|Marantz SR-19EX Receiver|
|Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers|
|Written by Tim Hart|
|Saturday, 01 September 2001|
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As more big-budget, blockbuster and effects-laden movies are being released in new formats such as DTS ES 6.1 and 7.1 , the choices expand in new receivers that take advantage of these exciting formats. Separate components allow the flexibility to get the best performance and the ability to change a single aspect of your system to take advantage of the latest technology without replacing your entire rig. However, most of us aren’t in the financial position to have "Best of Breed" gear and must remain financially realistic when it comes to spending our hard-earned deneros. And, let’s face it, not all people like to search for the perfect component to highlight the rest of a system. Some folks want a centerpiece that has a good reputation for reliability, performance, versatility and, if possible, upgradeability. One serious contender in this area that commands consideration is the Marantz SR-19EX AV receiver ($2,299.95).
At seven-and-one-half-inches wide, 18 inches wide, 19 inches deep and a hefty 54 pounds, the SR-19EX is the most affordable entry in the SR class of reference receivers in the Marantz product line-up. The SR-19EX is an upgrade of the SR-19, adding THX Ultra certification. This includes DTS ES matrix 6.1-channel decoding, 5.1 plus matrixed rear center and Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1-channel decoding and additional surround modes. There are three DSP settings also available, which you can use for non-discrete surround sources, such as DSS and VHS. All channels feature 192kHz/24-bit D/A converters for high-resolution playback. These channels include left and right mains, center, left and right rears (surround), and left and right effects (THX EX, DTS ES or DSP). Five of the seven channels provide 130 watts into an eight-ohm load. To utilize the other two available channels that the SR-19EX will decode, it is necessary to add two channels of amplification. When Marantz upgraded the SR-19EX to decode the additional channels, there wasn’t any real estate left to add internal amps without a major redesign.
Another feature of the SR-19EX is the ability to control a multi-room set-up. You can integrate a receiver and speakers that reside in a different part of your abode, and leverage the features of the SR-19EX through that extra receiver. The prerequisite for taking advantage of this feature will require the purchase of the Marantz multi-room remote unit and the remote control signal receiver, which will allow you to control the functions of the SR-19EX from the room where your auxiliary equipment resides. Also required is a long RCA video cable and a left and right RCA interconnect for the line-in into your auxiliary receiver. Then you’re all set. You now have the ability to utilize almost all of the components you have connected to your SR-19EX. Want to watch a movie in your bedroom, but don’t have a DVD player for your bedroom TV? Use the DVD player in your main system. Want to listen to your CD player in the main system while someone else is watching a movie in the auxiliary room? No problem. You also have the ability to have different volume controls of the same source in both rooms. Pretty nifty, huh? Although it will only provide stereo, it is still a good way to leverage existing hardware.
On the front panel you will find two large knobs. One is for the input setting and the other is for volume control. In the center is the Marantz hallmark Gyro Touch tuner control wheel, along with a blue display above the wheel. Along the bottom is a hinged panel that reveals an extra set of auxiliary jacks for a video camera and a headphone jack, along with manual buttons for some of the features found on the remote unit, such as the surround options, tone controls and so forth. The front display, above the Gyro Touch tuning wheel, provides information related to the input source, surround mode, tuner, multi-room indicator and volume level. Another one that I liked is the encoded channel status. This visually tells you what speakers are in use with the format that is playing. A square graphic, with smaller squares inside of it, depicts speakers in their relative orientation to one another. If the speaker square is displayed, it is in use. Therefore, at a glance, you can determine the format that is being used to play your movies.
The rear panel is not as populated as some receivers I’ve seen. For example, the Yamaha RV-X3000 is packed. You could not add one more connection if your life depended on it. The SR-19EX looks almost Spartan in comparison. It did make hook-ups a little easier and less confusing when it came time to make all of the required connections I needed.
For speaker connections, you’re only given the ability to use bare wire, a pin type connector, or a banana jack, but no spade lugs. The word "reference" to me means that all aspects of a design are taken to the highest level. To limit one of the most important connections on your system is, in my opinion, a serious oversight. But I mustn’t be too hard on the SR-19EX. Most A/V receivers suffer this same fate. To use the banana jack you have to remove a plastic insert in the center, which is a real pain.
No need to worry about having your receiver become obsolete due to a new software format coming out. The SR-19EX has six-channel direct inputs to accommodate future surround sound formats and other digital components, or decoders such as DVD-Audio and SACD.
The SR-19EX provides three optical and three digital inputs, three sets of Y/Pr/Pb component video inputs, one digital and optical output for a CD-R or MD recorder, and five S-video inputs and three outputs. Furthermore, the 5.1 plus matrixed rear center preamp-outs provide the ability to upgrade to outboard amps, so that the SR-19EX can be used strictly as an A/V receiver/preamp/processor.
The RC-18SR remote control is a special version of the RC-2000 Mark II that comes with the SR-19EX. It can be programmed to run any component outside of the SR-19EX by either entering the manufacturer code or by programming the RC-18SR with the remote that you want it to emulate. The manual is clear and concise in setting up the four macros available for your personal system automation. The backlit keys are large and easy to read. Once I became familiar with the layout, the key location was intuitive. The LCD display on the remote shows functions such as CD, DVD and LD ECT. A status indicator and graphics for learn, transmit and page macros are just a few of the many options available to you. The RC-18SR allows you to name each learned feature with up to six characters for a custom look. If you have another RC-18SR remote, you can clone the complex macros you’ve saved in the original remote.
The onscreen display (OSD) will walk you through the various aspects of system set-up, such as surround mode, multi-room set-up and speaker and level set-up. The graphic display for each set-up was refreshingly simple and easy to understand.