Music in the Round #47

The AV7005 is Marantz's second multichannel preamplifier-processor and, at $1499.99, the least expensive pre-pro I've used or reviewed. The Integra DTC-9.8, which has been resident in my stable since 2007, when it cost $1600, and its successors, have since then steadily risen in price. The Marantz's predecessor, the AV8003 ($2599.99), was highly praised in many quarters. I never got my hands on one because, like a churlish child, I felt it lacked features I considered essential. Other reviewers didn't seem bothered by those limitations, or were unaware of them. The AV7005, however, looks and feels like a winner for music and home theater. I see no evidence of skimping—the AV7005 sports such high-end features as balanced outputs, network controllability and streaming, and, of course, HDMI v1.4a for compatibility with 3D and all audio codecs.

It's a Marantz, so its graceful styling is no surprise. The three-part front panel has only two large knobs, Volume and Input, flanking an illuminated, blue-rimmed porthole through which are displayed the customized source name and volume level. An unobtrusive On/Standby button with status LED is at the lower left. Couldn't be simpler and still be useful. Below the porthole, a large panel drops down to reveal connectors and additional controls, as well as a large two-line display surrounded by multiple indicators for the AV7005's many options and functions. I left this panel open most of the time, which let me read the display from my seat, but not everyone will want to know or be distracted by all the gory details all the time.

The rear panel is surprisingly uncluttered for a modern pre-pro. Marantz has accomplished this, in part, by leaving behind some legacy connections (no S-video). Still, there are five HDMI inputs (and a sixth on the front), two HDMI outputs, four composite inputs, three composite outputs, four component inputs, two component outputs, four digital audio inputs, one digital output, seven stereo analog audio inputs (including one for phono), and four stereo RCA outputs for Zones 2 and 3, VDR, and CDR. In addition, there's a 7.1-channel analog RCA input, and the audio outputs include RCA jacks for 7.1 plus Subwoofer 2, L/R height and L/R wide, and balanced XLR outputs for 7.1 plus a second subwoofer. (Obviously, users of the height and/or wide channels will have to use the RCAs, regardless of how they connect the main channels.) There are also connectors for AM/FM antennas, Sirius satellite radio, Ethernet, RS-232, Marantz's MX port for wireless control/streaming, and trigger and flasher terminals. The backlit remote control was easy to use and functionally comprehensive; I quickly learned to double-click to select an input source.

Connection and setup were a breeze, and the AV7005 provided some welcome surprises. I hooked up a few HDMI sources as well as a stereo source (Sony XA5400ES SACD player via analog and S/PDIF) and the 5.1 analog output (Oppo BDP-83 universal Blu-ray player). I discovered that, with HDMI in/out, OSD menus could be superimposed on the active display, and that audio remained active as well. This may not seem like a biggie, but it makes setting lip-sync a piece of cake, and it lets you hear and evaluate, almost immediately, any changes you make in audio processing. In addition, anything you can do onscreen you can also do from the Ethernet interface without any overlay at all. I simply plugged a network cable into the Marantz's Ethernet port, typed the network address of the Marantz into my laptop (it had been assigned the same address in my network as that of the McIntosh pre-pro it replaced), and all was wirelessly under control.

I won't reiterate all the setup steps, which were numbingly similar to those common among today's pre-pros. Even before running Audyssey's MultEQ room-correction software (I was lazy), I listened to the AV7005 for a couple of weekends and heard nothing out of place—it sounded sweet with both digital and analog sources. In fact, I was struck by how far we've come if the fundamental sound qualities of a $1500 pre-pro can be so enjoyable. Heck, $1500 doesn't come even close to the price of a high-end two-channel analog preamp in the 21st century, and yet I could happily listen to CDs through the Marantz via its analog or digital inputs—something I was loath to do with the early Integra DTC-9.8.

Soon enough, though, it was Audyssey time. I decided to use the AV7500's built-in Audyssey MultEQ XT (footnote 1) before hauling out the heavy artillery of MultEQ Pro. I mounted the provided calibration microphone on my camera tripod and took my standard suite of eight measurements. It didn't surprise me that the Marantz recommended "Full Range" for all five speakers, which is unfortunate but common. Do A/V manufacturers want to validate their customers' speaker selections ("Excellent choice, sir!") rather than urge them to properly manage the system's bass response? When so few speakers these days are truly capable of powerful, fully extended low bass, they would certainly benefit from bass management and being partnered by a competent subwoofer. Although the AV7005 makes possible individual speaker settings, I took the easy way out and set them all for an 80Hz crossover to the subwoofer. Distance and level settings were spot-on identical to what I'd gotten in the past. Audyssey's new enhancement options, DSX, DynamicEQ, and DynamicVolume, were turned off, at least to start.



Footnote 1: At the time of the release of the Marantz AV7005 with MultEQ XT, some competing products were already offering MultiEQ XT32. The latter's advantages are the ability to independently set up multiple subwoofers, and increased filter resolution at lower frequencies for the main channels. The Marantz AV7005 treats multiple subs as if they are one sub—but if you have just one, this is not an issue.
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COMMENTS
Kal Rubinson's picture

It has been pointed out to me that I mentioned using the built in Audyssey MultEQ XT prior to using the Pro kit but failed to comment on the latter.

FWIW, MultEQ Pro didn't seem to make much difference over XT with the current setup. What was a more significant improvement was the addition of the Audyssey SubEQ for the two subs. I reported on that product earlier: http://forum.stereophile.com/content/music-round-40-page-2

Kal

Ashok's picture

Hi Kal,

I have a very basic question. Does this pre-pro (or any other) have an "Auto" setting for audio playback?

By "Auto" I mean:

- if presented with a 2-channel signal on an HDMI input, it does not apply any EQ or bass management, and simply sends the signal out on the Front L and R outputs.

- if presented with a multi-channel signal on the same HDMI input, it does apply EQ, and bass management, and sends output on all necessary channels.

I read through the user manual, and could not readily tell if such a mode exists. It seemed to me that if the Surround listening mode was employed, it would create surround channels even if the source was 2 channel.

I suppose I could manually switch to the Direct mode for 2 channel source material, but was hoping that the pre-pro could automatically do this.

Thanks for the review, this device seems like a reasonable entry point into multichannel audio.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Sorry.  There is no way to do this as you would prefer.  Other prepros, like the Integras, permit one to set a decode preference for each input format for each input and would allow you to prescribe "Direct" for stereo PCM input while programming "Decode" or other options for other formats.

OTOH, the Marantz remote allows easy access to "Direct" as well as the Audyssey options, all of which you must do from the menus with the Integras.

Kal

Bob Jones's picture

Kal,

 

First off, let me congratulate you on a great column.  I also love the "Music In The Round" music reviews at the end of each article.

 

I am leaning toward purchasing an AV7005 (upgrade from a receiver), and also looking at a new OPPO BD player.  I use my current 7.1 system for both movies and 2 channel music (about 50-50%), because of a single room limitation.  I have no SACDs or DVD-As, but would like to start getting more into multi-channel music (to complement my collection of Vinyl, CDs, BDs and various computer music files).  The back half of my system consists of NHT Classic VT-2s (FL & FR), NHT Classic 2C (Center), NHT Classic 2 (SSR, SSL, SRL & SRR), NHT Sub, Classe CA-150 Amp (2ch) and Emotiva XPA-5 Amp (5 channels).

 

So here are my questions:

 

1.  In your MITR article #44, you talk about digital connections from the player to the processor being preferred because of the requirements for level, delay & bass mgm't processing in the digital realm ... is this intended for both multichannel music and 2 channel music, or are the level, delay & bass mgm't functions not really needed for 2 channel music (I would think both would still have common need for room correction requirements?)?

 

2.  Based on my 50 / 50% split usage, do you recommend using HDMI digital from the player to the processor for multi-channel music and analog pass through for the 2 channel music, or digital for all?

 

3. The OPPO BDP-95 apparently has much better DACs and stereo analog outputs ... is it worth twice the price compared to the BDP-93 for my listening application? 

 

I intend to keep the new player and processor for awhile, so I would opt for better components now, rather than having to upgrade in the short term (3 years minimum) ... so if you have better recommendations that are worth the money for either the AV7005 or the OPPOs ... I could afford to spend a little more and therefore, I am all ears!

 

Appreciate your response and keep up the good work on MITR.

 

Thanks & Regards ... Bob

Kal Rubinson's picture

1.  Depends on your speakers, of course, but my answer is, generally, yes.

2.  Both.

3.  I doubt it if you are using HDMI.

 

Kal

bwfrazer's picture

Hi Kal,

 In # 47 you mention that the AV 7005 " can't accept DSD directly" . How can the AV 7005 accept DSD ? considering that the OPPO ( I believe) can send DSD via HDMI.

Can these two components "talk" DSD to one another?

If not, would the Integra DHC 80.2 / Onkyo PR-SC 5508 be a better match for the OPPO? I would prefer the Marantz but if the Integra has more function ability vis a vis DSD then that would be my choice.

 

Thank you for your time. your articles have definitely made my new equipment purchase  an easier task.

Best regards,

Bruce

bwfrazer's picture

Hi Kal.

 

Forgot to ask, on the tape out of the AV7005 is there no RIAA equalisation added? I would like to use Channel D's Vinyl software, with all of its EQ curves, and I would need an out with no EQ added.

Thanks again,

 

Bruce

Kal Rubinson's picture

1.  The Oppo (and all other HDMI-output players, afaik) will convert DSD to PCM from SACDs for HDMI output.  The Marantz is perfectly happy with this.

2.  The tape-out doesn't add any EQ, RIAA or otherwise.  However, I will bet that the phono input does. 

Kal

srydy's picture

Hi,

I like the features of this pre-pro and would like to pair it with a 2 channel amp (like parasound 2125 or BK ST-140) do you see any challenges in doing this?

Thanks!

Kal Rubinson's picture

No.

Cygnus72's picture

   Hi Kal

  I just purchased a Cambridge Azur 751BD because of its excellent DACS. I am starting to wonder if this was a good idea because I need an LPCM input via HDMI to use most receivers built in room correction. So I have two questions on this topic

 1. if i am using LPCM through HDMI I will no longer be using the great DACS in the Cambridge but the so-so DAC in the av7005?

 2. Will the av7005 apply room corection to the analog inputs so I can use the 751s DACS and therefore the bass management on the 751 aswell

 

                                                       thanks

                                                                        Drew S

Kal Rubinson's picture

1. Yes.

2.  No

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