Processors

Marantz AV7701 7.2 A/V Preamp/Processor

ARTICLE INDEX

The Marantz AV7701 In Use

Right off the bat I went to Sea Change from Beck to see how Audyssey performs. I've never been a fan of Audyssey and two-channel audio. Recently I've moved into a better listening room, and I was hopeful that if it had to make adjustments they would be smaller in nature. My initial impression is that imaging is much improved over prior implementations of Audyssey, even in the AV7005 that I own.

Vocals and instruments can be located in the soundstage better, instead of being really diffuse in nature. The bass seems to be toned down quite a bit, and disabling Audyssey did bring that back up. While bass is louder with Audyssey disengaged, it also is flabby and loose. I find myself preferring the tightness of the corrected bass, and left it engaged. For the first time, I actually left Audyssey enabled with stereo music. Now this can easily have be the better room, but even with the AV7005 I keep disabling it, so to my ears the AV7701 has improved upon the performance of Audyssey from the prior model.

The phenomenal SACD of Wish You Were Here sounds good, though a bit different. The opening of "Welcome to the Machine" is set deep back in the center of the soundstage, far more distant than I am used to it sounding. At the start of "Wish You Were Here", the audible cough comes out clear and precisely located, and once the song kicks in the details are clear as our recent sunny days. The best aspect of the Marantz is a clear and seamless transition between speakers. As sounds move around me, and across the front of the room, there are no gaps between speakers, or mismatches in level or sound. It throws out a very clear, coherent soundstage that lacks transitions or breaks. With an enveloping mix like the Pink Floyd album, it is wonderful job at sucking you into the space.

The best soundtrack I've heard this year has come from Zero Dark Thirty, the film detailing the search for Osama bin Laden. There are many scenes set in crowded markets and other environments that the film really places you into, and makes you really feel like you are in that space. There are also surprising explosions and assassination attempts that call for quick dynamic surges, as well as the near silent raid on the bin Laden compounds at the end. With all of these varied environments the Marantz didn't disappoint and I stayed engrossed in the film.

A new feature I was happy to see on the AV7701 was Spotify. I've been burned too many times recently buying albums from artists I liked before, only to find their new album disappoints. Now I can simply stream every new album I want to listen to straight to the AV7701 and then decide if it's worth the money. Combined with AirPlay, and support for albums located on a DLNA server, you can quite easily play back all of your streaming and computer audio on the AV7701 without any extra hardware. The available iOS and Android application makes browsing Spotify or networked devices easy to do without a display as well, so you can listen to music without needing your display or projector.

In use, the AV7701 is a well-mannered beast, free of those annoyances and distractions that can turn a good product into one that you don't want to use. It performs admirably in my system, and has some very nice enhancements over the AV7005 to make it more flexible and enjoyable for daily use.