|Marantz AV7005 AV Processor/Preamp / MM7055 Power Amplifier Review|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers AV Preamps|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Tuesday, 21 December 2010|
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For the first time, I saw the value in 5.1 mixes on some classic albums, including the entire Doors catalog. It was quite an experience to feel surrounded by the instruments while listening to songs I have only heard in stereo for decades. The same goes for concert DVDs or various live performances mixed in 5.1 broadcast on the HD channel Palladia. It was really something to watch Elvis Costello and the Imposers play a small club in Memphis on Club Date, and if I was willing to give into the illusion, it was like being in the audience, minus the beer and cigarette smells.
The 7005 also provides fast and reliable HDMI video switching which really simplifies a set up with multiple video sources like Blu-ray players, cable boxes, or game consoles, and eliminates the need for extra remotes. With the Marantz supplied remote control, I was able to switch between various sources and HDMI inputs with ease. But here is the interesting part. The picture quality was actually better when using the 7005 for video switching than routing HDMI cables from the various sources into the HDTV directly. This could be due to the inclusion of the latest Anchor Bay 10-bit Video Processor/Scaler. It was easy to tell the difference.
The 7005 processor is way more than a home theater hub. It also accepts an Ethernet connection so you may use it with several online services like Rhapsody, Pandora, Napster, and Flickr. I was able to go on to Flickr and browse through picture galleries with great ease and speed. There is also an on board AM/FM/HD tuner, and you can connect to Sirius satellite radio. It also allows you to connect to a networked home media server of your choice. It automatically detects your network and connects without any need for special configuration.
If all that were not enough, the 7005 is Bluetooth compatible, and allows you to connect any USB device to the front panel, and it allows for digital iPod connectivity, which is very cool. You can scroll through the iPod’s menu with your album folders displayed on your TV using the remote control. Just recently, Apple updated their iPod Touch and iPhone operating systems, and the update included a new feature called AirPlay, which allows you to stream music to other devices. The 7005 is one such equipped device. Now you can hold your iPod touch or iPhone and without a cable or need for your TV, scroll through, and play tunes through your home theater. The 7005 also allows for multi zone operation. In case you thought they forgot something, there is an on board Moving Magnet Phono input. Vinyl and iPods can live happily together.
To put it through its paces, I tested some of the above mentioned features, and had a blast doing it. I plugged my iPod Nano into the USB slot and scrolled through the folders, enjoying excellent sound. I also plugged in a thumb drive loaded with JPEG files from a recent Hawaii vacation, blown away by the ability to see my pictures in high definition on a big screen, instead of the usual computer or laptop screen. I was intending to use my wife’s iPod Touch via the new AirPlay app and connect to the 7005 via Bluetooth but I realized the review sample did not have the required optional wireless receiver. Lastly, I did a bit of listening to CDs to get a grip on the combo’s 2 channel performance. What I got was excellent musicality, typical of the Marantz product line. You can also create “surround stereo” which means it will take a stereo source and route it to all your speakers.
Marantz has brought to market for 2011 a pair of AV separates that I believe offers absolutely killer performance for an investment of $2700 that would mercilessly trounce a $25,000 home theater system from just ten years ago. The long list of on board features are not just parlor tricks, they all work and work well. Not only was there gobs of power from the 7055, but crystal clear dialogue and vocals from the center channel speaker, a real clarity and presence from every other channel, floor shaking bass, and an overall quality of sound that belies the $1199 price tag.
The 7005 processor and preamp is a true marvel at $1499. It offers a multitude of surround sound modes, endless connectivity options, HDMI switching, USB inputs, networking, and excellent set up flexibility. The inclusion of Audyssey is a huge plus, and I found it to be a valuable asset. Of course, I do have a very short list of things I wish had been included, like the ability to stream from Netflix or similar services. I realize that this feature is available on most Blu-ray players today, but in this era of moving beyond physical media, it would have been cool. The only other nitpick I have is that there was no code for the Vizio brand to allow the Marantz remote to power on and off my HDTV. Just about every other brand was represented. That is pretty much all I was left wanting.
The 7005 and 7055 were very impressive across the board, and across all the functions packed into these two boxes that would have taken up an entire room years ago at a cost unaffordable to all but the most fortunate. I believe Marantz has hit it out of the park on their new line of AV products. They are future proof, offer endless flexibility and connectivity even to older components, and make use of technology from Marantz’s high end Reference Series, all in a highly attractive, distinguished looking package. Beware, for if you decide to jump in, you may find yourself upgrading your speakers, cables, and accessories to make them commensurate with the performance of the 7005 and 7055. These are keepers.