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Marantz SR7008 9-Channel AV Receiver Review

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A surprising amount of subtlety from a Japanese receiver

by Steve Withers Dec 9, 2013 at 5:23 PM

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    Marantz SR7008 9-Channel AV Receiver Review
    SRP: £1,399.00

    What is the Marantz SR7008?

    When we reviewed the Marantz SR7007 receiver we found a capable receiver with plenty to recommend it but we had a few suggestions and it would seem Marantz were paying attention.

    Their new flagship receiver - the SR7008 - includes much that is similar from the previous generation but also addresses some of the shortcomings in that receiver t. So now we get two extra channels of amplification, giving the SR7008 a total of nine to play with. Marantz have also added Audyssey's MultEQ XT32 room correction software, which should result in a more effective automated setup.
    The addition of the extra channels has been accompanied by 11.2-channel pre-outs and the addition of DTS-Neo:X, which means that you can, if you add an extra two-channels of amplification, run a full 11.2 setup with both height and width channels and two subwoofers. All these changes essentially bring Marantz's flagship in line with the current Denon flagship - the AVR-4520. Let's see if the new and improved Marantz SR7008 is worth an upgrade.


    Marantz SR7008 Design and Connections

    The design of the SR7008 mirrors that of last year’s SR7007 with a clean front facia and a slight curve to the edges. There’s the standard receiver layout with two control knobs at the front - one for volume on the right and one for input on the left - and an off/off button. As a tip of the hat to the classic Marantz amplifiers off the past, there’s a small round display in the middle. This shows the selected input, volume and tuner information when the input is set to FM. There is a blue ring of light around the central display which thankfully can be turned off, along with the display itself. Everything else, including another display, sits behind the drop down flap.
    Marantz SR7008 Marantz SR7008 Design and Connections
    Marantz SR7008 Marantz SR7008 Design and Connections

    Here there is a more detailed display and a series of controls that allow you to setup and use the receiver without needing to resort to the remote control. There are some additional inputs, including a seventh HDMI input, a USB port and a headphone jack. There's also a composite video input, analogue stereo inputs and a jack for the setup microphone. The build quality is very good, the chassis has a solid and well machined feel and the SR7008 is heavier than last year’s flagship model thanks to the addition of two extra channels of amplification. The receiver comes in a choice of either black or silver-gold and measures 440 x 399 x 185mm, with a weight of 13.6kg.

    The SR7008 is heavier than last year’s model thanks to two extra channels of amplification.

    At the rear are a comprehensive set of connections, including six HDMI inputs and three HDMI outputs - one of which includes ARC. There are speaker terminals for a standard 7-channel configuration and additional speaker terminals for either height or width channels. These speaker terminals are configured in a line to allow for easier access, which makes sense. There are 7.1-channel inputs and 11.2-channel outputs, which allows you to run dual subwoofers. In addition there are optical and coaxial digital inputs and analogue inputs, as well as various legacy connections. There's also an Ethernet port, an RS232 connector, a M-XPort jack for connecting the optional RX101 wireless adapter and two 12v triggers.
    Marantz SR7008
    Marantz SR7008

    The Marantz remote control remains a great example of how to design a receiver remote. All the buttons are sensibly laid out, every control you would need is present without making the layout cluttered and best of all for those with a darkened home cinema, there is a back light. The remote itself is made of black plastic, with a brushed metal effect on the front and a silver trim. It's light, comfortable to hold and easy to use - even with one hand. There is a small display at the top and it's a learning remote which means you can also control other devices.

    Marantz SR7008 Menus and Setup

    The SR7008 retains the same menu system found on previous Marantz receivers and is fairly basic, which makes it easy to follow but dated when compared to the menu screens used by some of the competition. However setup is quite straightforward and the menu system itself is reasonably intuitive. The main menu is accessed by pressing the Setup button on the remote and it offers a choice of Audio, Video, Inputs, Speakers, Network and General.
    Marantz SR7008 Marantz SR7008 Menus and Setup
    Marantz SR7008 Marantz SR7008 Menus and Setup

    The Inputs sub-menu allows you to assign inputs, rename sources and also hide ones that you aren't using. You can also set the source level, select the input mode and decode mode and assign video sources to audio sources. In the Network sub-menu you can access the network information, the IP control, change the friendly name, adjust the wired settings and chose whether or not to display the Last.fm item on the menu. Finally there is the General sub-menu which includes options for language selection, zone2 setup, zone 3 setup, zone rename, trigger out 1 and 2, auto standby, turning of the front display and information. The front display control gives you a choice of on, auto off and off.

    The SR7008 includes Audyssey MultEQ XT32 which is an improvement on last year.

    Along with the Setup Assistant, there are also dedicated Audio and Speakers sub-menus that allow for manual setup and other adjustments. The SR7008 includes Audyssey MultEQ XT32 which is an improvement on the previous year's model. There are controls for adjusting the surround sound parameters, tone control, dialogue level and subwoofer level. There’s the M-DAX2 feature which is designed to improve the reproduction of compressed sources, an audio delay control and the Audyssey MultiEQ XT32 settings. The Speakers sub-menu includes a series of screens dedicated to different aspects of speaker setup. Whilst these are setup automatically by Audyssey, you can manually adjust or fine tune the settings, if you so desire.
    Marantz SR7008
    Marantz SR7008

    The Video menu provides options for Picture Adjust, HDMI Setup, Output Settings, Component Video Out, Volume Display, Info Display, Audio Display and TV Format. The Picture Adjust sub-menu includes controls for contrast, brightness, saturation, hue, noise reduction and edge enhancement. All of these are standard controls that you will find on your display, so it’s best not to use them on the receiver. The HDMI Setup sub-menu includes controls for auto lip sync, HDMI audio out, video output, HDMI control, standby source, control monitor and power off control. The Output Settings sub-menu features a video mode option which switches between movie and game mode and a video conversion mode that, when on, automatically converts content to match the connected display.

    Marantz SR7008 Features

    The SR7008 covers the main bases but it isn’t as feature-packed as some of the competition, although we’re more interested in the audio performance of a receiver than in bells and whistles that we’ll probably never use. There's no built-in WiFi but there is an ethernet port, making it easy to connect the Marantz to your home network. If you press the Network input selection button on the remote, you bring up the network home page. From here you can access your favourites, along with the internet radio, Last.fm, Spotify, Flickr and the media server. The SR7008 has a built-in FM tuner and comes with an aerial, so if you prefer the better quality afforded by FM broadcasts and you can get decent reception, you can listen to some traditional radio. If not you also have the option to use the internet radio, giving you access to an almost limitless choice of radio stations from all over the world.

    The receiver is DLNA certified and the media server worked flawlessly, picking up all the devices connected to our home network. We had no problems playing back music or looking at photos and the SR7008 supports MP3, WMA, AAC and JPEG either over your network or via a USB connection. It can also handle FLAC HD 192/24, WAV 192/24 and ALAC 96/24 playback, with gapless playback for both FLAC and WAV. The SR7008 includes Apple's AirPlay which allows you to connect directly to your iPod/iPhone/iPad and stream music stored on that device. As we have come to expect these days, Marantz provide a remote app for both iOS and Android devices and whilst it does allow for basic control, we found it to be something of a disappointment compared to the far more comprehensive interfaces offered by some of the competition.

    The SR7008 provides good file support and performed well in playback.

    Marantz SR7008 Video Quality

    The SR7008 has a decent video capability and it can match its output resolution to the native resolution of your display. The receiver can output at 480p, 576p, 720p, 1080i/p, 1080p/24 and 4K, as well as pass a 3D signal and a native 4K signal. Marantz have also added InstaPrevue, which allows you to use PiPs to check other HDMI inputs. When it came to handling standard and high definition content, the SR7008 delivered an impressive performance, deinterlacing 480i, 576i and 1080i signals and scaling up to 1080p over HDMI. It also passed 1080p/24 and 3D signals from Blu-rays without any problems, as well as 4K at up to 30Hz. We were pleased to see that the SR7008 had no problems detecting both 3:2 and 2:2 cadences, as well as scaling standard definition content without introducing unwanted artefacts or jaggies. As long as you left the picture adjust controls in their default zero or off positions, the Marantz could passthrough the video signal without tampering with the image accuracy. Thanks to the inclusion of three HDMI outputs, you can also use the SR7008 to feed a signal to two different displays, perhaps a TV and a projector and to a third display in a different location.

    Marantz SR7008 Video Review


    Marantz SR7008 Sound Quality

    For the purposes of reviewing the SR7008 we used a number of Blu-rays in order to judge its performance with both Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks. We also tested the Marantz with stereo and multi-channel PCM from a number of sources, along with Direct Stream Digital (DSD) from various SACDs. In addition we streamed music files to the SR7008 over our home network and via AirPlay. The addition of Audyssey MultiEQ XT32 improved the room correction, giving the system a more integrated feel. The receiver includes DTS-Neo:X and Audyssey’s DSX for those who wish to add either front height or width channels to the basic 7.1-channel configuration, with Dolby Pro Logic IIz also provided as a height-enhancing alternative. As we have discovered with previous receivers that we’ve reviewed, the addition of width channels at the front can really help in widening the soundstage and aiding front to back pans.

    The SR7008 didn’t deliver the kind of audio performance we were expecting. Gone was the cliched Japanese emphasis on power, to be replaced by a more subtle and balanced performance. Marantz have a long history of manufacturing audiophile products and the SR7008 has clearly inherited some of that DNA. Aklhough it's also reminiscent of its stablemate, Denon’s flagship AVR-4520. The Marantz was quite effective with surround sound, especially movie soundtracks, delivering a precise and well focused experience. We watched a number of Blu-rays including the recent White House Down and the SR7008 replicated the sound design very effectively, anchoring the dialogue clearly to the centre channel whilst producing a wide front soundstage that had good positioning of instruments and a nice sense of clarity and detail. There was a real feeling of width to the front soundstage that could be increased by adding width speakers and utilising the extra two channels of amplification; both DSX and DTS Neo:X proved quite effective at creating this extra width.


    Gone was the cliched Japanese emphasis on power, to be replaced by a more subtle performance.

    The SR7008 teased a lively performance from the side and rear channels, creating an immersive surround field with excellent localisation of effects. The overall integration of the front and rear channels was effective, with smooth pans around the room. Audyssey MultiEQ XT32 did a great job of eliminating the negative aspects of the room, allowing the SR7008 to manage the bass effectively. We used a couple of bass heavy scenes from Pacific Rim to see how well the subwoofer was integrated into the rest of the sound field. The results were excellent, with well timed bass that added impact to scenes when required without swamping the rest of the channels. However we did feel that the receiver itself lacked in power to a degree, minimising the headroom and restricting its dynamic range. This trade off between subtlety and power meant that whilst the SR7008 will be quite capable for the majority of listening material, for those who prefer greater bombast from their receivers, the Marantz is best paired with a decent subwoofer.

    The performance with multichannel music was impressive, whether it was DVD-Audio or SACD, with well defined instruments and an impressive level of clarity. The Marantz was also surprisingly effective with two-channel music and certainly better than some of the other receivers we've reviewed. We found instruments and vocals were well reproduced, whilst the SR7008 managed to create a cohesive soundstage with excellent positioning and plenty of detail and clarity. There is no doubt that the greater subtlety of the Marantz results in a more musical experience than one would normally expect from an audio/video receiver. So if you’re looking for a receiver that puts the emphasis on precision and clarity rather than power and impact, the Marantz SR7008 just might be for you.

    Conclusion

    8
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • Excellent multi and two-channel performance
    • Comprehensive connections
    • Impressive video processing
    • Attractive design
    • Good media support
    • Flexible setup and configuration
    • Well designed remote

    Cons

    • Lacking in power
    • No built-in WiFi
    • Menu design is basic
    • Remote app is average
    You own this Total 4
    You want this Total 3
    You had this Total 0

    Marantz SR7008 9-Channel AV Receiver Review

    The Marantz SR7008 receiver is very much a case of evolution rather than revolution, providing refinements and improvements over last year’s flagship model without making any radical changes. The big differences are the addition of two extra channels of amplification, allowing for either height or width channels and upgrading to Audyssey's MultEQ XT32 room correction software. The SR7008 also now includes 11.2 channel pre-outs and support for DTS-Neo:X, bringing it into line with its stablemate - the Denon AVR-4520. Otherwise it’s business as usual with an attractive design and good build quality, backed up by decent connections and a well designed remote. The menus and internet features are a limited compared to some of the competition but the file support is good plus there’s Apple’s AirPlay and some decent video processing.

    Of course features are all well and good but what really matters is the audio quality and here the SR7008 delivered a surprisingly subtle performance. When it comes to Japanese receivers we tend to expect muscle over control but the Marantz was just the opposite, delivering plenty of detail and clarity but perhaps lacking some impact. There’s was plenty of precision with multi-channel soundtracks but the slightly underwhelming sense of power means that it will perform best when partnered with a serious subwoofer. Unusually for a receiver, the SR7008 also sounded good with two-channel music, no doubt thanks to its subtle characteristics, resulting in a more musical experience. If you already own the SR7007 there’s seems little point upgrading but if you’re looking for a receiver that puts the emphasis on precision and clarity rather than power and impact, the Marantz SR7008 just might be for you.


    The Rundown

    Sound Quality

    8

    Features

    7

    Connectivity

    8

    Build Quality

    8

    Value For Money

    8

    Verdict

    8

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