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Marantz SR-9300 vs Arcam AVR-300

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Bails, Jul 3, 2005.

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  1. Bails

    Bails
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    Does anybody have any idea how these two receivers stack up against each other? My most important criteria would be performance as a preamp for 2-channel stereo (I have separate monoblock power amps for the front two channels and will use the receiver's pre-outs for that purpose).

    Home theater performance is also important. The Marantz has more powerful amps, but my room is not huge and I tend not to listen at great volume.

    Any views on other aspects of these two receivers' performance would be gratefully received (even such things as the quality of the built-in tuners or headphone amps).

    Thanks.
     
  2. Kazman

    Kazman
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    I haven't heard the SR9300 but suspect it to be a better overall performer than the Arcam.

    This is perhaps a bit of an unfair comparison though, the SR9300 is from another price level up (I believe this is now replaced by the SR9600).

    A closer competitor to the AVR300 would be the SR8500, and these two are much more evenly matched, I suspect the Arcam may have the edge over both (maybe not the SR9300) in stereo mode just by going on Arcams reputation, and having heard the AVR300 in stereo. It is a lovely amp. I suppose it depends on how much you are getting the SR9300 for, if it is cheaper or close to the AVR300 then I'd go for it, if the price difference is hugely more expensive, then I'd go for the AVR300. The price differential may not be reflective of the performance gained.
     
  3. Bails

    Bails
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    Thanks Kazman. I'd actually be getting them both for the same price but the Marantz did retail for about twice the price of the Arcam in its day. I guess that is what has got me stumped a little - the Arcam has got some great reviews but is it just great for its price or is it great full stop?

    My priority is two-channel music, and I use external amps for the FL and FL channel, so that makes the comparison even more difficult. The Marantz is THX Ultra2 certified, and that costs money, and has a lot more bells and whistles, which also cost money, but I'm not sure the price necessarily reflects which one has the best preamp section.

    As you say, Arcam has the reputation for good stereo but Marantz is renowned also for putting music first. I've listened to them both but not side by side and am finding this a very difficult decision. Any other thoughts?
     
  4. Kazman

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    If you are getting them for the same price I think it would be a bit of a no brainer going with the SR9300, you will be getting virtually equal (if not better) stereo performance and much better movie performance.

    The Arcam is a great amp, but is more at home mixing it with amps in the same class as the Denon 3805, and Marantz SR8500. Someone else may have a differing opinion though, but I feel the SR9300 would be the better buy.
     
  5. kumamoto

    kumamoto
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    I have the marantz sr-9200 which has been updated by marantz and hence is equivalent to the marantz sr-9300. This is a seriously good two channel amplifiers and has won many awards from stereophile magazine reviews. beside it has more bell and whilstles compared to arcam. I auditioned the arcam avr300,but still preferred the marantz. If music matters get the marantz,you won't regret.
     
  6. Barend

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    Mine's an SR-8500, and an AVR-300 before that, must say I prefer the Marantz for all things cinema, but I still preferred the AVR for plain old stereo:
    just before it went out the door I compared them both 1:1 - and the Arcam had a more fluid sound, with superb imaging and transparency.
    Dynamics were not as good though- tended to sound compressed at full throttle.
    Player was and is the Shanling SCD-T100C; you know- the nuclear plant model.
    Just ordered a "cheap" but very promising Xindak 3200 preamp to see how that fares, to tell you the truth my wife (and me, if I'm honest) start wondering what the fudge I'm going to use the Marantz for then...
    That said, sound quality of the SR-8500 is way better better than any Pioneer or Denon I owned (didn't like the sound of the 3910 either...).
     
  7. Bails

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    Thanks for the comments. It sounds like it's a pretty close call between the two. I strongly suspect the Marantz is considerably better than the Arcam for movies, and it certainly has more home theatre bells and whistles (most of which I would never use). That said, I think the preamp section between the two is probably much closer in quality. Decisions, decisions!

    On the functional side, I do occasionally use headphones and like the fact that the Arcam switches off the preouts when the headphone socket is in use. The Marantz doesn't do this meaning you still get sound through the speakers when using headphones (when using external amps), which kind of defeats the purpose. I also like the settings for lip-sync delay on the Arcam. Most of the Marantz's extra features, THX settings, boundary gain compensation etc, are pretty useless to me, so the feature set may actually be in the Arcam's favour.

    Has anyone used either a Marantz or Arcam as a preamp? Any comments on the quality of the preamp section of either receiver?
     
  8. Barend

    Barend
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    I don't use the headphones socket at all, got a length of cable under the floor to my hot spot sofa, and a small dedicated headphones amp (you know the little X-CANS barrel- tubed) on the coffee table, so I only have to hit the mute button when I want listen to the 'phones.
    The pre section of the A is SLIGHTLY better than the M.
     
  9. Kazman

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    I personally do not think you can compare the two amps, the 9300 is a whole different beast compared to the 8500.

    The electronics in the SR9300 should be smart enough to outperform the AVR300 at all things if its rrp (about £2K when I last checked) is any reflection of its performance, you are talking about a receiver a few rungs up the ladder in comparison to the AVR300 and SR8500. The new SR9600 is an even bigger beast :devil:

    But, it all comes down to the individual, it seems that the features on the AVR300 are more suited to your needs. Which speakers will you be using? If they are quite hard to drive, the SR9300 may be the better buy for its beefier amps, if not, you could tick all your boxes with the AVR300.

    Whatever choice you make though you won't be sorry, both are superb machines and will keep you smiling for a long while.
     
  10. Bails

    Bails
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    Just to round this thread off, and for those who are interested, I went with the Marantz. Comparing them head to head (well actually swapping them in and out of my system), it became pretty obvious the Marantz was a better quality unit.

    I use separate monoblocks for FL and FR and, as a preamp for two-channel stereo, I though the Marantz was a touch better. It was as if a thin veil had been lifted from the music compared to the Arcam. The Arcam was very good too, very musical and perhaps a touch warmer, but just lacked a bit of definition.

    For home theatre, the Marantz was a clear winner. For centre and surround duties the extra power in the Marantz amps just added a lot of weight to the sound. By comparison, vocals from the Arcam sounded a bit thin. The dsp processing in both units was very good.

    The tuner in the Marantz was a clear winner over that in the Arcam, which sounded relatively lifeless. On the other hand, the headphone amp in the Arcam sounded significantly better than that in the Marantz. I've decided to go with a separate headphone amp in any case, so this became a moot point.

    The Arcam had a small problem with a popping sound when changing inputs, which certainly didn't count in its favour but wouldn't have been a deal breaker if not for the other differences. It didn't hurt too that I have a Marantz DV8400 dvd player and modified Marantz SA8400 cd/sacd player - the SR9300 makes a good match in my rack!

    I should say most of these differences were relatively small, and the Marantz retailed for about twice the price of the Arcam (though is now superseded). The Arcam is a fine product in its price range and if I wasn't getting the Marantz for such a bargain price I would have gone with it.

    Thanks for your comments on this question. I'm at the point now where I'm almost happy with my system (what am I going to do then?).
     
  11. kumamoto

    kumamoto
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    Bails,Welcome to the Marantz club!!, it was feeling rather lonely with everyone else buying denon,pioneers etc.
     
  12. Robosapien

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    I am also trying to decide between Marantz and Arcam. My budget however is closer to the AVR-250 price range. I seem to be hearing a lot of good things lately regarding Marantz quality and for some(more instinctive than factual) reason would tend to feel more confident than with Arcam. Having not been able to do a side by side evaluation between the two brands I'm wondering which Marantz model, without overkill($$$), would be able to equal or better the Arcam 250. While good stereo sound is important its primary purpose would be movies.
     
  13. Barend

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    We could advise better if we'd know which Marantz you're hitting at...
    Generally speaking, there's always a tradeoff for "mellowness" and dynamics.
    This is what I found - AVR300 vs SR-8500:
    Dynamics: SR8500 definitely better, which benefits explosions etc. better.
    AVR300 is better for romantic films with intricate soundtracks
    Stereo: Both very good and warm sound, AVR300 a tad better
    transparency and "truthfullness" - especially for classical music
    Operation: Both very good, Marantz is plagued by the 7.1 ch pest, which
    means selection is a toggle, damn them! Ask wife + children if
    they can remember to just push a different input, except for sacd
    Policies: Marantz NEVER replies to mails, whereas Arcam has a designated
    forum right here, and some of their top dogs are contributors.
    Also, their software upgrades are regular like clockwork, never saw
    Marantz issueing one
    Power: AVR300 can sound rather strained at high volumes, Marantz never
    sounds congested or compressed, very dynamic and excellent
    controlled bass, where the AVR300 can sometimes sound a bit
    vague in the bass
    Volume: Max. volume is rather low on the AVR300, it's often "just enough",
    input sensitivity doesn't seem all that high; good thing however is
    Arcam has a max-vol at turn on setting, Marantz has none.
    Sound For music, Marantz can sound a tiny bit overly warm

    I settled for the Marantz and sold the Arcam, but should there ever be an improved AVR300 I will be very tempted.
     
  14. Robosapien

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    Here in Canada, the SR-8500 goes for about $100-300 less than the AVR-250. The AVR-300 is quite a bit more expensive. In a comparative test, in Home Cinema Magazine, the Rotel RSX-1056 beat the AVR-300. Just recently they compared the Rotel to the SR-8500 - the Marantz won.
    So I guess, at least on paper, it's looking like it's going to be a Marantz for me.

    http://www.nebyhifi.no/documents/RSX-1056HomeCinemaJuly04.pdf
     

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