Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2 Power Amplifier Reviewed

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The Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2 (buy at Crutchfield) is a two-channel class A/B audiophile power amp from Anthem, which also has three- and five-channel siblings in the 325 and 525. It puts out 225 watts per channel into eight ohms, 400 watts per channel into four ohms, and 600 watts per channel into two ohms, so it shouldn’t struggle to drive most of the best audiophile speakers – even those that represent more difficult loads. It’s a very capable power amp priced in the Goldilocks zone of about $2,300, making it something of a value play for a hefty, reputable component in today’s inflationary market.

Anthem MCA 225 power Amp Reviewed by Andrew Dewhirst
Anthem MCA 225 power amplifier dressed in black and ready to power nearly any audiophile loudspeaker.

What Makes the Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2 Special?

  • Anthem uses their exclusive ALM (Advanced Load Monitoring) technology to monitor internal temperature, current, and voltage to ensure safe long-term usage of this amp, even if you’re hammering it hard. The MCA 225 is designed to cut you off before you do anything too crazy, in other words. 
  • This amp has been redesigned with new custom audiophile-grade speaker binding posts. The speaker-level connections are easy to use no matter what type of cables you prefer.
  • When not running, the Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2 uses very little power. Our publisher is in love with the tube-like sound of Class A amps, specifically from Pass Labs, but those amps draw a ton of power from the wall. The Anthem MCA 225 is much more mindful of your electric bill. Thank you. 
  • With just a little regional pride, the Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2 is made in Canada. So many audiophile amps come from China and/or Vietnam (especially AV receivers), so it’s nice to see an audiophile component that I can afford that is made in North America. 
  • The layout of the back panel is clean and easy to access, making installation a snap.
  • Heat isn’t as much of an issue as it is with other audiophile amps in the Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2’s price range. It isn’t that the amp doesn’t warm up, but it never gets scorching hot to the touch, nor will it double as a space heater in the winter the way other Class AB amps do (never mind the Class A radiators). 

Why Should You Care About the Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2?

The most obvious reason you should care about this high-end audio amplifier is the 225 watts of high-current power. If you’re looking an A/B class amp that can put out a lot of power then there are not many in this price range that can hit the peaks that the Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2 can, and it does it with a reported 0.015 percent THD (total harmonic distortion), which ensures that it is adding no audible distortion to the sound. The Anthem also can drive more difficult loads, such as larger three-way towers and large electrostats. 

Here's a photo of the Anthem MCA 225 audiophile power amp in Andrew Dewhirst's rack
Here’s a photo of the Anthem MCA 225 audiophile power amp in Andrew Dewhirst’s rack

Some Things You Might Not Like About the Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2

  • The Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2 is bit of a bulky power amp. It weights a solid 40 pounds and measures 17.25 inches wide x 6.625 inches high x 18.125 inches deep, so you’re going to need to ensure you have space in your rack. As always, leave some room above for the amp to breathe a bit. I’ve seen some images on social media where people shoe-horn power amps into their closed racks that are designed for failure. A little airflow is always a good thing for high-performance electronics. 
  • The front panel design of the Anthem MCA amps matches that of Anthem’s STR series. The difference is that the STR uses the graphic front panel to display the power meter, status, and setup navigation. The MCA Gen 2 series however doesn’t use it at all, so when you first turn it on you might expect something to appears in that space. It would be nice to see it removed both to temper expectations and tame some glossiness.

Listening to the Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2…

I used “Mathematics” by Mos Def (PCM – 44.1kHz), a 90s New York hip-hop track, to do some testing with this amp. The Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2 had no issue driving the deep baseline of this track into my Paradigm speakers. The dynamics of the track (and the trip in the musical time machine) is what I like about this example. The highs don’t sound thin or bright, but what I was testing more so was the ability of the MCA 225 Gen 2 to energize my listening room. It delivers. 

Mathematics” by Mos Def 

While this isn’t is a classic Dr. Dre track, “All in a Day’s Work” (PCM – 44.1kHz) pushes the higher frequencies a bit more than the Mos Def example. On the Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2, you can really enjoy Anderson Paak’s smooth vocal range while still pushing the low frequencies with both a dynamic drum beat and also a great bass line that will be sure to have you feeling the groove. You get every bit of the production value that has made Dr. Dre a very successful man on this track, as every note feels masterfully put together as the sound flows beautifully across this track.

“All in a Day’s Work” by Dr. Dre

Another track that proved to be a solid test was “Das Spiegel” by The Chemical Brothers (PCM – 44.1kHz). This electronic song has a lot going on musically, as there is a large collection of sounds being produced and in some ways it can feel like they are being sort of thrown at you, but the amplifier was able to handle everything beautifully, from the low end base beat that drives the track to some of the brighter electronic effects or sounds that are speckled throughout the track. There wasn’t a time where it felt like you were being held back by not having enough headroom with the Anthem MCA 225 in the loop, nor did the amp get anywhere close to harsh sounding when I was being harsh to it by playing difficult music at high volume levels. 

“Das Spiegel” by The Chemical Brothers

Does the Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2 Have Any Resale Value?

Anthem is an A-list audiophile brand. The Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2 (buy at Crutchfield) is designed to last, the build quality is rock solid, and the performance is as good as I can find at $2,295 these days. Add in the Anthem’s historically strong resale and I can safely bet that this amp will have pretty solid resale performance in the years to come. 

Anthem MCA 225 power Amp Reviewed by Andrew Dewhirst
Nice assembly done in Canada on the Anthem MCA 225 audiophile power amp

Who Is the Competition for the Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2?

The Rotel RB-1582 MKII ($1,899) (buy at Crutchfield) is a very competitive offering. It puts out 200 watts into eight ohms with two channel driven. This is also a Class AB amplifier, and with that it comes in a similar size, weighing 39 pounds, with dimensions of 17 inches wide x 5-7/8 inches high x 16 inches deep. The biggest differences between the Rotel and the Anthem is that the Rotel reportedly produces nearly twice as much THD, but the distortion still never comes anywhere near audible levels. The Rotel also has two sets of speaker inputs per channel instead of just one on the Anthem.

The Parasound Halo A 21+ ($2,999) (buy at Crutchfield) uses a Class A/AB design. It boosts the power to 300 watts per channel in 8 ohms for two channels, and 500 watts x2 into four ohms. This amp can be bridged and will put out up to 1000 watts when used in that mode. This amp is even heavier than the Anthem, at 71 pounds, and is about two inches deeper, so you will want to ensure you have room in your rack for this one. 

If you were looking to save some money, how about the Monolith by Monoprice 200×2 class AB amp at $1,099? This class AB power amp has nearly as much power, balanced inputs, and is made/designed by a local amp company that is known for their OEM operations (meaning they make other people’s products as well as their own) for very high-end brands. It is always nice to have a good, value option, right? 

Anthem MCA 225 power Amp Reviewed by Andrew Dewhirst
A look at the well-designed rear panel of the Anthem MCA 225 audiophile power amp.

Final Thoughts on the Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2 Power Amp…

Anthem delivers everything that most audiophiles could ask for an amp at anywhere near this price point. While it certainly isn’t light, the Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2 falls well within the weight range of similar audiophile amps and provides ample power to drive most speakers. The Anthem MCA 225 stays relatively cool throughout its use (it took more than an hour of rocking out hard for mine for the case to get noticeably toasty). 

The performance of the Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2 was nothing short of fantastic in my moderately sized room on Paradigm floorstanding speakers that are not too tricky to drive. What I got was all the headroom I needed across months of use and myriad musical tests. The Anthem MCA 225 Gen 2 delivers audiophile performance at a real-world price that will make it very tempting for any number of buyers. Count me as one of them.  

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Mark Austin

I used “Mathematics” by Mos Def… really? how is this trash even on your playlist let alone a test for audiophile reference quality music? if this is the “Future” of the audiophile world count me out…

Jerry Del Colliano

What an unfortunate and racist comment.

I’ve met Mos Def in person (with Beyoncé) at a 3 year old birthday party. Funny guy. He spoke like Jimi Hendrix in terms of his vocal affect. I was jealous.

The idea that Hip Hop isn’t viable as audiophile music (even though I am not a fan much myself) is foolish and close minded. Younger people listen to Hip Hop more than rock and certainly classical and Jazz which are 1% and 2% marketshare in the US respectively.

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