Regular readers will know that Onkyo made a clean sweep in our multichannel receiver Awards last year, knocking arch-rivals Denon, Marantz and Yamaha off the top spot in all three price categories.
We've been waiting for quite a while now to see if anyone can knock Onkyo off its perch, and the arrival of Marantz's new SR8002 (£1300) could represent a serious challenge to Onkyo's Award-winning TX-SR875 (£1000).
The Marantz has been under intense scrutiny in our test rooms over the last week, and now you can discover if it's good enough to beat the excellent Onkyo.
A big, bold but still subtle sound; good with music (for a multichannel amp); fine build quality
Not quite the last word in insight
A solid performer in all respects. It's well equipped, too
The SR8002 is a serious attempt by Marantz to take on the very best top-end receivers at this price level. And yes, by that we do mean the Onkyo TX-SR875.
On paper things look good. Despite the hefty price tag, no-one can complain about features. We could list each and every one, but it would take far more space than we've got here, so we've listed them at the end of this review.
Just be satisfied that the SR8002 is as well equipped as most users will ever need, and more specifically, is right at home with the full range of high-definition audio standards available on Blu-ray.
This receiver also has a pair of switchable HDMI outputs, which will let you connect, say, a projector and TV at the same time. Ideal if you use the TV for general vision duties and wheel out a projector for special occasions.
Unlike some rivals, Marantz has chosen to leave video scaling duties to either the source or display. That's no bad thing, considering that the grade of scaler typically built into AV amplifiers isn't always that good.
The SR8002's build quality is as good as you'd expect for the money and the remote handset is a fair bit more intuitive than many we've tried. Our only criticism would be aimed at the receiver's input selector control, which feels imprecise in use.
Composure is never compromised
If you think a claimed power output of 7 x125 watts suggests plenty of scale and authority, you'd be right. The SR8002 has a solidity and punch to its presentation that's rare even among equally powerful rivals. This is an AV receiver that takes everything in stride, from the various shoot-outs in Training Day to the full-scale battles of Lord of the Rings. Importantly, composure is never compromised, even at high volume levels.
Now, if all this makes this Marantz sound like something of a beast, you'd be right, but it's also a beast that can be tamed when required. Pushed hard, the top-end stays smooth and refined, while the midrange has a hint of warmth that's rare in the world of multichannel amps.
Play a movie with a low-key soundtrack such as The Proposition and this Marantz is right at home, making the most of vocal nuances and small-scale effects of the kind that create an involving atmosphere rather than make your windows rattle.
A fine music maker
The good news continues with music where the company's reputation for making fine, musical sounding kit remains intact. By the standards of AV amps the SR8002 is enjoyable and involving with everything from the likes of Eminem to Elgar.
So why does the SR8002 fail to get the full five stars? Compared to the class champ – yes, the aforementioned Onkyo – this Marantz lacks a little in the way of insight and dynamic contrast. The Onkyo also offers a slightly clearer view of whatever it's reproducing, and costs £300 less.
Even so, the SR8002 should be high on any shortlist. It has a broad range of talents and should work well in a wide range of systems. All in all, this is a good multichannel product.
7 x 125w
Pro-Logic II yes
Pro-Logic IIx yes
Dolby Digital EX yes
DTS Neo:6 yes
DTS 96/24 yes
Dolby Digital Plus yes
DTS HD yes
Dolby TrueHD yes
DTS Master Audio yes
THX Select 2
Auto set-up yes
Room EQ yes
Video upconversion yes
Video scaling no
HDMI 1.3a yes
HD audio via HDMI yes
Learning remote yes
Multiroom 2 Zone
Network capable no
Coaxial digital 3
Optical digital 3
Analogue audio 6
Multichannel analogue 8ch
Coaxial digital 1
Optical digital 1
Analogue audio 4
Dimensions (hwd, cm)
19 x 44 x 40
Weight (kg) 15
Technorati Tags: Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS Master Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio, HDMI 1.3a, home cinema, Marantz SR8002, Multichannel receiver, multiroom, video upconversion