So last night I went to Magnolia to listen to the Pio94, SR7001 (nobody I know of demoes the 7002 yet), and Denon 3808.
2CH Stereo w/ CD, (Rusted Roots and Mozart Clarinet concerto)
5.1 HT with Saving Private Ryan DTS (Omaha Beach scene)
2CH: Monitor Audio RB8
5.1: Vienna Accoustic system (about $3,000 for the whole setup). I do not remember the model.
With the two channel stereo: The Marantz was the most "musical" of the bunch especially compared to the PIO, but needed to be at higher volume. The Pioneer was a bit more "bright", but clearly had more "oomph". The Denon was pretty close to the Marantz in Sound, less powerful than the Pio though, and was also running the hotest.
In 5.1 setup, it was hard to tell them apart. They were all good. Clearly, the Pio had more power, and was running coolest.
I will probably go to another retailer today to do another comparison (maybe to include the Yammy 3800) also with Klipsch Reference Speakers. The Monitor audio sounded nice, very musical, but I did not find them very efficient.
Although it felt as the "least massive" of the bunch, and maybe the least appealing look in my opinion, the Denon might have the best sound/feature compromise.
Especially, it baffles me (no pun intended
) that the Pio lacks the inputs for "B" speakers in the back, whereas the Denon has 9 speaker input.
I have yet to decide how much I care about all of the network features of both the PIO/Denon. In the case I don't, the Marantz might be very appealing except for the fact that it is manufactured in China.
I will report back after I test them again with Klipsch Reference to see if that makes a big difference. (Incidently, I also stopped by another retailer to listen to the RF62, which they only had hooked up with the Yammy 2800, and was impressed by the sound, but I think mostly due to the speakers.