So after recently having a McIntosh MX151 and even more recently a Marantz AV8801 in my rack I was more than curious to give the SR7009 a shot. If you're reading this Review then you probably know why. If not then it is all in the title above. The first source I hit up was Blu-ray. The Previews told me within 30 seconds that Dolby was not trying to pull our legs. Their new sound format is special. Keep in mind this Review will be updated soon when we can put in an actual Blu-ray title with Atmos but for now doing the up mixing or as they call it Dolby Surround the results have been ear blowing! I first put in Sanctum on Blu-ray. It takes place in deep caves with plenty of dripping water. I just added the Dolby Surround with the DTS-HD MA soundtrack and bob was our uncle. The first few minutes there is a helicopter which was above us. In the caverns when people would shout from above the diver they were over our heads which added to the sensation that we were in the water with them! I have to mention the storm which had the rain coming down on top of you. I will give more examples later but I will say doing 7.2.4 Dolby Atmos/Surround has made the movie experience better than doing DTS-Neo:X with 11 speakers. Though the clarity is still not at the same level as the MX151's (which costs a lot more) the sound placement in the room is definitely better with Dolby Atmos/Surround. I waited a few days and have been doing a lot of A/B/C comparing so this is not a "honeymoon" feeling. This is me telling you this format is the real deal and you better get used to it because it will be around a long time. Looking at the back you can see it has everything including wifi. I tested the 7009 out as both a receiver and a pre-pro with my AMPs from Parasound. Of course the key to great sound is having great speakers. My Atmos ceiling speakers are Vanquish from Martin Logan. You can read about them here. The last pair were installed in early July (I almost forgot they were up there) in anticipation of Atmos and boy was it worth the wait. So what else can I say about the Marantz SR 7009? Read on...
EQUIPMENT USED FOR THIS REVIEW:
Sony VPL-VW1100ES, Marantz SR 7009 Receiver/pre-pro, DVDO Mini 4K Scaler,
Simplay Labs DVDO DUO VP, DirecTV Genie, Xbox One, Sony FMP-X1 4K server, Monster Power HTS 5100, Oppo 103D Blu ray, Monster/Optoma/Sony 3D glasses, Parasound HALO A51 AMP x 2, Parasound HALO A21 AMP, Antec Component Coolers, Vutec SilverStar Curved 3D Screen, Speakers: MARTIN LOGAN STAGE X Center, THEOS (Left and Right), VANQUISH (Surrounds & ATMOS), AXIS (Backs), Subwoofers- Martin Logan BalancedForce 212 X 2, Dayton APA150 Sub AMP x 2, 8 Aura Pro Bass Shakers, 8 Black Seatcraft Venetian Home Theater Chairs, Remote: Harmony 1100. Monster 1000 HDX Ultimate HDMI cables top to bottom. And two Monster 35 foot HDX Hyperspeed HDMI cables.
Setting up the 7009 is simple. Especially if you have had a Marantz model before. The GUI is self explanatory and I like how it even describes each setting choice at the bottom of the screen. Now keep in mind the AMP assign is where the key selections are at. For example, you can select Dolby Atmos say for Blu-ray or movies and then if you prefer DSX (Audyssey mode which can only be selected if you have Height and or Wides in your configuration) you would change your AMP selection accordingly. Sound (no pun intended) complicated? It really isn't. My favorite for sports was always DSX. That goes for Onkyo (previous generations) as well. After testing with DirecTV and football I am leaning more towards Dolby Surround. That will make life a little easier instead of always having to head into the set up menu but my ears don't lie. They do like the Atmos up mix better. The crowd and hitting is more pronounced. Like right when they snap the ball! QB signals also are barked out coherently. It may take a little tweaking after doing the XT32 calibration but it is time well spent. Speaking of they give you a cardboard makeshift tripod for the mic this year. I still prefer my 20.00 from Walmart (pics below) which I have used for a few years now. The walk through with the set up assistant makes it so anyone and I mean anyone can set up this Receiver. Pics below show some of it.
The internet set up was the easiest of any component I have had. Just make sure you put on the two antennas on the back. The 7009 found the internet on its own and confirmed it with streaming music. How cool is that? And now instead of Dialog Enhancer which simply just adjusted the center level we get Dialog Level which actually effects the center channel frequencies in addition to having a separate Center channel volume control. I have always liked boosting it 1.0 to 1.5. That seems to be perfect. If you have trouble hearing/understanding dialog then I'd go 2.0 to 2.5. As for other sound modes there still are plenty including DTS-Neo:X but I find it hard to listen to it for more than a few minutes after doing Dolby Surround.
Let's take a quick look at the remote (on the right). It is well laid out and simple to use though I imagine most will use either a universal type remote or a Tablet/phone App. This time around hitting Option gives you the ability to not only do picture modes but also channel tweaking levels and tones. Set Up is where you find all the menu settings. It also lights up an orange-ish color. The INFO button tells you the various in and outs and what's going on. New this time is Audyssey info which tells what mode and whether Dynamic EQ or Volume is enabled. Also which speakers are active which is nice with all the new options we have!
Looking at the back you can see there are enough HDMI inputs (7 or 8 if you count the one in the front) and outputs (3) then you will know what to do with. As for the speaker binding posts I was able to use Dual Banana plugs and the larger single ones. There is plenty of room between the terminals. No worries there.
So are you more confused after looking at the above pics? Don't be. The 7009 is truly simple to figure out and in a way it is a lot of fun exploring the many options. The one thing I do wish it had is a pre-amplifier mode like I remember the Denon 4520 having. I would be curious to see (I mean hear) if there would be any difference setting it up that way. As a Receiver you get 9.2 channels at 125W 8-ohms. You also get 11.2 channel signal processing but there is 13.2 Pre-out capability. That way as mentioned above you can select your speaker configuration with the AMP assign options. You will hear a distinctive click letting you know you have changed your AMP selection. This is useful for those of you who are still holding onto your Wide channels. I personally am not and I doubt most will once they demo the new sound format. I like how their term "Height" is sticking around with Height 1 (fronts) and Height 2 (rears). The Audyssey MultEQ XT32 has LFC (keeps bass in your room as much as possible), Sub EQ (for two subs) and is Pro Ready.
As for the video side of things we get again (same as 8801) the ADV8003 chip from Analog Devices. This is not a bad thing. It has plenty of pic modes though I admit I hardly deviate from Standard (TV) or off (Blu-ray). The DirecTV image was vastly improved when sending in 1080i and letting the 7009 turn it into 1080p. I have been sending the image through an Oppo 103D Review here. Which then for DirecTV I have been sending it into DVDO's new Mini 4K scaler. That write up is here. So I use the built in Darblet in Hi Def and then let the Mini 4K scale it to 4K which does an excellent job cleaning the signal up by suppressing ringing. It also sharpens the image quite a bit. The SR7009 does have a couple image settings like Enhancer which emphasizes sharpness. So enough about video let's get more into the sound of the SR7009 specifically with Blu-ray...
Checking out various titles as amazed as I was with the room being completely engulfed into each soundtrack I still could not wonder just how damn good a real Atmos title will perform. There are no "holes" in the room. Atmos being an Object based sound format makes sure that various sounds are precisely placed which add to the realism of each movie. In Gravity you get the sensation that you could really be in space with them. Of course the large Vutec Curved Screen helps as well. So does having other great speakers and subwoofers. Each play an integral role and when put together with Dolby Atmos or so far up mixed Dolby Surround (that name does make you feel like you are going 'Back To the Future' so to speak) we are hearing the best sound to date thus far in our room. Oblivion has many cool scenes. Tom's ship was cruising (or so it felt) above our heads and behind and then in front quite a bit. The vintage songs (Ramble On and A Winter Shade of Pale) pulled at you emotionally. As did the ending song in Lone Survivor which is Heroes by Peter Gabriel. Of course the many bullets flying around the room kept you on the edge of your seat. Same for Robocop. Plus add some bad ass motorcycle revs. Captain America (the new one) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 both had arousing ear moments. There were times when your mind would think Spidey was web slinging above your head from building to building. Captain America had many moments throughout the film that made it better than when we saw it at the movies. There are plenty of moments from all the movies that can make you flinch. I plan to grab my copy of Avengers and check out Ironman buzzing around the sky!
So what key components and features inside the 7009 help make this flagship model special? How about its high speed current feedback amplifier circuit it uses with its preamplifier so that signals from Blu-ray players which support High Definition audio formats so they are amplified with high fidelity. Marantz calls it their HDAM (Hyper Dynamic Amp Modules).This is also effective with creating natural sound space. And of course I need to mention the Audyssey XT32 calibration capability. This makes a big difference between good and great! It also is even easier to do now. I asked Jaclyn (pic below) to go through the set up this morning to test it. It was easy enough for her to read the instructions on screen and follow them. A special thanks to her for spending 20 minutes to humor me. The 7009 has a high precision master clock, internal dampers which help against interference and vibrations. We have to also mention the DAC 192/24 with three 32 Bit DSPs and four 24 bit DSPs. And there is plenty of copper which was used to assemble elements, modules, connectors, components and yes even the screws! Lastly, the biggest difference maker is the new sound format Dolby Atmos. In case you are wondering what it is:
Introduced first in the cinema, Dolby Atmos brings a revolutionary sense of dimension and immersion to the Home Theater experience. Dolby Atmos is an adaptable and scalable object based format that reproduces audio as independent sounds (or objects) that can be accurately positioned and move dynamically throughout the 3 dimensional listening space during playback. A key ingredient of Dolby Atmos is the introduction of a height plane of sound above the listener.
Final Thoughts (for now)...
In case you are wondering if I am or my guests are just liking the sound from the ceiling because it is new let me reassure you that is not the case. In June of 2009 I installed my Height speakers for Dolby Pro Logic IIz. We added the Height 2 speakers for the Rear of the room in early July (2014) but they have been silent until the SR7009's arrival. Instead of seeing is believing I am going to say hearing is fearing. Why fear? Because once you hear it you will have to buy the Receivers/pre-pros and speakers/modules to do Dolby Atmos/Surround. And maybe also fear because some of those scary movies will make you not want to be alone! Like Insidious, Vacancy, The Strangers, Sinister or The Conjuring. Some of the creepy sounds that are heard above you will make the hairs on your neck stand up! The Marantz SR 7009 Receiver will be a very tough act to follow for the other brands starting out with Dolby Atmos. Its gapless sound just envelopes the room with not only a powerful punch but with distinct clarity as well. We can't wait for an actual Blu-ray title or demo disc with true Atmos sound. Until then though we will enjoy the ear delicious sound of Dolby Surround...
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Thanks again (and again) to Audio Video Interiors Chicago for getting me a 7009 so quickly. If you are ever in their area (by Oakbrook Mall) stop in and check them out. Cool showrooms! You can also have a nice lunch at Ditka's Restaurant which is within walking distance. Give Noah a call at (630) 607-0054 and say hello from me.
1S 550 IL Route 83 Unit C
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
(across from Oakbrook Mall on Hodges)
BOTTOM OF PAGE
With Transformers Age Of Extinction being the first title to come out with a Dolby Atmos Soundtrack I was excited to finally put in a disc and see the 7009 light up with "Atmos" on its display. It was really cool to hear the distinct sound from above. It was perfectly placed around the room. We can't wait for more titles to come. Luckily to help tide me over Robert from Value Electronics sent me an Atmos Demo disc. This is really great for showing visitors the impact that Atmos can have in your room. Sure the up mixing sound of Atmos (Dolby Surround) does not sound bad at all. We are still loving it for Movies and Sports. Of course having newer titles with Atmos sound will prove to be the pinnacle of cinema sound at home!