Thanks for the awesome review. I am planning of getting the MRX 740 to replace my 700’s which I’ve proudly and happily owned for a number of years. My reservation , tho , is the “no analog bypass” on any of the RCA inputs on the receiver . I have a great sounding (to my ears anyways ) outboard/ external DAC (it’s a Denafrips Pontus ii)that I would want to still be able to use for my music (2 channel ) listening .
I hope Gene will chime in and respond to your questions. While waiting, I would like to offer my comments and hope you don't mind.
I understand the Denafrips Pontus ii DAC sounds great to your ears so it is a real thing to you under the condition you listened to it, but if you have not compared it to the MRX740's in a level matched blind listening tests then it doesn't mean it will actually sound better to you in an apple to apple AB comparison. I would bet 10:1 that if you do AB them following the proper comparison protocol they will both sound great, to the point you cannot score much better (if at all..) than 50/50. I have quite a few external DACs (probably up to 10 at one time), I like them all and they really all sound the same, even in single blind comparisons. Specs and measurements also suggest it isn't just because of my poor hearing ability. That said, since you already have the Pontus ii, it would be a pity that you cannot use it on the analog input of the MRX740 without the signal being converted twice and have to go through first the weak link of the MRX that is the ADC. You can also forget about sampling rate>96 kHz, let alone DSD. Not that it means much in terms of audible sound quality, but..
As good as the internal DAC of the Anthem may be, I do believe that a dedicated DAC for music can still offer more.
Lots of people believe the same, I used to as well, in fact still do to some extent and for different reasons. Specs, theory, and bench tests don't support such belief are based on facts though. Not trying to convince you, but I thought if you read more on technical articles and reviews on the objective side instead of relying on subjective reviews by others and your own, it may help you not getting too disappointed by the lack of analog direct feature.
My question is, if I don’t turn on ARC or use any DSP on the particular RCA input I will be plugging the external DAC into, would I retain my outboard DAC’s sound and character and not Anthem’s internal DAC given that the analogue signal coming from the Denafrips would again be digitalized and then processed again into analogue by Anthem ‘s DAC
Unfortunately the answer is still no (again hopefully Gene will confirm the same or otherwise), the signal will get routed through the MRX's ADC, DSP, DAC path. The only difference is, if you don't use AARC then the original signal won't be down sampled to 48 kHz but anything higher than 96 kHz will still get down sampled by the ADC, so forget about contents such as 24bit/192 kHz and above, and DSD as well. You can obvious still enjoy those, but they will get down sampled. I believe the older models such as you MRX700 might have the analog bypass feature, pretty sure the MRX-1120 has that, based on bench test result only though.
and given also that Anthem‘s support may have mentioned that their DAC is very transparent ? (Please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m not so sure if I’m following this right or understanding what transparent in audio means
Transparent generally means output = input with negligible distortions of any kind, no sonic flavor..
To quote Anthem FAQ (the question is about amps but the answer applies to all of their components):
Do the amps have a warm sound or a bright sound?
None of our components are designed with a "sonic flavor" other than playing exactly what's in a recording. Unfortunately with pop CD mastering, pushing levels way into overload regardless of how much distortion this adds is all too common. Recordings of acoustic instruments with minimal or no processing during mastering sound more natural, therefore they are a much better test of how natural-sounding the playback equipment is.
Are they better suited for music or for movies?
Sound reproduction equipment doesn't know the difference between a music signal and a movie signal, or for that matter the musical score within a movie soundtrack. Accurate for one means accurate for the other.