One of the biggest benefits of HomeTheaterReview.com's experiment with affiliate links over the past year is that it gives us some valuable insight into what sorts of products our readers are actually buying--not individually, mind you, but as a group. One of the most surprising insights is that our readers are almost a hivemind when it comes to purchasing AV receivers. By a staggering margin, most of you opt for either the Denon or Marantz at roughly the $1,500 price point. This year, that would be the recently reviewed Denon AVR-X4500H or Marantz's semi-equivalent SR6013.
In other words, if we reviewed those two models alone out of the current slate of AVRs, we would be covering the needs for the vast (and I do mean vast) majority of our readership. Seriously, though, what fun would that be? Sometimes you just want to pull out the big guns.
The high-caliber offering in Marantz's current lineup of AV receivers is the SR8012, an 11.2-channel beast machine that boasts 140 watts of power per channel (into an 8-ohm load, 20Hz to 20kHz, 0.05 percent THD, two channels driven). With a 780-watt toroidal power supply onboard, it doesn't take much math to realize that the SR8012 can't deliver that kind of output with all eleven channels driven at once, but still, it's an impressive powerhouse that should be sufficient to fill even moderately large-sized rooms with sound, depending, of course, on the sensitivity of your speakers.
All told, the SR8012 features seven back-panel HDMI 2.0 inputs with support for HDCP 2.2 copy protection, Dolby Vision, HDR10, and Hybrid Log Gamma, along with one additional (and identically spec'd) HDMI input around front. There's also a trio of HDMI outputs: two main zone (one with ARC) and one second zone. The receiver also supports two key features from the upcoming HDMI 2.1 spec: eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode). So, unless you'll accept nothing less than 10K/120fps video passthrough, the SR8012 is current on the relevant video standards. The receiver has also been updated to include IMAX Enhanced support, and decodes all of the latest audio formats, including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D.
In terms of legacy connectivity, it features 7.1-channel analog audio inputs, three component video inputs and one output, six line-level stereo analog audio inputs (RCA), two optical and two coaxial digital audio inputs (assignable), and a phono input with a signal ground. There's also a pair of 12v trigger outputs, a 3.5mm IR input, RS-232, and of course an RJ45 port for network connectivity and IP control. The package also comes with screw-in external antennas for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Granted, all of the above reads remarkably similar to Denon's AVR-X6500H, give or take a few ins and outs. Dig under the hood, though, and there are some significant differences, including the SR8012's reliance on Marantz's proprietary HDAM (Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Modules) circuitry, a beefier toroidal power supply, more rigid construction, a stronger chassis, and better capacitors, just to name a few.
Like the X6500H, though, the SR8012 supports voice control via Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Josh.ai, and Siri, as well streaming features like Apple AirPlay 2 and of course Sound United's wireless multiroom streaming ecosystem, HEOS.
I'm fully aware of the fact that I'm starting to sound like a broken record on this subject, but the first thing you notice about the SR8012 when you turn it around or crawl behind it to set it up is the long row of translucent, horizontally arrayed binding posts stretching from side to side at the bottom of the chassis. With the binding post pairs lying side-by-side instead of stacked atop one another, it's simply much easier to get to them to connect speaker cable to them, whether you're using bare wire or banana clips.
This ease of connectivity is aided by the fact that there's a wide stretch of real estate between the speaker connections on the bottom and the HDMI ports up top, which for most people will constitute the bulk of wiring and cabling connected to the receiver. (The likeliest exception being the subwoofer outputs, which are right in the middle of the back panel, amidst the 11.2-channel preamp outs, and set apart by their black coloration). In other words, even for someone with big front paws like me, there's a lot of room to work with here, and that boils down to intelligent arrangement of the various inputs and outputs, despite how many there are.
Likewise, the onscreen setup wizard for the SR8012 strikes a beautiful balance between holding the hands of those who are newer to the home theater setup process, and not frustrating those who could set up an Atmos system with their eyes closed. The initial setup screens give you the option of walking through each step of the process one at a time--"Do you have a center speaker? Okay, here's how to connect it. Do you have a subwoofer? One or two? Okay, connect them here, etc."--or simply skipping any bits you may feel comfortable enough to handle without the hand-holding.
The one instance in which I would like to see Marantz's setup wizard be a little more hands-on is in the area of speaker measurement and room correction. It would be nice if there were a clearer message to the effect of, "Hey, we can run you through this now, but if you'd like, you can download the Audyssey MultEQ Editor app and do it later. If you go through the setup process now and decide you want to use the app, you'll be starting over at square one."
And trust me: you do. Want to use the app, that is. MultEQ Editor gives you a lot more control over the room correction process, including things like allowing you to set a maximum filter frequency, so that Audyssey can work on the frequencies it tames best--the bass and lower midrange--while leaving alone higher frequencies. That's assuming your room is at least somewhat decently treated to avoid highly reflective surfaces, at least near your first reflections. If you want a deeper understanding of why this is important, check out my updated primer on the subject: Room Correction Revisited.
The good news is, whether I relied on the onscreen menus or the MultEQ editor app for speaker calibration, Audyssey nailed the delays and crossover settings for my speakers with dead-on balls accuracy. This would have blown my mind right out the back of my skull just a few years ago, but I'm honestly starting to take for granted as the norm rather than the exception.
Throughout my testing, I employed the SR8012 in several different configurations, including a 5.2.4 setup with RSL's new CG5 speaker system and pair of RSL Speedwoofer 10S subs as the bed, with a quartet of GoldenEar SuperSat 3 satellite speakers hook-mounted to the ceiling temporarily. I did the bulk of my listening relying simply on the aforementioned RSL 5.2-channel system, and also set up the SR8012 right next to Denon's AVR-X4500H in the same room, both connected to a pair of RSL CG5 bookshelves positioned side-by-side, for the purposes of direct comparison (levels matched, of course). I ended my evaluation with the Marantz powering a simple stereo pair of Paradigm Studio 100 v5 towers.
Sources for this review included my Oppo UHD-205 UHD Blu-ray player, a Roku Ultra, a new Amazon Fire TV Stick that I'm currently reviewing, my Control4 entertainment and automation controller, and a Dish Network DVR for a bit until I finally joined the modern world and dumped that subscription halfway through this review process (more on that decision in another article).
The final step of the setup process involved re-programming my Control4 system to work with the SR8012, which took no time at all since Marantz supports Control4 SDDP, which means that the driver is automatically loaded into the Composer Pro programming software as soon as the receiver is identified on the network. The way that Control4 identifies the receiver is via MAC address, not IP, so you don't have to set a static address to maintain rock-solid and reliable IP control of the receiver, even during power outages, nor do you have to worry about DHCP reservations.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...
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