AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 25, 2012 4 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,200 At A Glance: AirPlay and Bluetooth connectivity • Porthole design • Marantz audiophile tradition continues

Few brands offer as many entry points into audiophilia as Marantz. The vintage angle alone is priceless. Cruise eBay and Audiogon for everything from pricey restorations of vintage tube components to affordable, classic stereo receivers from the 1970s. The present-day Marantz, an honored member of the D&M Holdings family, is the brand to look to for answers to questions like, “Does anyone still make a decent-sounding, standalone CD player?” In some future lifetime, I may explore the potential of such bleeding-edge Reference Series components as the SC-7S2 stereo preamp ($6,500) or the TT-15S1 turntable ($1,500) with the acrylic chassis and platter. But Marantz’s lines of A/V receivers and surround separates have plenty of meat on the bone for both high-end and real-world home theater buffs. In fact, many of Marantz’s multichannel products are adorned with the same distinctive porthole display as the highest-performing members of the brand’s two-channel lines. Putting a round display on a product doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality, but the migration of this cosmetic signature does suggest that Marantz holds surround audiophiles and stereophiles in equally high regard.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 27, 2010 8 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,600 At A Glance: Top-line model with porthole front panel • Step-up Audyssey MultEQ XT auto setup • DLNA, Bluetooth, Pandora, vTuner, Rhapsody, Napster

Porthole Chic

It’s not unusual for a Marantz A/V receiver to have a curved front panel, inspired by the company’s high-end two-channel gear. But this one has an unusual twist found in no other AVR models (so far). Between the usual volume and source-select knobs is a porthole display. It’s not large enough to support much information—but if you flip down the large door below it, another display appears.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 07, 2012 8 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,800 At A Glance: Proprietary HDAM topology • 4K video processing • Audyssey, the works

Marantz has come a long way since Saul Marantz started building audio products in his Kew Gardens, New York, basement. The latest twist in the story is the reinvention of D&M Holdings—that’s D for Denon and M for Marantz—into D+M Group. In addition to trading its ampersand for a plus sign, the company has radically expanded its product lines to include more new products and even new product categories. While Denon has gotten a lot of attention for the latter, including four jam-packed headphone lines, Marantz is also experimenting with new kinds of fun. Its first self-contained iDevice docking system is the Consolette, with a retractable dock, AirPlay, DLNA, Internet radio, two-way internal speakers, and cosmetic echoes of the Saul Marantz–designed preamp that got the party started. But Marantz has not neglected its longtime status as a maker of great home theater products. An overhaul of its audio/video receiver line’s upper end has brought three new models. The top model soon found its way into the guest-receiver berth on my rack.

Filed under
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 02, 2013 4 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Nine amp channels
Audyssey MultEQ XT32
Excellent sound quality
Minus
No direct USB input for PC/Mac playback

THE VERDICT
Reference-worthy A/V receiver that offers great bang for the buck.

When I review speakers, I have dozens of major and minor brands to choose from. When I review audio/video receivers, the same names come up time and again. There just aren’t that many of them. You might think reviewing the same AVR brands repeatedly would leave me jaded. But it doesn’t. Every one of those heavy black boxes is a new quest. Every manufacturer has to prove itself all over again—and prove it to me, someone with a frame of reference that goes back decades. My method is pretty simple. I act as a surrogate for the consumer: I am you. I pull the product out of the box, lift it onto my rack, punch through the interface, turn it up loud, and consider both what I hear and how I feel about it.

Filed under
Shane Buettner Posted: Apr 07, 2007 0 comments
  • $1,999
  • 125-Watts x 7 into 8 ohms
  • Processing Modes: DD, DD-EX, ProLogicIIx, DTS, DTS-ES/Discrete/Matrix/Neo: 6, DTS 24/96, SRS Circle Surround II, HDCD decoding
Features We Like: THX Select2-Certified, Four HDMI 1.2 inputs and two outputs with video upconversion and cross-conversion, four component inputs, Audyssey auto calibration and room EQ, three coaxial and four toslink optical digital audio inputs, one 7.1-channel analog audio input, XM Ready, 7.1-channel preamp outs, AV sync delay, multi-source/multi-zone
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Fred Manteghian Posted: Feb 10, 2008 0 comments

In <I>Donny Darko</I>, Drew Barrymore's character, Ms. Pomery, says that a famous linguist once proclaimed "cellar door" to be the most beautiful phrase in the English language. I'm here to recommend we consider "Marantz" for that title, because it reproduces the most beautiful sounds in <I>any</I> language. Be it Zoot Sims on JVC XRCD, Claudio Arrau playing Beethoven sonatas from a Philips CD, or that gawd-awful good <I>Transformers</I> movie on HD DVD, the Marantz is beauty personified!

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 14, 2008 1 comments
Connected where it counts.

Marantz is a brand name. It was once an individual as well. What would Saul Marantz have made of the SR8002 A/V receiver? It bears little resemblance to the hi-fi products he hand-built in his home in Kew Gardens, New York, during the 1950s—or to the Japanese-made receivers that popularized component audio systems in the 1970s. Saul lived until 1997, so he was not unfamiliar with the concept of surround sound by the time he passed away—but his younger self would have been astonished to see 11 pairs of binding posts on the back of the SR8002. Not to mention some unfamiliar jacks labeled HDMI. What are those for?

Filed under
Shane Buettner Posted: Jan 18, 2007 Published: Jan 19, 2007 0 comments
  • $1,999
  • 125-Watts x 7 into 8 ohms
  • Processing Modes: DD, DD-EX, ProLogicIIx, DTS, DTS-ES/Discrete/Matrix/Neo: 6, DTS 24/96, SRS Circle Surround II, HDCD decoding
Features We Like: THX Select2-Certified, Four HDMI 1.2 inputs and two outputs with video upconversion and cross-conversion, four component inputs, Audyssey auto calibration and room EQ, three coaxial and four toslink optical digital audio inputs, one 7.1-channel analog audio input, XM Ready, 7.1-channel preamp outs, AV sync delay, multi-source/multi-zone
Filed under
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 22, 2007 0 comments
High-end audio goes green.

There is a link in the public mind between scale and quality, a notion that, if you want something better, you also want something bigger. After all, top-of-the-line surround receivers are expected to have more powerful amplifiers and more features. Bigger speakers come with a tacit implication of better bass response. And who doesn't dream of buying a bigger plasma or LCD?

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 03, 2010 0 comments
Price: $1,299 At A Glance: An A/V receiver for the audiophile on a budget • Faroudja DCDi video processing • Essential features only, no fad features

Ready for Takeoff

Paring life down to the essentials is a fine art. You should aim to reduce the quantity of stuff in your life and increase the quality of what remains. This may take some work. You may need to sit down with the entire contents of your sock drawer and discard all the ones with rather large holes. But then you experience the joy of buying (and wearing) beautiful new socks. And the daily need to find two good ones that match will become less onerous.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 18, 2005 Published: Jan 19, 2005 0 comments
Practicality trumps mystique.

Years ago, I crossed swords with the editor-in-chief of a magazine that covered tech only in passing. His deputy editor took me aside, and a reflective look came into his eyes as he explained why his distinguished boss hated my work: "There's a kind of hardheaded practicality to him, and the whizbang stuff you write just leaves him cold. High-end cars he understands, but not high-end audio, and he wants you to convince him that this stuff is really worth paying good money for." Ever since then, I've tried to recognize that hardheaded practicality when I run across it—especially in readers.

Filed under
Fred Manteghian Posted: Nov 14, 2011 5 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,600 At A Glance: Future-proof modular construction • Great ergonomics • Trades features for performance

Oh, it’s coming, all right. Are you ready for it? That’s right, Smell-O-Vision! I’m not talking about old-school scratch-n-sniff cards, but the real, electrified olfactory emitters specified in the HDMI 1.5 standard. OK, I’m clearly exaggerating the contents of the next HDMI version, but even if that travesty comes to pass, NAD’s Modular Design Construction topology means the T 757 can be upgraded by your dealer, instead of a forklift.

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Barry Willis Posted: Nov 05, 2004 0 comments

New Acoustic Dimensions, aka NAD, has been building reliable, affordable, good-sounding audio equipment for well over a quarter of a century. Anecdotal evidence: My NAD 7225PE receiver, 20+ years old, is still working perfectly as the heart of my garage workshop audio system.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 02, 2012 9 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $4,000 At A Glance: Seven powerful amplifiers • Complexity simplified • Future-proof modular design

For good reason, grizzled veterans of the audio/video hardware wars eagerly anticipate reviewing NAD gear. The company’s distinguished history began in the 1970s with the invention of the business model that was adopted years later by Apple, among others. Rather than building a factory to produce its products, NAD contracted with existing manufacturing facilities, thus avoiding high capitalization costs.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 23, 2006 0 comments
Chairman of the boards.

A receiver that doesn't handle the latest video and surround formats is a doorstop. A similarly outmoded high-end receiver is a very expensive doorstop. And that's a problem for anyone who bought one during the 20th century. Most DVDs have Dolby Digital and/or DTS soundtracks—those are must-haves. Stereo material usually sounds much better to me in Dolby Pro Logic II than in DPLI or stereo. And, for the largest rooms, Surround EX and DTS ES have added the back channels some people deem necessary. HDMI is on its way in, component video is on its way out, XM and HD radio are knocking at AM/FM's door, and, in a few years, surround receivers will be called on to do things that we can barely begin to imagine today.

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