Marantz AV7005 Surround Processor and MM7055 Amplifier Page 4

On action-heavy, surround-rich movies like the endlessly entertaining District 9, the AV7005 didn’t disappoint dynamically or spatially. But let’s face it: In today’s high-performance, low-priced market, even the least expensive A/V receivers that can decode the lossless codecs can do the job spatially. You don’t pay more for better surround trickery. You pay more for dynamic range capabilities and blacker backdrops, timbral authority, transient precision, and other analog domain qualities. If you’d been here watching the well-produced Kennedy Center Honors featuring Paul McCartney and Merle Haggard, you’d have heard that the Marantz does all of those things surprisingly well. This is special, considering what it costs and all of the other features and capabilities it provides.

How sold am I on the AV7005? I’m buying one. If you’ve got a powerful legacy AVR with amplifier inputs, why dump it and start over when for $1,500 you can modernize it with the versatile, full-featured, fine-sounding AV7005? I don’t understand how Marantz does it for the price.

The MM7055 Five-Channel Power Amplifier
The second part of this new Marantz package is the equally handsome five-channel MM7055 amplifier ($1,200). It’s rated at 140 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 170 into 6 ohms, but the specs are for two channels driven. Marantz doesn’t provide specs for all channels driven, which is a more useful surround sound spec. Still, some people would argue that all channels are rarely called upon to perform full blast.

This amp incorporates the same current feedback discrete circuitry that Marantz uses in its superb-sounding $3,999 SM-11S1 stereo power amplifier that I reviewed for Stereophile in 2008. It produces plenty of power at another price that’s difficult to believe.

During most of my testing, I paired the AV7005 with my reference Parasound Halo A 51 fully balanced THX Ultra2– certified power amplifier designed by John Curl. It outputs 200 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 400 into 4 ohms, all channels driven. It’s a beautifully built monster that costs $4,499, and it’s well worth the money. But that’s almost twice the price of this Marantz combo.

The MM7055 is neither as powerful as the Parasound, nor does it appear to have the damping factor that the Parasound can deliver. Not surprisingly, it didn’t grip the woofers in my Sonics by Joachim Gerhard (now Spiral Groove) Amerigo speakers as well as the Parasound. The bottom-end response wasn’t as deep, tight, or muscular. It also didn’t produce the deadly silent backgrounds out of which came more propulsive, dynamic music and sharper, cleaner high-frequency transients.

Just before I returned the HALO A 51 to the system, I played a variety of SACDs and Blu-ray concerts like Scorsese’s Shine a Light Stones concert and Jeff Beck’s Performing This Week...Live at Ronnie Scott’s. The MM7055’s sonic performance was plenty good on everything, and the Marantz never ran out of gas at the levels I was listening. But when I returned the HALO A 51 to the system, it produced a visceral improvement.

On the Waltz for Debby SACD, the increased background blackness and additional bass grip paired with increased image three-dimensionality and a noticeably deeper soundstage. Scott LaFaro’s bass had noticeably better body and drive. There was a greater sense of a double bass and less of a sense of just bass. Cymbal shimmer was sharper, cleaner, and more metallic, and the attack of Bill Evans’ piano was far more convincing, with greater sustain and more convincing decay.

The Marantz amp suggested the Village Vanguard audience’s chatter, but at the same SPL, the HALO A 51 let you in on the details the way my two-channel rig does. You don’t have to be an audiophile to notice these things, but you might need to be one to care.

One thing is for sure: While the MM7055 was in the system, the sound of my home theater was somewhat diminished tonally, rhythmically, and especially in terms of those black backgrounds. Still, I’d rather listen to this amp than any Class D amp I’ve ever heard, regardless of power. The MM7055 shaved the edges off of every performance parameter I can think of. But with such surgical subtractive precision, you’re not likely to notice it unless you compare it to an amplifier that’s far more powerful and expensive. Its musical heart was in the right place and at a price that can’t be beat.

Conclusion
Everybody’s been burned by the shifting hot sands of home theater technological change. Spending a lot of money on the latest state-of-the-art surround processor or AVR (like the $8,000 Lexicon AV-8 I once bought) only to have it become obsolete a few years later is a mistake I’ll never make again. The Marantz AV7005 offers preemptive state-of-the-art features, impressive ergonomics, inviting sonic performance, and even good looks. Any video processing issues that may show up in the Video Test Bench weren’t visible in my viewing. I didn’t notice any degradation even when I compared over-the-air content against cable content passed through the receiver. For $1,500, you can’t go wrong. The AV7005 is flat out brilliant. The MM7055 offers excellent value for the money. Together, for $2,700, they get you near the top of the performance heap for a low price that was unimaginable just a few years ago.

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.

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