Marantz Drops Another Solid Receiver
Marantz is one of the grand old names of American audio, and though the seminal hi-fi firm founded by Saul Marantz in 1952 is long gone, the gold-and-black logo still represents a proud high-end heritage. (In a curious twist of history, Marantz and ur-rival McIntosh are today owned by the same parent company, Japan's D&M Holdings - as are Denon, Boston Acoustics, and several other brands.)
The Short Form
|Price $1,400 / us.marantz.com / 201-762-6500|
|Impressive amplifier sonics and power anchor a fine mid-level contender.|
|•Solid audio power •Cross-converts analog video, and converts analog to HDMI •Four HDMI 1.3a inputs; dual outputs •Accurate auto-setup •Elegantly usable simplified/second-room remote|
|•Limited onscreen display via HDMI •Main remote's lighting could be better|
|•7 x 110 watts (2 channels driven) •Four HDMI 1.3a 1080p-capable inputs •Transcodes composite-, component-, and S-video to HDMI, deinterlaces 480i •Decodes Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, DVD-Audio multichannel, and DSD (SACD) from HDMI inputs •SRS/Circle Surround II (plus full range of Dolby and DTS modes) •FM/AM tuner with 60 presets •XM-ready •Three-zone-capable with auto-switch speaker outputs for second room (using surround-back amp channels) •IR in, (2) 12-volt triggers, RS-232 •17.4 x 7.6 x 15.6 in; 33.1 lb|
Marantz's SR7002 boasts all the usual accoutrements of modern A/V receivers, including DSP-based auto-setup and calibration (courtesy of Audyssey's MultEQ system), flexible multiroom facilities, and plenty of HDMI pathways. For the last of those features, Marantz has taken the middle road. The SR7002's quartet of HDMI inputs and pair of outputs are specified as version 1.3a, which means the receiver should be compatible with Deep Color and the xvYCC extended color space (neither of which is sufficiently implemented in the marketplace to be meaningful - yet). It's also compatible with bitstream input of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. But the receiver doesn't offer CEC intercomponent control via HDMI.
More significant, the Marantz receiver's video processing is limited to converting incoming analog signals (composite-, component-, or S-video) to HDMI (and cross-converting composite/S-video up to component), and to deinterlacing any arriving standard-def 480i signals to 480p. Otherwise, what comes in - whether via analog or digital HDMI - is what goes out, whether on analog, component, or HDMI.
Setup In this robotic-DSP age, receiver setup is infinitely easier than it used to be - that is, for everyone except reviewers, who after running the automatic routines must still follow up with the old-fashioned manual drill to cross-check accuracy and effectiveness. In the SR7002's case, the auto-setup results I derived from connecting the supplied Audyssey microphone and following the onscreen prompts were close to perfect: Channel levels and distances were spot-on, except for my left surround, whose result was about 3 dB strong. (Probable explanation: In my system, that speaker is somewhat oddly, asymmetrically located.) A second run of the routine using slightly different listening and mike positions returned even more nearly perfect results, but this raises a valuable point: You shouldn't necessarily accept auto-setup parameters as gospel. If a channel sounds too loud or soft (to an experienced ear), it probably is.
Music & Movie Performance As is my wont, I began my Marantz auditions with stereo music via my long-term speakers running full-range, without a subwoofer. What I heard was eminently satisfying: The SR7002 delivered impressively ample stereo power and afforded very high-quality 2-channel listening.
My own speakers (and room) are pretty thoroughly wrung out, so a DSP-correction system like the Marantz's Audyssey MultEQ doesn't usually deliver dramatic A/B comparison results. But some compact speakers I also happened to have on hand benefited much more from it. Without MultEQ correction engaged, these speakers sounded discernibly midrangey when placed on the wall (where most flat-panel TV buyers would put them). But with MultEQ, the difference was perfectly audible, and to my ear a decided improvement. Material like Tracy Chapman's classic track "Fast Car" was obviously clearer and less boxy on the gorgeously recorded vocals, as well as freer and more open-sounding over the top octaves.
Like all Audyssey MultEQ systems, the SR7002's provides two additional calculated curves. "Flat" attempts to correct all speaker/room responses to - well, flat. And "Front" tries to match the response of the center and rear speakers to that which it "hears" from the uncorrected front left/right pair.
For my inaugural Marantz-powered movie experience, I cued up Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest on Blu-ray Disc, pressed Play, and cranked up the volume to near-reference level. The results did not disappoint: Wow. (But what a hopeless muddle of a movie. I had trouble following the "plot," so I pity the average 8-year-old. Of course, the average 8-year-old won't care.)