Marantz AV7005 Surround Processor and MM7055 Amplifier Page 3

Perhaps gear reviews should be reviews of chipsets: Cirrus Logic versus Anchor Bay, Burr-Brown versus Analog Devices, etc. These days, manufacturers basically make chip and feature choices and assemble the packages to meet price points. However, it’s impossible to evaluate these chips outside the context of their implementation within the manufacturer’s overall circuit architecture, power supply schemes, and analog output circuitry.

In terms of ergonomic implementation—user friendliness, ease of use, avoidance of “Help! I can’t get any sound!” syndrome—Marantz has done a superb job. The AV7005’s front-panel design, the onscreen GUI, and the learning remote control add up to an enjoyable A/V experience. Setting up and learning how to use the AV7005 isn’t difficult. Once you’ve learned it, you’re not likely to forget or find yourself reaching for the manual to accomplish infrequently accessed features. Other than the lack of a THX blessng and Audyssey’s latest auto calibration and EQ iteration, the AV7005’s feature set is unusually complete, particularly considering its relatively low price.

That Leaves the Sound
Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to review two finesounding surround processors: the $4,000 Cary Cinema 11a (Home Theater, May 2010) and the $2,199 Rotel RSP-1570 (November 2010). On the basis of pure sonic performance, I can confidently say that the Cary was the most accomplished-sounding front-end piece I’ve had in my system. It’s also the most expensive and lacks video-processing capabilities.

The Rotel was a sweet-sounding, sonically accomplished piece that was and is easy to recommend. Since I don’t have it in house, I can’t offer a meaningful and reliable sonic comparison, but I’d say the Marantz and the Rotel are in the same high-echelon sonic league.

Marantz uses off-the-shelf HDAM analog output modules. However, since both the shelves and the excellent-sounding and -performing modules belong to Marantz, that puts it at an advantage. I’ve reviewed more Marantz gear over the years than I can remember, and all of it has used variations on these modules—and all of it has sounded superb.

Not surprisingly, the AV7005 shares the same warm, transparent sound found in other Marantz gear I’ve reviewed. It’s free of hollow-metallic afternotes, edginess, brightness, and grit. The bottom end was nimble, well controlled, and well extended. The mids sounded rich, and the top end was reasonably airy and expansive. The AV7005 didn’t have the Cary’s iron grip on the bottom or shimmering precision on top, nor the Cary’s stunning immediacy or explosive dynamic impact. Still, it wasn’t far off the mark. The Marantz’s transient attack was decisive, its sustain was long enough to produce warm, extended fills, and the decay produced satisfying delicacy. Bill Evans’ classic Waltz For Debby live at the Village Vanguard on two-channel SACD let me know that.

The AV7005’s deviation from neutrality veers slightly in the direction of pleasing warmth and a subtle softness. I’ll take that every time over the big chill or hollowed-out sound that less accomplished electronics produce.

Beck’s sublime Sea Change SACD reiterated in 5.1-channel mode the AV7005’s warmth, transparency, and freedom from additive artifacts. Most impressive was the AV7005’s overall rhythmic coherence. When everything hangs together, guess what? You can relax into the music instead of fighting to make sense of it. I’m not sure there are measurements to reflect this, but that doesn’t mean you won’t know it when you hear it. Organizational skills are one of the first things people notice when they’re exposed to really fine audio for the first time. “I can hear each instrument separately, including some I never knew were there,” is how they usually put it.

I drove the Marantz’s phono preamp with a Shure M97xE cartridge fitted to an Ariston Icon turntable playing Mobile Fidelity’s superb 180g vinyl edition of Beck’s Sea Change mastered from the original analog tapes. It produced rich, warm, satisfying three-dimensional sound that was better than an afterthought from two speakers.

Even the three-position M-DAX compressed audio restoration circuit impressed me. For some reason, it only functions with Audyssey implemented, but it definitely made Internet radio far more listenable. It improved the perceived high-frequency response, reduced hardness and glare, and produced richer bass minus the usual processing artifacts that such circuits often impose.

I switched to cinema surround sound and watched the charming (500) Days of Summer. This chick flick stars the now grown-up child star of Third Rock from the Sun Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the moon-faced alt-rock beauty Zooey Deschanel. You’ll score points with your significant other and enjoy this smartly drawn, off-kilter romantic comedy that ends happily but not ever after.

A lot of movie sound is dialogue, and I paid attention to low-level dialogue intelligibility and timbral honesty. I tortured my wife by switching Audyssey on and off repeatedly. We agreed that the sound was more natural and less congested with Audyssey on. It produced dialogue that was far easier to understand, particularly at low SPLs. During the months that the AV7005 remained in my system, my center channel’s output was noticeably smoother than it is through my reference Integra DHC-9.9. With both movies and television programming, it was more transparent and less obviously “there.” That as much as anything sold me on the AV7005.

COMPANY INFO
Marantz America, Inc
(201) 762-6500
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COMMENTS
schalliol's picture

I appreciate your suggestion to use your old AVR if you can. I have a Sony STR-DA3100ES, which really does amplify well for my Paradigm Reference Studio 60s & cc-690 v.5. I use a Philips Pronto remote I can customize to make this work well as a system. I would really enjoy having the simplification of the MM7055 however, and I'm sure it's a better amp.

Even though I have a Mac Mini hooked up to the unit, I find the AirPlay to be really quite nice. Just last night I was looking through something on my iPad and there was a little video I wanted to see. I simply changed the output to the AV7005 with a quick tap and the AV7005 turned on and I could listen to the video on the system. Unfortunately the AirPlay on the AV7005 doesn't (at least yet) support video, so one has to watch locally, but since it's already in the hand, it's really not a big deal.

adumadu's picture

Hi Michael,

I did not buy Marantz AV8003/MM8003 as it was out of my budget at that time but AV7005/MM7055 seems to be reasonably priced.

Now I can find AV8003 combo for the price of AV7005 combo. I do understand that AV7005 offers more bell and whistles like HDMI 1.4, Audyssey XT, USB port but from the pure sound quality perspective is there any major difference between two as reading your AV8003 review was pretty good compared with this combo.

Thanks

branon's picture

Do you think the MM7055 can drive 4 ohm speakers adequately. I am actually looking at the two channel version MM7025 and am bummed that they have avoided 4 ohm ratings. Specially since their integrated amps do have them (PM8004 and PM5004). I love the Marantz sound and looks but their failure to include 4 ohm ratings means that i might end up going with a similar priced Rotel.
I am going to use it to drive a pair of Vienna Acoustics Grand Bachs.

Bob Jones's picture

Michael,

As usual, great review.

I am looking at purchasing an AV7005 and mating it to 2 Emotiva Amps (a XPA-2 (250 w/ch x 2) for the FR & FL and a XPA-5 (200 w / ch x 5) for the remaining 5 of 7 channels. I also plan to purchase an OPPO BD 93 or 95 (not sure which yet). My 2 ch music / multi-channel movies split is about 50% - 50%. So two questions:

1. Will I get noticable improvement for 2 ch music by purchasing the OPPO 95 and running 2 ch music direct and multi-channel via HDMI through the AV7005 or purchase the OPPO 93 and use HDMI for both 2 ch and multi-channel?

2. You mention that the Marantz MM7055 amp is a little underpowered. I realize the Emotivas are not in the same league as your Parasound HALO, but $4,500 is a little over my budget. What is your opinion on the Emotivas over the Marantz?

Thanks for your help.

Bob J.

Toronto, Canada

andre58's picture

Hi Bob, I am thinking of doing the same thing. Either the Marantz or Integra processor with the Emotiva XPA-2 and or XPA-5 and the Oppo - 95 player. I am getting the Legacy Audio Signature speakers and wanted to drive it with some good inexpensive amps.

Just wondering how you made out with the Emotiva's.

Did you look at the Emotiva UMC-1 processor?

Thanks

Andre
Atlanta, GA

Foxxnet's picture

Hi,
You must get thousands of emails. I hope you will answer my question. Its an easy one.

I have 7 Marantz MA500 monoblocks. Are they good enough to use with the new AV 7500 processor or do you recommend I update my amps?

Thanks
Marcel Svizzero

Dov Lidor's picture

which one the MM8003 or the MM7005 is better?

DaleC's picture

My Panasonic TC-P50UT50 does not have the "advanced" video processing of the Panny ST's, and other high-end plasma displays. Am I better off using the processing in the av7005 or sticking with the Panny? Or does the basic Panny processing outperform the AV7005?

Thanks,
DaleC

dmaz1's picture

Michael Fremer,
You wrote:
“The Rotel was a sweet-sounding, sonically accomplished piece that was and is easy to recommend. Since I don’t have it in house, I can’t offer a meaningful and reliable sonic comparison, but I’d say the Marantz and the Rotel are in the same high-echelon sonic league”
“I can hear each instrument separately, including some I never knew were there,” is how they usually put it”
“. It produced rich, warm, satisfying three-dimensional sound that was better than an afterthought from two speakers”
I compared the 2 channel performance of my Rotel RSP 1069 side by side to the Marantz AV7005. At first I was a bit confused – I thought I was doing something wrong. I went back to your review over and over and over again to make sure I did not miss-read or miss-understood anything. I checked all connections, wires, settings and repeated. I even tried playing the same tracks you did. But I just could not get that “rich, warm, satisfying 3 dimensional sound” you mentioned. The details and dynamics that the Rotel produced the Marantz just could not. I could not place the “Marantz AV7005 and the Rotel in the same high-echelon sonic league” – even though I really wanted to!
I am sure you have listened to Rotel units critically and over and over again and have a memory of how they sound. What I really find strange is that you are an audiophile and you could not sonically differentiate the Rotel from Marantz without the Rotel being right next to the Marantz in your house. Yes the Marantz AV 7005 is that far off from being in the high-echelon sonic league in which the Rotel resides in.
The 2 channel performance of the Marantz is good but nowhere near Rotel’s 2 channel performance. The highs are very high – after listening to 2 channel music for about 20 minutes my ears started to fatigue. For a minute I thought I will blow the tweeters off of my B&W 703s. Marantz just could not offer the mid-range detail, the depth and dynamics that Rotel did. Even the bass is a lot smoother and balanced from the Rotel.
Michael, what am I doing wrong here? After reading your review of the Marantz AV7005 I really really want to buy it and like it. In fact after reading your reviews of the Integras, Outlaw Audios, Onkyo processors etc.. – I want to buy them all! How are you getting these amazing results I just cannot get no matter what I do?
Oh one more thing. I also borrowed my friend's Rotel RSP 1570 and compared it to the AV7005. The RSP 1570 sounds exactly the same as my RSP-1069 in the 2 channel category.
Equipment:
B&W 703s
RMB-1075
RSP-1069 / 1572
Sony ES Blu-Ray player.

ChrisandAlex1's picture

Hey Michael,
Thanks for the great review. I have just ordered both of these components and have been wavering on my decision. After reading this review, I feel much better.

My main concern was if I should have spent considerable more money to have an extraordinary setup. I use all Von Schweikert Speakers and I am just now upgrading to their new V-12 Subwoofer. I am hoping that the unique way that this sub works will make up for some of the low end power deficiencies of the amp.

I am also having Dave at Zenwave Audio making me a complete new set of cables and a modified SurgeX power conditioning unit. I really look forward to getting it all put together and enjoy.

Thanks again.

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