After 9 years, it was time to upgrade my former top-of-the-line Sony ES receiver (STR-DA 777ES) to take advantage of improved audio and high-definition video switching. After reading all the professional reviews, I settled on the Marantz SR8002. Three weeks after an extensive configuration and testing, I must say that I am pleased overall with my choice. However, several surprising configuration limitations keep me from giving it a full-on 5-star review.
Let me preface my review by stating that my home theater / audio configuration is on the higher-end of the scale: 3 KEF Reference speakers for the front 3 channels, Boston Acoustics rear surrounds and subwoofer, Sony ES SACD player (and yes, I have an SACD collection!), Bang & Olfusen turntable, Sony reference DVD player, AppleTV, Roku music server, JVC SVHS VCR, Mitsubishi HDTV monitor.
My first priority was in upgrading the audio quality, and I must say that in this respect, the Marantz SR8002 far exceeded my expectations. As a 7.1 channel amplifier, there are 7 x 125watt channels available, native decoding of the latest lossless HD digital audio on BluRay (DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD), Audyssey microphone and room equilazation, and THX Select 2 certification. For the ultimate audio experience, the Marantz SR8002 offers two "Pure Direct" modes - the first one bypasses the equalization and surround circuits, the second mode completely disables all video and display logic for even shorter audio output path. The SR8002 also provides a toroidal power transformer for extra headroom when needed, and in my setup the audio performance is dramatic.
I chose not to expand my current 5.1 speaker configuration to 7.1 channel. In this setup, the SR8002 gives you the option of taking the two unused channels and configuring them for a second amplified room/zone, or bi-amplification of your front speakers. I chose the latter, as my KEF Reference speakers support bi-amplified wiring, providing 250 watts per channel into Left and Right channels. Let me tell you - the pure stereo performance in this configuration will blow your socks off! Friends could not believe the sound in our fairly large family room was from 2-speakers only. And, the multi-channel modes (especially NEO6: Music) are quite outstanding even with a 2-channel source. Quite simply, the audio performance of the SR8002 is "7-star" on a 5-star scale.
My second priority was in upgrading to a receiver capable of decoding the high-resolution audio of BluRay, while providing high definition video switching (via HDMI and component). In this respect the receiver delivers, but with some surprising limitations. On paper, the Marantz SR8002 offers more connectors and options than you would ever need. You have 4 HDMI 1.3 connections + 2 HDMI 1.3 outputs (good!), 4 component HD connections + 2 component HD outputs (good!), 4 TOSlink digital audio (including front), 3 coax digital audio, and a plethora of S-video, composite video, and analog audio inputs.
But in reality, there are serious limitations...
First of all, it is inexcusable for a receiver of this cost to be missing a phonograph input. Yes, for $50 you can buy a phono preamp that gives you good performance and doesn't have the A/C hum of your $25 Radio Shack unit. But, come on.
Secondly, and more discouraging, despite the plethora of connections you only have 8 discrete settings that can be assigned. (The AM/FM tuner is another, nonassignable input, as is the optional XM radio input). This means that even if you could connect to all of the analog + digital inputs available you can only use 8 of them! This is quite a surprising and serious limitation. Even my Sony ES from 1999 had 12 discrete inputs!
The on-screen receiver setup lets you assign specific HDMI, component, and digital audio for your 8 choices. Each input can also be renamed. But you cannot use a single digital input for more than one setting. And you cannot reassign the analog video (S-Video/Composite) or analog audio inputs.
An example of this strange limitation is the analog input of the "AUX2" input also happens to be used as the Left and Right input channels for the 7.1 input. I had to reconfigure my setup to reassign the "AUX2" input to the digital CD input, which I also connected to the 5.1 (SACD) output from my CD player. Because there are only 8 input settings, I had to assign the "AUX1" (front) input to the digital audio and video inputs from my AppleTV. This means that the front AUX1 inputs are completely unusable, since all 8 inputs were assigned from rear input sources.
Another big surprise was the subwoofer speaker setting. By default, it is set to "mix"...all bass output is diverted to the subwoofer at an assignable crossover frequency. This works well for (and is recommended for) THX and multi-channel video sources. But strangely in "mix" setting, the SR8002 does NOT output the bass to the subwoofer for two-channel analog inputs AND it does not output the low frequencies to the front speakers. I spent about 3 hours trying to figure out why my new (required) phonograph preamp sounded so terrible before I discovered this problem. Setting the subwoofer to "BOTH" properly sends full-range audio to the front speakers. AND, it enables the subwoofer for the simulated modes such as NEO6. Not only does this not make sense, it is not documented anywhere in the manual.
There are other annoyances:
- FM / AM radio reception is below average. I was looking forward to trying the "HD radio" capability, but the tuner reception is so bad that it can never get a strong enough signal to use any of the HD radio broadcasts in my area. Compared with my 1999 Sony ES receiver using the same antenna configuration I can only tune half of the stations. My CLOCK RADIO gets much better radio reception than this $2000 receiver!
- the front of the receiver has two large controls for Source and Volume - each one has a bright blue LED indicator that does NOT move with the control. So, while you might think that the volume indicator would indicate the volume level it doesn't. The bright blue indicators are always at 12-o clock position. And the front input control does not have a positive feedback to let you know you have switched inputs.
- the remote control button/display backlight is ONLY activated when you press one of the two buttons on the bottom of the remote
- the remote does not offer discrete settings for all surround modes or settings (although thankfully there are discrete power on/off codes)
- the onscreen display is very primitive (think 1982 Apple ][+ 40x24 characters)
In summary, despite the outstanding audio performance of the Marantz SR8002 (once you figure out the subwoofer and other settings!), I cannot give this a full 5-star rating because of the serious limitations and limited inputs.
on April 22, 2008
I purchased my Marantz SR8002 and thought I'd offer my review because Amazon had none. Mine is the 220v Korean version with no satellite radio available here, but everything else is the same. My color is gold, and it's gorgeous.
I have owned my unit for 4 days. It sounds quite excellent. I originally planned on going with Onkyo, but those are really expensive in Korea, and horror stories about some Onkyo models and "lip-flap" issues over HDMI scared me away from those this time around. My previous receiver was an Onkyo TXDS-575, and it had a ground-loop hiss which angered me 8 years ago when I bought it -- so in short, I decided to go with another brand this time around.
Now back to the Marantz. First of all, it looks great. It's a heavy 38 pounds, and comes double-boxed and well-packed. There are gold-plated RCA outs all through the rear, but I was disappointed there are no banana-plug posts for speakers (you have to hand-screw them). Come on ... this thing costs a lot ... we should at least get those!
This unit runs warm, but not hot. That's a plus. I was scared of the extreme heat/fire stories from some of the higher-end Onkyo models.
You get 2 remote controls with this unit. One is the main remote, which has a backlight, and can be used to "learn" other remotes from the rest of your entertainment center, or key codes can be entered from a list in the back of the manual. The second is an additional remote which has average bells/whistles, but can be used in a 2nd or 3rd room. My manual, by the way, has about 6 or 8 languages in it -- it's as thick as a book.
I bought this Marantz to take advantage of HD audio codecs from Bluray. My PS3 already decodes these codecs and sends them LPCM via HDMI cable, so the receiver only had to interpret the LCPM. It took me a good 10 minutes to figure out how to assign the HDMI port to the proper input (I used TV) but once I did, everything was just fine! It looks and sounds great. You can also change the digital names on the different inputs. I'll have to change one to "PS3" some day.
This receiver is very musical, and it is possible to bi-amp 6 or 8 ohm speakers for sure, using additional speaker outs and a switch on the back of the unit. It doesn't say you cannot bi-amp 4 ohm speakers, but does only mention 6 or 8 ohm in the manual. Bi-amping did improve my Paradigm Monitor 7 speakers slightly. The sound of this box really is nice.
This receiver is full 1080p, and will pass the "deep color" which makes it somewhat future-proof. I am pleased to announce that there is no "lip-flap" whatsoever, like the Onkyo's are having big problems with. Even still, this Marantz unit has some adjustments on their menu should there ever be any problem. I've never needed them.
The annoying thing about HDMI on any unit, and this one is no exception, is that "handshaking" when you change HDMI sources takes 3 to 10 seconds! Yeah, it's pretty horrible, but you can thank copy-protection for that! Audio starts quickly, but the changed video source can take up to 10 seconds or even a bit longer to show up. Other non-HDMI or analogue sources speed right along.
Another nice, but buggy feature, is the Audyssey EQ system. There is a known LFE bug (Low Frequency Extention) with the earlier versions of this unit. I heard that as of mid-April 2008, a new firmware upgrade is available from Marantz to fix this, but you have to ship it to a service center to get the upgrade if your unit is older. There are work-arounds to this annoying bug, although they are somewhat tedious. You can learn a lot more about this on the [...]
The Audyssey EQ feature provides a mic which is used to sample 6 or so listening areas to calculate your EQ settings for you. The "bug" causes the sub channel to lose a great deal of power after you use it, and sometimes settings numbers get screwed-up after you change from Large to Small speakers (another Audyssey bug is that it automatically resets all speakers to Large). I seem to lose my subwoofer almost entirely after running in Audyssey EQ mode. The output to the sub all but disappears, unless I raise the sub output level to dangerous levels, and crank up my sub. It's really scary, and my sub would almost explode in overdrive if I changed to another output on the receiver, so I decided to forget about Audyssey for a bit. No matter what I did, or what speaker setting I used (either large or small) to set my Audyssey settings, the sub just wasn't even close to correct. The Marantz fix of "just adding 9db" to the sub wasn't enough.
In the end, I tried copying down (channel by channel) all of the EQ and distance settings that Audyssey made, and saved those into the Preset EQ mode. When those EQ and distance numbers are put into that mode, everything sounded just great.
A side note -- many people don't bother with Audyssey or EQ anyway, so you might not even care about all of this.
Lastly, another bug that has surfaced is the "DTS-MA Bomb" that affects all manufacturers who used a certain Texas Instruments chip for processing. This model is effected, so if you plan on bitstreaming DTS-MA to the Marantz SR-8002, you will experience the loud pops on discs like The Golden Compass. Unfortunately for Marantz, they do not offer consumer-upgradable firmware fixes by internet. You have to ship your unit away to Marantz. Very, very inconvenient. If you are using LPCM then you will not experience this bug -- only happens over bitstreaming.
I've talked about a lot of negatives here, but don't get me wrong -- everything else works like it should, and sounds crystal-clear. I am really enjoying this receiver, and I feel it was a good investment. I really like the sound we're getting from the different settings for regular TV viewing, too!
I only give it 4 stars because of the Audyssey bug and somewhat slow HDMI switching, otherwise, it would be 5 stars.
on June 4, 2008
Mr. Fichtner has made some inaccurate statements about Audyssey in the Marantz, that I need to clarify to prevent customers from getting the wrong impression.
1) Large and Small settings for speakers are not set by Audyssey. They are set by Marantz who uses 80 Hz as the criterion for determining Large and Small. Audyssey recommends setting speakers to Small manually
2) The 9 dB cut in the subwoofer level (not LFE as Mr. Fichtner states) was due to a Marantz firmware problem unrelated to Audyssey. It has been fixed in current products and Marantz dealers can update any unit that was purchased earlier.
Audyssey Founder and CTO
on January 7, 2009
I have had my Marantz SR8002 for about 12 months now. I orginally purchased this to upgrade to current codecs (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA) and HDMI connectivity. I was changing from my long time Rotel equipment, so I wasn't sure if I'd be happy. To make a long story short, I have been extremely happy with this receiver. I compared this side by side with an Onkyo TX-NR905, a Pioneer Elite VSX-94TXH & a Denon AVR 3808CI. Although each of these receivers have their plusses, the Marantz beat them hands down on sound quality. (The Pioneer would be second in that contest) The only minus that effected earlier units was a couple of firmware updates that had to be done by a service center. If you are buying a new unit after the date of this review, your unit should have the newest firmware. I usually keep my electronics for a long time and this unit is no exception.
on August 16, 2010
I purchased an SR8002 a little over two months ago. I am only using the HDMI inputs (HD cable/DVR, Pioneer Elite SACD/DVD player, HTPC bitstream capable, and a PS3) and 5.1 inputs (for SACD). The HDMI out is connected to a Panasonic PT-AE1000U. I have no plans to upgrade my HT to a 3D system in the near future, so 3D pass through and HDMI 1.4 are non issues for me. I am using the SR8002 as a preamp, though it has its own amplification. The SR8002 is hooked up to an Anthem Statement P5 which is hooked up to B&W802's(LF,RF), BMW HTM1 (C), and B&W 604's (RR,LR). The SR8002 ended up replacing my outdated Anthem AVM20 because acoustically I found the SR8002 superior to the Anthem in both digital and especially analog domains. The SR8002 was not originally purchased for that intent. I have auditioned the current lineup of Sony, Yamaha and Denon AV receivers and Pre/Pro's; all of which have more bell's and whistle's; non come close to the SR8002 acoustically.
The unit I received came with firmware H39.
I found the SR8002 on par with the AVM20 as far as ease of set up is concerned.
My Marantz SR8002 has been error free.
If you are in the market for an AV receiver or even a Pre/Pro replacement and sound quality is at the heart of what you are looking for...I would give the Marantz SR8002 a listen.
on October 30, 2010
I wasn't unhappy with my Pioneer 1019, but when the Marantz 8002 dove to $799, I leapt. It seemed a no-brainer, but how much of a difference would it make? Fortunately it drives an Ascend 7.1 HT system; Sierras up front with 370's all around, and a Rythmik 12" sub. They are quality enough to allow me to distinguish the difference in quality between the two receivers. The Marantz makes them sing. The difference from the Pioneer is ridiculous. HT and Stereo are gorgeous. The sound is fantastic. There is plenty of power for those who like high SPL's, yet lots of detail when playing it low. I don't know that I would call it warm, maybe neutral - what it is not is artificially bright. I've heard some receivers that seem to want to go MMA in an effort to sound powerful. But the Marantz 8002 is more like Jet Li, just effortless and artistic power. It's not the easiest to use, but it's worth the effort to get familiar with Audessy and to understand the different capabilities vis a vis the surround modes. I've found the pure direct to be the best for two channel sound, but play around a bit with the HT. Look, the short answer if you are wondering whether or not to buy - there is nothing out there at the current price point of under $700 (!!) that can compare with the 8002. It won't serve you if you go to 3D, but I can't think of another receiver out there with this kind of sound (video is good too, but then if you mostly do HD it doesn't matter that much, you aren't worried about upscaling), at the price that Amazon is selling it. I'm thinking of getting another for the second room system and selling the Pioneer 1019. Good luck with your decision-making.
on January 30, 2010
Marantz. If you're here, you know them. Long history of extraordinary sound. Good build quality, mid to high price. I was excited after ordering this unit. My prior receiver was a not too old Onkyo TX-SR875. I had no problems with it, but wanted to move up. I have a TIVO, Wii, Apple TV, Sony BDP-S550, and a HD camcorder I sometimes plug in. All except the Apple TV and Wii are connected with HDMI (more on that later).
I like the ability to rename the inputs and the input wheel. On other receivers with buttons for inputs, the buttons always have something written above them, like VCR, AUX, CBL/SAT, or similar. Even if you rename the input in the setup, you still have to remember that the Tivo is plugged into the CBL/SAT button, and the Apple TV is plugged into the AUX2 button. With this Marantz, you cycle through the sources with the turn of a knob and you can type the name of the source into the system so the screen lands on Wii, instead of AUX1. There's no need to translate the input name with the user specified source. Though the inputs are labeled on the back, it means nothing.
I have to say a word about sound, because this is a receiver. But all I can say is that it's terrific. You won't be disappointed in the sound. My biggest concern in buying a receiver wasn't the sound. Unless you're really picky, at this price range, they're all going to have good sound. I wanted ease of use, the input wheel, a sufficient number of HDMI inputs (4 was my minimum and I'd be happier if it had more), and no HDMI problems.
I did have one HDMI problem with my Apple TV. I moved to the Marantz from an Onkyo, which handled switching inputs without a hitch, every time. There was never an HDMI handshake issue. I wish I could say the same for the Marantz. The Apple TV (or the Marantz) caused lots of problems. When I switch the input to the Apple TV, sometimes (rarely) it works, sometimes it works but gives me no sound, sometimes it causes snow on the screen and I will get sporadic glimpses of the images on the Apple TV, and sometimes the screen just turns black. Usually a power down of the entire entertainment system will work, from this receiver, to the Apple TV (which has to be unplugged) to the TV. Then, upon powering back up, it will sometimes work. The only way to certainly fix it was to unplug and replug the Apple TV's power. Therefore I moved it to a component input and have had no problems. This wasn't a dealbreaker for me, but it was an annoyance. The camcorder, Tivo, and Bluray are all connected via HDMI and I've had no problem with them.
The sound quality is great, except it won't enter TrueHD and DTS modes. It will only go to Dolby. I've played with the output settings on the Bluray and it should be working, but it's not. I know I'm using an appropriate bluray disk too. The house still rumbles in Dolby and PCM. I chalk this up to user error, as even though I've tinkered with the settings on my Bluray player, I'm still not getting TrueHD or DTS modes. Like I said though, it's probably my fault.
This is the second one I've had. The first one arrived and within two hours, I got the rapidly blinking red light of death. Marantz support told me to send it back to Amazon, so I did. I say this for more of a testimonial for Amazon rather than against Marantz. Amazon was easy to work with on the return.
I'd buy this again, but hope I never have to. Four stars for the HDMI problem and just in case the DTS/TrueHD problem isn't of my own making.
on August 23, 2009
Had this for 2 months and it is better than any other receiver I have owned. Best sound quality compared to an older Yamaha and recent Denon 3808. Music has never sounded better in my home. This receiver seems to have made my speakers disappear and let my room take over. Also great for movies but Music is where this shines. Recommended if better sound and power is what you're looking for.
on March 28, 2015
Powerful, musical and transparent as any Marantz is. This is the ultimate for pure audio and passthrough video performance, if you're like me and don't need the latest gimmicky DSP or 5000.3 speaker setups, this comes through bigtime for everythiung from blu ray to SACD and even HDCD and HD radio. The best remote on the planet, Marantz RC3001 comes with this. I control everything from my TV to cable box with it, and I have everything from Marantz UD5007 to Xbox One hooked up to this. The audyssey it comes with is OK, was great for its time, now Audyssey has 2 better platforms, but I preferred the sound without room correction. The torroidal amp is a beast in this, better than some low end Power amps separate! I drive my 5 Axiom speakers(M60/ VP150/ QS 8) with it with ease, and use the biamp feature for my two fronts. Overall the layout, aesthetics, and performance for this amp still make it my pride and joy, 6 years later in 2015 I still prefer this to the newer Marantz and other companies AV receivers. Pure monster in 34 lb. copper coated chassis.
on August 21, 2010
I've just bought this system, it is just GREAT! Outstanding sound, maybe configuring it is not as easy as I expected, but once you finish the sound quality is awesome, it has many pure sound functions to reduce noise and interference from display and audio processing. In the other hand you can equalize each channel independently. You will love it!