Price (RRP): $3,499
Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
While other major Japanese home electronics brands seem to be rushing into network connectivity, in the SR8002 home theatre receiver, Marantz is sticking to what it knows best: high quality audio performance and fine engineering.
As you would expect from a $3,000-plus home theatre receiver, the SR8002 is well suited not just to DVD players and other old-fashioned source devices, but also to Blu-ray players. In fact, it has four HDMI inputs of the latest specification, plus built-in decoders for just about every digital audio standard yet created (including, even, that for the Super Audio CD).
The receiver has ample power for most speaker systems, offering 125 watts from each channel. As is the way with modern receivers, you can use a couple of the seven channels (those intended for the surround back speakers) to do other things, such as drive speakers in another zone (that is, you can run the built-in radio tuner, for example, to a different room while the receiver is playing back your favourite DVD in 5.1 channels).
The receiver has Audyssey automatic setup, so it comes with a calibration microphone. You plug in the microphone, select the appropriate menu items, and then the receiver sends various noises to your loudspeakers. At the end of this, it spends a couple of minutes thinking about things, then finally makes all the settings for speaker sizes, distances, levels and so forth.
Unlike some of the competition, this receiver does not include fancy video processing circuitry. It provides a useful minimum, though, which converts various analog video standards to each other, and to the digital of HDMI, so that you only need run one video cable (yes, go for HDMI!)
The video conversion was performed to a very high standard, so you can be confident in plugging your pay TV box into this receiver and getting a good picture at your display (or as good, anyway, as the display can provide).
The sound quality produced by this receiver was excellent in every respect. After, that is, I made a couple of adjustments to its automatic calibration. It has set the centre channel speaker to ‘large’, but some of my material produces too much bass in the centre channel for the moderately sized speaker there to cope.
Having made that change, this receiver was, well, flawless. Stereo sound from CD was magnificent. Surround sound even better. Especially from Blu-ray, the excellence of the losslessly compressed DTS-HD Master Audio sound was thrilling, in such atmospheric mixes as 28 Weeks Later.
Marantz has seemingly decided not to offer all the bells and whistles provided with several other similarly priced home theatre receivers. This could prove a disadvantage if you’d like to take advantage of broader multimedia capabilities.
But if you are simply after top quality handling of sound and video for your home theatre system, the Marantz SR8002 is worth a very close look.