With the objective to be prepared for DTS:X arrival this quarter, I necessarily had to replace my receiver as my Onkyo TX-NR1030 was not going to receive any firmware upgrade to support the new format.
After evaluation and comparing models, I selected the Marantz SR7010, which represents the first time I try a model from Denon & Marantz group. It is also the first time I try Audyssey as a room correction software.
The Marantz SR7010 offers amplification for 9 channels and supports the addition of a two channel amplifier for a total of 11 channels processed. This allows for a Dolby Atmos (and soon DTS:X) 7.1.4 configuration which is what I have in my home theater.
One important thing to know, as it was reported before, the D+M models of this year do not allow Dolby Surround (the upscaler that comes with Dolby Atmos) to be applied to any of the DTS formats. It’s a limitation for now, but it can be bypassed by asking your Blu-ray player to send decoded PCM sound instead of Bitstream (a change you need to revert to get Atmos working). It will be less of a limitation early March when the DTS:X update arrives and allow to apply DTS Neural:X to DTS soundtracks.
The Marantz comes with a strong support of HDMI with 8 inputs all compatible with HDCP 2.2 and HDR through HDMI 2.0a. They all support the full bandwidth of the spec at 18 Gbps. There is also a secondary output that can be used if you want to bring the signal at the same time to a projector and a television for instance.
I need to begin my impressions by the fact that I am very pleasantly surprised by the results of applying Audyssey MultEQ XT32 in my room. There is a real impact on sound quality produced by the receiver when Audyssey is enabled which makes the rendering of movies and music more dynamic than before. The sound when Audyssey is disabled sounds flat and not engaging. The calibration process, with 8 different recording points is well done and is surprisingly quick considering that it still needs to generate roughly a hundred of test sweeps.
I also really appreciate the menu system of the receiver, it is quick, efficient and modern looking. Configuration of the audio, video, network and other options is really efficient.
The music playback is totally satisfying, but I need to say that I dislike the fact that the all channel stereo mode does not enable the height speakers, which should be really easy to implement. I gotta admit it does not make a huge difference to have them on or not, but as long as they are there why not use them.
Finally and most importantly, The Dolby Atmos performance of the receiver in 7.1.4 is really impressive and engaging with a true enveloping effect. I’m looking forward to see what DTS:X will sound like, my guess is that it will be very similar to Atmos as it’s what we’ve been hearing from the demos made at CEDIA and other events. I’ll be updating the blog once of course as soon as I can test it early March.