very busy month filled with R&D have barely had time to get my reviewer hat
on. A few months back the new Marantz SR7008 9.2-channel 125 wpc networked
home theater receiver with AirPlay arrived at my doorstep and immediately
replaced the Onkyo TX-SR607 90 wpc receiver that was baking its way to an early
death. With word from Enjoy the Music.com's
own Dr. Bill Gaw how his Onkyo unit, only a small handful of years old, had
imploded a board and Onkyo could not fix it due to that circuit board no longer
being available, it made sense to never choose an Onkyo unit if they can not fix
a unit only a few years old. Makes no sense buying a $XXXX unit if it will have
the service life of a gnat. So looking over the audio landscape I debated a
variety of things from going all-in and getting a complete and politically
correct McIntosh Labs setup at highish $XX,XXX to going 'backwards' to a super
minimal stereo rig that probably would cost around the same price.
Going all McIntosh makes sense for prestige,
quality, and of course the façade of bragging rights. When I saw what the final
price would be, and whilst great investing is always fun, the more down-to-Earth
guy who lived out his car for months on end felt there must be a good value for
the dollar out there... and there is! Since McIntosh is owned by D+M Group, who
owns such companies as Boston Acoustic, Denon, Marantz, Sumiko, sonos faber,
Wadia and others, perhaps the same company uses their tech team for other units?
Being a reviewer who travels to shows, during the High
End 2013 show in Munich and
T.H.E. Show Newport Beach I asked around and got quite a bit of inside
info. You know, that delicious stuff most people never get to find out 'in the
wild'. Secret whispers, hidden jewels, and of course the ability to speak
directly with equipment designers.
Enter The Marantz SR7008
Let me say here and now this is a mini review, as to even try and discuss all the technology within the Marantz SR7008 9.2-channel networked home theater receiver with AirPlay in detail would take easily over 10,000 words. So why the SR7008 you ask? Well, could care less about surround sound other than yes I have plenty of speakers here to do it, but hate the possible phase and timing anomalies when you have so many speakers feeding a room. For me, four carefully chosen speakers, two front and two rear, do the trick for surround sound. Maybe one day I'll throw up two more for height effects. Being the top-of-the-line in receivers for Marantz, the SR7008 has more computer processing power than the lower models plus you can play with the very important Audyssey's MultEQ XT32 features. Yes the Audyssey MultEQ Pro kit is here, yet have been too busy to dive deeply with it; though plan to the first spare day on my calendar. As I said this is a mini review and thus am sure some audiophiles are scratching their head wondering what I am yammering on about.
reading this mini review, please take a look at the technology you can get in a
$2000 receiver like the SR7008. Oh, and it includes an app for Android and
iApple devices. Basically said, the SR7008 has digital EQ, room correction,
handles the usual network music duties and handles pretty much every music
format except DSD/SACD via network,
USB or HDMI. There is 7.1-channel analog in via RCA jacks for multi-channel DSD, but
that kinda defeats the purpose of high quality sound and the immense on-board
digital processing of the SR7008 imho. With that said, there is so much right
going on within the unit technology-wise for $2000 that it was hard to resist
grabbing a review sample.
SR7008: The Sound
Being a modern-day receiver, there is an
abundance of HDMI inputs (with selectable pass-though), digital and analog
inputs, front panel headphone jack, etc. The Marantz SR7008 handles all the
usual digital formats in the digital domain you can throw at it except DSD/SACD,
which is a multi-channel affair. The SR7008 includes enough processing
power to easily handle room correction, EQ, and surround sound effects.
Furthermore, the included calibration microphone works with Audyssey's wonderful MultEQ
XT32. If you have not looked into this technology, check it out online as this
is a mini-review. If you want to really dig deeply and have fun, get the
Audyssey Pro Installer kit for only $500 and hook your computer to the receiver
to deeply tweak things to the Nth degree. If you're a tech geek like me, this
should give you hour after hour of fun and exploration. In a sense, your audio
system becomes an experiment as you try different settings and hear the results.
Getting back to the sound, being a
digital-controlled unit you can choose a normal soundstage, or medium wide, or
ultra-wide. All this and much, much more are just a few clicks away. For me,
part of the fun is in making changes from album to album, as we all know some
recordings leave a bit to be desired so you can 'fix it in the mix'. In Pure
Direct mode, so as not to skew things, I was rewarded with a great
soundstage and solid imaging. Depth was very good, though perhaps not the last
word. Bass was very solid and far better defined than the Onkyo ever was even on
its best day to my ears in my system. Midrange was a bit dryer than the Onkyo
yet had more detail and was more balanced within the overall frequency spectrum.
Moving up to the highs is a delight as they are very extended and aurally
rewarding. My wife Heather also agrees the Marantz unit is leagues ahead of the
previous Onkyo unit, with some sounds during movies so close to real even she
was questing if they came from the movie or were actual sounds originating
within our home. Perhaps there is a bit of that musical magic within
Marantz's Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Module (HDAM) circuitry? Who knows? Frankly,
who cares when for only $2000 you get so very much to love and so many ways to
tweak it all once you move out of the Pure Direct mode and start having fun
tuning things digitally. Since the Dunlavy speakers are time and phase accurate,
unlike many other speakers, you really can easily and quickly hear any changes
Yes I can hear audiophiles screaming at me "But Steven, you were the $90,000 triode guy with the Audio Note Ongaku before anyone really latched on to triode tube amps. Steven, you also loved hornspeakers and now you're using Dunlavys?" Well, soon the Dunlavy's may go for a new set of Avantgarde Duos, but for now am having far too much fun experimenting with digital technology to go back to a 'pure' minimal system. I'm a geek like that. Once I get the Audyssey Pro Installer kit going full-force the fun will continue unabated. For those of you who have not checked out all the possibilities of the new digitally-controlled systems available, which even the likes of Linn is now widely embracing, you really should at least give yourself an hour to study it with an open mind.
Of course i did try the preamp outputs to feed a tube and a solid state-amp that are here and must say i came away quite impressed. Still, it was not the ultimate reference level mind you, yet it was excellent and fun to experiment with different amps whenever i chose. Nice to have flexibility, with the ability to upgrade the amplification as desired to achieve higher performance or if you have speakers that are inefficient amplification power current hogs. Then again that means you paid good money for amplification within the SR7008 that is just sitting idly by. Then again, again, since i came away impressed with the sound for such reasonable money, this indeed did make me wonder about Marantz's upper line AV8801 11.2 channel A/V pre-amp/processor that'll set you back $3600. Sure this is a big difference in cost as compared to the $2000 SR 7008 and the AV8801 lacks any amplification, though such is the law of diminishing returns as one seeks the Nth degree of performance plus not everyone will want to have, or have physical rack space for, more black boxes.
Conclusion: The Law Of
Sadly, I may never know as am moving on from this experiment to other things. And yes, am buying the SR7008 because the price is so attractive considering the performance and experimentation possibilities it delivers. If you have not kept up with modern tech as it pertains to high fidelity audio production/reproduction, i implore you to learn about Audyssey's MultEQ XT32 and other technologies within the SR7008, even if it is only to satisfy your own curiosity versus wanting to invest in such things... even if you love turntables and vacuum tubes driving single-driver full-range speakers. Hey, it got my attention enough to actually spend time to analyze and review the Marantz SR7008 and write this review.
Keep in mind during the past two years i may have reviewed perhaps only three components, so there are reasons for this review and felt it would be good to share them with you. Am not saying the SR7008 is the end-all be-all or the very last word in resolution and transparency, yet for $2000 you sure do get plenty of modern technology aimed at achieving the best sound for the money within your listening room and/or home theater system. If you want to invest more, Marantz can fulfill your desires. If you are a soundstage freak, the SR7008 has enough ways to achieve the width and depth you desire provided you have a decent setup. Within my system, i could place the orchestra so far back that i was waiting for the neighbors to complain about the band playing in their livingroom. If you do nothing else, at least read about the tech inside the Marantz SR7008, then decide a course of action, or non-action as that case may be, which is also an action.
Colorfly C4 Pro PMP
Alas, the not so user-friendly wonky UI (user
interface), lack of user-adjustable EQ and other bits during actual use left me
perplexed... and I'm a tech geek! Mr. and Mrs. Normal Consumer wouldn't stand a
snowball's chance in hell of using this device and finding it intuitive and easy
to use right out of the box. I'd especially like
a unit that handles DSD and has Wi-Fi with on-board app or three for
wireless streaming so that effectively eliminates any internal storage concerns.
Did I mention the unit is quite large, overly so imho and this is not due to a
proper touchscreen as found in the Astell&Kern AK120.
Truly did want to love the Coloryfly C4 when I first saw it online, but
sometimes your dreams and reality diverge in unexpected and undesirable ways. I'd
write more about the Colorfly C4 Pro, but at this point in time the Colorfly C4
Pro has perhaps reached its expiration date. Guess the only thing to love about
it, for me, is the visual styling. Sorry and all, these things happen as
technology marches forward. Sometimes technology does these types of things.
Happens all the time as not many people are using Windows 3.1 For Workgroups.
Heck, many don't use Linux simply because of the user-interface. The Colorfly
C4Pro really does sound very good,
impressively so! Really did want
to love it too and if this review was in 2009 the Colorfly C4 Pro would have
been heralded as a state-of-the-art modern miracle player with amazing capabilities. Yet today, Q3 2013, for $600 I'd look elsewhere in this fast-paced,
growing marketplace of PMPs.
Senseless Rambling Crazy Idea
Crazy Idea Number Two
As always, in the end what really matters is that you...