I think you are right, of course. Since Marantz claims higher-performance analog stages I was curious if anybody actually noticed. My experience with (RF) current-mode amps is higher slew rate, often faster settling, but higher noise. I would not expect any real SQ difference given both have XT32. Features appear roughly the same to me, but of course for about $1k less the Denon throws in amplifiers as well. Balanced is not a concern; I could run XLRs but do not believe I would hear (let alone measure) any difference in my system. From what I have seen and read to date the Marantz GUI seems better but that's fairly low priority after setup. I wish Denon offered a way to turn off their amps (I suspect opening the case to yank the supply lines would void the warranty
Like Chris, I am looking for a reason to get the 8801, but for roughly the same price I can get the 4520 with Pro and that seems a much better value. My local Denon dealer might let me take a demo home overnight, but the Marantz dealer is further away and wants a 10% restocking fee if I return.
The local Denon dealer does not usually deal on price, however, while the Marantz dealer may cut a deal.
Backup plan: Convince Chris how much better the 8801 is, then buy his 4520 for a song...