?
Swapping the OEM cables that came inside the box with your component with upgraded cables can go a long way to unleashing the true power of your audio or home theatre system.  In a music system, you can expect a number of improvements in the overall level of performance.  Nordost cables typically offer a much lower noise floor, allowing you to hear significantly more musical details and a soundstage that stretches wider, deeper and taller - in addition to having a better definition.  This means that instruments and voices will sound richer and more accurate.  The soundstage will offer more air and you’ll be able to distinguish the placement of the vocals and various instruments within the soundstage as you would in a live performance.  Nordost cables also offer an increased coherency in the timing, and dimension.

In a home theatre system, you can expect the same kind of sonic improvements.  Additionally when using Nordost’s American-made HDMI cables, there will be less of a delay when switching speaker channels, as well as increased picture depth and dimensionality. As a result you will find yourself more immersed sonically and visually in your movies and TV programming, making the experience more realistic.

Which cables should I upgrade first in my system?  A recommended cable upgrade path
Nordost recommends upgrading cables in the following order - power cables, interconnects (digital and/or analog) and speaker cables.  Following this upgrade path will help to establish a firm foundation on which you can build your audio or video system.  Proper distribution of AC power and ground has the greatest effect on your system’s performance and sets the sonic signature of the system. Your upgrades should follow the flow of the audio signal.

Power lines run for hundreds of miles before reaching your home, and then all throughout your home before they reach your audio equipment.  How can the last 6 feet of the power delivery system (the power cable) make a difference in your system?
A better way to think about this, is that the power cable that comes out of your wall is actually the first 6 feet of your audio or video system.  The sound that reaches your ears is in fact AC power that has been sculpted by your audio components into musical frequencies.  If you feed your system with unclean power what you’ll end up with is sound performance that lacks in many areas.  Therefore, feeding clean power to your components is critical and starts with the power cord of your power strip or conditioner.

So how can a Nordost power cable improve the performance of your system?
Our homes are filled with RF interference which can be easily picked up by inadequately designed power cables, which in turn introduces grain and pollution, and raises the source impedance of the AC power.  Nordost cables are designed to avoid these specific issues.

At CANADA HiFi we always recommend connecting your audio or video system to a dedicated power outlet in your home.  This will provide a clean power foundation for your system, by ensuring that home appliances, lights and other devices don’t share the same power circuits and pollute the AC that you feed into your system.

What is better - a balanced (XLR) or unbalanced (RCA) connection?
There are different ways of implementing balanced connections in audio components and as a result the balanced output performance of one component can vary significantly compared to another.  Balanced connections are typically used in sound studios that are often electrically congested environments and where long cable runs are required.  In home audio systems we normally use much shorter cables.  If you’re not sure what connection to choose, the best thing to do is to let your ears be the judge.

Does the length of a power cable, interconnect or speaker cable matter?
Within reason according to Nordost, the longer the cable run, the better.  That’s because Nordost carefully constructs its cables in specific lengths that offer optimal performance.  The optimal length of each cable is defined by how a particular cable is constructed, and hence varies by type and model of cable.  The exact cable lengths in your system will be dictated by the placement of your components and the size of your listening space.

Does Nordost have a trade up program?
Yes, Nordost dealers do offer a trade up program across its range of products.  Please contact your local Nordost dealer for details.

Meet the Nordost range of cables
Nordost offers a diverse range of cable products, well suited for all audio and home theatre systems and budgets.  Its cables are arranged into four product families - Leif, Norse 2, Reference and Supreme Reference.  Each successive family builds upon the technology used in the previous, improving the performance as you move up the lines.

•   The Leif family is comprised of the White Lightening, Purple Flare, LS Blue Heaven and LS Red Dawn products.  This series utilizes a solid cable core, silver-plated conductors, FEP insulation, mechanically tuned construction and proprietary connectors.
•   The Norse 2 family is comprised of the Heimdall 2, Frey 2 and Tyr 2 products.  This series uses all of the above plus Nordost’s proprietary Micro Mono-Filament cable construction, mechanically tuned lengths and patented MoonGlo connectors.
•   The Valhalla Reference family consists of the Valhalla and Valhalla 2 products.  This series uses all of the above but upgrades to Dual Mono-Filament construction, proprietary Holo:Plug connectors and uses asymmetrical grounding on interconnects.
•   The Odin Supreme Reference is Nordost’s flagship family of cables.  This series uses all of the above (with the exception of the Holo:Plug) and adds TSC (Total Signal Control) technology and ART (Advanced Resonance Technology).

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Nordost resonance control devices - why is resonance control important in your system?
It’s no secret that mechanical vibration degrades the performance of individual components and whole sound systems drastically. One way to minimize this negative effect is through the use of isolation devices, separating the component from outside forces that would harm sound integrity.  Nordost, however, takes a different approach to solving this problem. The company believes that the most harmful mechanical energy doesn’t enter the equipment from the outside - it’s generated internally by audio circuits and power supplies in components, as well as drivers and crossovers in loudspeakers. To solve these problems Nordost has developed a range of resonance control devices. Both Nordost’s Sort Kones and Sort Füt units are mechanically tuned resonance control devices that act as mechanical diodes, creating a direct ground path that allows extraneous energy to escape from the electronics. Without these disruptive vibrations, your system will sound more natural and lifelike, your music more lively and engaging.  You will be left exceedingly satisfied with the performance achieved by your audio system.Nordost Qrt Qx2 (Custom)

Nordost QRT power products - what sonic improvements can they bring to your system?
Nordost QRT power products are designed to alleviate the impact of poor quality AC power on your sensitive electronics.  They accomplish this by limiting the RFI (radio frequency interference) and timing errors associated with the AC line, as well as preventing time delay and distortion of the AC signal.  The result is AC power that is closer to the desired “distortion-less condition” all without limiting the peak current that’s required by your electronics.   The QRT power product range consists of the QBase Power Distribution Bars, the QX power purifiers, the QV2 AC Line Harmonizer and the QKoil QK1 AC Enhancer. With the use of QRT products in your system you can expect to hear a lower noise floor, an increased image depth with a tighter focus, a wider soundstage, improvement in the overtones, more accurate pacing of the music, a greater dynamic range and a more fluid musical expression.

In a very competitive market, with diverse technologies and designs, what differentiates Nordost’s products from other manufacturers?  What advice would you give to consumers who are shopping for cables/accessories?
Nordost puts a premium on research, and thanks to this focus, the company has been able to separate itself from its competitors by introducing revolutionary technologies such as the Micro Mono-Filament construction, the Dual Mono-Filament construction and a variety of proprietary connectors, such as the HOLO:PLUG. Nordost also uses extruded FEP, the most effective insulation in the industry due to its low loss signal and high thermal efficiency, in its cable designs.  The company is meticulous in the production of its cables and accessories, and the details that go into the construction of every finished product that leaves its facility.

When shopping for cables and accessories, Nordost advises consumers to “try before you buy”. Nordost is a huge proponent of demonstrating cables so that you can hear the differences that the cables make in your system before purchasing them. Every Nordost dealer is outfitted with the cables needed to provide their customers with a valuable demonstration of Nordost products.

Has cable design & engineering reached its peak? Or are there opportunities for further advancement?
Nordost believes that there is no end to the innovation possible in cable design. Thanks to the company’s unwavering focus on research and development, its team is constantly finding areas to advance the industry and to push the “sonic boundaries”, so to speak. The company is exceedingly enthusiastic about the solutions that they are going to be able to provide to music listeners in the future.

What are some of the latest product offerings from Nordost?Nordost Valhalla2 Speaker Cables

Valhalla 2 Cables:  Since the introduction of the original Valhalla cables fourteen years ago, it has become a benchmark for performance in the consumer electronics industry and a great success for Nordost. However, over the years Nordost has been able to develop cutting edge production techniques and technological innovations that both improve the quality and precision of the manufacturing process and propel the capabilities of the products to previously unattainable levels. Valhalla 2 Cables use the company’s Dual Mono-Filament technology, along with an innovative, proprietary connector called the HOLO:PLUG, designed to be the best possible interface between the cable and the component. The combination of these two ground-breaking technologies allows Nordost products to perfectly match the company’s philosophy of low mass design, optimal signal transfer and perfect impedance matching. Valhalla 2 cables are available as analog, digital and tonearm interconnects, as well as loudspeaker and power cables.

Sort Füt:  The Sort Füt is a mechanically tuned resonance control device designed to improve the performance of your loudspeakers and audio racks.  Its proprietary construction, consisting of four parts, eliminates unwanted mechanical vibration by providing a direct grounding path.  This allows extraneous energy to escape from the loudspeakers and racks.  Employing the Sort Füt in your system significantly reduces intermodulation distortion, allows propagation of musical information, and increases tonal and textural details that will allow your system to achieve its full dynamic range potential.  The Sort Füt is available both as an individual unit and in a Premium Package of 4 units, which includes an adjustment tool, a laser leveling system and detailed instructions necessary to get any system sorted with ease and precision. Nordost BH-HDMI (Custom)

Blue Heaven HDMI Cable:  When choosing an HDMI cable you want the best picture, the best sound, and complete reliability. The Blue Heaven HDMI cable is your answer. What makes the Blue Heaven HDMI so superior? That’s simple: technology and consistency. Nordost’s proprietary Micro Mono-Filament technology creates a precision wound cable with superb geometrical accuracy and consistency, combined with exceptional electrical and mechanical characteristics for low-loss, high-speed data transmission. Additionally, the Blue Heaven HDMI cable is entirely manufactured and hand-terminated in the USA, allowing Nordost to govern the quality and consistency in every step of the process. The Blue Heaven is the only HDMI cable that can make this claim and it shows clearly in the results - it exceeds the HDMI standard and has gained the demanding DPL Seal Of Approval.

Discover the world of Nordost products online
We invite you to unlock the full potential of your audio or home theatre system by exploring the full range of Nordost cables, resonance control devices and power products at

Bryston CIW Ceiling In Wall Speaker (Custom)

Bryston’s brand new CIW speaker is designed for full audio reproduction without the need of a subwoofer. It is ideal for use with a Dolby Atmos receiver which requires ceiling speakers or for audio playback in those rooms where a full sized speaker or an in-wall speaker is just not going to fit the décor.

The CIW speaker has the same woofer and tweeter dome as used in other Bryston speakers but the tweeter motor utilizes a neodymium magnet - a small powerful magnet to save size and maintain the desired Bl (magnetic power) in the gap.

The Bryston CIW In-ceiling is a fully enclosed system and, like the Model T TIW In-wall, features the company’s unique anti-standing wave rear chamber.

Bryston CIW Speaker Highlights:
Enclosure: Acoustic Suspension
Max Amp Power: 175 Watts, Min Amp Power: 10 Watts
Freq Resp +/-3dB: 70 - 22 kHz, +3dB- 9dB: 50 - 22 kHz
Impedance 8 Ohms
SPL in Room1w/1m: 92 dB, Anechoic 1w/1m: 88 dB
Crossover 2.2 kHz
Tweeter: Single 1″ titanium
Woofer: Single 6.5″ aluminum

Tech Specifications:
• On-ceiling Dimensions (inches) - 9 5⁄8″ diameter x 3⁄8″
• In-ceiling (Cut out) Dimensions (inches) - 8 1⁄4″ diameter x 4 9⁄16″
• On-ceiling Dimensions (mm) - 244 diameter x 9
• In-ceiling (Cut out) Dimensions (mm) - 210 diameter x 116
• Weight (lbs) each 12.7 lbs - Weight (kg) each 5.761 kg

For  more info, please visit

Anthem MRX 510 CANADA HiFi Review 01

For a while now, the marketplace has been a battleground for AV receivers boasting the latest and greatest features.  Most of today’s AV receivers pack a mind boggling set of features, with each new generation attempting to top the previous.  But does everyone really need all these features?  Most people I know use their AV receivers to watch movies and listen to music, and often don’t use most of the fancy features.  Somewhere during this AV receiver battle however, it seems that audio performance has taken a back seat.  Luckily for the real music and movie fans, there is one company that puts performance ahead of features - that manufacturer is no other than Anthem.  For many years Anthem has offered legendary sounding processors and amplifiers but due to hefty price tags they were attainable only to those with deep pockets.  All that changed however about three years ago when the company entered the AV receiver market with the introduction of three models - the MRX 300, the MRX 500 and the MRX 700.  Finally enthusiasts with smaller budgets could get a taste of the Anthem sound - hurray!  All three models were extremely well received among reviewers and won all sorts of awards from AV magazines and websites.  The midrange MRX 500 model was awarded CANADA HiFi Editor’s Choice.  Fast forward to today and Anthem now offers its second generation of AV receivers which includes the MRX 310 ($1,319), the MRX 510 ($1,759) and the MRX 710 ($2,199).

So what’s new in the second generation?  Anthem upgraded and refined the new AV receivers in a number of key areas.  The most important of these is further improved sound quality thanks to the amplifier section now equipped with Anthem’s Advanced Load Monitoring which constantly monitors the output.  Equally significant is the ARC 1M, an enhanced version of the highly regarded Anthem Room Correction system found in the previous generation models.  The ARC 1M system enables speakers to achieve their full potential in less-than-ideal room environments - in other words, rooms like mine and yours.  The MRX 510 and MRX 710 models offer 7 channels of power, while the MRX 310 offers 5 channels.  The other primary difference between the three models is the power rating (8 ohms, 20 Hz to 20 kHz, 0.1% THD) - the MRX 310 starts with 60 watts/channel (with 5 channels driven), the MRX 510 steps up the power to 75 watts/channel (with 5 channels driven) and the MRX 710 tops out at 90 watts/channel (with 5 channels driven).  Be careful when comparing these power ratings with AV receivers from other brands, as most other manufacturers state their power ratings with only one channel driven, which makes them seem more powerful, but is misleading.  The MRX 510, under review here, for example puts out 100 watts/channel when driving just 2 channels.

But the enhancements of the second MRX generation don’t stop there.  All three models are equipped with more HDMI inputs than ever before (version 1.4), a very welcome upgrade - the MRX 510 and MRX 710 have 7 rear inputs (plus 1 on the front panel), while the MRX 310 has 7 rear inputs.  Perhaps an even bigger news item is the inclusion of dual HDMI outputs across the whole model range.  4K up-scaling and pass-through of video sources is also a necessary upgrade, as is the HDMI Audio Return Channel.  Topping out the video features, Anthem promises faster HDMI source switching.Anthem MRX 510 CANADA HiFi Review 02 (Custom)

Other notable improvements of these second generation include software upgrades via the USB port, better integration with home automation systems, larger, easier to read on-screen menu system, dual speaker configuration, finer speaker crossover adjustment steps, bi-amp ability (in MRX 510 and MRX 710 models) and a low standby power consumption of less than 0.3 watts.  Anthem is also working on a iOS and Android control app, which will be available soon.

Features that carry over from the previous MRX generation, include conversion/up-scaling of all connected video sources to HDMI, a 1080p24 mode, Dolby Volume, 3D support and an AM/FM tuner.  The receivers decoded all of the latest audio formats including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.  There is also a nice selection of listening modes such as AnthemLogic, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS Neo:6 and all speaker stereo.  In addition to the 8 HDMI inputs, there are also 2 component and 1 composite video inputs allowing for the connection of all legacy video sources.  The audio inputs offers 2 coaxial, 3 optical and 5 analog RCA.

Technically, the MRX 510 has a frequency response (rated at full power output) from 10 Hz to 30 kHz (+0, -0.5 dB), a THD+N (1W output) rated at less than 0.04% (20 Hz to 20 kHz), and a signal-to-noise ratio of 101 dB at full power output.

Although this generation of MRX receivers is well equipped, it cannot be considered as full-featured by today’s standards.  The most notable items missing from its feature list, are network and Bluetooth streaming, so you won’t be able to stream music from your home network or smartphone.  This MRX series lack of HDMI 2.0 support also means that they won’t accept 4K video at 60 fps.

Externally, this new generation of Anthem AV receivers looks cleaner and smarter.  The new trio of receivers sport much few buttons on the front panels, compared to the previous generation that was a little cluttered with buttons.  An updated circular button cluster, and an updated the large volume dial, flanked the display which remains the same from the last generation.  A flap door in the bottom left neatly conceals an HDMI input and 1/4” headphone jack.  Aesthetically, the new MRX receivers present themselves very well.  The remote control has also received an update, offering a taller, thinner body.  Its most important feature is a backlight behind every button, which is very useful when watching movies in a dark room.

I absolutely loved the superb sound performance of the previous generation MRX 500 AV receiver, so could the new generation MRX 510 really sound any better?  Only one way to find out - let my ears be the judge.

Setting up any new AV receiver begins with the speaker/room correction system, in this case the ARC 1M, short for Anthem Room Correction 1M.  What exactly does the ARC do?  I’m glad you asked.  What many movie and music fans don’t realize is just how dramatic of an impact the room itself has on sound quality.  Room dimensions, archways and even furniture all have an impact on the sound in your room.  The ARC is an industry leading system which analyzes each speaker’s in-room response and then sets output levels, crossover frequencies and correction parameters for each channel.  In other words, it flattens out the frequency response of each speaker to produce the most natural, accurate sound possible in your specific space.

The ARC 1M system consists of a microphone, a microphone stand, a USB cable, an Ethernet cable and the ARC computer software.  Unlike the room correction systems from other manufacturers, the ARC 1M requires a laptop computer to run the calibration because it requires more computing power than other similar systems.  Anthem’s first generation required the use of a serial cable for this process which complicated things slightly because modern laptops are not equipped with a serial port.  Hence you also needed to use a USB to serial port adapter.  The great news however, is that the new MRX receivers simplify this process greatly by using an Ethernet cable instead.   Here’s how it works - you install the software on your laptop, connect the microphone to your laptop via the USB cable, and connect the MRX receiver to your home network with the Ethernet cable.  Then you run the software, which plays test tones and uses the microphone to analyze each speaker’s in-room response (plus your subwoofer), as you move the microphone to different listening positions in your room.  A minimum of five positions must be measured, even if you don’t have that many seats, and up to 10 can be measured in large rooms.  Once the measurements are taken, the software shows you a graph for each channel which contains four pieces of information: the uncorrected in-room response, the uncorrected response with bass management, the target response and the corrected response with bass management.  For home theatre enthusiasts this is amazing information to have access to, something that you don’t get from any of the AV receiver manufacturers.  Once the measurements are completed, the software uses your laptop’s power to make its calculations and uploads them to the AV receiver.

With the ARC setup completed, it was time to have some fun.  Paradigm’s Reference MilleniaOne 5.1 speaker system has greatly enhanced the movie watching experience in my living room for the last few years.  I fell in love with them the day I set them up for evaluation back in 2011, and purchased them after completing the review.  The MilleniaOne speakers have compact, lifestyle enclosures perfectly suited for smaller living rooms, and more importantly offer a sound that blows most listeners away - even audio reviewers.  I started my listening sessions with the MilleniaOne speakers connected to the MRX 510 AV receiver and watched a variety of TV programming, Blu-ray movies, listened to music and even played some games on my PS4.

I started my listening session by spinning up Toronto’s own Ray Montford and his well-recorded album “A Fragile Balance”, through my Cambridge Audio Azur 751BD universal Blu-ray player.  With the MRX 510 set to a 2-channel (plus subwoofer) stereo mode, it laid a vast soundstage in front of me that stretched far to the sides of the small Paradigm speakers and deep behind my TV screen.  It was impossible not to get completely lost in the music thanks to the near perfect tonal balance and palpable perspective.

For something with a little more oomph, I jumped to a long time favourite, Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms 20th Anniversary Edition SACD.  Listening to the 2-channel tracks, this livelier disc got me doing a dance on my couch in no time. The fluidity of the presentation combined with the lush, uncoloured midrange brought amazing listening pleasure to my ears.  The MRX 510 offered a highly detailed and perfectly textured sound.  I cranked the volume and listened to the whole disc.  The sonic characteristics that I was presented with are those I would normally associate with a 2-channel music system rather than an AV receiver, the sound was really that good.  When I switched my Cambridge Audio player to play the surround mix of the album, my enjoyment heightened exponentially.  I raised the volume even louder, and while it got a little loud for my dogs and they demanded to go to the backyard, my ears never got tired.  Similarly, Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here SACD sounded incredibly immersive and engaging.

I’ve always been somewhat of a space buff and while reviewing the MRX 510, I had the pleasure of watching several episodes of Carl Sagan’s reboot of the 1980 TV series called Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.  The 2014 series, hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, is so well filmed that it presents a rare chance to transport the viewer into a different world, whether it’s on an atomic or cosmic scale.  The well composed surround track of course has a great deal to do with this.  The MRX 510 allowed me to hear all the delicate details of the soundtrack in the front and surround channels.  It presented Tyson’s soothing voice delicately through the centre channel.  Thanks to the detailed, immersive sonic experience, I lost myself completely while watching each episode.

About half way through my listening tests, I decided to move the MRX 510 to my basement home theatre equipped with a high performance 5.1-channel Monitor Audio Gold GX speaker system.  After another run of the ARC system, the audio benefits of these larger, incredible sounding speakers were immediately clear.  What I gained here when listening to music was a greater level of musical detail, a larger and better resolved soundstage, and increased dynamics.  When watching movies on the other hand, I was presented with deeper, greater bass resolution and an unmatched soundtrack immersion. These Monitor Audio speakers allowed for the MRX 510 to show its true sonic might.

I was enjoying myself so much during the review sessions, I caught myself listening to many different concert Blu-ray discs, far too many to mention in this review.  One of them was the Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis.  Here the MRX 510 demonstrated how well it could construct a three dimensional soundstage, with surround material.  The size of the sonic landscape defied the dimensions of my living room, with ample amounts of air between the performers.  The ARC system integrated the bass perfectly smoothly with the satellite speakers. The piano sounded rich and played with amazing fluidity.  The cymbal strikes, ranging from a gentle tap to a violent strike, had a natural texture and realistic sustain.  The highs were never tizzy or edgy.  The midrange of the MRX 510 appeared to be spot on, without any signs of colouration.  Performer voices, both male and female, sounded sweet and perfectly natural.  The bass was also superbly executed by the MRX 510, with great articulation and texture definition - the excellent Monitor Audio GXW15 subwoofer of course had much to do with this as well.  The great dynamics of the MRX 510 made the music come to life in ways that only a high quality amplifier is capable of.  Macro dynamics, like the slam of a bass drum or an orchestral crescendo, had proper impact and power.  Equally as important, micro dynamics, like the strike of a triangle, played with speed and agility.

The MRX 510 also had a pleasant surprise on the video side.  Unlike most AV receivers, it passed the video processing tests from the Spears & Munsil High Definition Benchmark Blu-ray with flying colours.  This means that you’ll get excellent video quality if you choose for the MRX 510 to deinterlace 480i or 1080i discs, like the concert discs I enjoyed.   Lower resolution video up-scaled by the MRX 510 also looked better than I would expect from an AV receiver.  Although this AV receiver offers 4K by-pass, I didn’t get a chance to test it as I’m not equipped with a 4K TV set just yet.

But video test patterns on the screen aren’t exactly interesting, so I quickly moved on to watching a few movies.  The 2012 version of Total Recall may not be a highly rated movie but it has a soundtrack that can stretch an AV receiver’s capability to the limits.  The fast paced electronic soundtrack and its pounding bass do a great job of setting the atmosphere for the dark future of the Colony.  Regardless of how congested or loud the scenes were, the dialogue was always clean and anchored to the centre channel.  The smooth, sweet midrange of the MRX 510, combined with its soundstaging capability, resulted in an immersive, cinema-like experience.

Staying with the sci-fi theme, I spun up was Star Trek: Into the Darkness on Blu-ray.  Much like my previous selection, the opening scene of this film offers up a highly dynamic but this time orchestral soundtrack.  With the volume at a high level, the MRX 510 created a truly cinematic experience, without ever showing any strain.  Once again, thanks to the power of the ARC system, the integration between the satellite speakers and the subwoofer was right on the money.  Dialogue and sound effects transitioned seamlessly between the channels.  Just as significant was the MRX 510’s low level volume performance because we don’t always need movie theatre loudness.  With the volume turned down, I could still clearly hear everything going on in the soundtrack - the dialogue was clear, as were the sound effects and the background music.

The Anthem MRX 510 AV receiver does not offer an extensive list of features like some of the other AV receivers out there today.  Instead what it offers is a musical soul that is unlike any other, which can give you goose bumps while listening to music and total immersion when watching movies.  When researching AV receivers, do yourself a great favour, and make sure to listen to one of these new Anthem MRX models.  Once you discover their sound performance, you’ll almost certainly want to bring one home.  Remember there are three models to choose from, for all room and pocket sizes.  The MRX 510 gets my highest level of recommendation which goes hand in hand with the CANADA HiFi Editor’s Choice award.

(905) 564-1994

Anthem MRX 510 AV Receiver
Price: $1,759 CAD

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  • Audio Physic Classic 30 Loudspeakers
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