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Marantz SR7012 Listening Tests and Conclusion

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Marantz SR7012 lifestyle

The Marantz's sleek styling makes it a great fit for any decor.

Easy setup

The SR7012 may be a multichannel stalwart, but it can certainly stand in as a two-channel maestro.

Setting up the SR7012 was straightforward. Marantz and Denon now have identical setup menus between their AVRs and pre-pros. Those options are exceptionally well done with clear graphics and explanations that will cater to both novice and professional installers. I would caution that before you select a speaker layout, look at the diagram and text carefully.

Unlike my Denon AVR-X7200WA, where the speaker layouts are clearly labeled as Dolby Atmos or Auro-3D, the Marantz’s menu has been simplified. You’ll need to read the text at the bottom of the screen to see the list of supported formats.

Take special note that some speaker layouts show more channels than the Marantz is capable of powering and are actually labeled auto-switching. If you’re only looking at the illustrations, then you might make a mistake and think that the AVR is misbehaving with real-world content.

Associated Equipment

I set up the Marantz SR7012 in my Dolby Atmos and Auro-3D compliant theater, substituting it for my stalwart Denon X7200WA AVR. My associated equipment was an Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray player, AppleTV 4K, and JVC e-shift DLA-X570 projector.

To round out a full 7.1.4 setup, I added my Monoprice Monolith 7, to power the rear height channels. Those channels are assigned the default pre-out. For purposes of this review, I chose to run the Marantz SR7012 with a canonical Dolby Atmos and DTS:X speaker layout using top front and top rear in-ceiling height speakers.

I installed the Marantz SR7012 with two different speaker setups. The first was my standard 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos and DTS:X setup featuring SVS Ultra Towers, Ultra Center, and Ultra Bookshelf for the side and rear surrounds. Beale Street in-ceiling speakers handled top front and top rear height duties. Dual SVS SB13-Ultra subs anchored the system.

The second setup was a Definitive Technology 5.0.4 full-range system comprised of BP9080X towers with the built-in Dolby Atmos speaker modules for the fronts, the CS9060 center, and BP9060 full range speakers with the A90 Dolby Atmos speaker elevation modules.  I’m finishing up a separate review of these superb Definitive Technology speakers. Look for that review in the coming weeks.

Music Performance

Peter Gabriel Live in AthensAny system evaluation has to start with two-channel music and the SR7012 was up to the task. Music listening didn’t disappoint. I performed two-channel listening with both the SVS Ultra and the Definitive Technology BP9080X full range towers without any subwoofers, Audyssey, or DSP modes engaged.

I love the hi-res 48kHz/24-bit ALAC version of Peter Gabriel’s Live in Athens, which I’ve downloaded from Bower’s and Wilkins’ Society of Sound. Gabriel’s characteristically raspy vocals had excellent timbre. The live soundstage was expansive and the music came across with ample energy. Imaging was stable and precise.

Pink Beautiful TraumaPlaying the 24-bit/48kHz LSO live recording of Mozart’s Requiem conducted by Sir Colin Davis was divine. Track 4, “Rex Tremendae,” which was also featured in the movie Amadeus, is one of my favorite movements from this masterful work. The Marantz and SVS Ultra combo did a superb job of creating a deep and wide soundstage. The chorus’ vocal richness, energy, and dynamics came across, in spine-tingling beauty. Stringed instruments, which dominate this movement, were appropriately warm and controlled.

The Marantz had no trouble digging down deep when called upon. Bass lines on P!nk’s “Secrets” from Beautiful Trauma were articulate and controlled. For fun, I threw in the Trolls motion picture soundtrack and reveled in the deep, pulsating bass of the Justin Timberlake track, "Hair Up."

The SR7012 may be a multichannel stalwart, but it can certainly stand in as a two-channel maestro.

 4K/Ultra HD Movies

Warner Brothers sent me copies of the recently released Harry Potter movies on 4K Ultra HD with the DTS:X soundtrack. What a spectacle! The Harry Potter movies provided a good opportunity to showcase the Marantz’s DTS:X immersive audio prowess. Chapter 18 of the Goblet of Fire opens with a bell ringing, scaring black birds perched nearby. The bell’s gong scatters the birds, which fly towards the screen. The DTS:X mix beautifully tracked the wisps of avian wings from the screen in front to the soundstage behind me.

Harry Potter 4K/UltraHD Blu-RayAt about the movie’s one hour mark, a dragon breaks its chains and chases Harry on his broom as part of the Tri-wizard Tournament trials. As Harry tries to outrace the dragon sounds seamlessly panned to the side. Then, perched on top of Hogwarts’ spires, the dragon roars. The effect is eerily cool. The roar echoed above and behind me.

X-Men Age of Apocalypse is a demo-worthy 4K/Ultra HD Blu-ray. And the sonic spectacle begins right from the start with the opening 20th Century Fox logo. The SR7012 and SVS combo let the drum beats burst out with impact, weight, and depth and above all clean texture and detail. I loved the sensation of the flipping Marvel pages within the studio’s logo behind and around me. The sound then moved into focus to the front of the screen.

The Marantz SR7012 was a consummate maestro, commanding each musical note or sound object with exacting precision. The SR7012 created a vast, open soundstage as its canvas that perfectly reflected the ancient Egyptian outdoor procession at the movie’s onset. When the scene shifts to the inner recesses of Apocalypse’s pyramid, glorious choral voices formed the backdrop against which I could hear the microdynamics of the ceremony transferring Apocalypse’s conscience.

X-Men Apocalypse 4K/UHDWhen Egyptian guards rise up against Apocalypse, they break wooden poles supporting massive limestone blocks. When those blocks crash down into the pyramid, the unadulterated power of the SVS SB13-Ultra subs shook my theater space.

When Apocalypse’s pyramid temple collapses, the SR7012 demonstrated an uncanny ability to create controlled chaos. Sound objects were coming from all around and above, creating the sensation that my own ceiling was going to start collapsing! As the pyramid’s debris falls into a deep, rocky cavern, Death, one of Apocalypse’s four horsemen, transfers Apocalypse’s armor to his new body and protects him with a telekinetic shield from falling rocks. The SR7012 didn’t miss a single beat in any of the action. But the sonic ear candy was Chapter 14. With the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” playing, Quicksilver rescues the students in Professor Xavier’s academy from a massive explosion.  Sharp, fleeting sounds panned realistically and effortlessly all around me.  The SR7012 did an outstanding job making this scene live up to its sonic potential.

Thor Ragnarok 4K/UHDThor Ragnarok came out on 4K/Ultra HD Blu-ray just prior to submitting this article. I couldn’t resist throwing in this great Marvel treat. The Marantz consistently created a seamless, soundstage from the Thor Ragnarok Dolby Atmos track. For example, in Chapter Four, “Goddess of Death” storm clouds gather after Odin’s passing. Thunder peals across the sky just before Hela appears. The SR7012 conjured up a believable, enveloping experience as the thunder crackled overhead. Then, when the Bifrost opens, pulling up Loki and Thor with Hela trailing in pursuit, the sonic action panned to the side as Thor struggles with Hela.

Later on in Chapter 17, when the Hulk climbs out of the Asgardian waters after his fight with Fenris and jumps over Thor to attack the fire demon Surtur, I could clearly track the Hulk’s leap as the sound passed over and behind me. You can only experience these enthralling effects with a true immersive audio system.

The SR7012 did a superb job of reproducing discrete sound objects—even within large and chaotic soundscapes. For example, when Thor and the Hulk clash in the middle of the arena on Sakaar, you hear both the roar of the crowd along with discrete voices and effects.

Chapter 16, “What were you the God of Again?” was among my favorites as Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” opens the scene. The SR7012 captured the song’s raw energy. Even among the clash of Hela’s troops and Asgardians with Zeppelin’s classic in the background, I could clearly make out the nuanced clangs of swords and armor. What I want to impress is that these sounds had clear texture, placement, dimensionality, and definition. On lesser AVRs, these are just sounds. As Thor lands on the Bifrost bridge with a slam, I could distinctly make out each crisp, detailed crackle of lightning dancing around his hands and arms. This is the kind of elevated, controlled performance that high-end gear can deliver.

Conclusion

 

Marantz SR7012 3/4 view
The Marantz SR7012 commanded each musical note or sound object with exacting precision.

The age of immersive audio is upon us. If you’re a home theater enthusiast, you’d do well to put together the best immersive setup you can. If you have the means, then the Marantz SR7012 should be on your short list to drive that setup. The SR7012 is among the first crop of Marantz receivers to offer Amazon Alexa voice control. Along with robust HDR support and the latest HDMI 2.0 specifications, the SR7012 is at home in both smart homes and those wanting cutting-edge tech. Add to all that, eleven channels of processing; nine on-board, assignable amplification modules; HEOS multi-room streaming; hi-res audio playback; and support for every major consumer 3D audio format on the market today make this an incredible package. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value-laden Immersive Surround AVR.

But it’s not just in the specs department that the Marantz delivers. It’s at home with either music or movies and can fly like a butterfly or sting like a bee. In other words, the Marantz SR7012 is a power-packed AV receiver that can manage the slam of Thor’s Hammer or the finesse of orchestral violins. This is one darn fun and flexible receiver and easily captures my strong recommendation.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Multi-channel Audio PerformanceStarStarStarStar
Two-channel Audio PerformanceStarStarStarStar
Network FeaturesStarStarStarStarStar
Video ProcessingStarStarStarStarStar
Bass ManagementStarStarStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStarStar
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStarStarStar
Ease of SetupStarStarStarStarStar
FeaturesStarStarStarStarStar
Remote ControlStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarhalf-star
ValueStarStarStarStarhalf-star
About the author:
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Theo is a serious audiophile and home theater enthusiast—a passion he's enjoyed for over 20 years. He heads up many of our speaker system and receiver reviews as well as covering the latest in streaming technologies and Ultra HD video.

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Recent Forum Posts:

Rolljdc posts on December 31, 2020 02:19
Does SR7012 have a pre-amp mode (which disconnect the pre-amp to the amp}? Also, if it does, what is the voltage output?
PENG posts on September 06, 2020 09:36
IMWhizzle, post: 1416468, member: 91486
I was curious how the pre-outs on the Marantz 7011 measured. Unfortunately there is no amp disconnect feature for alle channels (only the hack for the mains). Hope someone can shed more light to use, even though the receiver is a couple of years old now. My five channel amp have a sensitivity input of 1.5v.

The measurements of the following should give you a good idea of what you can expect from the SR7011

Audioholics.com review:
SR8012

ASR reviews:
SR6014
AV7705

ASR reviewed the SR6014. The SR7011 should performed about the same, likely a few dB worse, like the AV7705 did, but imo there shouldn't result in any audible difference. So just relax and enjoy, especially if your 5 channel amp only needs 1.5 V for rated output, unless you listen loud, sit far away, and/or have low sensitivity speakers.

What did the online spl calculator tell you about your power needs? That should always be the first and most important step for anyone who is concerned about sound quality degradation due to pre-amp and/or power amp output limits. If you only need preamp output up to 0.5V, power amp output 10 W, then any AVR will do, but if you need preamp output up to 4 V, and power output 300 W/500 W 8/4 Ohm, then you would have to choose carefully.

You do have the option to run the front left and front right levels in “pre-amp mode” (practically speaking), using the amp assign feature. Whether it would make any audible improvements or not, it's free and easy to use that feature, so why not?
PENG posts on September 06, 2020 09:23
IMWhizzle, post: 1416468, member: 91486
I was curious how the pre-outs on the Marantz 7011 measured. Unfortunately there is no amp disconnect feature for alle channels (only the hack for the mains). Hope someone can shed more light to use, even though the receiver is a couple of years old now. My five channel amp have a sensitivity input of 1.5v.

ASR reviewed the SR6014. The SR7011 should performed about the same, likely a few dB worse, based on the AV7705's performance that was slightly worse, but imo there shouldn't result in any audible difference. So just relax and enjoy, especially if your 5 channel amp only needs 1.5 V for rated output, unless you listen loud, sit far away, and/or have low sensitivity speakers.

What did the online spl calculator tell you about your power needs? That should always be the first and most important step for anyone who is concerned about sound quality degradation due to pre-amp and/or power amp output limits. Reason is simple, if you only need preamp output up to 0.5V, power amp output 10 W, then any AVR will do, but if you need preamp output up to 4 V, and power output 300 W/500 W 8/4 Ohm, then you would have to choose carefully.

Regardless, you do have the option to run the front left and front right levels in “pre-amp mode” (practically speaking), using the amp assign feature. Whether it would make any audible improvements or not, it's free and easy to use that feature, so why not?

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/marantz-sr6014-avr-review.14615/
IMWhizzle posts on September 06, 2020 03:16
I was curious how the pre-outs on the Marantz 7011 measured. Unfortunately there is no amp disconnect feature for alle channels (only the hack for the mains). Hope someone can shed more light to use, even though the receiver is a couple of years old now. My five channel amp have a sensitivity input of 1.5v.
PENG posts on July 26, 2018 17:43
WhiteCoatGeek, post: 1260310, member: 86095
Denon X6400H and Marantz SR7012 have same price with former having 2 more channels and 140 wpc. If SR7012 doesn't have the improvements like a larger toroid power supply of SR8012, whats the point in buying Marantz over Denon? Are there any improvements in Marantz SR7012 over Denon X6400H?

It seems to be a supply and demand driven phenomenon that could be area specific. In the US and Canada, the X6200/X6300H used to cost a few hundred dollars more than the SR7010/7011, but that changed in the last year or two, they dropped the list price of the Denon. Else where in the world, such as in the far East, Europe and Australia, the AVR-X6400H does cost more, as it should.

In my opinion, the AVR-X4400H has almost identical specs (just less features) and lab measurements as the SR7012, has it's price point in between the X6400H and SR7012 and is a much better deal. I just replaced my Marantz ex-flag ship prepro with the X4400H and am very happy about it's performance so far. The only features missing in the Denon X4400H are the multichannel analog in that few people need, and the phono (MM) in.

Toroidal transformer is not always better. Here's a good article to read if you want to know more on this topic.

https://www.soundstage.com/maxdb/maxdb071998.htm

Suffice to say the flag ship Denon AVR that is listed $1,000 more than the Marantz flagship, opted for a E-I core transformer this time around. Previous flag ship such as the 5308, 5805 did use toroids.
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