Marantz AV7005 Surround Processor and MM7055 Amplifier Page 2
When you download the free Marantz Wizz App (as I did), you can control the AV7005 from your iPhone or iPod touch. This is particularly useful for controlling zones two and three (only one of which includes video) from anywhere in your home. It’s also fun to use your phone as a remote in the main zone. Or you can use a Crestron or other control system. With an optional Bluetooth receiver ($100, not available in time for the review), you can stream audio from Bluetooth-enabled devices like iPhones.
The AV7005 includes a moving-magnet phono preamp (yay), an unusually versatile AM/FM HD Radio tuner with 56 presets divided into eight blocks, plus a Sirius/XM port (I get Howard over the Internet and in the car). When you connect an iPod to the front USB port, the GUI provides complete onscreen control via the iPod. Connect a USB stick containing music (FLAC, WAV, MP3, etc.) and/or photos, and more often than not, you’ll have easy-to-use access.
For instance, EMI issued the entire remastered stereo Beatles catalog on a USB dongle that you pull by its stem out of a small green metal apple. Stick the dongle into the AV7005’s front-panel USB port, and you can use the cursor to instantly select any of the albums and tunes. You can be sure these 24-bit/44.1-kilohertz files sound better than anything you can currently download from iTunes. In fact, these files sound considerably better than the CDs. Bit depth rules.
The Marantz’s digital-to-analog converters are spec’d as 24-bit/192-kHz, and signal processing is via an Analog Devices SHARC 32-bit processor. I could go on about the features, the construction, and the all-discrete preamplifier outputs that use Marantz’s self-described Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Modules (HDAM). But there wouldn’t be space to cover the surround processor’s performance. Be assured that despite its relatively low price, the AV7005 is packed with features and appears to be superbly built. I don’t know how Marantz can sell this unit for $1,500.
Of course the AV7005 offers decoding for all of the current lossless audio codecs, video upconversion for lower-resolution sources to 1080p via the HDMI output, and analog upconversion to component video out, all using Anchor Bay 10-bit video processing. The manual references these, but not in any meaningful way. This brings up my only complaints about the AV7005: the manual and the online support (yes I sound like a broken record and will continue to until the industry addresses this).
The product description “one-sheet” you can download from Marantz’s Website claims that the unit has four HDMI inputs. It has six. It says the unit is truly balanced, but a Marantz rep says it isn’t and that the XLR outputs are not really dualdifferential balanced outputs. Three different informational PDFs that Marantz offers for download from its Website turn out to be the same one: RF codes.
As is typical with A/V products, the manual is written in confusing passive-tense construction translated from Japanese. This makes the already difficult-to-understand instructions even more so, and of course it’s laden with acronyms and jargon. The index is a nice addition, but it’s woefully incomplete. Want to set up the radio or have a question about its functioning? Go to “R,” and you’ll find no reference to the radio. Basic radio instructions are located in the manual’s Advanced section, and the detailed radio setup is located in the manual’s Basic Setup instructions.
Some impossible-to-understand graphs may have you tearing your hair out—like one labeled Relationship Between Video Signals and Monitor Output that I defy anyone to understand. Numbers 1 through 21 are listed down the left column. I have absolutely no idea what those numbers refer to, and even if I did, the rest of the grid is maddeningly complex and impossible to decipher, as are many of the manual’s sections.
Even if the manual were a model of instructional clarity, the AV7005 is a complex component. It includes so many features and capabilities, it poses a serious obstacle to setup and enjoyment for anyone who hasn’t previously set up and configured an A/V receiver or surround processor. The industry desperately needs a manual standards committee and/or a clean prose style based on storytelling, not confusing wiring diagrams showing every possible connection, indecipherable grids, and acronym-laden gibberish.
If you have ever set up an A/V receiver or surround processor, setting up and configuring the AV7005 will be surprisingly easy. The graphic user interface (GUI) is excellent, intuitive, and attractive. I connected, configured, and named all of the inputs without cracking the instruction manual—and that’s not something I’ve easily managed with some other review samples. OMG! After I’d watched, listened to, and enjoyed the AV7005 for a few days, I inserted the Audyssey microphone, and the auto EQ ran flawlessly. One area in which the Marantz isn’t up to the very bleeding edge is its inclusion of Audyssey MultEQ XT, when the very latest is MultEQ XT32.
Should you wish, you can manually adjust each speaker’s crossover point and perform manual EQ adjustments to each speaker over a wide range of frequencies. Marantz also includes superfluous video adjustability and processing that duplicates what’s found in any high-performance HDTV. Few people will use these, and those who do will probably mess things up more than improve them. In my opinion, double video processing can do nothing good for the picture, and you’ll be better off bypassing it. Marantz isn’t alone here. It’s an unfortunate industry trend. Fortunately, the AV7005 also includes every useful feature that I can think of; all it excludes is the high price.
Implementation Is the Game
Most of today’s surround processors seem to offer the same or similar feature sets: lossless audio codecs and other licensed audio processing formats; licensed room EQ setup software; off-the-shelf video processing and A/D/D/A chips; and THX certification (or not).