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Marantz 8500 - Pics Inside (Warning 56k users)

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Mr. Wilby, Dec 30, 2004.

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  1. Mr. Wilby

    Mr. Wilby
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    As per my post in another thread in this forum, my dealer dropped me an email this morning to tell me that he had an 8500 (Silver) in stock.

    Here are a few pics.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    I also picked up a Pio AX5ai as these two are on my short list to be coupled with speakers from the B&W 60x range.

    I will try and post a few thoughts later this evening - haven't done anything other than unpack them at the moment as I need to go out again now :( I'll also see if I can take some better pictures. These were a tad rushed!

    One early observation is that the weight of the Pio is very very high compared with the Marantz. I was a bit surprised actually.
     
  2. Tejstar

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    Very cool :clap:

    I'm very intrigued to know how it compares with the Pioneer AX5Ai!

    Looking forward to your thoughts :thumbsup:

    Btw is this the first receiver to offer dvi switching?
     
  3. Mr. Wilby

    Mr. Wilby
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    Just got back in.

    I'm not sure if its the first - I guess there could well be other high end receivers with DVI switching, but I can't think of them off the top of my head.

    I think the new very very hi-end Denon does HDMI switching... but that's way out of my price range at the moment.

    Time to start checking them out :)
     
  4. Kazman

    Kazman
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    WOOHOO!!!!! Can't wait to read your thoughts :) :D
     
  5. Mr. Wilby

    Mr. Wilby
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    Well, first of all I've tried the Marantz as this was the one I've really had my eyes on for several months now.

    Everything you'd expect is in the box, though there are no additional goodies (e.g. DVI leads etc).

    It comes with
    - Remote
    - Power cable
    - Batteries (remote)
    - MRAC setup mike
    - Face plate cover for the front-panel inputs
    - A very chunky manual

    It took me about an hour and a half to extract all the cables from my various sources and also the speaker cables from my old Sony 930AV receiver.

    After finally hooking everything up and powering on, I couldn't get the remote to interact at all with the receiver. It was powered up okay as it prompted me to set the clock. However, trying to get anything to happen on the receiver was a complete no-no.

    Eventually I caught on to the fact that I had to switch to "amp" mode before it would let me change the volume.... I'm not sure I am going to be very fond of this long-term, but we will see. Anyway, once in Amp mode it is possible to activate all of the menus and options that the receiver holds.

    I'm coupling the receiver(s) to my B&W 604 S3 fronts (2), LRC600 and 601 rears.

    I've only had time to try a few basics, but its already clear that the marantz is getting more out of the speakers than my old Sony.

    I've tried a music cd (girlfriend's Celine Dion album, which just happened to be in the CD player, Queen live at Wembley (DVD), and also normal TV (stereo).

    First of all, the CD was exceptionally clear compared with what I'm used to with the Sony. There was definitely more detail and just a more natural musical tone. I have to confess that I'm not an audiophille and I'm pretty satisfied with most things that I hear but this was definitely a step in the right direction. I primarily bought the receiver for Movie and Switching duties (more in a bit) and therefore the music quality of Marantz is a real extra bonus.

    Onto the DVD: I really cranked up the volume and let Freddie sing his lungs out.

    The surprise for me here was the enveloping sound - much more so than with the Sony. I need to go back and listen to some more tracks before I can say more, but via the DTS audio on this disk I was very impressed. I hope the neighbours were also :)

    For TV viewing, I enabled the Dolby Pro-logic IIx but there's nothing suitable being broadcast at the moment so I'll reserve judgement on that until a bit later on.

    I've tried the DVI feed from my Yamakawa 375 into my Plasma and that is also working, as is the upconversion from S-video to component. Couldn't really say that the TV picture (S-video) showed any signs of degradation when fed into Plasma via Component up-conversion. Obviously, it wasn't any better either.

    Other than that, I can't say its the most beautiful of devices. I think the pioneer looks a bit more sexy (IMO).

    Some gripes:

    1) MRAC didn't work for me - and I'm not sure why. Every time I try to start the setup it errors on me with "ambient noise er." The room is pin silent apart from a ticking clock somewhere... its really very very quiet.

    According to the manual, this means that the ambient noise is too great, but I think it lies...

    2) I'm not sure about the remote... but perhaps that will grow on me.


    3) I can't work out how to connect my sub-woofer to the receiver. I'm using a BK-Electric 200 something-or-other (forget the model) which features a high-level and a low level input.

    The high-level input looks like nothing I've ever seen before. Have no idea what to do with it. Never used it before with the Sony.

    On the high-level sub-woofer cable end is a large socket-y kind of thing, and on the receiver end of the cable, there are three bare wires (red,yellow,black IIRC).

    The low level output is a stereo phono cable.

    However, unlike my Sony, the marantz has only a single phono input for the sub-woofer. I don't know what to connect to what! On the Sony I had both of the phono connectors plugged into the receiver, but obviously I can't do that with the Marantz (nor the Pio for that matter). I must be missing something obvious, but I haven't sussed it yet and I don't want to break anything...

    I will have a play in a bit and see if I can get it working as I'd love to hear it all properly setup.

    Very disappointed about the MRAC problem. Hope that's fix-able as I'd really wanted to see how good the self-calibrating audio really was.

    So, next job is to work out the SW connection and then try out the DVI switching and give the speakers a bit more of a work-out with some other material. Definitely very impressed with the CD performance.
     
  6. eviljohn2

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    Sounds interesting. Which remote does it ship with? I've got the RC1400 for my SR7400 and it's good but does have some annoying quirks to it.

    Whatever sub model you've got (probably the BK XLS200, same as me) your best plan is to use a normal interconnect from the sub preout on the Marantz into the left RCA input on the sub. I wouldn't worry about the high level connection (it's a Neutrik connector if you're interested :suicide: ).

    Looking forward to hearing more once you've got it set up better. :)
     
  7. allanp

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    That looks mighty impressive. What does this receiver retail for?
     
  8. Mr. Wilby

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    Allan, I think its up for 999GBP on AvLand.co.uk

    I can get it here for 1350e (1390e for the Pio Ax5ai)

    EvilJohn, thanks. I decided to just go for it in the end, and have connected the phono from the SW pre-out (receiver) to the sub's 'mono' phono input.

    Its the same sub, yep. Just forgot the model number :) The sub is now woofing :clap: !

    The remote claims it is RC 8500 SR. There's a good pic of it on AVland so I didn't bother to take a photo earlier (hxxp://www.avland.co.uk/marantz/sr8500/remotelrg.jpg)

    I finally have my plasma seated back in place and the receiver also in-situ. I will update the post as I continue to play... though probably most of that will be tomorrow as the other half wants to watch TV :laugh:
     
  9. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    The pic on AV Land is of the RC1400 (same as I've got). Presumably yours is pretty much the same with a few extra codes or something. Either way, I find it a pretty good and flexible remote but it is really irritating in a few minor ways. Which remote isn't though? :)
     
  10. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    The remote is the RC1400 which (showing that I'm a bit odd) I really like as a design. The weight is a puzzler but I'll be interested to see how it stacks against the Pioneer for overall performance.

    And for those of you about to ask where my 8500 is, don't as it is currently not happening due to me being almost comically broke- did somebody say Sugden? :suicide:.
     
  11. Mr. Wilby

    Mr. Wilby
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    It definitely claims its an 8500 SR but it looks identical to the AVLand photo.

    Another annoying feature. I disabled the on-screen info (e.g. for changing volume) but even though its been switched off, I can still see that its trying to drive the plasma over the monitor out whenever I push a volume button... clearly its trying to do something with the display (the display flickers for every key press on the remote).... even though I disabled it!
     
  12. Mr. Wilby

    Mr. Wilby
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    Another positive. It seems as though my BK electric (sub) hum was actually caused by the sony receiver. Not a sign of it with the marantz. Excellent! I even bought a Sounds Fantastic mains scrubber thinking it was something to do with my mains quality, but anyway, very happy that is finally gone.

    I will do some serious testing tomorrow with various films and cds and try and see if I can elaborate on today's comments.
     
  13. Andywilliams

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    One early observation is that the weight of the Pio is very very high compared with the Marantz. I was a bit surprised actually.[/QUOTE]
    The pioneer is nearly 7kg heavier than the marantz it does make you wonder how big the toroidial transformer is in the 8500 plus the marantz is alot cheaper than its previous brothers.
    Cheers Gonzo.
     
  14. Mr. Wilby

    Mr. Wilby
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    Gonzo, yep, spot on... I had to lift the Pio to put it back in its box this morning (I'll try and install it tomorrow) but crikey, its heavy compared with the marantz.

    I was expecting the toroidial transformer to pack some punch in weight terms, but I'd say its as light, if not lighter than my old Sony 930!

    I've had a good scan of the Pioneer manual this morning and I reckon the remote programability looks a bit better on that.

    However, it's only got 2 co-ax and 2 optical inputs! I have 6 digital sources... so that's a real pain. Means I need to use analogue for my MD and Humax box :(

    Have been listening to more of the queen concert and the sound quality easily surpasses that of my old receiver. There is more apparent detail. That said, I'm looking forward to hearing what the Pio can do.
     
  15. Mr. Wilby

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    I've been using the 8500 for the last couple of days and just switched to the Pio yesterday.

    I would say that the Marantz has better stereo sound (richer, warmer), but my first impressions are that the pioneer is the stronger performer in movies. I've only tried a couple of CD's on the Pio so far, but I get the impression that the marantz was better in stereo. The Pio seems less warm and also a bit brigher...

    In films, there appears to be more weight to the Pio, e.g. using LOTR: FotR where the group are in the dwarf caverns and are attacked by the Orcs, the 8500 sounded good, but the Pio seemed to have a more "movie theater" kind of sound. My other half also agreed and said that the Pio was very impressive.

    I think I will have to switch them back later today just to be totally sure as its hard to demo these things when you have to keep (un)plugging speaker cables etc.

    DVI switching worked great, but not sure about whether it supports HDCP. Would like to know this before I purchase.

    I was hoping to make use of the upconversion to Component in order to reduce the number of cables between my plasma display and various sources. For TV, I want to use S-video out from my Humax box, into the receiver, and out via component to the plasma.

    When using the Marantz, the picture quality was great. As good as via s-video directly into the Plasma.

    However, the Pio was a different story - for some reason it appears to significantly reduce the picture quality. There was far greater noise and dot crawl. I couldn't live with the quality like this. I'd have to plug the s-video lead back into the plasma directly. Very disappointing. Interestingly, my dealer (who owns the Pio) said that he'd also noticed that the upconversion was not very good. I haven't yet checked whether my x-box is affected (connected via component into the receiver).

    Only other comments so far would be

    a) The Marantz remote is quite 'cheap' feeling, when compared with the Pio. Also, the LCD display on the 8500 remote doesn't seem to turn off (either that, or I've not found the off-switch ;-).

    b) I disabled the 8500's "OSD info" setting. This is the setting which displays the volume on-screen when you push +/-. However, even though it was disabled, I could clearly see that it was trying to 'drive' my Plasma (connected to the Marantz via Component monitor out) when I pushed +/-. With each key press, I could see the plasma refresh, like it was trying to sync onto a signal. Sounds like a bug and I'm not sure its doing the plasma much good.

    c) I prefer the look of the Pio, but that's purely a personal thing

    d) The Marantz has more digital inputs (ignoring i-link). The pio only has 2 co-ax and 2 optical. That's a problem for me as I have 6 potential digital sources.

    e) As I said, I couldn't get MRAC to work. Bit annoying. The Pio's auto-calibration, on the other hand, was very impressive. It seemed to get my speaker distances pretty much spot-on. Only problem was that it set my B&W 601,604,LRC600 all to large (even though I have a sub). Other than that, seemed pretty good.

    f) I managed to programme all of my remote signals into the Marantz remote. It seems to work quite well. With the learnt signals, its sometimes a bit unresponsive but that's probably more to do with having learnt a dirty command rather than the remote itself.

    The Pio's remote was easier to understand and operate though. I had to read the manual to work out a few things with the Marantz, but the Pio's was more intuitative.

    One downer with the Marantz remote is that it seems to lock-up with an error from time to time ("G:03"). Again, I think this is to do with some of the learnt commands somehow confusing it.
     
  16. Tejstar

    Tejstar
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    Great comments Mr Wilby, I see you're having a hard time deciding between the 2! :D

    I haven't heard the Pio AX5Ai, but heard the older version (AX5i) and thought its performance in stereo wasn't bad at all. Looking forward to hearing the Marantz 8500 though, especially if it's significantly better in stereo :smashin:
     
  17. Mr. Wilby

    Mr. Wilby
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    I have made a decision.

    I require the amp to watch movies mostly (90/10% split) so for me, the film/cinema performance has to be the main buying factor. I would like DVI switching as it would allow me to connect both my HTPC and DVD player to my Plasma via all-digital. Therefore I really had to give the Marantz a chance and I'm glad I waited. Its a good amp (by my standards) and is a well polished package.

    The more time I spent with it, the more it has grown on me. I've even changed my opinion about the looks and the remote :)

    However, I'm afraid to say it didn't quite cut it when it came to the DD/DTS performance (IMO).

    With the Marantz I felt that the bass during films was either boom-y or then not there when I expected it to be. There just didn't seem to be quite enough "oomph." I'm not sure if this is due my failings in the setup, but since I couldn't get MRAC to work, I basically copied most of the Pio speaker distance settings and then adjusted the sound levels by ear (no SPL meater I'm afraid).

    Once that was done, I did a back-to-back comparison of the Bal-Rock scene from LOTR: FotR. I think my g/f and I listened to the same scene about 10 times today.

    On the Pio, the bass was smooth and controlled and there when it needed to be. When the Orc's start shooting their arrows at the adventurers, the whizz of the arrow is very clear. Also the Bal-Rock's whip makes a well-defined sound.

    With the Marantz, I felt it was good (don't get me wrong) - but the Pio was just that bit more impressive.... and as I said, I could definitely tell them apart in the way they handled bass.

    To try and keep things fair, I compared like for like (THX on both, DTS 6.1ex, all speaker settings the same), but as I said, I just preferred the Pio.

    The Marantz seemed to have a "clearer" center speaker. That is, it was easier to discern voices on the Marantz... but that could be because it was a bit louder than the Pio in this respect.

    Also, I should mention I did get MRAC to work briefly today, albeit it didn't actually manage to save the settings. It seems that my fridge makes too much noise and this was what was affecting the ambient noise check. I had to wait until the compressor cut out before starting it. When it eventually finished, it then failed due to a "speaker setup error" which I can only conclude was caused by the compressor kicking in again. It seems its very touchy!

    The Pio is not without its flaws though (IMO). For one thing, the Pio's remote interferes with my Yamakawa 375 dvd player. This is not terminal as I imagine I will replace the DVD player in the future.

    Secondly, as I mentioned, the s-video circuitry in the Pio is not very good. If you want a decent integrated AV Receiver (with the full bells and whistles) then the Marantz has it beat in this respect.

    Musically, I think the Marantz is very good, but just listening to the Pio, it became clear that its more than good enough for us and therefore with the better cinema performance our mind was made up: we've decided to go with the AX5ai.

    The only downer really is that I have to give up the DVI switching... and perhaps a more powerful learning remote (I have changed my tune!). However, I think the Pio's cinema performance makes up for it. After all, you buy these things for the sound, not for the extras.
     
  18. Radiohead

    Radiohead
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    Is there any reason why the Denon 3805, Yamaha RX-V2500 or Arcam AVR300 weren't considered?
     
  19. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    It is peculiar Wilby- everything you wrote there is very similar to the reason why I chose the AX3 over the 7400 early in 2004- I had to sacrifice a number of features but the cinema performance is infectious. I would have thought that the 8500 would have eased the gap to the AI (which lets face it is a breathed on repeat of an older model) but I wait with intrest to see some more reviews.
     
  20. Kazman

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    Interesting thoughts. I would have thought that the gap would have closed a lot more also.

    Let's not forget the £200 price difference in the UK too :(, the AX5ai should sound better at the price differential. Sucks to see the prices more evenly matched where Wilby is :( only 10 euros difference!!

    I think speaker choice is important too, I suspect the B&W's will work better with the Pioneer than the Marantz.

    The pioneer is a rock solid performer, so it was always going to be close, if only the auto setup worked better on the 8500, I suspect the contest would have been closer on the movie front.

    I think I might go the processor route, and use the amps on the SR7400 for now until I go for a power amp or some mono blocks.
     
  21. Mr. Wilby

    Mr. Wilby
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    The prices were wrong actually (I mis-read my dealers quote) - I got the Pio for 1390e (the Marantz price was correct). I have bought a lot of kit (speakers, plasma, now receiver) from this dealer so I think they are treating me quite well on the pricing side...I should also say, Markus, if you are reading this, many thanks for your continued excellent service :)

    More experienced reviewers may come to an entirely different conclusion. I never got the MRAC to work properly and I'd have liked to do MRAC vs Pio's equivalent as that would have been a fairer "out of the box" test. I should also say I am not an audiophille so I'm sure better folks than me will be able to give a more detailed review.

    Tons, yes, you're right. It really does make you smile when you hear how smooth the bass is and how much more you seem to be getting from your speakers than with anything else you've heard.

    I would've loved for the Marantz to match the Pio, but even though I tried my best to tweak it, I just couldn't get it sounding the same. I've been waiting for the Marantz for ages so I really wanted it to be the one.. especially when it has such high quality video switching and all the digital audio inputs I required.

    Anyway, let's see what some more experienced reviewers make of it!

    Radiohead: my dealer doesn't stock Denon so that would've had to be a blind purchase. Also, I've been scared off by the reports of poor quality control and also the tank-esque styling.

    As for the Yamaha, honest reply, I haven't given it too much consideration, mainly because a friend in the UK got burnt by them with QC issues and the pio was more appealing as it matches the brand of my plasma. I'm can't imagine the Yam would be much better, but we shall never know now.
     
  22. miguelbarroso

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  23. Mr. Wilby

    Mr. Wilby
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    I've long since sent it back, but if memory serves, it was a USB input.
     
  24. miguelbarroso

    miguelbarroso
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    I've seen this USB port in other pictures of the SR8500, but then saw others without it - since they were editorial pictures from Marantz, I thought that the USB port was droped in the final product - glad to hear it wasn't!

    M.
     
  25. Mr. Wilby

    Mr. Wilby
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    It definitely had usb input, though I didn't test it.
     

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