My experience A/B testing Denon/Marantz - and blind testing the employee
Spent an hour at Magnolia A/B testing Denon x4500h vs Marantz SR6013 (the 7000 series wasn't available). 2.0 setup for music and movies, lots of comparisons on varying content.
Sometimes, I could tell the difference. The Marantz sounded a bit fuller at time, and a bit deeper/bassier (warmer?). The Denon at times sounded slightly hollower, with more pronounced upper range notes... but I suspect this wasn't actually any increase in detail, rather, a lack of some low end that made it sound slightly "brighter".
However, I feel that I am overstating this. I'd say, most of the time I could NOT tell the difference. Sometimes I preferred the Denon. Sometimes the Marantz. Some content it did seem like there was a noticeable difference (though hard to discern a "winner", more just a difference). Other time it sounded nearly identical to me.
The EMPLOYEE throughout would comment during the A/B test about the Marantz having more clarity and detail in the mids, and a slightly superior sound. I asked him to explain more and he would share how the vocals were easier to discern here or there, or that the sound was just stronger on the Marantz.
After another 20 minutes of testing, I was getting tired of it. I couldn't really tell any meaningful difference. I called the employee back in and said "ok, stand over there. I am going to blind test you." Since he was talking about the clear differences he could hear.
When you tap the button to switch receivers, there is a 1 second "blip" as it changes channels, so it cues you into the change. Except, you can also tap the same receiver again - making no switch - but still trigger the momentary "blip". So that's what I did.
He listened to the Marantz, nodded. Then I switched to the Marantz. "This one. Marantz. Sounds better, fuller." Ok, listen again. I switched - to the Marantz again. "This one is Denon. It sounds weaker." Switched to Marantz. "Yup, defintiely fuller."
I continued this experiment for a while on different content. I tried it on Denon, switching to Denon-Denon-Denon. Similar results. I did legitamate tests. Denon-Marantz-Denon.
50% of the time he selected Denon as being the superior, saying it was Marantz, 50% of the time he selected the Marantz correctly. Sometimes he criticized the Marantz and praised the Denon. And Vice Versa.
As I clued him into my tricks he seemed surprised, perhaps slightly embarrassed, and concluded "well... yeah... I mean I guess they are really close, it's really subtle."
First - no disrespect to anyone who can legit hear the difference, I know you are out there. I am, full disclosure, not an audiophile. But I am a quasi-OCD, detail-oriented perfectionist with an engineer brain that appreciates quality.
Second - I couldn't hear these systems PROPERLY calibrated, nor on my Klipsch RP speakers. These were on martin logan and B&W speakers. And I couldn't A/B the 4000 against the 7000.
These are all notable and perhaps important nuances.
TBH because the prices are so close I'm still torn between the Marantz 6000, 7000, Denon 4000. But after listening, I do see what people mean when they say "flip a coin".
Bottom line - even when I could tell a meaningful difference, I didn't always have a clear preference. I guess I'd lean towards Marantz only because there were a handful of times where it perhaps felt slliigghhtttllyyy warmer/fuller and Klipsch are brighter... but I mean... does it really matter?
TL;DR - blind test store employees who tell you they can hear a difference in gear to find the truth
Last edited by filmguy123; 09-11-2019 at 09:59 PM.