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Marantz SR7400 Review

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Kazman, Mar 23, 2004.

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  1. Kazman

    Kazman
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    The original purpose of upgrading from the outstanding SR4300 to the SR7400 was to improve stereo sound, and make use of the extra flexibility, well, I got what I wanted......and a whole lot more :).

    After the rave reviews/opinions on the net and on these very forums I decided to take the plunge and go for this amp.

    Ordered it for a very reasonable £489 from AVLand, which included delivery. The service was great and they communicated well.

    The amp arrived on time and was packed in two boxes. Apparently the models packed in two boxes are the ones that have received the fix for the over heating issues and sound drop outs that plagued the first generation models sold in the US. I can report no such issues with my unit, it runs a little hotter than the SR4300 used to, but not overly so.

    Set up was quite simple, almost exactly like the SR4300 save for the added features on the SR7400 and the bass management.

    First thing I tried were a few music CD's. My jaw dropped, but not to the floor. There was added transparency, you could hear the background instruments in tracks like Bitter Sweet Symphony clearer, where with the SR4300 you had to struggle slightly to hear such background niceties. Impressive for an AV amp, but still not stereo nirvana. I guess I really have to invest in a good stereo amp like the PM7200 to get the most out of my music.

    Timing on fast rock and R&B tunes has improved a great deal, foot tappingly so. So foot tapping that my two ginger tomcats (the ginger ninjas) were watching my feet with glee as the laces slowly undid themselves with my funktastic moves............ahem.

    Satisfied with the stereo presentation I thought I would try the DPL IIx Music and DTS NEO 6 music modes. Couldn't hear any difference in the quality of the SR4300 and SR7400 for DTS Neo 6, but DPL IIx is fantastic. I feel that DPL IIx gives a much weightier sound than the DTS equivalent, in both music and movies. The accuracy of the virtual surround steering is fantastic.

    Next test, DPL IIx and stereo television sources. At first I was very dissappointed, where was my bass? Where was the sub interaction?!? It wasn't there, I had heard that others suffered the same experiences as me. Got round it though, for the Marantz to send signals to the sub, the Front L/R speakers have to be set to small in the setup menu. Once this change was made, the sub came alive. I was in awe at how much more enveloping DPL IIx seemed over standard DPL II. The sixth and seventh channel really opens things up. I think tested blind, there would be some who would find it difficult to tell the difference between DPL IIx and a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, that is how good DPL IIx is!!! In my opinion of course :)

    The remote is great, haven't used the learning functionality yet, but it is very functional and a much better design compared to Marantz's previous efforts. The blue backlit display is lovely, and it feels solid. The light buttons are a bit awkwardly placed though, and the need to press the 'amp' button on a regular basis gets a little tiresome, but these are minor niggles.

    This amp is impressing me a great deal so far..........will it continue to do so with movies I thought?

    Off I went, grabbing all the test DVDs I could find: Minority Report (the sonic gun scene is fantastic), The Matrix Reloaded (numerous fight scenes and that car chase scene), Gladiator, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Bad Boys 2 (Car chase scene), Attack Of The Clones (the obligatory Asteroid chase scene), Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, Panic Room (great to test the delicate levels of soft voices and whispers), Notting Hill Special Edition (great to see if the sound improves the goosebumps experienced by the wife :) ).

    Switched the front speakers back to their large setting, and began.

    Now, the biggest difference I noticed straight away was the extra control in the bass, the terms boom and bang have never been so more apparent when trying to explain the difference between the SR4300 and SR7400 with regard to their bass control. You can hear the variations of low frequency signals, and you don't only hear the explosions, you hear the explosions and the rest of the soundtrack. The SR4300 tended to smother the listener with so much bass that at times it was difficult to make out what else was going on. The SR7400 has no such problems. There is still a little boom, but that is due to the Sub being only an Eltax Sub-10, I need a new sub, it is on my list of things to do along with the PM7200.

    The next thing to hit me was the improvement in the steering of the sound, was fantastic. I felt myself duck several times during the 100 man Agent Smith fight in Matrix Reloaded, power oozes from this system, but not at the sacrifice of the more delicate needs of home cinema. Panic Room sounded sublime, the terror in the voices more easily heard, increasing the tension felt throughout. The opening battle scene in Gladiator, using DTS:ES was jaw droppingly good, this time, my jaw hit the floor!! Thump, bang, cries of pain coming from behind me, roars and tears of war searing through my lviing room, you felt as if you were there. The rear channels were used so well. The SR4300, although great for the money, simply cannot command the same authority and accuracy of sound steering that the SR7400 can.

    Bad Boys 2, the car chase scene and the big bad machine gun. One of the Rasta gunmen has a huge machine gun which delivered lots of boom with the SR4300, so much so, that it really detracted from what else was going on in that scene. The SR7400 was so much more controlled and transparent, you could still feel the gun being shot, but you also found yourself ducking the various cars and boats (yes boats) flying all over the place, moving side to side on the sofa with the car. Was a hilarious sight and the ginger ninjas were watching me thinking I had gone insane!!

    Every DVD I played sounded better, involved me more, and justified the upgrade.....now..........the final, and to some one of the most important tests............The Asteroid Chase Scene from Attack of the Clones.

    I put the disc in, quickly sped to the chapter, started the scene, and increased the volume in anticipation of the depth charges. First one goes off, I fall back onto the sofa (narrowly missing one of the ginger ninjas), gobsmacked. The power and depth demonstrated was awesome!! Then the second depth charge went off and I had a HUGE grin on my face, fantastic!!!!!!!!

    I love this amp, the SR4300 was great, I honestly initially thought that there is no need to upgrade it, but I am glad I did. This amp is a great buy, with an RRP of £699, the discounts to be had are amazing. Proven by my purchase of it at a bargain £489!! Unbeatable do the amp cheaper, but charge more for delivery.

    Make sure it fits your rack though, the unit is a lot longer than the SR4300, so had to place the SR7400 on the top of my rack rather than one of the shelves.

    If you are in the market for a new amp, give this one a try, it should at the very least be on the shortlist for everyone willing to spend up to £700 on an AV amplifier. In fact, from what I remember of the Denon 3805 at the Bristol Sound and Vision show, the SR7400 is a better buy considering the costs, and that is some recommendation.

    The only thing missing from the spec sheet is THX, but, a little birdy tells me that the Marantz SR7400 can process to THX standards using its own algorithms, but decided against the THX certification logo as the price of doing so would have pushed it over cost. And on listening to the SR7400 after listening to a Yamaha RXV1400, I tend to agree, as to my ears I couldn't tell much difference between the Yamaha and the Marantz aside from their own style of sound.

    Try and buy with confidence.

    Kazman :):smashin:
     
  2. bob1

    bob1
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    Nice review Kazman, I’m thinking of an upgrade later in the year myself and was wandering if I was doing the right thing. You have certainly got me thinking again but my main concern was the size of the amps the next level up. What is the actual size of the amp, i'm shure it will end up on the list of amps i can't fit in.
     
  3. wackyraces

    wackyraces
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    Excellent review Kazman. I find the SR7400 a superb av unit. The sound clarity is excellent in both movies and music. I heard sounds that were hidden by my previous amp. Even the wife was impressed! The lobby scene in The Matrix was fantastic. The whole scene was very well controlled by the av unit. The opening scene on Swordfish where the explosion takes place is awesome and the marble rolls down. Very well controlled and able to deliver the power required.

    What do you think to the SRS modes compared to DP IIx and Neo:6?

    :clap: :clap: :clap:
     
  4. JIT

    JIT
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    Has anybody compared the 7400 to the 3803 yet?
     
  5. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    We're doing a test against a 2803 later this week/early next week as the latter is a closer price match (mid £400's online). There will be the other usual suspects as well. We'll be using the upcoming Genie system as speaker source.
    Ed
     
  6. Kazman

    Kazman
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    Hi bob1, the details of the dimensions of the amp are:

    Width 440mm
    Height 164mm
    Depth 463mm

    It is the depth that forced me to put the amp on the top of my rack, as the back of it would not fit through the legs at the rear :(.

    Really looking forward to the 2803 comparison, :), from what I have heard so far, the SR7400 should do VERY well against it.

    This amp impresses me more each day I listen to it. Watched Love Actually yesterday, which has many musical and soft moments, the SR7400 excelled. The wife and I were watching it quite late so couldn't have the volume too high, the level clarity even at low volumes was fantastic!! The musical pieces were so involving, especially at the nativity play at the end of the movie. And the portuguese restaurant scene, fantastic!! The music and dialogue presented so well.

    Wackyraces, I haven't really used the SRS modes, I wasn't too impressed with them on the SR4300, so didn't test them, but will try them out over the weekend.
     
  7. pwiles1968

    pwiles1968
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    What Bass Management does the unit have?

    For stereo do you think it is the extra power/current ability of the 7400 over the 4300 or better pre-amp processor etc.

    You guessed it I'm still tempted, need to get my sub and CD player first first. Oh and MOT the car. :(
     
  8. Kazman

    Kazman
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    You get three levels of bass management on the SR7400, 80Hz crossover, 100Hz and 120Hz, which is about right.

    For stereo I think it is a bit of both, the extra power helps in portraying music effortlessly, but the detail can only be contributed to by the improved circuitry in the pre amp circuitry. Although I still stick by what I said earlier, that for stereo reproduction, a dedicated stereo amp would be better.

    If you have the bass management functionality already, for you it may only be worth upgrading if you feel you need the extra power and want DPL IIx. If it is purely for a stereo music upgrade, maybe you would be better off with a stereo amp and keeping your SR5300?
     
  9. Dfour

    Dfour
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    Fantastic review Kazman. Ive been following all the discusion about the 7400 for ages and allmost bought one but at the last minute got a good deal on a rxv1400 from germany:smashin:

    I would love to put the yammy against the marantz to hear the difference in stereo and h/c. Anyone wanna lend me there 7400 for a week??? :)
     
  10. Kazman

    Kazman
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    Well, I wouldn't lend you mine, but you're welcome to come round to have listen, as long as you don't mind me doing the same at yours with the 1400 ;)

    PM me with your location and I'll tell you if you are near enough for this to be possible or not :)
     
  11. bob1

    bob1
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    :( another to the list ,thats far too big .I think that the dimensions you quoted are from the manual and not what you messured yourself,manufactures normally include knobs at the front and sockets at the back in the dimensions,still its not going to fit at that size.
     
  12. Kazman

    Kazman
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    Could be time to get a new rack? ;););)
     
  13. bob1

    bob1
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    If only i had the room:rolleyes:
     
  14. Kazman

    Kazman
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    Looks like Home Cinema Choice like this amp too.

    They say it is one of the most musical sounding av amps they have heard :smashin:

    They marked it down a little for not having quite as much slam or excitement as some other av amps, but countered with it being excellent with warmer scenes and fantastic with dialogue and vocal dynamics, and better than the competition at this.

    4 star rating, so a good show from the amp :) I have to say, I do have to agree with them, the more I listen to CD's on this thing, the more I enjoy it, I think I was a little too harsh in my initial appreciation of its musical abilities, as it has warmed up to me quite nicely now, and I really cannot hear that much of a difference between this and a dedicated stereo amp to justify the expenditure, and the hassle of setting it all up.

    Great amp, great review and I'm glad it received such glowing praise from Home Cinema Choice, nice one guys. Lets hope the Marantz gets a little more recognition now :) :)
     
  15. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    This musicality is where the last ounce of film slam goes because it is extremely hard to get both optimal (and given the choice, Marantz will always lean on the music side of preferance)- prioritise one and the other slips a bit. As I've said before, if I had to have one £5-700 amp to do everything, the marantz would have been the choice. As it is, Marantz do my stereo amp so I went for the more thuggish Pioneer.
     
  16. wildone

    wildone
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    I've lived with mine for a few weeks now and can safely say the investment has been a sound one. With my old Goodmans Maxim 2 speakers as the centre rears in a 7.1 setup, the improved spread of sound has been the most noticable. We're actually using it more - not just for movies, but for digital radio and TV, where movies on terrestrial sound more like DVD than ever before. Must say that I prefer Circle Surround II to DPL2x - just sounds better (technical term). Bass is still a bit waffly on the Eltaxes - would want to add a sub before upgrading the Liberty setup as everything else sounds fine to me (and the missus).
     
  17. ShinObiWAN

    ShinObiWAN
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    Glad the Marantz 7400 is getting some praise.

    I haven't heard the 7400 but did have a good look round it earlier this week in Superfi. Lovely build and it was very weighty for an amp of its price bracket so I expect it has some good quality components.

    I would be interested to hear how the 7400 compares to the AX3. I did pass up on the opportunity to demo the 7400 and in the end went for the AX3 whilst in Superfi.
     
  18. stevenw66

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    In setting up the 7400, does anyone understand the meaning of the values for DSS input of Digital 1, Digital 2, ....

    What Video inputs do these map to. When I connect my DSS to either component video input, it does not display on the TV monitor through the component video monitor connectors?
     

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