By John Sciacca January 9,2013
“These go to 11!”
–This is Spinal Tap
The 8801’s front retains Marantz’s clean, porthole design and a flip down door that conceals a larger display and some additional buttons along with a USB and HDMI input. Around back are all of the gold plated ins and outs.
For the review Marantz’s 8801 AV preamp/processor was connected to its 8077 power amp with seven XLR cables and a control cable to power the amp on/off with the 8801.
Sure, a home theater receiver is perfectly adequate for most people. It’s an all-in-one workhorse that covers a large range of budgets, handles decoding, switching and amplification chores, and does more than most people will ever want or need. But “most people” is not all people. Some people crave fanatical build quality and every cutting-edge feature and tweak to wring out every last droplet of performance from their systems. These people live for that last bit of improvement that makes all of the difference. For them, a simple AV receiver might not fit the bill. And for those clients that literally want to go to 11 (channels that is), the new Marantz AV8801 preamplifier/processor and MM8077 power amplifier will be a dynamic duo that fits the bill.
I’m not gonna lie; I was incredibly excited to get this combo installed in my rack. My current pre-pro (the Marantz AV7005) was about two years old and was missing several key features that were included in the 8801 and I was psyched to experience the upgrades of this flagship combo in my home.
From the moment you unbox the AV-8801, it’s clear this is a high-performance machine. Even without amplification, it weighs more than most AV receivers, and the components and layout inside the machine are the makings of AV porn. In an era when things are getting lighter and cheaper, everything about the AV-8801 feels solid and highquality.
The 8801’s front retains Marantz’s clean, porthole design and a flip down door that conceals a larger display and some additional buttons along with a USB and HDMI input. Around back are all of the gold plated ins and outs. Each video input can be scaled up to 4K resolution on the HDMI outputs, which have two mirrored outputs in the main zone (great for dual-display systems), and a zone 4 output that is controlled separately. Component users are accommodated with a 3-in/2-out matrix. Rather than wasting space detailing each input, let’s just say there’s a ton, and I doubt any system would ever use them all.
The 8801 has network and internet streaming capabilities–including Pandora, Spotify, AirPlay and DLNA 1.5 certification–so there is a LAN jack, but no Wi-Fi.) It can also decode FLAC files up to 192/24. Also cool is a fourport Ethernet switch on the back which will lets the 8801 serve a network hub for other components (sadly, it is only 10/100 and not Gigabit.) A USB input on the back will be a welcome addition for owners wanting a permanently connected drive. The 8801 is Control4-certified and also has an RS-232 port.
One of the features that sets the AV-8801 apart is its ability to handle 11.2 channels of audio… simultaneously. Many processors make you choose between surround back, front height, or front width, but not the 8801. You got 11.2 channels? Well, this baby lets you enjoy them. All of them. Processing choices include Audyssey DSX or DTS Neo:X for turning two channels into 11. Balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA are available for all 13 (11.2) outputs.
For the review Marantz’s 8801 AV preamp/processor was connected to its 8077 power amp with seven XLR cables and a control cable to power the amp on/off with the 8801. The 8801 is also the first Marantz component to feature Audyssey’s far more powerful MultEQ XT32 processing. This features more processing horsepower and room correction for problematic bass information, and can correct two subs independently. (It is also Pro EQ enabled for the ultimate Audyssey calibration.) I connected the 8801 to the 8077 with seven XLR cables and a control cable to power the amp on/off with the 8801. A separate amplifier drove my front height channels.
After connecting my components (the 8801 features a cool new setup GUI) and running the Audyssey processing, I settled in to listen, beginning with some two-channel audio of high-res material downloaded from HDTracks.com. I started with Rebecca Pidgeon’s “Four Marys” (96/24), a sparse recording, and even in stereo, the ambience was amazing. The 8801/8077 combo produced an incredibly wide soundfield stretching well-beyond my speakers while keeping Pidgeon’s ethereal voice tightly focused. I also listened to REM’s first album, Murmur (192/24), and the recording was so revealing it was like hearing the album for the first time. Michael Stipe’s vocals had a new clarity and instruments were well defined. While Neo:X and ProLogic IIx + Audyssey added a more roomfilling experience, “plain” stereo from the Marantz just sounded so sweet and pure that it was my preferred listening mode.
The 8801 was possibly even more impressive on movies, where I could finally experience all nine channels at once (width speakers aren’t possible in my room.) The Brave Blu-ray features a 7.1 DTS-HD audio track and with Neo:X processing engaged, my room was alive with sound! The opening scene of Master and Commander showed off the 8801’s ability to reproduce nuanced details like sails billowing, easily located footsteps, and the tinkling of metal…right before cannon blasts ripped the room apart! And through it all, dialog remained clear and understandable.
Besides deep bass that was tight and loud without any bloat, I also felt that the Audyssey XT32 processing does a far better job of creating a matched and cohesive sound field across my front L/C/R channels.
Is the terrific sound due to the three Analog Devices SHARC DSPs or the 192/32 DACs on each channel or Marantz’s proprietary HDAMs in Current Feedback topology, the massive toroidal power supply or the coppershielded chassis? I don’t know. Or care. And when you hear how good it sounds, neither will you or your clients.
While the individual $6,000 retail price ($3,599 for the 8801 and $2,399 for the 8807) might seem steep to some, Marantz is offering these in a bundle price of $5,000 when purchased together. How good of a deal is this? Well, my home theater has never sounded better, and I’m buying the set Marantz sent to me.
Terrific build and sound quality that incorporates nearly every cutting edge feature an audiophile or home theater lover could ask for
Wanting to add width channels and buy a second subwoofer now
• 11.2 channel A/V preamp/ processor
• A udyssey MultEQ XT32 processing including Sub EQ HT for dual subwoofer setups
• 7 HDMI inputs with 3 HDMI outputs, including dual main-zone and discreet sub zone
• High-resolution 192 kHz/32-bit DACs on all channels
• LAN with 4-port Ethernet switch and network streaming
• 7 x 150-watts per channel into 8 ohms
• A V8801 – 7.28 x 17.32 x 15.33-inches (HxWxD); Weight 30.6 pounds
• MM 8077 – 7.29 x 17.32 x 15.1-inches (HxWxD); Weight 45.41 pounds
Contact Quality Audio Video in Denver today to inquire about these product amazing new home theater separates from Marantz.
By John Sciacca January 9,2013