2 Ways to Connect an External Amp to an AV Receiver

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Q Essentially this is a two-for-one, as both Ed Mendelson and Sam V had very similar questions about connecting an external amplifier to a Marantz AV receiver. Ed wants to add a 3-channel amp to his Marantz SR7012 to power his L/C/R speakers. Sam wants to use his Marantz SR5013 for the audio processing but use a Yamaha RX-A3020 AV receiver for the amplification. How do we do this?

A Ed: Simply connect some quality, equal length RCA cables from the Front Left, Right, and Center Pre-Outs of your Marantz to the inputs of your new amplifier, and then connect the speakers to the wiring terminals of the new amplifier. No configuration is required for this setup. The Marantz will use the same bass management and room correction settings on those pre-outs as it does when connecting to its speaker terminals. I would definitely re-run Audyssey (or recalibrate the volume levels) after doing this as the new amplifier will likely have different performance characteristics.

Sam: Your setup is a bit trickier since we are using two receivers that both have volume controls and processing on board. Though it is significantly older, I think the Yamaha might have a better power amplification section than your Marantz, so this isn’t a bad idea. You’ll use equal length RCA cables to connect the Marantz’s Pre-Out connections to the Yamaha’s Multi Channel Inputs, and then you will connect all of your speaker wiring to the Yamaha.

I’m thinking you should also connect the subwoofer to the Yamaha to minimize any volume level mismatching. You will want to go into the Yamaha’s settings menu and set all of the speakers to Large and the subwoofer to On because we don’t want it trying to do any bass management, which will be handled by the Marantz. You will also want to leave the Yamaha on the Multi Channel Input, and I’m thinking you should leave its volume setting at 0.

Then, set up the Marantz AVR as if you were directly connecting the speakers to it. This can be done by either manually inputting the speaker information or running Audyssey. All volume adjustment, processing, bass management, and room correction should then pass through to the Yamaha AVR, which will amplify the signals and send them on to your speakers. I’d love to hear a follow-up on how this setup worked out and if you noticed any improvement in the sound quality!

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trynberg's picture

The pre-outs of both these Marantz receivers are quite low voltage, so a high gain amplifier is required. These generations still distorted the pre-outs from the amplifier section, so this whole exercise is dubious at best in both cases. I used to have an SR7012 and had no problem driving mains to deafening levels, so an outboard amp isn't really necessary unless the mains have punishingly low impedance.