This includes six speaker drivers arranged in a tweeter, midrange and woofer configuration, each one powered by a digital amplifier. Also on board are three 32-bit digital processors, one of which is used for Dolby Digital and DTS decoding and the other two are used to generate surround sound.
The Cinemarium (I think we’ll stick to ES7001 from now on) is also equipped with a healthy array of connections, including two HDMI v1.1 inputs and one output, three optical digital audio inputs (labelled DVD, TV and Game) and two stereo audio inputs. There’s also a pre-out and control jack for the optional SW7001 subwoofer, plus a remote output to connect and control other Marantz equipment (such as a CD or DVD player) using the ES7001’s remote. Dolby Digital, DTS and AAC signals can be fed into any of the HDMI or optical digital audio inputs.
Setup is fairly simple, but would have been even easier with an onscreen menu. Everything is displayed in the tiny panel on the front, which means you’ll need the manual to decipher the little words and symbols that appear.
Once you’ve found the optimum position (it can be placed in an AV rack or above the TV screen) you need to punch in certain parameters using the remote. The Elevation button sets the correct height while the Seat button tells the unit how many people are in the audience, as this affects how the sound is dispersed. You can also set the listening distance, turn the sub output on and off and toggle through the Dolby Pro Logic II modes. There’s also a night mode for enhanced listening at low volumes.
The supplied remote boasts an excellent arrangement of buttons, all of which are nicely sized and clearly labelled, while the menu controls are comfortably placed. We also like the individual buttons for each input, which makes it easy to flick between sources.
So how does the sound performance compare with the 2004 demo? Very favourably indeed. With a Denon DVD-1940 pumping Pearl Harbor’s Dolby Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack into the ES7001’s digital audio input, it’s clear that the technology has been refined over the last three years.