- Review Price: £1149.95
As ever we start with design and the first thing that jumps out is the SR7005’s size. By regular AV receiver standards it’s enormous, with a chunky 187mm-high fascia that might necessitate a rethink of your AV furniture. True home cinema heads won’t care about that though, particularly when it’s styled as attractively as this. Marantz has opted for a classic look with hints of retro chic in the circular display panel that shows the current volume and selected input, illuminated by a ring of gentle blue light. Yes the digits are on the small side, but don’t worry – there’s a bigger display hidden beneath the drop-down flap below. Clever.
The rest of the fascia is pretty tasty too. It curves gently on both sides, making it more elegant than your average AV receiver, while the vertical grooves, large knobs and brushed black finish are pure class (it’s equally stylish in the alternative silver finish).
Adding to this elegant look is the lack of clutter on the front panel – the flap mentioned above also hides a range of auxiliary connections and up-close controls. Under here you’ll find an HDMI input, an optical digital audio input and composite/stereo audio inputs, all of which will come in handy for those devices you only use from time to time. There’s also a USB port that lets you connect an iPod directly and lets you play WMA, MP3, WAV, AAC and FLAC from USB memory devices. Completing the front socket line-up are ports for headphones and the setup microphone.
On the back is a veritable feast of sockets, as befits a receiver of the SR7005’s high-end status. The first thing we always look for is the number and type of HDMI inputs on offer and the SR7005 is endowed with five at the rear and another on the front, all of which are v1.4 and therefore ready to handle 3D content from Blu-ray players. You even get two HDMI v1.4 outputs, which are useful if you want to feed two different TVs simultaneously, (or a TV and projector) and one of them supports the Audio Return Channel feature.
As for the other connections, you get four digital audio inputs (two coaxial, two optical) and one optical output, 7.1-channel analogue inputs, seven-channel pre-outs with two sub outs, seven analogue stereo inputs and four outputs, four composite video inputs and three outputs, plus four component video inputs and two outputs. Some of these audio and video outputs are designated for use in a second or third zone. Vinyl lovers will be pleased to see a signal ground terminal for a turntable, plus there are remote control ports for custom install use and a proprietary M-XPort for the RX101 Bluetooth receiver. It really does have all bases covered but then you’d expect nothing less for well over a grand.
You’ll also notice that there’s an Ethernet port on the back – that’s because the SR7005 is a DLNA-certified receiver, which means you can play music or view photos stored on networked PCs, as well as listen to vTuner internet radio and access Napster, Flickr and Last.fm. With this and its USB/iPod/Bluetooth support, the SR7005 really is a cutting-edge entertainment hub.
It’s similarly state-of-the-art when it comes to audio processing. Not only does it decode HD audio (Dolby True HD, DTS HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital Plus) but it also features Dolby Pro Logic IIz and Audyssey DSX processing. Both enable you to connect front height speakers and achieve a vertical soundfield, but Audyssey’s tech can also generate front width channels, expanding the front soundstage even further. However, with seven channels to play with you can’t run surround back and front height/width channels at the same time.
Given the SR7005’s high-end positioning and Marantz’ esteemed audio heritage, it comes as no surprise to find some high-grade circuitry under the bonnet. The brains of the operation is the 400MHz Sharc processor, which handles the HD audio decoding and the range of Audyssey modes. The SR7005 also features current feedback circuitry with Marantz HDAMs (Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Modules) that can reproduce HD audio in high-fidelity. And like the SR6005, the SR7005 can also upscale video signals to 1080p thanks to the Anchor Bay ABT2015 chip.
There’s plenty more to get your teeth into, including an app that enables you to control the receiver from your iPhone or iPod Touch, plus the SR7005 is one of four Marantz products to support Apple’s AirPlay feature with a firmware upgrade available from the Marantz website for around £39. This enables you to stream music from iTunes to the SR7005, as well as accessing artist information, album art and elapsed/remaining time info. A great feature list then, but some home cinema die-hards may bemoan the lack of THX certification and nine-channel amplification.
Audyssey’s Auto Setup feature makes it very simple to get the optimum sound settings for your room. We’re sure you know how these work but there’s a microphone in the box that picks up test tones emitted by the receiver from up to eight different positions, then the receiver analyses the signals and sets the appropriate levels. Once these settings are in place, Audyssey’s MultEQ, Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ modes automatically keep tabs on the sound properties.
Also making life easy is the inclusion of onscreen menus, which use basic-but-functional graphics and a straightforward layout. They contain a mind-boggling array of tweaks – there are no less than 25 pages devoted to them in the manual – and quite simply leave no stone unturned. Highlights include detailed picture adjustments and manual speaker settings in case the auto settings aren’t to your liking.
The remote is a little cluttered, particularly towards the bottom, but most of the regularly-used functions are easy to find and the display window at the top showing the selected control mode is a nice touch.
Stick Inception in the Blu-ray deck, settle down with a pack of popcorn and you’re in for a treat. The SR7005 is a masterful performer, delivering the sort of power, poise and refinement you’d hope for at this price. The way it blasts out the movie’s jaw-dropping action scenes with gut-wrenching force and tight, neighbour-bothering bass is impressive enough, but behind all that muscle is an amazing home cinema brain at work, shaping, placing and projecting the effects with such care and authority that you’ll be held captive for the entire running time.
As Cobb and Arthur attempt to extract from Sato in the opening scene, the action is electric. The ‘earthquakes’ are deep and deafening, lending a real sense of menace and excitement, and when it cuts to the baying crowds outside the apartment the shouting voices and smashing windows sound crisp and forthright. It never lets up for a second, orchestrating every action scene with effortless aggression and tons of detail. This is an AV receiver with real fire in its belly and the results are utterly intoxicating.
But it’s equally articulate with Inception’s many talky bits, making voices sound crystal clear but with plenty of body behind them. We’re not saying it’ll make the movie’s plot any easier to get your head round, but you can certainly hear the words coming out of the actors’ mouths. The clearly-reproduced background ambience and mood music make every scene atmospheric, plus it digs out every last speck of sonic detail from the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack.
It’s no slouch with music either. It keeps the pop-funk stylings of Jamiroquai’s Rock Dust Light Star in the pocket, tackling the basslines, drums and vocals with a tightness and fluidity that you don’t get from most budget amps.
The SR7005 is the sort of AV receiver that makes you want to kneel before it and worship. It’s that good. The combination of insightful detail, awesome power and precise, expansive effects placement makes the Marantz a master of its craft and for that reason it’s worth every penny of its price tag.
Score in detail