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Marantz AV8801: Practical Use

A Review On: Marantz AV8801

Marantz AV8801

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Price paid: $3,699.00


My question is about your speaker setup. I was told that all your speakers should be the same brand except the subwoofer. I noticed you use a different surround speaker brand than your fronts. Is it okay to use a different brand speaker between the fronts (left-right front and center) and the surrounds (back speakers)?
Mark, it's definitely okay to use different brands of speakers. Like you alluded to, it's best to keep the front soundstage (fronts and center) the same brand to improve the pans and blends which occur during movie soundtracks between these three speakers. However, the ability to detect the quality of pans (sound moving from speaker to speaker) is more difficult as the sound moves from the front soundstage to the surrounds. Additionally, surround speakers in many movie soundtracks are relegated to ambient sounds (rain, wind, sound effects, etc.) which are not as crucial to match the timbre from speaker to speaker. Voices, on the other hand, are more crucial, but 99% of the time voices are panning only between the fronts and the center channel.

One caveat to this is if you are into multichannel music. The timbre matching for this is more crucial, and is more likely to be noticeable between the surrounds the and front soundstage. In this instance, it would be helpful to have all speakers using the same driver materials, etc., which you would achieve best by having the same manufacturer for all speakers, as well as the same model line.

BrolicBeast, thanks for the review write-up. Most of my equipment in my dedicated theater is set, but I've had the hardest time over the past 5 years finding a receiver of pre/pro that I was content with (6 units in the past 5 years have been tried). I was debating between the 8801 and the Integra 80.3, and jumped on the 8801 when a good deal came along. I didn't experience the frustrations that you did in setup, since I had the time and went ahead and did the automatic setup before running Audyssey. I'm still in the process of tweaking individual inputs for volume gain, etc., as well as experimenting with the subwoofer boundary thing and other "features". But, overall, this unit will be in my rack for several years at the minimum. And, like you, I've enjoyed movies more since this unit was put in, as well as 2-channel music. I agree with your recommendation completely.
Great write up again BB.
@Mark, Shroedk pretty much said all there is to say about surround sound in the context of both movies and multi-channel audio. As long as a lot of care goes into the positioning and tuning of the surrounds, they are perfectly fine for movies. For multi-channel audio, timbre-matching is absolutely encouraged. I happen to be a stereo-lover, so the multi-channel music limitations do not apply to me.
@Shroedk, Great response! I'm glad you're enjoying your AV8801 as much as I am :) In terms of your 5-year journey to find the right pre/pro, doesn't if feel good to finally find one that meets your requirements?
@HTG, Thanks a lot HTG. I'm still waiting to read your review on that 70" behemoth you just wall-mounted with what i imagine to be a mount built from rebar, steel pipes, an unobtanium ;)
The AV8801 is a great surround processor/HD tuner that I've been using for over five months now, and I'm still discovering new things that it can do! Highly recommended for sound, and custom adjustability per source (you don't have to set everything up 'globally'!).
I would DEFINITELY wait for HDMI 2.0 at this point. I just got a 4K TV - a Sony 65" 4K for under $4,000 - tax, shipping, everything included and a 3 year warranty from a Sony authorized reseller. 4K is AMAZING. Chances are if you can afford a Marantz AV8801, you will replace your TV within the next 3 years, your BR player within 2 so yes, HDMI 2.0 is worth waiting for. If Marantz promised an hdmi 2.0 upgrade then I'd consider the AV8801 otherwise it isn't really any better of a choice than a 5 year old Denon AVP. I LOVE my Denon AVP but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone even though it is absolutely one of the best prerpros on the market as I consider it a VERY short term solution without HDMI 2.0.
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