As much as I enjoyed reviewing the Marantz SR7500 receiver (was it really 18
months ago?), at the time I found myself lusting over the next-in-line
receiver, the 8500. In fact, I said that if I were in the market, I would
want to take a "long look" at the 8500. With a list price of only $500 more
than the SR7500, it included a slew of additional features, such as a
toroidal power transformer, HDCD decoding, and digital video switching (DVI).
Fast forward to CEDIA 2006, when Marantz showed off the 8500's successor,
the new SR8001 THX Select2 surround receiver. The 8001 packs more even
advanced features into its copper-plated chassis than its predecessor, so
when Marantz offered to send me the SR8100 for review, the only question in
my mind was whether it was lust or really love?
The SR8001 sits immediately below Marantz's flagship SR9600 in the current
model line-up, although you could buy two SR8001s for the same price ($4,199
vs. $1,999 list price, respectively).
The SR8001 at first glance resembles the
previous year's SR7500, but in a much shallower, copper-plated chassis
(almost three inches shallower than the SR7500).
The front panel has the familiar two large
knobs for volume and input selection, along with the drop-down door
revealing more controls for those wanting the exercise or refusing to admit
that they've lost the remote control (again).
The display has the usual Marantz suite of
inputs and processing modes, augmented by three rather bright turquoise
lights, including one that stays on full time just to let you know that the
HDMI input is connected. Thankfully, the display can be turned off (but not
The SR 8001 has six digital inputs (three coax
and three optical), plus four, count 'em, four HDMI inputs (ver. 1.2). The
Marantz has two HDMI outputs, perfect for those who use a plasma for daytime
viewing, then lower the 100" screen and fire up their front projector when
the sun goes down. It also has two component video outputs, which can be
used to send video to a second room, along with audio to three different
zones from an independent source.
The SR8001 is THX Select2 certified, capable
of driving 125 watts to each of its seven channels, and incorporates the
usual suite of processing modes, driven by TI's 32-bit DSP chipset. As
stated above, the Marantz includes HDCD decoding, and incorporates a
toroidal transformer, quieter and more efficient than the laminated
transformers found in less expensive receivers.
The remote control is virtually identical to
that used with the older SR7500 model. It is fully backlit, with individual
source buttons and one-touch switching. The soft-assignable buttons flanking
the LED screen still don't line up properly, a minor nit.
Go to Part II.