Marantz is a weird brand. I mean that in a good way, of course. I like weird. And I especially love this sort of weird. What makes Marantz a bit of an oddball in the consumer electronics industry? In my opinion, it's the company's magical ability to not be contained by the little boxes we draw around most manufacturers. Marantz AV receivers and surround processors manage to appeal to both mainstream, big-box-store audiences and audiophiles alike. They're consumer friendly, yet they're also a serious favorite amongst custom installers. Whether you end up buying an Onkyo, an Arcam, or something in between, a Marantz equivalent was almost certainly on your short list of potential buys.
If you're in the market right now for a 9.2-channel AV receiver with 11.2-channel processing, oodles of inputs, easy setup, intuitive multiroom capabilities, Alexa integration, and great performance, the company's new SR6012 receiver with HEOS should definitely be on your to-audition list.
The $1,499 SR6012 sits comfortably in the middle of Marantz's current full-sized receiver lineup, offering a pretty substantial upgrade over the $999 SR5012, thanks to its nine powered channels (versus seven), more powerful amps (110 watts per channel into eight ohms, measured full range with two channels driven at 0.08 percent THD-- versus 100wpc for the SR5012, measured the same), object-based format decoding, and 11.2-channel processing capabilities. On its own, without the addition of separate amps, the SR6012 will get you up to 5.1.4 or 7.1.2. What does it lack compared with the step-up $2,199 SR7012? Mostly just Auro 3D support, as well as more robust amplification.
The SR6012 offers plenty of features to be excited about, including eight HDMI inputs and three HDMI outputs with full HDCP 2.2 support, BT.2020, Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log Gamma pass-through, and eARC capabilities; two component video inputs (no, seriously) and a component video output (I know!); multichannel analog audio ins and full 11.2-channel pre-amp outputs; built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi; IP, RS-232, IR, and even RCA connections for control input and output; and of course Marantz's HDAM (Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Module) technology and current-feedback topology.
All of this is wrapped up in a chassis that's undeniably Marantz, from the elegantly beveled façade to the tiny but gorgeous porthole front-panel display to the meticulously organized and intuitive back panel, which shares a ton of DNA with similar offerings from Marantz's sister company Denon.
I won't spend a ton of time on the back panel and its I/O array, if only because we have so much else to talk about. As has become the trend, the SR6012's binding posts are laid out horizontally, which makes speaker hookup a breeze--regardless of whether you're using plugs, spades, or bare wires. Advanced control integration is also a snap, at least with Control4, since the SR6012 is supported by a super-swank SDDP IP driver that gives nuts-and-bolts access to the sorts of parameters that most AV receivers would never let you touch (like volume-ramp delays, for instance).
If you've installed and configured a Denon or Marantz receiver in the past few years, you'll almost certainly be familiar with the screens that greet you once you connect the receiver to a display and turn it on. The wizard walks you through everything from speaker hookup to input configuration in the clearest and most concise way imaginable, except for a few ambiguous questions that aren't that hard to sort out in the end. For example, when asked if I was using height speakers in my setup, I selected yes, not realizing that this question pertains only to actual physical speakers installed in-ceiling. I should have selected no and answered yes to the next question about Atmos effects modules, but it was easy enough to back up and correct my response.
Once you're done with that (or once you skip it, should you choose to jump directly to manual setup), you're greeted with all manner of in-depth settings, the likes of which we're seeing fewer and fewer of these days. You can, for example, set video scaling parameters, switch from fixed to relative volume readout, set a power-on loudness level, and set a relative mute level... and all of it is intuitively named and located right where you would expect it to be. If you happen to come across a feature whose function you're unsure of, there's usually a brief but thorough explanation along the bottom of the screen when you highlight any particular option.
The receiver also supports HEOS multiroom audio technology, for which you'll need to download the applicable app and set up an account. (I'll be covering HEOS in depth in a separate review of HEOS speakers, so I'm not going to focus on it much here.) If you don't use HEOS, there's still Bluetooth and Spotify Connect capabilities, both of which are simple to configure and work flawlessly.
What I really want to dig into in this section is room correction. The SR6012 features Audyssey MultEQ XT32, with LFC, Sub EQ HT, Dynamic Volume, and Dynamic EQ--all of which adds up to what's known as Audyssey Platinum. The SR6012 ships with the witch-hat Audyssey mic that you're likely already familiar with, but it also comes a cardboard mic stand for those of you who don't have a tripod for use with the mic. I do have a tripod, but I still decided to give the cardboard stand a go for my eight-point measurements and found it to be a very welcome bonus. The stand assembly couldn't be any easier; and, using the notches on the side of the stand, I was able to adjust the mic to ear height in seconds. This an incredibly welcomed addition to the package.
You have two options for how to run the measurements required for Audyssey to do its thing: either via the receiver's onscreen UI or via the new Audyssey MultEQ Editor app for iOS and Android devices. Just know that if you run Audyssey via the onscreen UI and decide to upgrade to the app experience, you'll have to run all of your measurements again. The app does cost $19.99, mind you, which might be a deterrent to some consumers; but, in my experience, it's completely worth it. My reason for saying so boils down to pretty much one reason: using the app, you can set an upper limit to Audyssey's filter frequency range. There are other settings you can tweak from within the app that aren't accessible via the receiver's onscreen interface--such as Midrange Compensation (aka the BBC Dip), which you can disable per speaker pair (or individually for the center speaker). You can also tweak target curves via the app, although it's not easy to do on the small screen of a phone. In tweaking the curve, you can't see the averaged in-room response of your speakers, so it's not the most helpful thing in the world.
On the other hand, the ability to set a maximum filter frequency addresses the single biggest beef I've had with Audyssey in the past, and the audible difference it makes, at least in my system, is monumental. In setting up the system in my room--in which I relied on Focal's Sib Evo Atmos 5.1.2 speaker system throughout the review--I settled on a max filter frequency of 600 Hz for the fronts and center, 800 Hz for the surrounds (which were a little close to a boundary and needed a little more help), and no upper limit on the up-firing Atmos effects modules built into the speakers.
Compared with an earlier setup (via the receiver's UI alone) in which I had no choice but to let Audyssey do its thing from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, this filter-limited configuration sounded more open, less sterile, and less constrained. To put it simply, the speakers still sounded like themselves.
The bass, though. Oh my, y'all! MultEQ XT32 worked absolute miracles with the bass in my room (coming from a pair of RSL Speedwoofer 10S subs, not the Focal sub that ships with the Sib Evo system), which is exactly what a good digital room correction system should do.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...