Marantz SR7011 A/V Receiver Review Page 2

Stepping through the 2015 Dolby Atmos Demo Disc, I concentrated on selections that allowed me to close my eyes and listen to the overhead effects, from the mechanized noise of the “747 Takeoff” and “Helicopter Demo” to the more natural sounds of “Rainstorm” and “Santeria.” With Audyssey correction enabled, the receiver’s timbral finesse made trajectories in the 3D soundfield easy to follow. I also listened eyes-closed, for the first time, to the aerial combat scene from Unbroken and found it all the more convincing that way.

Still I Remain Tied to the Mast
My latest—and I hope last—copy of Steely Dan’s Aja is the Japanese two-channel non-hybrid SACD. The Marantz fulfilled the potential of this best-case material in every respect, from timbre to imaging to layering. I used “Black Cow” as the test bed for stereo to Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X rechannelings. The transition from 2.1 (stereo with bass management) to 5.1.4 (expansion to center, surrounds, and heights) predictably broke up the rich density of the soundstage. In this case, Dolby Surround’s simulation of extra air was not an improvement. And if there’s one album I don’t want to hear in the surrounds, it’s this one. DTS Neural:X was excruciatingly synthetic. I decided to “throw out the hardware” and go with the unvarnished stereo mix for the magnum opus of the title track, the sonorous horns of “Deacon Blues,” and “Home at Last.” The one bit of present-day tampering I left intact was the bass management. Aja’s groove loves a good sub.

417marantzpro.rem.jpgRandy Newman’s Trouble in Paradise was the original LP release. It’s his savagely satirical idea of bright 1980s FM-friendly pop, festooned with happy-go-lucky synthesizers, like holiday twinkle lights. The Marantz depicted them for the cheap finery they are but didn’t let them submerge the human elements—Newman’s croaking lead vocals, Paul Simon’s duet vocal, and sumptuous backing vocals from an all-star cast, including Linda Ronstadt, Rickie Lee Jones, Don Henley, Lindsey Buckingham, and Christine McVie. The Marantz delivered the L.A.-slick production without disturbing its delicate balance.

The Marantz was at its best reproducing the BBC recording and CD release of Sviatoslav Richter performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 with Benjamin Britten leading the English Chamber Orchestra at Britten’s 1967 Aldeburgh Festival. The concert hall, Snape Maltings, is both a repurposed brewery and a great name for a movie villain. The amp practically caressed this rarefied historical document as piano and orchestra bounced off the industrial stone walls, creating a raw, exciting live sound that was markedly improved by the room correction; turning it off only blurred imaging without improving tonal balance. There was so much airy ambience coming out of 2.1 room-corrected channels that I had to check to make sure Dolby Surround and the height channels were off.

The HEOS Angle
Denon’s HEOS multiroom products include the large HEOS 7 and small HEOS 1 speakers, which I sampled, with the HEOS 5 and 3 falling in between. Other HEOS products include a soundbar, stereo amp, multizone amp, preamp, and Wi-Fi extender. The HEOS protocol streams through a Wi-Fi network; HEOS products also stream device-to-device via Bluetooth. The HEOS App is available for Android 2.3 and up, iOS 7 and up, and Kindle Fire devices. There’s also driver support for custom home automation systems including Control4 and RTI. HEOS supports both lossy and lossless formats, including PCM up to 192/24 and DSD up to 5.6 MHz for both wireless and wired connections.

Denon provides no HEOS speaker details as to driver sizes or power ratings of the internal amplifiers, simply the number of each. The HEOS 7 has a single woofer, two passive radiators, two midrange drivers, and two tweeters, driven by five amp channels. It’s the only HEOS model to sport a stereo headphone minijack, handily within reach on the left side. The HEOS 1 has a woofer and a tweeter, each driven by an amp channel. Its enclosure is sealed to resist humidity, with a rubber piece to protect the jacks. The back panel includes a threaded insert for wall mounting. Either model can be used by itself or in a stereo pair. Both include Ethernet, line minijack, and USB input on back, the last for connection to storage devices only (not computers).

The HEOS app steps through the setup process. These are the first wireless speakers I’ve set up that required a connection between the headphone jack of my mobile device using the supplied but unusual 4-pole cable, an iPad mini, and the unit’s analog aux-in. The app uses this connection to harvest information from your mobile device about your Wi-Fi setup to simplify things. Press the back-panel setup button, and LEDs on both front and back light up or flash in colors that signal steps in the process. Key in your home network password, or press the WPS button on your router (if applicable), and you’re done. Once your HEOS speakers are up and running, you may want to open a HEOS account. It remembers music service log-ins, settings, preferences, and playlists.

The app seems to have been designed for a phone rather than tablet and is reasonably simple once you get to know it. The home screen is a group of tiles with the name-brand music services at top and what I deem the more interesting stuff at the bottom: music stored on the mobile device, the USB input, playlists, history, favorites, and (at the very bottom) access to AVR inputs plus the analog-ins for each HEOS device.

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I knuckle-rapped both speakers and found the smaller HEOS 1 to be the less resonant of the two, with less plastic-box coloration. The first thing I auditioned, at random, was the Columbia University jazz station WKCR, which was playing a minimalist work by Terry Riley. The little speaker may not have afforded a high-end experience, but it had good clarity and solidity. I stopped and listened, reluctant to break the spell until the music finished. That is never a bad sign.

The HEOS 1 Go Pack is a battery that screws onto the bottom of the HEOS 1 speaker. After using the speaker for a while, I unplugged its power cord and carried it away from the router into adjacent rooms. It was able to maintain a connection, though its ability to resist dropouts was position-sensitive in the kitchen, where the signal is weakest for any device. This was par for my environment.

Then I switched to the receiver’s Blu-ray input and replayed the Mozart/Richter/Britten (because it was just so good) on the larger HEOS 7, using the app to select that music source for that specific speaker. Reduced to a single speaker, the vitality of that incredible brewery ambience faded, though a hint of it still came through. Bass was firm but unexaggerated, even with the speaker less than 2 feet from the wall. I did find the strings a little strident at high volume, and the treble control offered only a narrow range of adjustment.

The Marantz SR7011 is as smart as a receiver gets. It has a little extra power for slightly challenging speakers and has been tweaked by people with good ears. The video feature set is comprehensive; on the audio side, the only thing missing is PC-via-USB connection, though you can access music from a computer through the network connection. If I were living with this receiver, I’d spring for one or more of the HEOS 1 speakers to extend its reach into nearby rooms. Between the receiver’s feature set and the added attractions of HEOS, you could have a system that does just about anything.
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COMMENTS
Rhino's picture

Thank you for your detailed review! I own a pair Sonus Faber Grand Piano Domus(FR&FL), Center Domus(center) and a pair of Concertino Domus(SR&SL). I was wondering your thoughts on the best receiver to power them. A sales guy told me that the Marantz SR7011 should be plenty to power my set up but I'm not too sure about that. I have been thinking maybe just get the Marantz SR6011 and use the pre-outs with a 3 channel Emotiva XPA gen 3(which is possibly overkill) for the fronts and just power the surrounds with the SR6011. My budget is around $2,500, which is maybe not enough. I've been researching the furums for a couple of days now and haven't been able to figure out the best solution to power my Sonus Faber speakers. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

jaredjcrandall's picture

I like outlaw audio amps more than emotiva, but both are good value amps. I live in Utah but have bought a lot of marantz gear from safeandsoundhq.com, call those guys up, they will for sure take care of you and help you figure out what to do under your budget. I bet you'd be able to squeeze in both the av7703 and a good amp.

jaredjcrandall's picture

I like outlaw audio amps more than emotiva, but both are good value amps. I live in Utah but have bought a lot of marantz gear from safeandsoundhq.com, call those guys up, they will for sure take care of you and help you figure out what to do under your budget. I bet you'd be able to squeeze in both the av7703 and a good amp.

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