Marantz SR8012 11.2-Channel AV Receiver Review
A very classy and feature-packed single-box solution.
What is the Marantz SR8012?The Marantz SR8012 is the latest high-end surround sound AV receiver from the company and sits at the top of their AVR range, above the SR7012 which had previously been their flagship model. The SR8012 is being classed as a receiver by Marantz, although it doesn't have a built-in tuner so technically it's an AV amplifier. However, semantics aside, does it really matter because who really uses the tuner in an AV receiver these days and besides, you can still access Internet Radio so an actual tuner is largely redundant.
That minor point aside, the SR8012 is the most feature-packed AVR that Marantz have ever released. First of all it has eleven channels of built-in amplification, which use Marantz's Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Modules (HDAM) and can deliver a claimed 205W per a channel. There is also full support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D, allowing you to run a full 7.2.4 setup right out of the box, and the SR8012 includes Audyssey MultEQ XT32/LFC room equalisation with Sub EQ HT and support for the Audyssey app.
There are eight HDMI inputs and three HDMI outputs that all supply 4K 60Hz, HDCP 2.2, Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range – HDR10, Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG). There's also the HEOS multiroom system with support for WiFi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Hi-Res Audio, Spotify Connect and Tidal. If that wasn't enough Marantz will be adding Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC), DTS Virtual:X and Amazon Alexa voice commands via firmware updates in 2018.
That's an impressive set of features and if the SR8012 can deliver the kind of performance we've seen on Marantz's previous flagship models, then it has the makings of a serious contender in a highly competitive market place. Naturally the SR8012 isn't cheap and has a listed price of £2,699 as at the time of writing (December 2017) but when you consider all that it does, you could also say it's quite competitive. So let's set up the Marantz SR8012 and find out how it really performs.
Design, Connections & ControlThe SR8012 might be a new model but it's business-as-usual as far as the design goes, with the classic Marantz look. 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's a classy touch and something of a Marantz design feature.
The small round display is largely cosmetic because there's an excellent on-screen display, along with a second larger and more informative display behind a drop down flap, but it keeps the front panel clean and is a nice touch. 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 SR8012 measures 440 x 185 x 450mm (WxHxD), weighs in at 17.4kg and is available in either black or silver-gold.
The majority of the connections are at the rear and here you'll find seven more HDMI inputs and three HDMI outputs, the main one of which supports ARC (Audio Return Channel). All these connections support 4K/60p, 4:4:4, 3D, 21:9 Video, High Dynamic Range (HDR10 and Dolby Vision), Wide Colour Gamut (Rec.2020) and HDCP 2.2. Marantz will add support via firmware updates for broadcast HDR in the form of Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) and object-based audio support via an Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC).
Naturally there are 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. 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 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 SR8012 has outputs for dual subwoofers.
The SR8012 comes with Marantz's standard high-end remote control, which uses a black brushed metal effect and a silver trim. We like the Marantz controller, 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 effective.
As an alternative you can also use the Marantz remote app, which is freely available for both iOS and Android. This app is excellent and provides full control of the SR8012 but also works in unison with the free HEOS remote app, allowing you move seamlessly between the two. These two apps are excellent 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.
It's business as usual in terms of the design but the build quality is better than previous models
Features & SpecsThe new SR8012 is about as feature-packed an AV receiver as you're likely to find, with every current format covered and a few new features in the pipeline. Let's start with the headline feature, which is the inclusion of eleven channels of built-in amplification. These high-quality amplifier stages are designed to enhance performance via carefully selected audiophile components including Marantz's Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Modules (HDAM) used in a current feedback topology. These pass the signal to the power stages, which deliver a claimed 205W per a channel to drive a full 7.1.4-channel home cinema setup without the need for additional external amplifiers. The SR8012 also uses Marantz sound-tuning throughout, drawing on experience with the company's two-channel amplifiers, including a copper-plated chassis and a centrally mounted, shielded toroidal transformer with high-current main power supply capacitors.
The SR8012 includes Audyssey MultEQ XT32 for 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.
In conjunction with the supplied microphone, the Audyssey software exactly analyses each speaker’s output to optimise the overall listening experience. The SR8012 also supports the Audyssey MultEQ Editor App (available for purchase), which allows more advanced users to further customise their setup. The app offers the chance to not only run a full automated setup but to then customise that setup – including checking the speaker detection and room correction results, along with target sound options, midrange compensation, curve editor, MultEQ Filter Frequency range and Audyssey settings.
The SR8012 includes support for all the immersive audio formats such as Dolby Atmos, DTS: X and even Auro-3D which is now included as standard (you previously needed to pay a fee to add Auro-3D). There's 11.2-channel processing with support for Dolby Atmos 7.2.4 and 9.2.2, as well as DTS:X and Neural:X 11.1, with DTS Virtual:X being added via free firmware update next year. Along with the eleven built-in channels of amplification, the SR8012 also has 11.2-channel preouts, should you wish to use different amplification.
The video processor in the SR8012 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.
There's built-in WiFi with 2.4GHz/5GHz dual band support and Bluetooth, both of which were quick and easy to setup, whilst the SR8012 also supports AirPlay, Spotify Connect 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's a clock jitter remover and the receiver includes the latest 32-bit AKM digital-to-analogue converters (DAC). The SR8012 also includes 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 Marantz also includes Crestron Connect support. Marantz even plan to add Amazon Alexa voice commands via a firmware update next year (UK only).
The SR8012 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 vial dual apps. The receiver can be grouped with HEOS speakers and can be either a group leader (master) or a group member (slave). The behaviour of the SR8012 is the same as any other HEOS speaker and, 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.
Aside from the absence of an AM/FM tuner, this is as feature-packed an AVR as you're ever likely to see
Setup & TestingAs with all Marantz receivers, the SR8012 is incredibly easy to setup thanks to their excellent Setup Assistant, which takes you through the entire process step by step. The Setup Assistant offers simple, clear and concise instructions to the end user through an effective graphical user interface. It 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 SR8012 is quipped with the flagship Audyssey suite of advanced DSP algorithms and features Audyssey MultEQ XT32 automatic room acoustic correction. The supplied measurement microphone analyses each speaker's output (including the subwoofers) at up to 8 measurement locations and then generates digital filters that optimize each channel for the correct frequency and time domain response. Marantz have even included a handy cardboard stand for those who don't have a tripod for the microphone.
For most people we would recommend using the Audyssey software to setup their SR8012 and perform the room equalisation but there is also the option of performing a manual setup if you prefer. For more advanced users there's also the Audyssey MultEQ Editor App which has been designed with both professionals and enthusiasts in mind. The app guides the user through the measurement and calibration process via detailed in-app explanations, providing 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.
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 SR8012's immersive audio capabilities with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D. We used a full 7.2.4 setup 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, along with movies in 7.1 and Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D 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 Spotify and Tidal.
The SR8012 is incredibly easy to set up but is also very flexible, making it a great single box solution
PerformanceAs usual we kicked off reviewing the SR8012 by listening to various lossless 5.1- and 7.1-channel mixes using both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. We've reviewed quite a few Marantz receivers over the years, so we had a pretty good idea what to expect and the SR8012 didn't disappoint. It handled the various soundtracks very effectively, delivering an enjoyably nuanced performance and producing an open front soundstage. The music and effects were spread across the three front channels with accuracy, whilst dialogue was centred on the screen, always remaining clear and defined. The steering of effects around the room as equally as precise, retaining a balanced tone and a nice surround presence. The SR8012 handled bass equally as well, with the lower frequencies and the LFE channels nicely integrated with the other speakers in the system and allowing the subwoofers to create a solid sonic foundation.
In terms of titles that we used to test the SR8012, we started with the original Blu-ray release of Gravity , which has a highly directional Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. The Marantz handled this complex sound design extremely well, retaining the subtle details and keeping all the speakers tonally balanced. This is important because as the dialogue and effects were steered around the room, they remained clear and focused. The sound designers also cleverly use low frequency effects to create the sensation of being in a vacuum, where sound would actually be transmitted through your body. The SR8012 also handled this well, underpinning the action with subtle low frequencies and replicating the creative intentions of the mix.
Another disc that we frequently use in testing is the Blu-ray of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which has a superb 7.1-channel DTS-HD Maser Audio soundtrack. The opening scene in particular is a brilliantly conceived piece of multi-layered sound design that gradually builds as the scene progresses. The SR8012 delivered the subtle elements with great skill, revealing the quiet breathing of the apes within the falling rain and picking out the sound of them almost silently moving through the trees as thunder rolled overhead. As the choral music on the soundtrack got louder the other effects were still precisely delivered within the sound field and when the apes began their deer hunt, the SR8012 showed excellent dynamic range as the soundstage burst into life.
As is the case with all receivers that support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, the SR8012 also includes Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X upmixers, both of which proved very effective. You could use Dolby Surround or DTS Neural:X on both Dolby and DTS soundtracks but we tended to use Dolby Surround with Dolby soundtracks and DTS Neural:X with DTS soundtracks. They're both very capable of taking 5.1- or 7.1-channel sources and upmixing them to use all 11 channels during playback. The 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. The same was true with the Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack on the Netflix show The Punisher, with the upmixing adding another dimension to audio. We don't usually approve of audio processing but we found that both these upmixing features were capable of delivering a greater sense of immersion without adversely affecting the original sound experience.
The SR8012 can also decode Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D soundtracks right out of the box, although its the inclusion of eleven channels of amplification that sets it apart from previous Marantz receivers. The SR8012 can deliver a full 7.2.4-channel system without needing to resort to additional amplification, aside from the subwoofers of course. That means you can enjoy the full benefit of object-based immersive audio and, as with the more traditional multi-channel soundtracks, the Marantz proved an extremely capable performer. We watched the Ultra HD Blu-ray of Atomic Blonde and we enjoyed how the receiver delivered the bone-crunching action in the DTS:X soundtrack with the precision of a guided missile.
The same was true of the Ultra HD Blu-ray of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets with the over-the-top visuals making full use of the overhead speakers to bring the futuristic world to life. The SR8012 was an accomplished performer with multi-dimensional audio, producing a hemisphere of sound around which objects are moved with precision. Crucially the SR8012 didn't struggle to run all the channels simultaneously and whilst Marantz's claimed power numbers are heavily manipulated, in terms of the actual performance the receiver was capable of retaining enough headroom to give these immersive audio soundtracks plenty of dynamic range. The SR8012 could go loud without distorting or sounding brittle and it could drive all the channels for a prolonged period without running out of steam, which is always a danger when cramming so much amplification into a single box. It is certainly powerful enough to fill the average-sized living room with object-based audio and once combined with an active subwoofer, or two, the result is a big and solid soundstage.
The SR8012 also handled two-channel music extremely well, with the new Waterboys album 'Out of All This Blue' sounding superb. The receiver delivered the eclectic mixture of songs with clarity and a pleasing sense of fun. The Marantz is a classy performer and it handled the acoustic songs, the more rockier tracks and the country influenced numbers with real style. 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 SR8012 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.
This is one classy amplifier with an excellent level of sound quality and an impressive overall performance
- Excellent sound quality
- 11 channels of amplification built-in
- Dolby Atmos, DTS:X & Auro-3D capable
- Dolby Vision & HLG support
- HEOS multiroom included
- Easy to setup and use
- Attractive design and well made
- No AM/FM tuner
Marantz SR8012 11.2-Channel AV Receiver Review
Should I buy one?If you're looking for a single-box solution to all your immersive audio needs then the 11-channel Marantz SR8012 should definitely be on your short list. This AV Receiver is beautifully designed and very well made, with as comprehensive a set of connections as you're likely to find and crucially all of its 8 HDMI inputs and 3 HDMI outputs support 4K/60p, 4:4:4, 3D, Rec.2020, HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and HDCP 2.2. The main HDMI output also supports the Audio Return Channel, which Marantz plan to upgrade to eARC next year.
In fact the SR8012 is absolutely feature-packed with support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D, which means you can run a full 7.2.4 setup right out of the box. Other features include ISF certification and Audyssey MultEQ XT32 with the option to buy the Audyssey MultEQ Editor App and thus fine tune your system. Speaking of apps, the Marantz AVR remote app is excellent and combines seamlessly with the HEOS app, allowing you to run a full multiroom network. Marantz even plan to add DTS Virtual:X support and Amazon Alexa voice commands via firmware updates.
Of course all the features in the world mean little if the receiver in question doesn't deliver in terms of sound quality but thankfully that isn't an issue with the SR8012. It delivers the kind of classy performance we expect from Marantz, with a nuanced soundstage around which effects are delivered with precision. The dialogue is clear, the tonal balance is good and the bass is well integrated, resulting in a wonderfully immersive sound field. There is also a nice musicality to the SR8012, which is something of a Marantz trademark, and allows the receiver to double as an excellent amplifier for 2-channel sources.
The eleven channels of built-in amplification are also powerful enough to actually drive a full 7.2.4 system which is a relief as there's always a danger that a single box running so many channels simultaneously might run out of steam. However the SR8012 handled our full setup with ease and never appeared to struggle or run out of head room. A very few people might miss the tuner but in every other sense the Marantz SR8012 AV Receiver has the lot and it delivers an impressive performance to boot, as such it comes highly recommended.
What are the alternatives?If you're looking for an 11-channel single box solution the options are limited but the obvious alternative also comes from the Sound United group in the shape of the Denon AVR-X6400H. This 11-channel AV Receiver offers all the same features as the SR8012 but also includes a tuner and can currently be picked up for £1,999 making it a bit of a bargain. The Denon might not be quite as musically tuned as the Marantz, nor does it have the toroidal transformer and higher quality components, but there's no denying that the former is equally as capable of delivering an immersive surround sound experience. We haven't reviewed the X6400H yet but the Denon AVR-X6300H really impressed us when we tested that last year, so the new model is definitely worth considering.
If you have a bigger budget then you could also consider the Anthem 1120 AV Receiver, which is excellent in terms of performance but will set you back a hefty £4,399. Anthem Room Correction is one of the best room equalisation features available and the 1120 can deliver a superb performance with both 2-channel and multi-channel audio. The 1120 does include an FM tuner, along with support for HLG and Dolby Vision, but if Auro-3D, HEOS multiroom, Amazon Alexa voice commands, DTS Virtual:X and eARC are important to you then you'd be better off choosing the cheaper Denon and Marantz models.
Value For Money8
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