The most striking aspect is how much power and bass the unit musters. Even without the optional subwoofer, explosions are so deep and muscular that we were ducking for cover during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But the other sonic elements are equally enthralling, from the crisp, piercing rattle of machine guns to the desperate cries of testosterone-fuelled pilots. There’s a directness and smoothness to the sound that sets it apart from its cheaper rivals.
And the good news keeps on coming – OPSODIS delivers by far the most convincing rear channel effects we’ve heard from any soundbar. The rear-speaker drivers throw the surround information far and wide, surrounding the listening position with crisply reproduced and expertly steered effects. The non-reliance on walls is an advantage, allowing the unit to work well in a variety of awkward test locations, but on the downside you need to sit in precisely the right place to get the full effect – move from that position and audibility of surround effects reduces considerably. But to be fair, that applies to most soundbars.
As an added bonus, the quality of music playback is superb. A run through of Reel People’s Seven Ways To Wonder CD reveals tremendous warmth and attention to detail.
Although it’s no match for a real 5.1-channel system, the ES7001 offers the best performance we’ve encountered from a soundbar by virtue of its excellent surround effect placement and smooth, powerful playback of movies and music. It’s just a shame that Marantz couldn’t have shoved OPSODIS inside something a bit cheaper. At close to £800, it’s almost twice the price of soundbars from Philips (which also boasts a built-in DVD player) and Yamaha, and we’re not sure its capabilities or features are sufficiently superior to justify such a premium. But if you have the money and want the best sound quality no matter the cost, then this is the soundbar for you.
Score in detail