Marantz AV8801 Surround Processor & MM8077 Amplifier Page 2

Video processing is supported by an Analog Devices ADV8003 video processing chip, which initially stumbled only with an inconsequential borderline fail on the Chroma Resolution test. As we finalized our review, Marantz sent us a firmware update that fully resolved this issue and resulted in perfect video scores across the board (see Video Test Bench results). The AV8801 is somewhat future-proofed—if there is such a thing anymore—with 4K passthrough support as well as the ability to scale current sources to Ultra High Definition pixel counts (3840 x 2160 pixels). Since I don’t have a 4K display (yet), this is something I couldn’t test at this time. The video processing can be bypassed by source, so if you want the 1080p/24 signal from your Blu-ray player to be unprocessed but your cable/satellite to be scaled to 1080p, you can customize this in the setup menu. Finally, the unit includes InstaPrevue technology, which gives you a live picture-in-picture video preview of each connected HDMI device, making it easy to switch between HDMI inputs and speeding up the connection time.

Easy as Pie
Setting up the AV8801 for the first time is simple due to its intuitive guided setup program. It’s here that you assign inputs to your equipment, let the unit know how many speakers you’re using, and whether your amplifier is attached with balanced or unbalanced connections. If you choose to do so, you can run Audyssey at this point to automatically set up speaker distances and calibrate the unit to compensate for troublesome room acoustics. Furthermore, the AV8801 can be taken to the next level of audio bliss by an Audyssey-certified installer for an additional fee.

The included semi-universal remote won’t leave Logitech or Universal Remote Control quaking in their boots, but it’s competent enough to set up the unit and operate it without any hassles. Given the AV8801’s target demographic, I bet most users will have some type of control system installed or at least a top-scale universal remote for day-to-day use.

MM8077 Amplifier
To fully utilize the AV8801’s audio capabilities, one needs 11 channels of amplification. Unfortunately, Marantz doesn’t offer an 11-channel amp, so if you need that many channels, you’ll need a lot of rack space. If you’re only looking for seven channels, Marantz’s aesthetically matching MM8077 amplifier boasts 150 watts per channel (two channels driven) and really looks nice sitting next to the pre/pro. Unfortunately, Marantz doesn’t provide the specs for all channels driven, so be sure to check the HT Labs Measures section to see if it suits your power needs.

213mara.amp.jpg

The amp features both XLR balanced and RCA unbalanced connections with a toggle switch to choose between the two, remote power on/off control, and gold-plated speaker terminals. In my testing, I used both the MM8077 amplifier and my reference Anthem PVA-7, and while the Marantz spec sheet looks more impressive in the power numbers, I found that in my configuration, the Anthem packed slightly more punch by comparison. Furthermore, the noise floor was quieter with the Anthem, with virtually silent backgrounds lending to more robust dynamics.

213mara.bacamp.jpg

In Use
While the AV8801 and MM8077 lack THX certification, I never would have known that logo wasn’t silkscreened on the front of the unit. Both performed extremely well with movie soundtracks and with the two-channel listening I did.

I listened to the AV8801 for about two weeks before I ran the Audyssey calibration, and while I loved what I was hearing, I didn’t realize how much better the piece could sound until I finally took the 30 minutes to run the program. Wowza, what an experience! The surround channels seemed to come to life, and the bass response throughout the room was much more consistent and pleasing to the ears. Fortunately, the setup menu lets you switch the Audyssey room correction algorithm on and off at the toggle. I switched it on the fly, and it was easy to hear how much better the gear sounded with the room correction software engaged. Mind you, this is in an acoustically treated room, and I bet the differences in a standard room would be even more pronounced.

213mara.rem.jpgTrouble With the Curve combines two of my passions on one disc—movies and baseball. It’s the story of an elderly baseball scout, Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood), who’s been at the top of his game for years, but his age has finally caught up to him. Eastwood’s portrayal as the grumpy old man is one for the ages, but I was particularly enthralled with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack and how realistic it sounded through the AV8801. If you’ve spent any time around a baseball field, you know the distinctive sound of the crack of a bat when it makes contact with a ball. With the Marantz, I was transported back to my youth when I heard that distinctive crack come from my speakers. It really produced a being-there moment—the first of many.

When I first heard that Sony was reimagining the Spider-Man franchise, I was skeptical of how well things would turn out. As it so happens, they’ve improved the character immensely with the recasting of Andrew Garfield as the teenage social outcast who ultimately turns into our web-spinning hero. The Blu-ray is available in both 2D and 3D, but it’s the surreal DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack that’s the star of the show. It features incredible dynamics, extended frequency response, and creative sound design with discrete effects seeming to fly throughout the room. Like every other movie I threw at the AV8801, it handled this one with ease, placing pinpoint directional queues around the room exactly where they should be and provided seamless imaging. Furthermore, the dialogue intelligibility is simply amazing; the AV8801 makes voices sound hyperrealistic. In a dark room, it sounds like the actors are sitting there with you. It was a significant improvement in this regard over my already very good reference pre/pro, the Integra 80.2.

Musically, the AV8801 is extremely transparent and invites you into the audio presentation with a front-row seat. The highs aren’t overtly bright or edgy, and the pre/pro can deliver crisp dynamics and a robust midrange.

One of my favorite SACDs is Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me. While the album is now over 10 years old, I still enjoy the young lady’s voice and her mellow tunes. While the hybrid multichannel disc gives you three listening options—two-channel SACD, five-channel SACD, and two-channel CD, I prefer the first the most. Through the AV8801, I discovered nuances in the music that I hadn’t heard before. The background instruments took on more prominence and gave the music more depth and dimension. Furthermore, Jones’ vocals seemed bolder and more pronounced versus what I was used to hearing. I can say the same for other recordings I listened to through the Marantz—they just sounded better than I had ever heard before.

Wrapping It Up
I hadn’t been afflicted with upgrade-itis for quite some time. I was completely happy with my Integra 80.2 pre/pro until the AV8801 ended up in my rack. After having it in my system for over a month, I can’t imagine going back to my Integra. Yes, the Marantz is a lot more money, but it brings more to the table, too.

While I’ll only be utilizing it for a traditional 7.1 system, it’s nice to know that an upgrade path is available if She Who Must Not Be Crossed ever comes to the realization that more speakers in the family room is a good thing. Furthermore, with the ability to pass and process 4K signals, I don’t see myself getting the upgrade bug anytime soon when it comes to my pre/pro. Highly recommended!

COMPANY INFO
Marantz America, Inc.
(201) 762-6500
ARTICLE CONTENTS
Share | |
COMMENTS
dmineard's picture

Here I am sitting with a great Integra 80.2 that is just over 2 years old and along comes a better sound processor. Then the reviewer admits it's better than his Integra 80.2. Man you are going to cost me money...retirement money no less.

Thanks for the review.

aopu.mohsin's picture

Hi David. Thanks for the review. The AV8801 does seem like one of the best pre/pros in the current market. I was, however, wondering if you noticed/found a great deal of sonic difference between AV8001 and AV7005. Thanks.

David Vaughn's picture
I haven't had an AV7005 in my room, so I can't compare the two. The AV880 does have MultEQ XT32 though, which is technically "better" than MultEQ XT due to more room filters and it should tame a bad room more proficiently.
mikicasellas's picture

Hello David,

How are you?

I need to ask for your kind support on my A/V SYSTEM UPGRADE, with your renown knowledge i hope you can help me out with this.

Thank you in advance for your kind attention to this:

I have the following system that i have been building over two years, i began with the Anthem MRX 700 but as the time were passing i started understanding a lot of which i did not know about the "audiophile world" and as it has been growing in CABLES, SPEAKERS, DAC, computer for audio etc etc. i began to get more involved with audio rather than home theater, as i feel that home theater is more easy to achieve than two channel audio.

1.- Anthem MRX 700 receiver as a preamp
2.- Crown XLS 2000 / 2 channel amp (using it in combo with the Anthem MRX 700 for my front speakers)
3.- Front speakers Golden ear Triton Two Towers (internally powered) (2 Power chords)
4.- Golden ear SuperSat 50c center
5.- Two Paradigm studio's 7 for surrounds
6.- Definitive Technology Super cube II Subwoofer
7.- Calyx 24/192 DAC (need to lower the noise)
8.- Oppo BDP 93 Universal player: for movies, SACD and DVD audio.
9.- MACMini for two channel music
10.- Transparent Music Link Super I/C's RCA
11.- Anti cables Speakers cables
12.- Transparent HDMI cables
13.- Transparent Power chord cable for Anthem receiver
14.- Ridge audio Street USB Poiema
15.- Panamax Power Conditioner

Note: My main goal to achieve: THE BEST "AFFORDABLE" TWO CHANNEL FOR MUSIC and a nice and good Home theater.

Choice #1

Sell the Anthem and get an audio preamp "The STP-SE from Wyred4Sound and two mono blocks from D-Sonic M2-600M 1 x 600 watts" and will work next to the Calyx DAC and my NEW Mac mini (SSD, 8Gb ram USB out put to Calyx DAC) with the rest of my system. And later get a good receiver or keep the Anthem.

Choice #2

Sell the Anthem and get a PRE PRO "The AV8801 from Marantz and two mono blocks from D-Sonic M2-600M 1 x 600 watts" and discard the Calyx DAC. and my NEW Mac mini (connected directly to the AV8801) with the rest of my system.

"MAYBE THE NEW KRELL FOUNDATION"

Note: "stock" Marantz AV8801 or "THE COMPANY UPGRADE" Marantz AV8801-SE??…From the David Schultz Upgrade it supposed to be in a superior level!

Best Regards

Miguel Casellas

David Vaughn's picture
Miguel, Thanks for looking to me for advice, but I'm not the best guy to speak to for 2-channel music. Outside of reviewing a product, I rarely will sit on the couch and listen to music...I'm a movie kind of guy. I suggest you head to Stereophile.com and ask Kal your questions because I think he's better suited in this particular case.
sryounger83's picture

I was hoping to get your help. I currently have a hodgepodge system and am looking to get into a high end system for home theater. I currently have Kef Q7 floor speakers and Kef wall rears with a Def Tech Center and Sub. I am running a Pioneer Elite VSX-84TXSI receiver and B&W wall surround backs. (I know... Hodgepodge) I am looking at getting the following but need to buy it in pieces. What order should I purchase and do you have any recommendations?

1. Marantz AV8801 and MM8077 Pre-amp and Amp
2. Sonus Faber Venere 3.0 Floor speakers (front left and right) and Venere Center Channel
3. Rel R-528
4. Sonus Faber rears and surround backs (4 total)

Should I get the front left/right and center speakers first or the amp and pre-amp?

Your help would be most appreciated. I love this magazine!

David Vaughn's picture
Sorry for such a late reply and I hope you're able to read this. Unfortunately our system doesn't notify us when a new post is made in one of our reviews. As far as your purchase decision goes, I would get the speakers first since you will be living with them a lot longer than any source components you buy. In fact, my speakers are the oldest gear in my system by far and I doubt I'll be upgrading them for at least another 10 years. From there you can then test out amplifiers to find the one that mates best with the speakers, then move on to your pre/pro last. If it were me, I would go 2, 4, , 3, new amp and then 1.
mikicasellas's picture

David,

Thank you for your kind reply, i just read it, sorry for my late response regarding to thank you!

Miguel

tekmiester's picture

I enjoyed the review, however I really would love to hear how it sounds with all eleven channels. I'm curious if it is an insane over the top waste of money or not. Maybe your better half would let you borrow some speaakers...

tekmiester's picture

I enjoyed the review, however I really would love to hear how it sounds with all eleven channels. I'm curious if it is an insane over the top waste of money or not. Maybe your better half would let you borrow some speakers...

Hubert's picture

David, I have a 5.2 system with 5 Gallo Nucleus Reference Strada speakers and 2 Paradigm Seismic 110 subwoofers. The subwoofers have been set up with Paradigm's PBK-1 Perfect Bass Kit.

I am trying to decide whether to replace my Anthem AVM-20 with either the Marantz 7701 or the Marantz 8801 and I have a few questions that I am hoping you can advise on:

1. I don't plan to move beyond a 7.2 system, so the extra channels that the 8801 offers aren't of any value to me.
2. I understand that the addition of Audyssey Sub EQ HT will allow me to equalize and set the delay independently for each subwoofer. Since I am using PBK-1 and my subs are roughly equidistant from the listening position, I assume this is not something that adds value for me. Please correct me if I am wrong.
3. I understand that the upgrade from Audyssey MultEQ XT to Audyssey MultEQ XT32 is significant but that most of the significance is in the lower end. Since I am already using PBK-1, is this really worth more than doubling the price to go to the 8801?
4. Putting aside the difference between Audyssey MultEQ XT and Audyssey MultEQ XT32, is there a noticeable difference in the basic sound quality between the 7701 and the 8801? The price difference is pretty big, but I have been very pleased with the sound quality from my AVM-20 and would hate to be disappointed with whatever I replace it with.

Thank you very much for sharing your insights.

David Vaughn's picture
Sorry for the late response. In your case, I would try out the 7701 first and see how you like it. Buy it from somewhere that has a good return policy. In all honestly, the AV8801 is way overkill for my needs too, but I felt like splurging :)

X
Enter your Sound & Vision username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.
Loading
setting var node_statistics_99812 setting var node_statistics_99812