Marantz SR7011 9.2 Channel AV Receiver Review
HEOS by Denon... and Marantz
What is the Marantz SR7011?The Marantz SR7011 is the manufacturer's latest flagship AV Receiver and builds on the success of last year's excellent SR7010 by consolidating on all the most recent features and adding some new ones. So you get a 9-channel surround sound AVR with support for all the latest immersive audio formats – Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D. You also get support for Ultra HD 4K, Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR). The SR7011 is feature-packed and this year Marantz have added HEOS multiroom connectivity, upgraded audio components, DSD 5.6 MHz streaming, the new Audyssey App and Crestron Connect support. Despite being a flagship receiver with a host of features, the SR7011 is available for a competitive price of £1,499 as at the time of writing (December 2016). So is the Marantz SR7011 worth the price of an upgrade over the already excellent SR7010? Let's see...
DesignIn terms of the design of the SR7011 it's very much business as usual with the classic look of a Marantz receiver. That means you get the 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 large 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 but it gives the SR7011 a touch of Marantz class that we really like.The fact that the small round display has minimal information is largely irrelevant for two reasons, first of all there's an excellent on-screen display and there's also a second larger and more informative display behind a drop down flap. In addition you’ll find a set of basic controls and some additional inputs, including an HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 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 generally very good but not quite up to the standards of the more expensive competition or Denon's flagship AVR-X7200WA. The SR7011 measures 440 x 185 x 411mm (WxHxD), weighs in at 14.1kg and is available in either black or silver-gold.
The SR7011 retains the classic Marantz design and includes a future-proofed set of connections
Connections & ControlThe majority of the connections are at the rear and here you'll find plenty of legacy inputs including component and composite video, along with analogue audio inputs, not to mention coaxial and optical digital inputs. There's even a signal ground terminal for those with a turntable. However of far greater importance 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). All these connections are HDMI 2.0a with support for HDCP 2.2, Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR).
The provided controller is well-designed and effective and the remote app has been updated
In terms of other connections there's a LAN port, sockets for the AM and FM tuners, two 12V triggers, an IR Flasher and an RS232 port for serial control; as well as twin antennas which provide both built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. There are eleven sets of colour-coded binding posts, which are presented in a single line to make accessing them easier. These terminals are of decent quality and can accept bare wire, spade connectors or banana plugs. There are also pre-outs for all eleven channels in case you decide to use separate power amplifiers and the SR7011 has outputs for dual subwoofers.
The SR7011 comes with the standard Marantz remote control, which uses a black brushed metal effect and a silver trim. It's sensibly laid out, with well spaced and large buttons that make it quite ergonomic to operate, comfortable to hold and easy to use with one thumb. There’s a small display at the top, along with a handy backlight for use in a darkened room and overall we found the provided controller to be very good.
As an alternative you can also use the Marantz remote app, which is freely available for both iOS and Android. This app has been re-designed from the ground up to give users an unprecedented level of command and control over the latest generation of Marantz network AV Receivers. The graphics and user interface have been completely overhauled and the app provides control the basic functions of your Marantz product with power, volume, input and settings. It also works in unison with the HEOS remote app, allowing you move seamlessly between the two. This new remote app is excellent and a definite improvement over previous generations and if you want to use the receiver as part of the HEOS multiroom system then you just switch into the HEOS app and then control all the online functions as well as all the devices connected to the HEOS network. It's all very slick and very impressive.
Features & SpecsThe SR7011 is a 9-channel AV Receiver with each channel configured identically and employing discrete high current capable power transistors. There are two separate power blocks with 4-channel and 5-channels installed per a heatsink, resulting in 200W of stable power into each of the nine channels. The SR7011 features high grade audio components that have been carefully selected and the internal circuits further enhance audio quality by delicately handling all signals via Marantz's HDAMs (Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Module) in current feedback topology before passing them on to the power stage to drive the connected speakers. The entire audio performance has been retuned, there is a clock jitter remover and the receiver includes the latest 32-bit/192kHz digital-to-analogue converters (DAC).
MORE: What is Dolby Atmos?
The SR7011 uses Audyssey MultEQ XT32 for the room equalisation and includes Audyssey LFC (Low Frequency Containment) which dynamically monitors the audio content and removes low frequencies that pass through walls, floors and ceilings, along with Audyssey Dynamic Volume which smoothes out annoying jumps in volume and Audyssey Dynamic EQ which provides tonal balancing at any volume level. 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. New this year is the Audyssey App which has been designed with both professionals and enthusiasts in mind, guiding the user through the measurement and calibration process via detailed in-app explanations.
MORE: What is DTS:X?
There’s support for all the immersive audio formats, with Dolby Atmos and DTS: X included and Auro-3D available for a fee. There's 11.2-channel processing with support for Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 and DTS:X and Neural:X 11.1, as well as 11.2 preouts. On the video side, the SR7011 can handle Ultra HD 4K at up to 60Hz with Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR). The video processor also has the ability to transcode and upconvert standard definition and high definition analogue and digital video content to 4K Ultra HD. The receiver is certified by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and features a full suite of video calibration controls (for use by an ISF technician), along with ISF Day and ISF Night video modes. As mentioned previously there are eight HDMI inputs and three HDMI outputs with video support over HDMI for additional zones, as well as support for ARC (Audio Return Channel).
MORE: What is Auro-3D?
There's built-in WiFi (b/g/n) and Bluetooth, both of which were quick and easy to setup, whilst the SR7011 also supports AirPlay, Spotify and playback of DSD (2.8 MHz and 5.6 MHz) and ALAC, FLAC and WAV up to 24-bit/192 kHz files over connected networks or via USB. There are AM and FM tuners built-in, along with Internet Radio, DLNA 1.5 certification and a media player that, along with DSD, ALAC, FLAC and WAV, also supports WMA, MP3, WAV, AAC and AIFF. There are binding posts for a second stereo zone, and pre-amp outputs for a third stereo zone. whilst the SR7011 also includes Crestron Connect support.
One of the biggest new features on the SR7011 is the inclusion of 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 vial dual apps. The SR7011 can be grouped with HEOS speakers and can be either a group leader (master) or a group member (slave). The behaviour of the receiver is the same as any other HEOS speaker, 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 AVR as sources. The dual app approach also means that you can seamlessly move between the AVR app and the HEOS app.
There are a host of features including the addition of the excellent HEOS multiroom system
Setup & TestingThe SR7011 is extremely easy to setup thanks to an improved Setup Assistant, which takes you step-by-step through the entire process. The Setup Assistant offers simple, clear and concise instructions to the end user, thanks to an effective graphical user interface that makes the Marantz far less intimidating to anyone who might be unfamiliar with multi-channel AV receivers. The Setup Assistant 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 using the included microphone.
The SR7011 is quipped with the full Audyssey Platinum suite of advanced DSP algorithms and features Audyssey MultEQ XT32 automatic room acoustic correction. The receiver comes with a supplied measurement microphone so that MultEQ XT32 can analyse each speaker's output (including the subwoofers) at up to 8 measurement locations and then generate precision digital filters that optimize each channel for the correct frequency and time domain response. If you don't have a tripod for the setup microphone, Marantz even include a cardboard stand for the purpose. For most people we would recommend using the Audyssey software to setup their SR7011 and perform the room equalisation, there is also the option to perform a manual setup if you prefer.
As mentioned, one of the new features is support for the Audyssey MultEQ App which offers a way of extending the calibration options beyond those available within the AVR itself. This app has been designed with both professionals and enthusiasts in mind, it will guide the user through the measurement and calibration process via detailed in-app explanations. The app shows a graphical representation of the before and after measurements, as well as offering the ability to select target sound options, add mid-range compression, edit custom curves and change the roll-off of the frequency range. There is no additional equipment needed and the Audyssey App will be available in early 2017 from both the App Store and Google Play for €19.99.
In testing we started with a basic 2-channel setup, before moving on to a 5.1-channel speaker configuration and then a 7.1-channel setup. After that we tested the SR7011's immersive audio capabilities with both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. We started with a 5.1.4 configuration before moving on to a 7.1.2 set and then finally adding two more channels of amplification and running a full 7.2.4 speaker configuration with three front channels, two side channels, two rear channels, two subwoofers and four overhead speakers. We used a range of content including movies and music in 5.1, movies in 7.1, Dolby Atmos soundtracks and DTS:X soundtracks. We used CDs, SACDs, DVD-Audio, Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray as our primary sources along with high resolution audio files and various streaming services including Tidal.
Marantz SR7011 Video Review
PerformanceWe started reviewing the SR7011 by listening to various lossless 5.1- and 7.1-channel mixes using both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. The Marantz handled these very effectively delivering the audio with an enjoyably nuanced accuracy and producing an open front soundstage. The music and effects were spread across the three front channels with skill, whilst dialogue was centred on the screen, always remaining clear and defined. The steering of effects around the room were precise, with a balanced level of tonality around the sound field, producing a surround experience that envelops you. The bass was also handled well, with the lower frequencies and the LFE channels nicely integrated with the rest of the speakers, producing an excellent foundation for the audio.
We tested the SR7011 with the 5.1-channel soundtrack on the original Blu-ray release of Gravity and the receiver handled the highly directional soundtrack very well. There was a subtlety to the performance that we liked and the tonal balance meant that as voices moved around the room, they remained clear and focused. The use of low frequencies effects during the sequences in a vacuum really underpin the entire soundtrack and the SR7011 handle this area well. We frequently use the 7.1-channel mix on the Blu-ray of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to test AV Receivers because the opening scene is a brilliantly conceived piece of layered sound design. The Marantz delivered the subtle elements with great skill, revealing the breathing of the apes within the falling rain and picking out the sound of them almost silently moving through the tress as thunder rolled overhead.
The SR7011 includes the Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X upmixers, both of which proved very effective and neither one seemed any better than the other in testing. The two systems were very capable of taking 5.1- or 7.1-channel sources and upmixing them to use all 11 channels during playback. The opening scene of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes we mentioned in the previous paragraph really opened up with the sound of thunder rolling above us thanks to the overhead speakers. Although we don't usually approve of processing a soundtrack to make use of more speakers, especially some of the more gimmicky DSP settings. we certainly found that both these upmixing features were more than capable of delivering a greater sense of immersion without adversely affecting the overall sound experience.
Of course one of the big selling points of the SR7011 is its ability to decode Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks and in this regard it certainly delivered the goods. We watched the Ultra HD Blu-ray of Suicide Squad and we enjoyed how the receiver delivered the comic book mayhem with great skill and verve, producing an enjoyably immersive audio experience. The same was true of the Blu-ray of The Conjuring 2, with the supernatural events making full use of the overhead speakers to scare the life out of viewers. The SR7011 was an accomplished performer with multi-dimensional audio, producing a hemisphere of sound around which sounds are move with precision. The same was true with DTS:X and the newly re-mixed soundtrack on the Ultra HD Blu-ray of Jason Bourne was equally as impressive with the receiver delivering the action with great dynamism.
Those who prefer the delights of two-channel audio often feel that multi-channel AV receivers struggle to compete with a dedicated stereo amplifier. However for most people it is impractical to run an AV receiver for movie watching and a separate stereo amplifier for music. So what you really need is a receiver that can deliver both, a great multi-channel sound and a decent stereo performance. The SR7011 is just such a receiver and it handled two-channel music extremely well, with the new live Kate Bush album Before the Dawn sounding superb. The receiver delivered the complex arrangements with a sublime level of detail and allowed the open nature of the live recording to feel spacious but nuanced at the same time.
The Marantz is a classy performer and it handled the jazz-influenced music on David Bowie's Black Star with consummate skill and subtlety. 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 network and via Bluetooth, we also tried through USB and AirPlay and, overall, the SR7011 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 SR7011 delivered a nuanced and classy performance with both movies and music
- Nuanced and refined sound
- Excellent surround performance
- Dolby Atmos, DTS:X & Auro-3D Support
- HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 support
- HEOS multiroom included
- Easy to setup and use
- Attractive design
- Great price
- Build quality could be slightly better
- Very similar to last year's model
Marantz SR7011 9.2 Channel AV Receiver Review
Should I buy one?
The Marantz SR7011 should definitely be on anyone's short list. It's a cracking AV Receiver that delivers fantastic value, with a set of features and a level of performance far in excess of its £1,499 price tag. The SR7011 uses the classic Marantz design with a round display window, an attractive two-tone finish and a decent level of build quality. There's a larger display behind a drop-down flap and there are plenty of connections at the rear, including 8 HDMI inputs and 3 HDMI outputs, all of which are HDMI 2.0a with support for Ultra HD 4K, HDR and HDCP 2.2. The remote control is well designed and comfortable to hold with all the buttons you'll need, while the remote app has had a make-over and is also very effective. The menu system is excellent and, thanks to the inclusion of an effective wizard, setup is very straightforward, while the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room equalisation can now be controlled and customised using a dedicated app.
The Marantz has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, along with AirPlay, Spotify, Tidal, DLNA and Internet Radio. There's also an AM tuner, an FM tuner, ISF controls and a highly effective media player. As part of D+M Group, Marantz have included the HEOS multiroom system, which was previously only available with Denon products and can be controlled via the HEOS app. The SR7011 supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X out of the box and Auro-3D can be added for an extra fee. The performance with multi-channel audio was superb, bringing film soundtracks to life and immersing the listener. The front sound stage was wide, dialogue clear and effects seamlessly panned around the room, whilst bass was deep and well integrated. The result was a hugely enjoyable experience made all the better by the receiver's lovely musicality with two-channel audio. Ultimately the Marantz SR7011 is an impressive AV Receiver that does everything well and at a great price.
What are my alternatives?
At the price point of the SR7011 it doesn't face much competition from other new flagship AV Receivers, most of which are priced at between £1,999 and £2,499. That means that the Marantz is more likely to be competing with slightly older flagship AVRs that have similar feature sets but have now dropped in price. An example is the Pioneer SC-LX89, which is a fantastic receiver and can be picked up for just £1,299. Ironically the best alternative to the SR7011 is the SR7010 which offers a very similar set of features but can be picked up for just £899. That's ridiculously cheap for such a good receiver, so if you're not interested in the HEOS multiroom system, the differences are minimal. Yes you don't get the Audyssey App, the DSD 5.6 MHz streaming and Crestron Connect support but it's debatable how much you would use them. In the end both receivers are rated at 200W, both support all the immersive audio formats and both use HDMI 2.0a inputs and outputs. So if you're looking for a bargain the SR7010 is hard to resist but if you want the latest Marantz flagship the the SR7011 won't disappoint.
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Value For Money9
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