Marantz SR7015 9.2 Channel AV Receiver Review
Tony O'Brien tunes in to this new 9.2 channel 8K AV recevier…
In just a few short years, Sound United has managed to rejuvenate its Denon and Marantz brands completely. You could even argue it has managed to re-invigorate the high-end receiver market as a whole, with statement pieces from both companies throwing down the gauntlet for others to follow.
We were keen to test some of the brands' more affordable AV receivers to see if they, too, were worthy of such praise. Enter our latest review subject, the 9.2 channel SR7015 AV amplifier. It drops both a few pounds and two channels of amplification compared to its bigger and more expensive sibling, the SR8015. Yet, it manages to retain many of the same features and costs significantly less.
The SR7015 hasn't sacrificed Marantz's proprietary HDAM circuit boards and utilises discrete power amplifiers across all channels to give a claimed power rating of 125 watts (8 ohms, 20Hz–20kHz, 0.05% two channels driven). Read the fine print, though, and you'll discover Marantz's so-called 70% power guarantee, which rates the SR7015 closer to 84W with all channels driven. This is enough power – on paper at least – for a dynamic home theatre experience. It's also a refreshingly honest admission in an age where such numbers are often over-inflated.
It supports a slew of multichannel formats, including DTS HD Master/ DTS:X, DTS Virtual: X, DTS Neural: X, Dolby Surround, Dolby True HD, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualisation IMAX Enhanced, Auro 3D and MPEG-H via a firmware update. Its HDMI inputs are HDCP 2.3 compliant, supporting 4K and 8K video at up to 120 and 60 frames per second, respectively. eARC and CEC are also supported, along with Dolby Vision, HDR10+, Dynamic HDR, HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) pass-through for gaming, VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), QFT (Quick Frame Transport) and QMS (Quick Media Switching).
The SR7015 boasts Audyssey's crème de la crème XT32 room correction software, with LFC (Low-Frequency Containment), Sub EQ, Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ. While Audyssey was becoming a bit long in the tooth compared to other room correction systems, it's had an update in recent years, bringing it closer in line to its competitors.
Networking options include HEOS Multi-Room and network streaming, Alexa, Google Voice Assist, Apple Home Pod, Internet Radio, Spotify, Amazon Music HD, Deezer, Tidal and Napster. Both lossy and lossless formats are supported in the form of MP3, WMA, FLAC HD 192/24, WAV 192/24 and ALAC 192/24.
The SR7015 features Marantz's distinctive 'porthole' on its front fascia, that's become synonymous with the brand. There's a simplistic, uncluttered elegance to its design, the controls buried away behind a pull-down door. Finished in matt black, the only visible controls are source and volume dials and the power button. Opening the pull-down door reveals controls to navigate its extensive setup menus along with a composite video input, USB input, HDMI input (4K/HDCP 2.3), headphone input, Audyssey mic input and a large LCD. This is a much-needed addition. As attractive as the porthole display is, its size makes it nigh on impossible to read anything from a distance. It's an interesting conundrum that leaves owners to choose form or function.
The rear panel has seven assignable HDMI and three HDMI outputs with eARC support on the main output. Able to decode 11.2 channels, the SR7015's 11.2 channel pre-outs can not only expand its capabilities but also allow existing channels to be powered by an external power amplifier. Legacy connections consist of three composite video inputs and two composite video outputs, three component video inputs and one component output, six analogue inputs and one analogue output and two coaxial and optical inputs. The SR7015 also provides dual independent subwoofer outputs, two 12 volt triggers, IR input, RS-232 input and Ethernet. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both supported with the installation of the included antennae. It rounds out its connections with thirteen sturdy gold-plated speaker binding posts.
The box also contains an Audyssey microphone, cardboard microphone stand, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth antenna, power cord, quick start manual, cable labels and remote. While it sits in hand comfortably enough, the remote feels cluttered, the buttons on the smaller side. Still, the backlighting – activated by pressing a button on the edge of the remote – is a welcome addition.
Weighing 14.2kg, there's a reassuring heft to the SR7015. Even though it isn't made in Japan, the build has an undeniable quality. It proved a pleasure to unbox – everything is well-packed with keen attention to detail. It may seem trivial, yet such things shouldn't be an afterthought but rather serve to reinforce the buyer's decision.
That attention to detail is just as evident when it comes to setup. With everything clearly labelled, connecting source devices and speakers is a simple affair. Connect the SR7015 to your display, power it up, and the onscreen display will guide you through the setup process. Everything from connecting to the internet, connecting source devices and calibration is covered in clear and concise steps.
Experienced users will be tempted to skip this step, but it's worth completing to ensure the Marantz uses the most appropriate speaker template for your setup. Likewise, experienced users should strongly consider shelling out a few more dollars to purchase Audyssey's Mult-EQ Editor app. Doing so gives greater control and customisation over the EQ process. For example, it let me limit Audyssey's frequency range to 5kHz and turn off Mid Range Compensation – neither of which would have been possible without the app. The ability to store two different calibrated profiles on the SR7015 is a much-needed addition over previous models. It enables a range of options, including separate calibrations for movie watching and two-channel listening.
For this review, the SR7015 was partnered with VAF Signature i91 front and centre loudspeakers and four VAF i90 speakers used for surround and overhead Atmos channels. The SR7015's dual subwoofer outputs were connected to custom 10” VAF Gravitas subwoofers for a 5.2.2 Atmos layout. Video devices consisted of a Panasonic UB9000 4K Blu-ray player and Apple TV, connected directly to a Lumagen Radiance Pro. Images were projected onto a 100” Severtson Cinegray 16.9 screen by a Sony VPL-VW270ES native 4K projector.
The SR7015 creates a dynamic home theatre experience with powerful bass extension. When it needs to be, it can also be a remarkably laid back sounding machine equally as comfortable with music listening sessions as it is with action blockbusters. For example, as the M41 Walker Bulldogs make their appearance in the 4K Blu-ray of Full Metal Jacket, the SR7015 produced an impressive amount of bass, enabling my subwoofers to not only be heard but also clearly felt from the main listening position.
The Marantz creates a soundstage that not only has a sense of height but width, with objects placed accurately within the sound field. It can't quite capture the same transparency as the big flagships, but indeed turns in an impressive performance. With the 4K Blu-ray of Hunter Killer, the SR7015 didn't possess quite the same level of precision or channel steering capabilities as its equivalent Denon stablemate. What little it lacked, though, it makes up for with far more natural sound. Ultimately the SR7015 proved more musical than its counterpart.
As the barbarian hordes deliver their answer to the waiting Roman army in the 4K Blu-ray of Gladiator, the SR7015 creates a large airy sense of space in the room. When the Romans unleash hell, the Marantz's amplifiers are more than up to the task at hand. Oil pots explode in the tall trees with enough ferocity to make for a dynamic, exciting and visceral viewing experience.
With the PCM 5.1 on the streamed version of The Empty Man, the SR7015 made ample use of all the speakers, enveloping the listener in the menacing sound field it creates. As James investigates the bridge or treks into the woods around the cabin, the SR7015 fills the sound field with the buzzing insect life, showing excellent low-level detail retrieval.
There's a reason that flagship AV receivers command a premium price tag, so it should come as no surprise that the SR7015 can't reach the dizzy heights of Marantz's higher-priced SR8015. However, what was unexpected is just how capable the mid-range model is. It's got everything necessary for a thrilling, engaging home theatre experience, with a big soundstage, solid dynamics and powerful bass. What little it yields in terms of pinpoint accuracy it more than makes up for with musical ability. So if you're in the market for an affordable quality receiver that's equally at home with action blockbusters as it is with music, I'd strongly suggest an audition.
As the owner of ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator with over a decade of experience. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.
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