Though priced at a comparatively modest $2000, the THX Select2- certified SR8002 tops Marantz’s current A/V receiver lineup. We remember when flagship receivers all went for thousands of dollars more and, sad to say, none of the megabuck models of just four or five years ago offered the HDMI switching and Dolby and DTS’ lossless surround decoding capabilities that this receiver has. Those receivers are now hopelessly out of date.
Another reason we were impressed with the SR8002 is the fact that, despite its top rank in the Marantz line, it is quite compact—only an inch or two larger than its more moderately priced siblings. The control and button clutter down to a bare minimum.
The SR8002’s Audyssey MultEQ audio set-up system will provide automated speaker setup and extensive room equalization/correction for your system. Experience has shown that Audyssey can make very significant improvements with some speakers, though our reference Dynaudio-based system sounded great without any correction at all.
Auto speaker setup is nice, but even so, there’s still a lot of manual set-up work up to do. You’ll have to assign inputs for your sources, adjust display resolution and HDMI particulars, and—if you’re going to take advantage of the SR8002’s multiroom capabilities—you’ll need to delve deeper into the menus, which we found easy enough to fathom.
The SR8002 sports HD Radio which promises “CD quality” sound from FM stations broadcasting in HD, and FM sound quality from AM stations broadcasting in HD. The SR8002 receiver is also XM “ready,” but you’ll need to buy XM’s install kit and pay a monthly subscription fee to enjoy satellite radio. HD Radio is free. The SR8002 amplifiers’ all-discrete circuitry (no integrated circuits) pumps out 125 watts for each of its seven channels. The receiver boasts Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio as well as a more rarely seen feature, Dolby Headphone. That’s cool, because it means the SR8002 can deliver virtual 5.1-channel sound over stereo headphones. The HDCD (High-Definition Compatible Digital) circuitry decodes HDCD CDs with 20-bit resolution compared to standard CD’s 16-bit sound.
The SR8002 comes with two nifty remotes. A light grey, fully backlit remote with an LCD screen that offers direct control over the selected source—DVD, tuner, TV, etc. We liked it a lot, which isn’t something we can say about too many fancy remotes. The second remote (intended for use in multiroom systems) isn’t as well endowed, but is also easy to use.
HDMI v1.3a Switching/Repeating for four sources and two displays. The SR8002 up-converts composite and S-video sources to 480p over HDMI, handsome receiver’s front panel keeps the and will convert 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i component video signals to HDMI format.
ZZ Top’s Live From Texas Blu-ray [Eagle Vision] boasts a killer DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The surround mix features a mid-hall perspective, with lots of reverberation and audience ambiance, and yet the sound never gets messy or loses focus. Dusty, Billy, and Frank came to play so we cranked the volume just to see if we could make the SR8002 stumble, but it cruised through the concert without complaint. The sense of being there with the crowd was as good as it gets. The SR8002 does run hot, though, so make sure you place it on an open shelf or in a wellventilated cabinet.
We next checked out the Mad Men: Season 1 Blu-ray set. The 5.1-channel mixes revealed the subtlest of details. Iin the Madison Avenue offices of the Sterling-Cooper advertising agency, for example, I could pick out individual IBM typewriters in a room full of them. And when a group of junior executives were listening to a Bob Newhart comedy LP, I could hear the record’s surface noise! Otis Taylor’s Recapturing the Banjo [Telarc] demonstrated the SR8002’s musicality, and I’m happy to report that through the Marantz, the mostly acoustic album’s natural balances remained intact. That’s not the case with a lot of receivers, which can sometimes add a bit of glare and flatten the natural dimensional quality of instruments. The SR8002 steadfastly refused to cross that line.
The Magnetic Fields’ three-disc opus, 69 Love Songs [Merge] is all about contrasts. Each song sounds wildly different from the next and the SR8002 made that fact abundantly clear. The disc’s sound quality is way above average, but it’s the variety of sounds that kept me engaged. There’s sweetness and light—followed by riproaring distortion bathed in cavernous reverberation.