It won’t be any exaggeration to say that AV aficionados face the perfect example of the ‘spoilt for choice’ syndrome. Well, there is absolutely nobody to blame for that—it is just that we are an absolutely exciting market for the world period. But even after having such a huge clutter of brands around us, there are some who distinctly stand out for being of good quality and more importantly very reliable. Marantz is one such brand that is been around for quite a while now. We have reviewed their latest AV8801 and MM8077 pre-power AV receiver in this issue.
Out of the Box
Now it is not that we want manufacturers to experiment and come up with a new product design every time, but it seems that Marantz has employed this design for ever. Whenever we have seen a Marantz product, it has always looked the same and this pre-power combo is no different. It comes with the legendary ‘porthole’ design, wherein the small display in the centre lights up every time you switch it on. In terms of build quality, we have absolutely no complaints as both the components are absolutely sturdy and heavy. The super heavily populated back panel was also very interesting to gaze at. With our love for technology and geeky stuff, even a number of weeks won’t be sufficient for us to admire it. More on that in the next section.
So the Marantz combination that we have here is just like any other receiver that we know and understand but with a slight difference; it is divided in two parts---the pre-section and the power section. The pre, AV 8801, is essentially the brain of this Marantz setup, equipped with their most advanced multi-DSP audio processor. It features a broad range of surround sound decoding modes, including support for high-resolution audio formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio. With 11.2 channels on-board, the AV8801 also features expanded multichannel decoding including Audyssey DSX and DTS Neo:X*, giving you the ability to add additional front height and width channels for a truly expansive and immersive surround sound experience. One very good thing done by most AV receiver manufacturers is the inclusion of a calibration kit (Audyssey being the most common licensee) in the package by default itself. The Marantz AV8801 comes with the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 automatic room measurement and correction. The best part about this variant of the Audyssey is that it does correction in the time domain of the setup as well, whereas most other variants offer corrections only for the frequency of the setup. So when you do the set up, you don’t have to manually enter the time delay for surround speakers (if required) – the software does it for you. Sounds easy for sure, but we will find out if it is effective or not.
Marantz has also roped in the highly successful Audyssey LFC (low-frequency containment) option. This feature (also present in a lot of other AV receivers that we have tested until now) is very effective particularly in HT rigs setup in apartment adjacent to each other, for the way it operates. It adjusts the bass response to minimise leakage into adjacent rooms or apartments, while still providing a satisfying wide range listening experience.
On the video front, the 8801 is equipped with all the connectivity options that one can think of in today’s time. And to top it all, they have also incorporated the ability to upconvert SD and HD to ultra high definition (4K). Also, it can accept and pass-through 4K content, which does make sense considering the current scenario where there is no true 4K content available at all and yet there are a lot of 4K or UltraHD displays available in the market. So, until you get the 4K content and 4K playback devices, you can at least enjoy displays that you might invest in.
Now coming to the MM8077, the power section of the combo, it features Marantz’s unique current feedback discrete power amp output stages that are identical for all channels. What helps the entire output stage is the multiple high current discrete power transistors that feature high slew rate and wide operating bandwidth. With such discrete arrangement the power amp claims to extract the maximum detail from today’s high resolution audio formats. These output devices are mounted on a specially made dual extruded aluminum alloy heat sink assembly, configured in a tunnel arrangement that provides both passive and active cooling. A major section of any amplifier, the massive heat sinks have multiple ribbed fins that provide a large passive cooling area resulting in a very effective heat sink operation. The powerful amp can deliver a reasonable 150 watts in each of the seven channels when operating in 8 ohms mode.
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