Receivers

Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 7.1 A/V Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

Audio and Video Performance

The Marantz 7002 has the Select2 stamp of approval from THX which is their guarantee that the receiver will provide a theater like experience for rooms with a viewing distance of 10-12 feet.  Based on what I heard, I agree.

Audio

When I evaluated the music capabilities of the 7002, I used both my PS3 as well as my Yamaha CDC-835 via Digital Coax connection.  This was mainly so I could test the HDCD decoding capability of the Marantz.  If you aren’t already familiar with HDCD, the 20-bit HDCD encoded CDs provide additional information over standard 16 bit Red Book CDs.  This extra information can be used by recording engineers to improve the sound of a standard CD for those of use with equipment to decode the information - like the 7002.

Enough background, was there a difference between the 16bit signal and the 20 bit signal?  After listening to a few convenient HDCDs including Garth Brooks’ “Sevens”, I can definitely report that the Marantz does detect and decode the HDCD information - the little light on the display helps with that. While it wasn’t a night and day difference, the HDCD version of the song was preferable.  The sound was a bit cleaner with HDCD with a more three dimensional sound stage.  Considering that HDCD is available on many CDs at no extra cost, this is a nice feature of the Marantz.

During my music evaluation, I tried a few of the surround processing modes offered by the 7002 or in the case of the first, the unprocessed mode.  The 7002 offers a “Pure Direct” mode that eliminates any processing of the music by the receiver.  It dims the display to eliminate any injection of noise to give the purest (of course) signal possible.  I found that I preferred the normal mode on the 7002 for my system. The normal modes use of bass management better integrated the sub and the main speakers.  Your mileage will vary - especially those of you with full range towers up front.

The Marantz also offers a Dolby Pro Logic 2 and DTS Neo:6 processing to expand 2 channel music into all of your speakers.  Even though my preferences typically lean towards a two channel listening experience, I found that the simulated surround offered sounded quite natural and filled the room well.  This was especially true using the DTS Neo: 6 Music option.

Video

Originally, I wanted to focus on the high definition audio decoding provided by the 7002 and even purchased a few new Blu-Ray disks to check out its performance.  These were “The Incredible Hulk” since it offered a DTS-HD Master Audio and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” which offered a Dolby TreuHD soundtrack.  Unfortunately, I ran into a problem.  I discovered that my Sony PS3 bitstream output cannot transmit either of these formats over the HDMI connection I used (so that the Marantz would decode the signal) – oops!  Instead the PS3 internally decodes these surround formats and sends it as a PCM signal to the Marantz.  So what you ask?  While I was not able to test the internal decode of the Marantz, the uncompressed sound offered by these disks were still incredible.  Dialog was clear and the effects were enveloping and engrossing.  I particularly enjoyed the new THX intro on Indy as well as the escape from the warehouse in chapter 2.  I would have preferred that the Marantz do the heavy lifting on the surround decode.  However, in my “every man” setup using a PS3 (likely still the most common Blu-Ray player) as the source these results will probably be relevant to most of you out there.

Also noteworthy, the 7002 offers Dolby Headphone technology.  For those late nights when you can’t bother anyone and can live without your sub, this simulated surround processing can give you a theater experience with just your headphones.