MARANTZ AV8805 Pre-Amplifier Review
Over the past few years I have been on a rollercoaster of pre-pros. From the Datasat RS20i to the McIntosh MX160 and not forgetting the Marantz 8802A. So here we are the summer of 2018 and I am visiting with the new Marantz 8805 model which is capable of 13.2 Channel processing. Their new Flagship model is capable of Dolby Atmos, DTS: X and Auro-3D. Becoming accustomed to watching football with Auromatic (the up mixer) I am excited to report the 8805 renders the games with a precise crowd pleasing presentation. As for Dolby Atmos let's just say it has been the format of choice with movies. Especially since the Apple TV 4K has now begun using Atmos. Vudu and iTunes movies have had a nice upgrade in sound. DTS: X has become the odd man out at least in our theater. Making an appearance here and there with discs which quite honestly are on their way out here. I recently transferred all the digital codes from my 1000+ Blu-ray collection (UHD as well) and nearly every single one of them still worked. I am running 7.3.6 speakers. Actually two subwoofers but also I consider my butt kickers in the seats. Also technically .5 speakers in the ceiling since I only have one Top middle but I matrix the Top Middle Left and Right into my Top middle speaker. It has always worked perfectly fine. I use an XLR in and then single Out device to help accomplish this though you could also do so with XLR adaptors. So how does the Marantz 8805 sound? Let's get to it...
Looking at the back as you can see you get everything relevant to today's latest and greatest. The most exciting features besides the 13 XLR outputs (actually there's a total of 15) is the 8 HDMI inputs and 3 outputs which are capable of passing anything available today and most likely tomorrow! I was able to pass 4K HDR without any issues. Of course HDR was a "no go" until I went into the Set Up menu and changed the HDMI setting from Standard to Enhanced on the 8805. For those not using XLR you also have the equal amount of RCA outs. Check out what else you get:
I will have to say Marantz has some of the best remotes in the business. They all light up and are very easy to memorize the position of the most important buttons. The Volume and Option buttons being in such close proximity help. The Option gives immediate access to Dialog Enhancer, Channel Level Adjusts, Picture Mode and an All Zone Stereo shortcut. The other most important buttons besides the side back light one are the Movie mode selection (green) and INFO. Tapping Info shows the Source, Sound, Signal, Audyssey and the Input Signal as well as the Active Speakers. It is great having all that useful info at the touch of a button. Very thorough. I included a pic below of it. As well as a few more set up pics...
As you can see the GUI Set Up is as easy as pie. As it walks you through each step it will ask you questions about your cables and speakers. Holding your hand the entire process. I can't seem to remember the last time if ever I had a GUI so intuitive. I first ran the 8805 for a little bit with the Audyssey calibration. Once I did go for it the sound definitely improved in my room. They even included a nice cardboard tripod for the MIC but I still have my trusty Walmart version (Pic off to the left) which for $20 is definitely more sturdy. The process seemed to take less time from what I remember but of course I am comparing to doing Room Perfect on the McIntosh MX160. Doing RP is an event which you need to set time aside for. The results after are amazing so I never complain. After getting the 8805 ready to go it was time to start putting it through the paces. I was able to easily configure it for an Atmos set up and still effectively use DTS: X and Auro-3D up mix for sports without issue. The sound for all three formats works remarkably well. Marantz has found a way to blend all three in their flagship model better than anyone else has so far. That is saying a lot for a model with a MSRP below 5K.
Using the Dolby Atmos Demo (pics below) was not only very helpful but also very fun. The speaker signal test put my mind at peace knowing all my speakers I selected in the 8805 Set up menu were firing correctly. As for the content on the disc it makes some terrific Demo material. The Movies and TV section has some tense moments that prove how important sound can be. Also the Video Game demo with Star Wars Battlefront was incredible. Some of the music was good as were the Audio Only section clips. I have started playing the Movie Demos (two or so) while I make popcorn before we start our main attraction. They are so immersive it puts them in the mood to watch the entire movie. With Dolby Atmos taking over much of the market and especially our home theater this disc is a must have. The material is pure ear candy but the Test Tones alone make it worth the purchase.
So putting it all together for Movies and Sports just how well does the 8805 perform? As mentioned above I first tested with DirecTV and football. Overall I was very pleased with the crowd and announcer presentation. There is a nice crowd spread throughout the room. When there is a big play for the home team you can definitely hear it and feel it. I enjoyed using the Auro-3D up mix. Still my favorite! Then I jumped into UHD Blu-ray discs. Now these are the ultimate test for me. And some Blu-ray 2K discs are too. First one of those... Darkness Falls, my favorite voice intro sounded terrific. The center speaker gets a full workout here. It was well done. Then UHD discs... Mad Max (newer one) the same awesome narrator type voice effect. The 8805 passed this test as well. Then I went tough with Sicario and Oblivion. Sicario has some amazing helicopter moments where you would swear they are directly above your head and sometimes like you are in them. The 8805 was accurate and did an excellent job enveloping the room again. Now the tests. Oblivion in the opening sounded terrific with Tom Cruise's "Earth" announcement. Then as he and his partner are getting ready in the morning he leans over and takes a bite of the toast she is holding. You hear him chomping and then you hear him thank her for the coffee. Now the 8805 passes. Those instances were distinct. I would give the 8805 a solid B/B+. Now the even tougher test. Sicario after shower moment with Emily Blunt. She is standing and facing the mirror and she is breathing heavy and exhaling as she lightly says to herself "Relax." Now I have the 8805 with Dialog Enhancement on Medium since most of the time my guests ask what did he/she say? On my other units I usually raise the Center speaker 1.5 to 2.5. to combat this. I added to the Center with the Medium setting and still you can barely and I mean barely hear her say "Relax." It's more of her mouthing it. Now if I stand directly in front of the Illusion Center speaker and turn the 8805 up to 80 or so I do hear it more clearly. With a couple Receiver brands I cannot hear her say it at all so it is still a passing grade for the 8805. I would say C/C+.
So after testing I just started to relax and enjoy the latest new movies with family and friends. I let them know this is a Review model and we are going to hear what it can do! Each movie was very impressive. Rampage was a destructive thrill ride which we really enjoyed. A Quiet Place when there actually was sound really jolted us. And the very recent release of Ready Player One was an entertaining fun popcorn movie which delivered a staggering soundtrack. The AV8805 was able to deliver amazing sound for the money. Accurate and detailed make a great combination when purchasing a new Pre-Pro. So how does it stack up against the McIntosh MX160 which keep in mind has a MSRP of 14K? Well much like the time when I compared the 8802A with it and the RS20i from Datasat (MSRP 23K) it is at least in the ball park. I would say better or closer to them than when I did the other comparison a couple years ago. This is definitely a huge compliment especially since the Marantz AV8805 comes in with a MSRP of "just" $4499. Think of it as a Swiss Army knife that handles being the nucleus of your set up. No matter how complex it can do the ins and outs of any and all components. And think about all the speakers it can do. More importantly consider the sound formats it does so well...
So if you are looking to upgrade your current model or just doing a brand new set up the Marantz AV8805 should be seriously considered. HEOS Multiple Room support, Amazon Alexa (we call ours Echo), Advanced 32 Bit DACs on all channels, Audyssey MultEQ XT32, an amazing Set Up Assistant built in, Bluetooth and WiFi which work stronger than any component I have previously owned and terrific speaker output options for all three of the major sound formats! Even components that cost three to four times as much do not have everything the new flagship model from Marantz has. You would be hard pressed to get a deal this good! Many consider sound the most important feature to a movie. The AV8805 is for those who want a complete immersive experience!
For more information on the AV8805 tap above!
For questions about the Marantz 8805 or anything else please call NOAH at (630)
607-0054. He and his team have many years between them in experience. They are great "Go To" guys for all your electronic needs!
If you are by Oakbrook stop in and see their theater demo rooms. You can also have a nice lunch at Mike Ditka's super close by.
My twin girls participated in May the 4th be with you this year. The looks we received from the beach visitors were priceless. They are slowly starting to enjoy watching movies in our theater. Maybe one day soon I will teach them to make popcorn and be ushers...LOL