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Marantz SR7009 AV Receiver Review

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The Marantz SR7009 flagship AV receiver is pure class

by Steve Withers Nov 13, 2014 at 9:01 AM

  • SRP: £1,399.00

    What is the Marantz SR7009?

    The Marantz SR7009 is their new flagship 9-channel Audio-Video receiver and replaces last year's SR7008. It represents the latest in surround sound technology with just about every audio format including Dolby Atmos. We say just about because the SR7009 doesn’t currently include Auro3D but a firmware update is coming very soon. Aside from that you also get 165W per a channel, a high-speed current feedback amplifier circuit for high-definition audio formats, Audyssey DSX and DTS Neo:X.

    On the video side of things, the SR7009 can pass through Ultra HD 4K at 60p and 4:4:4, as well as upscale lower resolution video to 4K. There are eight HDMI inputs and three HDMI outputs and built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. If that wasn’t enough, you also get playback of DSD and FLAC files over both USB and your network, support for AirPlay and a free remote app. All this for just £1,399 at the time of writing (November 2014) makes for a very enticing package.

    Design

    In a word - lovely. The basic design doesn’t deviate much from the traditional look of an AV receiver but there are enough flourishes to give the SR7009 a touch of class. The chassis is big and black, of course, but it has a curved front that immediately stands out from the crowd. Whilst the brushed metal two-tone finish is a nice touch. Of course you get the standard input dial on the left hand side and volume dial on the right but you also get an attractive round display in the middle.
    Aside from the power button, the facia is very clean because everything else, including a much larger display, is hidden behind a drop down flap. The larger display is informative, easy to read and can be dimmed if necessary. Behind the drop down flap you’ll also find a set of basic controls and some additional inputs, including an HDMI connector and a USB port; along with a headphone jack and a socket for the setup microphone.
    Marantz SR7009 Design


    The SR7009 has the looks, with an attractive curved black facia and brushed metal two tone finish.

    Connections

    Marantz still haven’t quite managed to wean themselves away from all the legacy connections that most people rarely use but they have at least reduced them. So you still get component and composite video, along with plenty of analogue audio inputs, not to mention coaxial and optical digital inputs. Far more useful, however, are the eight HDMI inputs (seven at the rear and one at the front) and three HDMI outputs, the main one of which supports ARC (Audio Return Channel).
    Marantz SR7009 Connections
    Marantz SR7009 Connections

    Other useful connections include a LAN port, sockets for the AM and FM tuners, two 12V triggers, an IR Flasher and an RS232 port for serial control. There are also twin antennas which provide both built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. There are pre-outs covering various speaker configurations, as well as two subwoofer outputs and multiple zones. Finally Marantz has sensibly laid out the speaker terminals to make them easier to access and also clearly marked and colour-coded them.

    SR7009 Remote Controls

    Well the Marantz comes with a well designed remote that allows the maximum of control without the need for excessive clutter or too many buttons. In fact the remote is very sensibly laid out, with well spaced and large buttons that make it quite ergonomic in use and comfortable to hold. There’s a handy backlight for use in a darkened room and overall we found the remote to be very good.
    Marantz SR7009 SR7009 Remote Controls
    Marantz SR7009 SR7009 Remote Controls

    Alternatively, you can also use the Marantz free remote app, which is available for both iOS and Android. This app isn’t as slick as some of the competition but it does get the job done and provides an effective alternative to the provided remote control. Of course if you happen to be near the receiver and want to quickly change something, you can also use the controls on the front.

    Setup

    Thanks to a very handy setup wizard created by Marantz, this is particularly easy and even a complete novice shouldn’t have any problems. This approach is sensible and helps to make the SR7009 less intimidating to anyone who might be unfamiliar with multi-channel AV receivers. The wizard covers everything from choosing your speaker layout to setting up your 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.

    Marantz include a dedicated microphone that you connect into the front of the SR7009 during the setup process. If you have a tripod, then the overall process is easier but in case you don’t, Marantz include a cardboard stand to help you out. The audio calibration process takes readings from eight positions in order to measure test tones from all the connected speakers and any subwoofers and thus equalise the effects of the room. We started with a basic 5.1 and 7.1 speaker setup, before moving onto both 5.1.4 and 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos speaker configurations.

    Setup couldn't be easier and the helpful wizard will take even a novice through the process successfully.

    What is Dolby Atmos?

    This is the new multi-dimensional audio format that can be included within Dolby TrueHD soundtracks. It adds additional overhead and width speakers in order to create a more immersive surround experience. The SR7009 offers the choice of either 5.1.4 (four overhead speakers) or 7.1.2 (two overhead speakers) using the nine available channels. However if you add two more channels of amplification, you can also create 7.1.4 configuration or a 9.1.2 configuration with additional width speakers. For more information on Dolby Atmos read our handy guide.

    Testing the SR7009

    Well after an extensive period of DIY in our home cinema, we managed to attach four overhead speakers, which meant we were in a position to fully test all the usual audio formats and Dolby Atmos. As we mentioned in the setup section, we tested movies with both 5.1 and 7.1 soundtracks before moving to both 5.1.4 and a 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos speaker configurations. We had Dolby’s own Atmos demo disc, as well as the Blu-ray of Transformers; Age of Extinction, which was the first film to be released domestically with an Atmos soundtrack. We also listened to an extensive amount of music, with the SR7009 in a more purist two-channel configuration.

    SR7009 Specs & Features

    It would probably be easier to list what the SR7009 doesn’t have because this is certainly a very well specified AV receiver. Starting with the audio side of things, the SR7009 uses discrete circuitry and a power amplifier that delivers 165W into each of the nine channels. It also uses a high-speed current feedback amplifier so that high-definition audio can be amplified with higher fidelity.

    The SR7009 uses Audyssey MultEQ XT32 for the room equalisation and then adds a host of other features such as Audyssey DSX for additional height or width speakers. There’s also Audyssey LFC (Low Frequency Containment) which dynamically monitors the audio content and removes low frequencies that pass through walls, floors and ceilings - handy if you live in an apartment.

    There’s also the option for discrete subwoofers and the level and delay can be adjusted for each one separately. Audyssey Sub EQ HT is designed to make the integration of the two subwoofers seamless by compensating for any level and delay differences and applying EQ to both for better bass response.

    There’s support for almost every surround format currently on the market, including the previously mentioned Dolby Atmos and DTS Neo: X. There’s even a firmware update coming soon that will add Auro3D but given the different configuration, you have to wonder just how many speakers someone can actually install at one time.

    On the video side, the SR7009 can pass Ultra HD 4K at up to 60p and even supports image processing for 4K 60p, 4:4:4 and 24-bit video. It can also upscale lower resolution video, including analogue video and standard definition content, at up to 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution over HDMI. There’s also eight HDMI inputs and three HDMI outputs with video support over HDMI for additional zones, as well as support for ARC (Audio Return Channel).

    The addition of built-in WiFi and Bluetooth is very welcome and setting up both was very quick and easy, especially with the free remote app. The SR7009 also supports AirPlay and playback of DSD (2.8 MHz) and FLAC 192 kHz files over connected networks or via USB. So whether you listen to music over your network, via USB or on a disc of some sort, the SR7009 has you covered.

    As you'd expect from a flagship AV receiver, the SR7009 has a host of features including Dolby Atmos.

    Marantz SR7009 Movie Sound Quality

    The best way to describe the sound of the SR7009 is classy. The Audyssey processing worked very effectively, creating a wonderfully cohesive soundstage but it was more than that. The Marantz brought a genuine feeling of sophistication to its sound when it came to movie soundtracks. The surrounds were well integrated with the front three speakers, resulting in effective panning and localisation of effects. This was especially apparent when watching Bram Stoker’s Dracula which, despite being over twenty years old, has a very active sound design. As a result sounds were constantly moving around the room, creating a very real sense of immersion and drawing the viewer into the film.

    When we moved onto more recent movies the level of performance was equally as impressive and both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Edge of Tomorrow were well served by the SR7009. The sound effects were rendered with precision and there was a musical quality to the score. However the centre channel remained perfectly defined, resulting in dialogue that was clear despite the chaos surrounding it. This was especially true during the repeated beach assault in Edge of Tomorrow where, despite the cacophony of sound effects, you could still understand what everyone was saying. The bass was also very well integrated and those low frequency effects punctuated the action effectively, providing an effective foundation for the sound.

    Of course the big new feature is Dolby Atmos and it didn't disappoint, delivering the most immersive surround experience we have had at home. We found that we preferred using the 5.1.4 configuration, as opposed to the 7.1.2 because the sense of immersion was greater and we didn't miss the two rear speakers. In fact the precision of the localisation of effects and the panning of sounds was quite remarkable, even with just five speakers. The level of bass was also impressive, although make sure you set your surrounds to small, unless you're using floorstanders, because Atmos will otherwise send an excessive amount of bass to them.

    We have heard a number of Dolby Atmos demonstrations, both in cinemas and in home setups, so we knew generally what to expect; this made it all the more rewarding when we had a similar experience in our own home cinema. The various Dolby Atmos trailers, designed to emphasise the benefits of the format were extremely impressive and highly immersive. However the sensation was just as applicable when watching Transformers: Age of Extinction in Atmos and whilst we would expect the battle scenes to be suitably immersive, we also found the quieter scenes to benefit from the object-based sound design that Atmos utilises. It still be early days but the potential of Dolby Atmos is definitely exciting and all we need now are more Blu-rays to be released.

    Marantz SR7009 Video Review


    Marantz SR7009 Music Sound Quality

    This is often an area where AV receivers struggle but in the past we have been impressed by the musicality of models made by Marantz and the SR7009 was no exception. It handled two-channel music extremely well, with the 'new' Pink Floyd album The Endless River being beautifully reproduced by the SR7009. The soundstage was suitably open but there was also a refinement to the overall audio that was unusual in an AV product. So when you consider the networking and Bluetooth capabilities, the SR7009 becomes a genuinely capable partner for music.

    As is often the case, the most effective results were gained by running the Marantz in its Pure Direct two-channel mode without the subwoofer, although if you prefer to use your sub with music that also works very well. Aside from streaming music from our nertwork and via Bluetooth, we also tried through USB and AirPlay and, overall, the SR7009 delivered excellent results. Where possible we try to keep the resolution of our music as high as possible but we did find that the Marantz could be surprisingly sympathetic to heavily compressed sources.

    The SR7009 delivered a classy and refined sound regardless of what audio format we were using.

    Conclusion

    9
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • Classy and refined sound
    • Excellent surround performance
    • Dolby Atmos Support
    • Plenty of great features
    • Easy to setup
    • Attractive design
    • Price

    Cons

    • Remote app is rather basic
    • Build quality could be slightly better
    You own this Total 9
    You want this Total 7
    You had this Total 4

    Marantz SR7009 AV Receiver Review

    Is it worth buying?


    Definitely and given the irresistible combination of performance, design and features, we would say that you simply won't find better at this price. The Marantz SR7009 combines an attractive design with a decent level of build quality. It also includes a host of features but Marantz have sensibly tried to simply the connection and setup process as much as possible; making the receiver less daunting to newcomers. There's also built-in WiFi and Bluetooth which, unlike some other receivers, is equally as easy to setup and use. The audio performance was excellent with a wonderfully immersive surround experience, regardless of which audio format you were using. Whilst the Marantz also had a refined and classy quality when dealing with music and as such it's a great all-round performer.

    What are the alternatives?


    At the price, the SR7009 is going head to head with Pioneer's SC-LX58 and overall the Marantz is preferred, with a superior sound and a much easier setup procedure. The Pioneer does have a better build quality and a much slicker remote app but Audyssey seems more effective than Pioneer's proprietary software. If you can spend an extra £100 then Yamaha's excellent RX-A2040 is also a great alternative with gorgeous looks and tank-like construction. The setup, features and app are also very good but, whilst the performance was impressive, the Marantz edges the Yamaha in terms of overall audio performance. As a result we have no hesitation in awarding the Marantz SR7009 an AVForums Best Buy badge.


    The Rundown

    Sound Quality

    9

    Features

    9

    Connectivity

    9

    Build Quality

    8

    Value For Money

    9

    Verdict

    9

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