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Plusses and Minuses (One big one in particular)
on August 21, 2013
A little context. I previously had a dedicated 2-channel system only for music, and did not have an especially good system attached to our TV. I purchased the SR7007 to create a single music listening and video watching system. I would say that the result is average, good but not great, with some specific things that are really annoying.
▹ First the plusses.
- The video quality from a variety of different video sources is really very good. The best TV viewing experience so far. DVDs look great, as does digital HD tv, stuff off my Apple TV, Netflix etc..
- As a controller for both audio and video sources, it works very well and keeps things simple (it's really not as complicated as some make it out IMO).
- It has a Phono input, so if you're into vinyl, as we are, you'll not need to fuss with a separate phono preamp. It is only set up for moving magnet cartridges, by the way.
- The Audessey room correction system works REALLY well. We have a challenging room/speaker placement and the difference between "Direct" and the "Music" and "Movie" modes is significant, and for the better.
- It allows you to drive Zone 2 directly from the amp, or use those outputs to bi-amp your main speakers (which I did for reasons that will become clear)
- The builtin HD Radio/Internet Radio/Pandora/Airplay connectivity allow for tremendous range of music discovery. Being able to listen to a favorite college radio station from 600 miles away, and having that station as one of our "favorites" is really nice.
- The sound is good.
- We use the Remote iOS app all the time and it works nicely, I also use the web-interface (the amp puts up its own web-server, which is cool).
_ I personally think it looks very nice, and I like the remote (I've programmed it to control all my input sources).
▹ Now the minuses.
- The sound is good, but not great. This is especially true if your mains are a pair of 4 ohm floorstanders as mine are (taken from my dedicated 2-channel system). You have the ability to bi-amp, and this turned out to be important in my case, but that means I need another amp to drive Zone 2. Even bi-amped, the sounds is fine, but not really tight and controlled. Again, this happened in my 2-channel system, where I had to find an amp that could drive my 4-ohm loads. Once I found that, I got the kind of vice-like control over the low end that I became accustomed to. Even bi-amped, the SR7007 doesn't give that level of control. For easier to drive loads, I think the sound is really very good, but this is one of those "your mileage may vary" kinds of things.
- Now my major peeve. you cannot route digital sources to both the Main zone and Zone 2. So, let's say you have a football game on in the media room (Main zone), and you have the cable box sending digital to the SR7007 via HDMI (and why would you do anything else?). You want to hear the audio from the game in Zone 2, which is in the kitchen. That seems completely reasonable, and something we want to do all the time. You're not trying to route two different digital sources to Main and Zone 2, you're just trying to route the same audio to Main and Zone 2. YOU CANNOT DO THAT (<- I never use all caps, but I find this especially annoying). Let's say you have an Apple TV (or other HDMI streaming device) and you're streaming tunes from a playlist you've created for a party to the Main Zone, and you'd like to stream that same audio to Zone 2, you also cannot do that.
I find this very annoying, since there is an option to tell Zone 2 to play whatever the Main Zone is playing, and that will work for analog sources, but not digital. With one big exception. If you are using the SR7007 itself to stream Pandora, or play an internet radio station (both digital sources) then you CAN push that audio to both the Main Zone and Zone 2. If you are sending tunes to the SR7007 via AirPlay (digital) you can also send that audio to both the Main Zone and Zone 2.
I don't see any reason why some digital sources can be sent to multiple zones and others can't, except for one explanation. There is some kind of copyright/licensing thing, where external devices can't be streamed to more than one zone (for some mysterious reason). I see no technical reason. It would be lovely if Marantz fixed this with a firmware upgrade. If they do, I'll come back and edit this review to reflect that (are you listending Marantz?).
Other than that annoyance, I'm happy with my purchase, but if I had known, I would have taken a different approach. In the meantime, I'll just have to spin vinyl and push that audio into both zones.....