Marantz Cinema 30 11.4 Channel AV Receiver Review

Posted on 24th June, 2024

Marantz Cinema 30 11.4 Channel AV Receiver Review

This iconic audio brand has finally launched its new flagship AV receiver. Michael Darroch decides whether it’s been worth the wait…

Marantz

Cinema 30 11.4 Channel AV Receiver

£3,999 RRP

Marantz Cinema 30 Review

Marantz is one of a select few hi-fi manufacturers that has properly weathered the test of time. From its inception in 1948 to the latest acquisition by Masimo, every generation of audiophile has been able to enjoy its products. Today, we look at the company’s newest flagship AV receiver, the Cinema 30, to see whether it can provide a new performance benchmark.

With the announcement of the Cinema range in 2022, there was an obvious lack of a successor to the previous flagship, the SR8015. The range topped out at the Cinema 40 before dramatically escalating to the eye-watering AV10 processor and AMP10 amplifier combo. The Cinema 30 finally fills that vacancy as the pinnacle of Marantz AV receivers, building not just on the Cinema 40 but beyond the high water mark set by the SR8015.

Designed in parallel with Denon’s latest AVC-X6800H, while the two units may share several commonalities, writing these off as a branding exercise would be a mistake. Marantz has undertaken several significant departures to ensure the Cinema 30 contains true Marantz performance across many critical components.

Marantz Cinema 30 Review

This new flagship gets all the technologies a home theatre enthusiast could ask for, with Dolby Atmos, DTS-X (now Pro), IMAX and Auro3D format processing. For music, we have HEOS and Roon, and for room correction, there is a default Audyssey MultEQ XT32. New for the Cinema 30 is optional DIRAC Live and Bass Control. In this author’s opinion, DIRAC is potentially the most exciting new inclusion here because Audyssey can be such a polarising product. By introducing this option, Marantz has a solution to suit a whole new segment of enthusiasts, which can only be a positive.

In terms of connectivity, it sports full HDMI 2.1 8K across all 7 HDMI inputs and two outputs (with a third 4K zone-2 output). Taking channel output to a new level for a Marantz receiver, there is increased 13.4 channel processing (11 powered), bringing the total to 4 independent subwoofer outputs, which can be used to bass-steer your low frequency to help with room modes. Along with this, you also have a moving magnet phono input, optical and coaxial digital inputs, and RCA options for the various input signals. For integration, there is the Marantz bus remote in/out, an 3.5mm IR input, three 12v trigger outputs, RS-232, and a USB type-A power-only outlet.

Network connectivity is provided through Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and Bluetooth, with FM and internet radio to round things out. Bluetooth is both a receiver and a sender, so you can listen to audio from a Bluetooth source or send audio to Bluetooth headphones—handy for when others are sleeping.

Marantz Cinema 30 Review

Internally, everything rests on a 3.6mm thick, three-layer chassis, which helps to support the most fundamental inclusion – a big 5.8kg toroidal transformer with newly developed 22,000uF capacitors to deliver almost bottomless power to the amplifier section. Each channel puts out a claimed 140 watts (2 channels driven, but with the Marantz 70% guarantee) by one of eleven discrete Class AB amplifier modules. These flank the central power transformer, mounted to two large aluminium heatsinks, bonded through a copper plate for thermal efficiency.

A newer and more powerful digital signal processing chip has been fitted in the shape of the Griffin Lite XP, which replaces the previous dual chip solution. Overall processing performance has increased by a claimed 25%, which helps to give extra headroom to enable the implementation of DTS-X Pro and DIRAC live options. The signal path has been reworked through a newly developed dedicated DAC board to minimise complexity across the circuit, particularly for analogue signals, reducing unwanted noise and distortion to colour the listening experience. While this is shared with the AVC-X6800H, Marantz’s version includes a switchable Digital Filter mode to alternate between the traditional Marantz filter profile or the more direct mode-2, depending on your preference.

Marantz Cinema 30 Review

There is now a dedicated printed circuit board for Marantz’s proprietary HDAM-SA2 modules, with sound-tuned capacitors hand-picked by Marantz’s sound master, Yoshinori Ogata. The proprietary Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Modules are joined with new solid connectors to the revised analogue circuit, benefitting from a newly developed PCB with a full set of 13.4 preamp outputs. While these are only RCA, as there simply isn’t room for a full suite of XLR connectors, the Cinema 30 does let you switch off the speaker outputs when working as a preamp to minimise signal noise interference from channels that aren’t in use.

Externally, the Cinema 30 shares the style set by its stablemates, with the floating metal faceplate and opening panel proud of the gently illuminated, rippled back plate. Available in black or silver-gold finish, the traditional porthole display is retained, but the overall appearance remains a conservative yet enriching evolution of the classic receiver style without going ultra-modern à la Anthem or Storm.

Marantz Cinema 30 Review

GETTING GOING

While the rear fascia is quite complex, as we’ve come to expect from modern AVRs, the setup remains quite simple thanks to well-placed and clearly labelled inputs and a brilliant on-screen display that steps you through physical connections, device and account setup and calibration. Whether this is your first or fortieth time setting up a receiver, you will appreciate how this has been implemented. Setup for Audyssey is as simple as ever, although the obligatory 80Hz crossover changes from the detected full-range mains hasn’t changed.

The remote control is also a standout and the same as included in the previous Cinema models. It has a premium look and feel, with usable backlighting, and surprisingly attracts little in the way of fingerprints despite its metallic face. It’s useful to note that DIRAC Live and Bass Control are paid options, not standard inclusions. You will also need a professional calibration mic, like a UMIK, to use these functions. The review unit did not include these, so we could only speak to the Audyssey-based setup.

Marantz Cinema 30 Review

THE LISTENING

Running my 7.2.4 speaker setup of Krix Neuphonix, Epicentrix, Phonix, Phonix45s and Volcanix directly to the Cinema 30, it was soon obvious that this big AV receiver was delivering the goods. Not only could the Marantz hold its own powering all the channels at my normal listening level, but in many cases it outperformed some much more expensive separates. I was somewhat taken aback, particularly when it came to bass power and soundstaging scale.

Starting with the 4K Blu-ray of 2009’s action blockbuster 2012 playing on a Panasonic UB9000, I was impressed by the commanding authority that the Cinema 30 had across the entire frequency spectrum. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack through the opening scenes as the elevator descends into the mineshaft was quite special, and when the minor earthquake wakes up John Cusack’s Jackson Curtis, every rumble and rattle made its way around my listening room in a visceral way, almost prompting a physical response. Indeed, my room sounded much larger than it was, truly immersing me in the scene I was watching.

Marantz Cinema 30 Review

During the later and much larger California earthquake scene, I was amazed by the articulate yet formidable recreation made possible through the Marantz. Every engine rev, every crack of pavement, every drip of water from a busted water main came through with almost unprecedented clarity. Each explosion and rumble was both defined and well integrated into the overall performance. As the airport ground gave way, I noticed each sizzle of the collapsing power lines in a way I’d never noticed before. As Yellowstone erupted, each crashing piece of volcanic debris was given a satisfying dose of low-frequency extension. Despite not having directional bass zones set up, I still found the presentation gave a good sense of position for bass elements, thanks to the cohesion of the whole spectrum of frequency cues.

The 2013 epic Pacific Rim was another 4K Blu-ray with a great Atmos soundtrack to relive through the Cinema 30. The movie raises many questions: Why don’t they start the battle with the primary weapons instead of waiting until they are almost defeated, like in an episode of Power Rangers? Why do the Jaegers need scores of diesel engines for the muscle strands when they have two nuclear reactors within? Why do two pilots sharing a mind-meld need to verbalise their actions to each other? But one question you will not have is, “why did I buy the Cinema 30?” The opening scene and Kaiju battle is a dynamic experience, and even people who don’t like anime will find something to like about this epic.

Marantz Cinema 30 Review

Even those who aren’t particular Marantz fans will be impressed by the performance of this product. During the attack on Hong Kong, I was entranced as fleeing eccentric Kaiju expert Dr Newton Geizler took shelter underground. The excellent signal-to-noise performance of this receiver allowed the deathly quiet anticipation to suddenly give way to a thunderous implosion through the height channels of the Kaiju breaking through the ceiling to find the doctor. In an average-sized theatre room, the Cinema 30 has all the brain and brawn you’ll need to enjoy yourself properly. There was never a point where I felt that I wasn’t getting as much out of my room as I usually would from my larger and more expensive reference separates, which is a huge compliment to this single-unit solution. This is true, full-scale cinema sound.

Musically, the Cinema 30 doesn’t fail to deliver either. While a product tuned for home theatre use will face an uphill battle in satisfying an ardent hi-fi purist, for the rest of us, the Marantz delivers incredible musical experiences. There are cheap thrills like the Atmos edition of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, where tracks like Time have a space-maximising cacophony of ticking clocks falling from the height space like rain. This is delicately presented by the Marantz, through to the rolling percussive set making its way across the room in true three-dimensional fashion. The Cinema 30 is doing a fantastic job not just of decoding the positional data within the DSP, but the updated circuit design is paying dividends too – making better use of my space and speakers than ever before.

Marantz Cinema 30 Review

On the two-channel front, the Cinema 30 maintains the expanded two-channel controls, allowing separate crossover, distance and bass settings for stereo listening versus multi-channel. Listening to the mellow vocal track that is Ella Meneau’s acoustic cover of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, I was impressed with the scaled imaging from the Marantz, with a broad-sounding stage providing a highly satisfying listening experience. The richness of Ella’s vocals was flawless, and the gentle fretwork of the accompanying guitar was tangible in its delivery.

Rush’s Fly By Night was a good opportunity to test how the Cinema 30 would treat a coarser-sounding rock track with a lot of percussion. The Marantz continued to show great consistency in the crossover between the subs and the stereo channels, creating tight and punchy bass kicks with fine transient performance.

Black Dog from Led Zeppelin showed solid musical credentials from the Marantz. Traditionally a bit of a rough and fatiguing listen from lesser equipment, the Cinema 30 captured the dirty guitar riff without diminishing any depth despite what’s usually a bit of a lightweight drum master. Robert Plant’s sharp vocal performance was resolved without any oppressive sibilance, a quality that also helped with the crash cymbals. The latter were fast on the attack, but never fatigued the ears. Indeed, no matter what I played, the Cinema 30 delivered a suitably spacious soundstage.

Marantz Cinema 30 Review

THE VERDICT

With Cinema 30, Marantz has set a new standard for its range of receivers with incredible build quality, expansive cinema sound, and incomparable aesthetic style. The hefty price tag might be a tough swallow for some, but it’s hard to imagine anyone not wearing a grin when listening to arguably the best AV receiver ever to wear the Marantz name.

For more information visit Marantz

    Michael Darroch's avatar

    Michael Darroch

    With a 20 year passion for home cinema ensuring he will never be able to afford retirement, Michael’s days involve endless dad-jokes and enjoying the short time before his son is old enough to demand the home theatre becomes a temple to Frozen II.

    Posted in:Home Theatre Amplifiers AV Receivers & Processors Applause Awards 2024
    Tags: marantz  masimo  sound united 

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