Sugg. Retail: $1300 (CAN)
Distributor: Lenbrook Industries,
633 Granite Court, Pickering,
ON L1W 3K1
(905) 831-6555 FAX 831-6936
(Reprinted from the Summer/Fall 2000 Audio Ideas Guide)
There are now Dolby Digital/DTS receivers at almost all price points above about $700, and the Marantz SR-7000, while not the least expensive, appears to be one of the most attractive in its mix of features and user convenience. Its look is substantial without being massive like the Yamaha RX-V1, and it does not ring the DSP chimes, but provides features for practical use, including “multiple DC triggers for custom installations”, according to the Marantz brochure.
As well as Dolby Digital and DTS playback, the SR-7000 also offers 96/24 D/A converters, and has 5 digital audio inputs, 2 optical and 3 coax. S-video switching parallels the composite inputs and outputs, inputs provided for TV, LD, DVD, VCR-1, DSS/VCR-2, with outputs for monitor, multi-room, and video recording. Audio inputs for CD and in/outs for Tape and CD-R/MD are also offered, as well as a set of 6-channel audio inputs. There are also front panel A/V inputs. Output power is rated at 100 watts X 5 at 8 ohms.
Marantz is justifiably famous for its universal remote controls, and the SR-7000 is graced with a very good one, with an LCD readout that can largely replace the on-screen menu system, something I like. Backlit, it does not present a multitude of buttons, many doing double duty, for example, the numeric ones. It also has a jog dial with enter buttons on either side to simplify menu negotiation. The remote both learns and does macro sequences, so once things are set up and customized, the receiver becomes much easier to operate. The RC1200 remote is also available separately, along with the larger and more elaborate RC2000 Mk II and the RC5000 touchscreen model. This least elaborate Marantz remote certainly outshines the rather spartan and hard-to-read one that comes with the RX-V1.
As with the Yamaha, I tested the sensitivity and selectivity of the SR-7000 tuner, using our outdoor bowtie double dipole antenna. It brought in 50 stations, being almost as sensitive, but wasn’t quite as selective, and lacked the RX-V1’s superb stereo quieting. Still, it’s a very good tuner, the equal of many separates at or near the price of this complete receiver.
Most of the listening to the Marantz was done through the Paradigm Stylus compact speaker system, and, as noted therein, they made a good match. The SR-7000 was happy doing Dolby Digital and DTS, as well as laserdisc digital stereo, and had no trouble automatically deciding what kind of bitstream it was getting. The sound quality was consistently good, with one exception (though it may not matter to most owners): It did not sound all that great with 96- kHz/24-bit audio DVDs, the 96/20 DAC of my ancient Pioneer DVL-90 clearly audibly superior when fed into the analog CD inputs of the SR-7000. The other oddity was that the receiver would not allow even matrix surround playback of 96/24 discs, but stereo-only; this may be a result of both discrete (DD,DTS) and matrix (Pro Logic, Hall, 5-channel stereo, etc.) decoding all being done digitally by the same DACs, which likely cannot do these and 96/24 at once.
What it does do, however, in surround decoding is offer several enhancement modes of Dolby Digital and DTS, allowing the fairly subtle DSP overlays of Movie, Music, Hall, Matrix, DTS Cinema, and DTS Music. I’m not sure exactly what they each do, but they seemed to add a greater presence and depth to the sound.
The video throughput of the receiver was excellent for both S and composite signals, no degradation visible on our 51″ IHF-calibrated Pioneer RPT. I’m sometimes inclined to bypass the video switching in A/V receivers, but had no such concerns here.
In sum, the Marantz SR-7000 is a very good A/V receiver, and a handsome one at that, with a superb remote control, plenty of power, and most important, lots of user friendliness. Though its basic features and some of its extras may be available at almost half the price, I’ve yet to see them put together in such an elegantly functional package as this.