Marantz AV8805 13.2-Channel AV Processor Review
An immersive audio hat trick
What is the Marantz AV8805?The Marantz AV8805 is the manufacturer's latest flagship AV pre-amp and 13-channel processor. It boasts support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D, making it the only non-Marantz model that can handle all three immersive audio formats at anything approaching a sensible price. Depending on your needs, space and available amplification, the AV8805 can deliver a full 9.2.4 or 7.2.6 configuration, which should be enough speakers for even the most demanding fan of object-based surround sound.
There are eight HDMI inputs and three HDMI outputs that all support 4K 60Hz, HDCP 2.2, Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range – HDR10, Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG). There's the HEOS multiroom system with support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Hi-Res Audio, Spotify Connect and Tidal. If that wasn't enough, you also get Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC), Amazon Alexa voice commands, and Audyssey MultEQ XT32/LFC room equalisation with Sub EQ HT and support for the Audyssey app.
All that doesn't come cheap, with the AV8805 setting you back £3,599 as at the time of writing (November 2018). However, when you consider that the Trinnov Altitude16 (one of the few AV processors to support all three immersive audio formats) costs an eye-watering £13,000, the Marantz starts to look more reasonable. It might offer value, but the real question is how does it perform? Let's find out.
DesignThe Marantz AV8805 may be a processor but it looks identical to the company's receivers, so you get the classic two-tone effect with the matte curved sides and a brushed metal central section. On the left hand side is a large input dial with the power button beneath it and on the right is a similarly-sized volume dial. In between the two dials is an attractive circular display with a blue light around the outside, although this can be turned off if you prefer. The information the display shows is minimal (input and volume) but it remains a Marantz design feature and adds a touch of class.There's a second, larger and more informative display behind a drop down flap. This shows you the incoming signal, what's being decoded, and what channels the processor is outputting. Also behind the drop down flap is a set of basic controls and some additional inputs, including an HDMI connector and a USB port; along with a headphone jack, a composite video input, a stereo analogue input and a socket for the setup microphone. The build quality is excellent, with the AV8805 measuring 440 x 185 x 410mm (WxHxD), weighing in at 13.7kg and being available in either black or silver-gold.
It looks identical to Marantz's AV receivers and is as heavy as some of them too
Connections & Control
At the rear of the Marantz AV8805 are seven HDMI inputs and three HDMI outputs, one of which supports eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel). All these connections support 4K/60p, 4:4:4, 3D, 21:9 Video, High Dynamic Range (HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision), Wide Colour Gamut (Rec.2020) and HDCP 2.2.
There are numerous legacy connections including component and composite video inputs, analogue audio RCA phono inputs, and coaxial and optical digital inputs. There's no built-in tuner but there is an analogue input for a separate tuner, along with a signal ground terminal for those with a turntable.
There is a stereo analogue input that uses balanced XLR connectors, and there's also 7.1-channel phono inputs. In terms of other connections there's a LAN port, two 12V triggers, an IR Flasher and an RS232 port for serial control; as well as twin antennas which provide both built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The outputs are composed of 15.2 channels, with a choice of RCA phono or balanced XLR connectors. However, it should be stressed that the AV8805 is restricted to 13.2 channels of processing, with a choice of up to 7.1.6 or 9.1.4 for Dolby Atmos, 11.1 for DTS:X, and 13.1 for Auro-3D.The AV8805 comes with Marantz's standard high-end remote control, which uses a black brushed metal effect and a silver trim. It's a well-designed controller that's sensibly laid out, with large buttons that make it quite ergonomic to operate, comfortable to hold and easy to use with one hand. There’s a small display at the top, along with a backlight for use in a darkened room, and overall it's very effective.
Marantz also offers its excellent remote app, which is freely available for both iOS and Android. This not only provides full control but also works in unison with the equally free and just as impressive HEOS remote app. You can seamlessly move between the two, and control all the online functions and connected devices as part of a HEOS multiroom system.
There are outputs for 15.2 channels using both phono and balanced XLR connectors
Marantz AV8805 Features & SpecsThe Marantz AV8805 has high-performance 192kHz/32bit D/A converters for all channels, and supports all the immersive audio formats right out of the box, so you get Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D. There's 13.2-channel processing with support for Dolby Atmos and Surround (9.2.4 and 7.2.6), as well as DTS:X, Neural:X, and Virtual:X (11.1), and Auro-3D (13.1).
The processor features Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction, with Audyssey Dynamic Volume, Dynamic EQ, and LFC. In conjunction with the supplied microphone, this technology analyses the sound system's output to optimise the overall listening experience based upon the acoustical properties of the room, the speaker layout, and the characteristics of each speaker and subwoofer.
The additional Audyssey MultEQ Editor App (available for purchase) provides more advanced users with the option to further customise their setup by checking the speaker detection and room correction results, selecting target sound options, adding midrange compensation, editing curves, adjusting the MultEQ Filter Frequency range and changing Audyssey settings.
The processor can upscale video content to 4K Ultra HD, and is certified by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF). That means there's a full suite of video calibration controls (for use by an ISF technician), along with ISF Day and ISF Night video modes. Personally, I'd leave the video settings to pass-through, and let your display handle the upscaling and any calibrated settings.
The AV8805 includes the HEOS multiroom system which, depending on where you live, provides access to a wide array of music services (Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Prime Music, TuneIn, Soundcloud, Pandora, Napster, Deezer, iHeartRadio, Rhapsody and SiriusXM). It also allows seamless integration into the HEOS multiroom eco system and fast and intuitive control of any online or legacy source via dual apps.
The processor can be grouped with HEOS speakers and can be either a group leader (master) or a group member (slave). As a result, legacy inputs (CD, TV etc.) can be distributed throughout the house to other HEOS speakers which can access the inputs on the AV8805 as sources. The dual app approach also means that you can seamlessly move between the Marantz app and the HEOS app.
The processor is DLNA certified, has gapless playback, and supports MP3, WMA, and AAC lossy formats, along with FLAC (192/24), WAV (192/24), ALAC (192/24), and DSD (2.8/5.6) lossless formats. New for this year is Apple's AirPlay 2, which officially supports multi-room playback that allows you to stream to multiple devices directly from your iPhone at home and synchronise playback between them.
Another new feature is Amazon Alexa voice control, which allows you to play music, switch inputs, and change volume by simply using vocal commands. Marantz plan to also add control via Google Assistant as well at a later date. The final new feature is the inclusion of IMAX Enhanced, which was recently added via a firmware update.
MORE: What is IMAX Enhanced?
This feature-packed AV processor can decode Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D
Setup & OperationJust like the company's receivers, the Marantz AV8805 is incredibly easy to setup thanks to the excellent Setup Assistant, which takes you through the entire process step by step. It provides simple, clear and concise instructions to the user through an effective graphical user interface. It covers everything from adding amplifiers and choosing speaker layouts, to setting up the various inputs and outputs and any additional zones. It also checks the polarity of your speakers and the volume of your subwoofer(s) before taking you through the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room equalisation process using the included microphone.
If you have your own tripod you can attach the microphone to that, but if not you can use the included cardboard mic stand. The audio calibration process takes readings from up to eight positions, measuring test tones from all the connected speakers and any subwoofers, in order to calculate the sizes, crossovers, distances and levels, before equalising for the effects of the room itself. We would recommend that most people just use this effective, automated room equalisation but there is the option to perform a manual setup if you prefer and, if you buy the Audyssey App, you can also customise the setup.The menu system is well-designed, with a simple layout that is as intuitive to use as the rest of the amplifier, making it easy to customise the setup to your specific needs. If you own an Amazon Echo or Dot and want to take advantage of the Alexa voice control skill, it's fairly easy to set up. Simply open the Alexa app and select Skills and then add HEOS Home Entertainment to enable. Once you've done that, all you need to do is go to Smart Home in the Alexa app menu and choose Devices and Discover or say “Alexa, discover my devices" and select HEOS AVR.
I tested the AV8805 in conjunction with some serious amplification, in the shape of the Trinnov Amplitude8M for the seven ear-level channels and the Arcam P429 for the four overhead speakers. I ran through a number of different configurations, including two-channel, 5.1- and 7.1-channel, and a full 7.2.4 setup for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. As my primary sources, I used CDs, SACDs, DVD-Audio discs, Blu-rays and Ultra HD Blu-rays, along with high resolution audio files and various streaming services including Spotify and Tidal.
Despite its apparent complexity, the AV8805 is incredibly easy to set up and operate
Marantz AV8805 PerformanceI have spent a lot of time with Dirac Live recently, either with my reference Arcam AVR850 or the AVR390 that I was reviewing. As a result, I found the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction on the Marantz AV8805 to be rather outdated in comparison. The option of a setup app does provide more opportunities to customise the performance, but then this is compared to the user interface, frequency and impulse responses, and target graphs of Dirac. Audyssey can do a reasonable job of integrating the sub and correcting the more egregious room errors, but overall it simply isn't in the same class as Dirac.
That one gripe aside, the AV8805 is a very impressive pre-amp and processor, that combines Marantz's musicality with a dynamic surround experience. Starting with some two-channel music, I listened to the original Memphis recordings of Primal Scream's Give Out But Don't Give Up. God knows why these weren't released back in 1993, but they sounded superb thanks to combination of the Marantz/Trinnov combo and my reference M&K S150 speakers. The opening salvo of Jailbird and Rocks were delivered with aggression and fun, while the more soulful numbers had an aching beauty that the AV8805 was able to fully render.
I then moved on to one of my favourites test discs: Gravity. This film has a highly directional 5.1 mix that’s a perfect test for effects steering and tonal balance, with dialogue that moves around the room in a 360 degree sound field. The Marantz did a wonderful job of seamlessly moving the astronauts communications and other effects from speaker to speaker. The ear-level speakers are all M&K, a mixture of S150s and S150Ts, but even so the Marantz impressed with its ability to keep everything tonally balanced.
The processor was also effective at creating a surround soundstage around the viewer, not only in terms of the voices and effects in Gravity but also during the scenes in space. Since sound doesn't carry in a vacuum, the sound mix instead replicates the way audio would be inducted through the body. This means the sounds are often felt rather than heard, with the low frequency effects channel being used extensively. It's more subtle than a simple explosion, but the AV8805 effectively integrated my two subs during these sequences.
While the Marantz proved itself highly capable when it came to two-channel and 5.1 mixes, not to mention the 7.1 masterclass that is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, it's the processor's abilities with immersive audio that sets it apart. Just how much depends on the speaker configuration you choose, but I normally use a 7.2.4-channel layout. For the purposes of this test, I added a pair of width speakers and ran a 9.2.4 system.
I should stress that the AV8805 only applies all 13.2 channels when decoding a Dolby Atmos soundtrack or an Auro-3D soundtrack, although the speaker layout for the latter is completely different. Given that and the fact there are virtually no movies with an Auro-3D soundtrack (I only have three myself), I didn't test that format. DTS:X is currently limited to 11.1 processing, so I used my usual a 7.2.4-channel layout for testing that particular format.
I started my immersive audio odyssey with Blade Runner 2049, which has a stupendous Dolby Atmos soundtrack. From the opening credits this mix delivers a massive amount of low frequency energy into the subs, and the AV8805 effectively integrated them with the rest of the system. As a result, the bass was smooth and even, yet also extremely powerful. The use of sub-sonic energy underscored the entire mix, adding impact to action sequences but also underpinning much of the avant garde score. However, the bass always remained tight and controlled, never overpowering the rest of the soundstage.
The addition of the width channels helped give scenes a bigger front soundstage and filled the holes at the sides, as effects moved from the front to the rear of the room. The AV8805 also showed enormous skill when it came to localising and steering effects with precision. There was an impressive sense of three-dimensional space as spinners flew overhead, and the height channels were used effectively to create a feeling of claustrophobia when the camera moved down to street level.
The drone attack in the scrap yard was a great example of the Marantz's capabilities with dynamic range, as the action cuts instantly from the massive explosions caused by the rockets to the serene surroundings of Luv's office as she gets her nails done while simultaneously ordering more air strikes. The processor marshalled the amplification to ensure that while the explosions hit like sledgehammers, the subtle ambience of Luv's office was also effectively rendered.
In order to test the AV8805's capabilities with DTS:X soundtracks, I put on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The processing was just as adept with this competing audio format, using all 11 channels and two subs to deliver a visceral surround experience. The eruption on the island was a great chance for all the speakers to jump into action, as bass rumbled, volcanic rocks and lava rained down from above, and a pyroclastic cloud tore through the room. The roar of the T-Rex and the LFE thump of the Brachiosaurus gave this major effects sequence even greater impact.
The scene where the bubble car falls into the sea is definitely demo-worthy, with the overhead speakers being used to create a feeling of complete immersion. As the water engulfs our protagonists, you almost find yourself holding your breath. The AV8805 is a very capable processor that is able to deliver deep bass, precise effects, and clear dialogue no matter how active the mix becomes. It is also able to create a very believable sound field, such as during the storm towards the end. As the thunder rolls overhead, and rain falls all around, you can still clearly hear the breathing of Indoraptor as it chases our heroes.
Overall, the Marantz AV8805 is an excellent pre-pro that gets all the basics right, thus ensuring it delivers a solid sonic performance, while also delivering state-of-the-art processing.
This is an excellent performer that delivers superb immersive surround sound decoding
- Impressive performance
- 13 channels of processing
- Dolby Atmos, DTS:X & Auro-3D
- Dolby Vision & HLG support
- HEOS multiroom included
- Easy to setup and use
- Attractive design and well made
- Audyssey feels outdated
Marantz AV8805 13.2-Channel AV Processor Review
Marantz AV8805 VerdictThe Marantz AV8805 is a genuinely impressive AV processor that boasts all the features modern technology can offer, along with audiophile components. In fact, it's so packed with bells and whistles that it's hard to summarise them all here. However, the inclusion of 13.1-channel processing for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D really distinguishes this pre-pro from Marantz's competition.
It's also mighty pretty for an AV processor, and the level of build quality is superb. There's a comprehensive set of inputs, and no fewer than 15.2-channels of outputs using both phono and balanced XLR connectors, which allows for more than one speaker configuration. The performance is impressive, with the kind of musical sound quality for which Marantz is justly famous. In fact my only real complaint is that the Audyssey room correction pales compared to the wizardry of Dirac Live.
This processor can deliver a subtle and effective two-channel performance, but really comes into its own when decoding surround formats. Send it a 5.1 or 7.1-channel soundtrack and the AV8805 is peerless at steering effects around the room, resulting in a cohesive sonic presence. Once you move on to immersive audio the processor steps up a gear, taking advantage of all the extra speakers to surround you in a believable hemisphere of sound.
The Marantz AV8805 is a superb all-round performer, with a comprehensive set of connections and state-of-the-art features. It sounds fantastic with movies but is equally as adept with music, and if you combine it with some decent amplification you'll have a genuinely impressive system. It's also competitively priced when compared to the competition, making this AV processor something of a bargain.
What are my alternatives?If you're wondering how an AV processor that costs £3,599 can be considered a bargain, it's worth remembering that the only other non-Marantz model to support all three immersive audio formats is the 16-channel Trinnov Altitude16 at three times the price.
Slightly closer to home is the 16-channel Emotiva RMC-1, which will set you back £5,495. This excellent AV processor supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, has balanced XLR outputs, and includes Dirac Live which gives it the edge in the room correction stakes. It doesn't have all the features found on the AV8805, nor does it support Auro-3D, but it's an impressive pre-amp that's sure to please immersive audio fans.
At £3,999 the Arcam AV860 is the closest to the Marantz in terms of price, but it also doesn't support Auro-3D and is 'limited' to 11.1 channels of amplification. It isn't as feature-packed as the AV8805, but it has balanced XLR outputs and includes Dirac Live room correction. Assuming you don't desperately need two more channels, and in most rooms that's probably the case, the Arcam AV860 is the best performing processor in this price bracket.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £3,599.00
Value For Money10
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