Marantz SR-7500 Review

November 18, 2004

sr-7500I wonder if Saul Marantz could have envisioned a surround sound receiver as advanced as the SR-7500, heck I wonder if he even considered the possibility of a surround sound receiver at all. Years ago when AVR’s first came on the market they were relatively simple. My first surround unit didn’t even have a center channel, just matrixed rears. As the years went on we got into Dobly Pro-Logic, Dolby Digital, and eventually Dolby Digital EX and DTS-ES. Somewhere during all of that evolvement, these suckers got complicated. Like anything else that advances, it’s hard to pinpoint just where it happened, but you know it must have been simpler way back when.

Well, receivers might actually be easier to use from here on out. I wanted to wait until I’d tried at least two or three different surround receivers with auto-room EQ setup until I made up my mind. But if the Marantz SR-7500, Denon AVR-3805, and to a lesser degree Harman AVR-330 are any example, the days of fiddling around with delay and size settings, until you’re cross-eyed, are over. The SR-7500 is a 105W X 7 channel surround sound receiver with a host of impressive features. Among them the aforementioned “MRAC (Marantz Room Acoustics Calibration)”, Dolby Digital EX, Pro Logic IIx, DTS 96/24, and THX Surround EX processing, component video switching, video up-conversion, and adjustable Lip Sync error correction.

Initial Impressions:
As always the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, but I was a little taken aback by the weight of the receiver when I unpackaged it. It wasn’t a feather weight by any means, but It didn’t have that ‘ouch my back’ factor I was almost expecting. I was anxious to see if this would have any impact on the overall sound, so I began mapping out my connections. In my setup at least, not normally using any video switching, set-up is typically a snap. I plug in my Sat and DVD coaxial leads and jam in my speaker plugs, and that’s pretty much it for receiver connections at my place. All in all hooking up this receiver was as simple as could be. Oh by the way, yeah the remote is ugly but serves the purpose.


Connections:
Speaking of connections, let me give a little more detail about what’s available on the rear of the SR-7500. The receiver supports the typical component video (4×1), s-video and composite video connections, as well as 4 optical digital audio connections and 3 coaxial. In addition, IR-Flasher trigger in and repeat out connections are included and an RS-232 port, as well as Marantz’s Multi-RC connections. The speaker connection terminals are arranged in a double horizontal row arrangement and makes for easy speaker connection. 7.1 Pre-Outs and Ins are also included on the rear panel. I was very pleased to see a removable IEC power cable.

Setup and Operation:
Once I got a monitor out connected it was fairly smooth running from there. I suppose I was hoping for a little something extra from the menu system, but aside from the MRAC menu additions I didn’t really see anything new. That’s not to say the menu lacked anything, it was just a little spartan, but very easy to navigate. Anyone who’s able to navigate through the menu of any recent audio, video receiver will have no issues doing the same with the SR-7500.

Marantz Room Acoustics Calibration:
Alright now for the fun part, I say fun because I’m not a receiver tweaker. I take a real no nonsense approach to my audio setup, my stereo setup doesn’t even have tone controls. I like nice even accurate sounds and don’t feel like futzing around with a A/V receiver for hours at a time to get the sound right. After using the auto-setup on the recently reviewed Denon AVR-3805 I was anxious to see how Marantz’s systems compared. Once the included omni-directional microphone was plugged in I hit the MRAC button and away we went. The first part of the process is an ambient noise level check. Then the system cycles through a series of pink noise that gets progressively higher in frequency moving from speaker to speaker and then repeats one additional time. The entire process can be followed on screen and then you’re prompted to save your settings once it’s finished. How did it work? To my ears, it was flawless, nice even balance and volume throughout all the speakers. I opened up the menu one more time to see what the MRAC had come up with for distance to speakers and it all appeared to be dead on. All in all I’m very confident I got quicker, more accurate results than I could have come up with on my own, in any reasonable amount of time.

Video Features and Performance:
The SR-7500 is capable of up-conversion from either the composite inputs or the s-video inputs.
Time based correction and anti-aliasing are applied to the lower resolution signals to ensure the best signal possible through the component monitor out. I tried this with a Game Cube and was pleasantly surprised with the results. I’d never been able to get the display from the GC to appear correctly formatted on my projector, until passed through the component out of the 7500.

Sound Performance:
I started off (unknowingly) with what would provide the most impressive demonstration of what the SR-7500 is capable of, the DTS soundtrack of Kill Bill Volume One. Right off the bat I had experienced the one thing that in my mind exemplifies a great product, I forgot to review the receiver and started watching the movie. Simple as it sounds it says volumes. I hear all sorts of receivers and processors and more time than not I can pick them apart analytically without even really enjoying what I’m hearing. There was something really right with how this receiver was decoding DTS. Once I got my bearings back and started paying attention or rather ‘reviewing’ again I skipped forward to the House of Blue Leaves chapter. The army of crazy 88’s rushing into the teahouse sounded like a stampede coming through my living room and immediately caught my attention as having more bass than I’d had in my system up to this point.

Once Beatrix drew her sword and started wreaking havoc, I had the sense that this had to be better than the sound at the local Cineplex we’d seen Vol. 1 at. The sound seemed very balanced, the swords clanging in from the left or right had just the right amount of impact and just as quickly as the hits came, the sound focused back to the center right on time. The ‘Blue’ fight scene had spot on localization, making the otherwise dark scene even easier to follow along with than I’d noticed before. It was as if I’d never really experienced this disc properly and I was engrossed in every second of it.

From there I moved onto ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’, specifically chapter 4. I wanted to hear something a little more organic and ambient, and the “Down by the river” scene seemed like a natural. The sound had a near analog quality to it, as the camera panned past the congregation, several of singing actors voices were very pronounced and had a tonal accuracy that was really impressive. Having seen this section a few times before, and not thinking much of it, I was surprised to find myself almost wishing the song would go on a little longer.

This had peaked my interest for song reproduction and I wanted to check out Chicago. I popped it in, selected the DTS track, and skipped forward to chapter eight’s “reached for the gun” sequence. To be honest, I wasn’t overly familiar with the DVD, but had seen the film in the theater and felt confident that this would make for an impressive demonstration. Hmm, seems I was wrong as I was less than impressed with what I was hearing. Had the SR-7500 already showed some weakness? Later I wrote this off to nothing more than just a moment before hearing a really good soundtrack then a mediocre one. I can say this with confidence, based on what was to come later.

Sticking with the DTS theme, I next tried out Pearl Harbor. Oddly enough this was the first time I was really ‘wowed’ (pun intended) by the THX clip at the beginning of a movie, outside the theater that is. I watched the entire ‘First Strike’ sequence and thoroughly enjoyed it. The left to right movement of the planes was accurately portrayed in the sound stage. It might sound weird but this was the first time I’d had a ‘Cinema’ experience at home with my system. It’s not that I haven’t watched a ton for movies at home, and with various types of equipment, but just that I’ve owned more than my fair share of slightly out of date processors and receivers. Now I felt ‘caught up’, for lack of a better term. According to my notes, this is where I zoned out again and just watched the movie.

Back on to the review, for kicks I wanted to throw on Phantom Menace and check out the pod race sequence. Being a Lucasfilm product, this disc obviously didn’t have a DTS soundtrack, as a result of this I was brought back into the real world of surround sound reproduction for a few minutes. Overall I was less than blown-away with this sequence and was left feeling a little miffed. After all, hadn’t I just heard some really great surround sound a few minutes earlier? Yes but that was with a DTS soundtrack. Was the SR-7500 a one trick pony? The short answer is no. DTS, no matter how you slice it up, is compressed less than Dolby Digital and in 90% of my discs DTS is clearly the better soundtrack. So likely what I was experiencing was just the ‘let down’, if you will, of hearing great audio rather than really good audio. Now I’m sure some Dolby Digital fan will read that and blow a gasket, but that’s just my 2 cents worth, take it or leave it. This was also the first disc I tried out the SR-7500’s THX mode. I’ll gladly admit I’m no THX expert but from what I’ve been able to gather, THX-EX applies some re-equalizing of the upper frequencies across the front channels, of which I found lacking. I can’t say whether it was the decoding itself or how my associated gear worked with it, but needless to say I spent very little time with the THX mode after this point.

Not fully convinced I was getting good Dolby Digital performance out of the 7500, I wanted to review another non-DTS disc and grabbed my Indiana Jones box set and selected ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. I immediately noticed more openness and presence than I’d gotten out of menace. The jungle sounds had that open airy sound I’d noticed on previous discs. With Phantom Menace, I had less than stellar bass performance but as soon as I popped in Raiders it was back to normal or even better than normal. I’m not sure how to account for this other than to chalk it up to room acoustics. Regardless, I was now satisfied with what I was hearing and ready to move onto another disc.

Ok recap time. What had I learned so far? This receiver really shines with DTS tracks and I don’t care for THX that much, but as I don’t own another single piece of THX gear should this come as any surprise? Moving on, I threw in Star Wars: A New Hope from the recently released box set and watched as the opening credits scrolled past, freedom of the galaxy yada yada. Ahh, there was that great bass performance again; although I doubt my neighbor appreciated it much. They really did a great job with the audio on this box set. The orchestral pieces are some of the best I’ve heard on a DVD and the SR-7500 really shows it off. One thing in particular that caught my ear was the ‘swoosh’ of the ships doors, much like in my review of the Harman-AVR 330 except this time they seemed to encompass another foot or two of the soundstage. In the scene where Jabba finally catches up with Han in the landing bay, Jabba’s voice sounded as if he had a big piece of phlegm in his throat, which I can only assume is what Lucas had I mind for the character.

I was really enjoying what I was hearing and felt like going through my entire DVD collection, however sanity prevailed and luckily for you I only pulled out a few more. Next up was Finding Nemo. Some of the background music on this disc had a truly ambient feel to it, the music was clear and palpable but never interfered with the dialog. In the scene where Marlin and Dory are riding the current with the turtles, the bubbles and gurgling sounds seemed to emanate from 3 feet in front of the speakers, not right at them. The scene in which the mines are accidentally detonated really rumbled my room, something that until the insertion of the 7500 into the system was a rare occurrence. Feeling the animation vibe I popped in Shrek, early on there’s a scene where the villagers confront Shrek. When the “this is part where you run” line is delivered the fleeing townsfolk seemed to run 2 or 3 feet past my right speaker, again showing of excellent soundstage performance.

Lastly I tried out a rental, The Chronicles of Riddick. In the scene where some prisoners are caged I caught some excellent front to rear pan. And towards the end, when Riddick fights the General Marshal, I again had some of the deepest bass extension yet so far in my System. If you missed this one in the theater, I highly recommend it.

Conclusion:
Based on my tests with ‘Kill Bill Volume One’ alone, I was ready to upgrade. I knew I had something different on my hands. But lest I seem like a pushover for this receiver, I’ll go into some other reasons why I was impressed. I felt the power output from this receiver, especially through the center channel, gave an overall more intelligible and articulate representation of voice. That paired with the ridiculously simple and accurate auto-EQ setup made the Marantz SR-7500 a real winner. The SR-7500 will appear in my year end, Recommended Gear for 2004/2005 list.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Reviews, Surround Receiver Reviews


Comments

  • uriel galeano

    I have the Receiver Mod SR 670 and CD 65 SE and BW speakers DM 603. My room is 10f by 20f and I would like to have a home theater for this room.

    I highly appreciated if you could advise me in a recommendable home theater for the above area. Marantz brand is my preference.

    Thanks a lot and happy Labor Day

    Uriel

  • uriel galeano

    I have the Receiver Mod SR 670 and CD 65 SE and BW speakers DM 603. My room is 10f by 20f and I would like to have a home theater for this room.

    I highly appreciated if you could advise me in a recommendable home theater for the above area. Marantz brand is my preference.

    Thanks a lot and happy Labor Day

    Uriel

  • Ben Hobbs

    I’ve set up a number of SR 7500’s and I must admit they are one of my favourite amplifiers – It just seems to do everything so well.

    Its getting a little dated now and I’m sure it will be replaced with a SR 7600 in the near future but currently it can be had for a bargain, well worth the money IMO.

  • Ben Hobbs

    I’ve set up a number of SR 7500’s and I must admit they are one of my favourite amplifiers – It just seems to do everything so well.

    Its getting a little dated now and I’m sure it will be replaced with a SR 7600 in the near future but currently it can be had for a bargain, well worth the money IMO.

  • wendy

    I intend to set up a HT system with a Marantz SR 7500 , a Yamaha YST-SW315 subwoofer, Wharfedale Diamond 9.5 standing speakers , Wharfedale 9.0 CS speaker and a pair of Wharfedale 9.0 SR speakers.Do you think this is a good combination ? My room is only 14 ft x 10 ft.. pls help..your help is highly appreciated.

  • wendy

    I intend to set up a HT system with a Marantz SR 7500 , a Yamaha YST-SW315 subwoofer, Wharfedale Diamond 9.5 standing speakers , Wharfedale 9.0 CS speaker and a pair of Wharfedale 9.0 SR speakers.Do you think this is a good combination ? My room is only 14 ft x 10 ft.. pls help..your help is highly appreciated.

  • Rob

    We have a Marantz SR 7500. We are trying to connect a Video Cam to the front panel “AUX1” connectors. Can’t get any signal at all. Can anyone offer suggestions as to how to make this work?

    We set the input to AUX1 ANA, nothing.

    The AMP works well with a satelite receiver and big screen TV.

  • Rob

    We have a Marantz SR 7500. We are trying to connect a Video Cam to the front panel “AUX1” connectors. Can’t get any signal at all. Can anyone offer suggestions as to how to make this work?

    We set the input to AUX1 ANA, nothing.

    The AMP works well with a satelite receiver and big screen TV.

  • Carl

    Hi all. Nice review on the 7500. I just bought a unit two weeks ago and loving every mintue of it. I would have to agree with your review on the portion HT of it. I realize this is a “home theater” review, but I was surprised there was no review on the musical aspect of the reciever. The pure direct mode on this unit makes me want to listen to my CD collection all over again. It would be nice if you could add some opinion on the music aspect. But all in all very informative review.

  • Carl

    Hi all. Nice review on the 7500. I just bought a unit two weeks ago and loving every mintue of it. I would have to agree with your review on the portion HT of it. I realize this is a “home theater” review, but I was surprised there was no review on the musical aspect of the reciever. The pure direct mode on this unit makes me want to listen to my CD collection all over again. It would be nice if you could add some opinion on the music aspect. But all in all very informative review.

  • B.Greenway

    Yes it does, Receivers by definition all have am/fm

  • B.Greenway

    Yes it does, Receivers by definition all have am/fm

  • TL

    Does it have a radio reciever AM/FM? The specs on the site are confusing…?

  • TL

    Does it have a radio reciever AM/FM? The specs on the site are confusing…?

  • mighail

    Hi all. I am a South African and I’m hoping to buy the marantz Sr 7500 but dont know it it compares with yamaha and nad. It’s an old av receiver but i read the reviews and was godsmacked. I have a pair of Sakynos( very cheap collum speakers). I was wondering if i can use cheap speakers with the sr7500 and still get enjoyment. at the moment I am using the Sansui avr450 and is 70watts per channel. and both speaker and receiver sounds good. It’s just that the sansui has tramendeous distortion. plz help. buy the way, i discovered a new make of speakers called “gemsound”. they sound ok but they were connected to a denon receiver so i couldnt tell whether it was the receiver that lacked the low frequencies or the speakers itself. I know that denon is not known for the low frequency department. please help me..

  • mighail

    Hi all. I am a South African and I’m hoping to buy the marantz Sr 7500 but dont know it it compares with yamaha and nad. It’s an old av receiver but i read the reviews and was godsmacked. I have a pair of Sakynos( very cheap collum speakers). I was wondering if i can use cheap speakers with the sr7500 and still get enjoyment. at the moment I am using the Sansui avr450 and is 70watts per channel. and both speaker and receiver sounds good. It’s just that the sansui has tramendeous distortion. plz help. buy the way, i discovered a new make of speakers called “gemsound”. they sound ok but they were connected to a denon receiver so i couldnt tell whether it was the receiver that lacked the low frequencies or the speakers itself. I know that denon is not known for the low frequency department. please help me..

  • B.Greenway

    PLIIx on DTS? not that I’m aware, but I have to admit it never occured to me to try. On second thought I think I did try that once, it was a no go.

  • B.Greenway

    PLIIx on DTS? not that I’m aware, but I have to admit it never occured to me to try. On second thought I think I did try that once, it was a no go.

  • Hi,
    Can the 7500 apply Dolby Pro Logic IIx to DTS 5.1 and DTS ES 6.1 sources? (or only to DD 5.1 and DD EX 6.1 sources)
    Thanks for the *excellent* review!

  • Hi,
    Can the 7500 apply Dolby Pro Logic IIx to DTS 5.1 and DTS ES 6.1 sources? (or only to DD 5.1 and DD EX 6.1 sources)
    Thanks for the *excellent* review!

  • thetrout

    After a moderate amount of research, I opted for the Marantz SR 7500. Basis of choice: many/most sales people in local audio stores said that if there were spending approx. $1000 on a surround receiver, which also has muti-room capability, this would be their choice. Locally
    (in the Boston area), if you are buying a system, Cambridge Soundworks will sell it for under $900. Don’t know if their on-line store offers system discounts. It comes with a solid 3yr. warranty, which makes me sleep better at night. Lastly, the Marantz acoustic room calibration feature actually works !

  • thetrout

    After a moderate amount of research, I opted for the Marantz SR 7500. Basis of choice: many/most sales people in local audio stores said that if there were spending approx. $1000 on a surround receiver, which also has muti-room capability, this would be their choice. Locally
    (in the Boston area), if you are buying a system, Cambridge Soundworks will sell it for under $900. Don’t know if their on-line store offers system discounts. It comes with a solid 3yr. warranty, which makes me sleep better at night. Lastly, the Marantz acoustic room calibration feature actually works !

  • daman

    Hi! Excellent review, really helpful to me since im kind of stuck between a choosing a new reciever. I have in mind the Denon 3805, Marantz 7500 or the Harman Kardon 635. Seems like you prefer the Marantz over the Denon. But how would you compare this marantz to the HK i mention? Your advice would be really helpful to me!! I am going to drive energy connesieur series speakers along with a SVS sub with this reciever.

  • daman

    Hi! Excellent review, really helpful to me since im kind of stuck between a choosing a new reciever. I have in mind the Denon 3805, Marantz 7500 or the Harman Kardon 635. Seems like you prefer the Marantz over the Denon. But how would you compare this marantz to the HK i mention? Your advice would be really helpful to me!! I am going to drive energy connesieur series speakers along with a SVS sub with this reciever.

  • Dev

    Can you name what vendors actually sell the SR7500 for $850? Haven’t found this price at all after hours of scouring the web. thanks!

  • Dev

    Can you name what vendors actually sell the SR7500 for $850? Haven’t found this price at all after hours of scouring the web. thanks!

  • B.Greenway

    Can’t say as I’ve heard that Yamaha, but between the Denon and Marantz, I definitely preferred the Marantz.

  • B.Greenway

    Can’t say as I’ve heard that Yamaha, but between the Denon and Marantz, I definitely preferred the Marantz.

  • Brad

    Your review is the only one I have come across so far and I enjoyed it as well. Anyway, I am in the same boat as the previous post. I too am looking at the Marantz SR7500 as well as the Yamaha RXV2500 and Denon AVR3805. I have Klipsch Reference Series speakers. My music/movie enjoyment is 50/50.

    Is there a clear cut choice out of the three in your opinion?

    Thanks

    Thanks

  • Brad

    Your review is the only one I have come across so far and I enjoyed it as well. Anyway, I am in the same boat as the previous post. I too am looking at the Marantz SR7500 as well as the Yamaha RXV2500 and Denon AVR3805. I have Klipsch Reference Series speakers. My music/movie enjoyment is 50/50.

    Is there a clear cut choice out of the three in your opinion?

    Thanks

    Thanks

  • Guibara

    Hi there.. I enjoyed your review very much!!!
    I’m on the market for a new receiver and I’mm in a 3 way split between the SR7500, the Denon 3805 and the yamaha 2500…
    Any light at the end of the tunnel???
    I’ll be most likely getting Quad 12L for speakers and listening to a lot of different music as well as movies….

    Any recommendations?? Features/Quality are they all the same???

  • Guibara

    Hi there.. I enjoyed your review very much!!!
    I’m on the market for a new receiver and I’mm in a 3 way split between the SR7500, the Denon 3805 and the yamaha 2500…
    Any light at the end of the tunnel???
    I’ll be most likely getting Quad 12L for speakers and listening to a lot of different music as well as movies….

    Any recommendations?? Features/Quality are they all the same???

  • B.Greenway

    Hey Thanks,

    Typo corrected, thanks for catching that.

    As for the price, it retails for $1,099.99 US. However it can be found for as little as $850.00ish on the net.

    And my system makeup/breakdown is listed here:
    http://www.hometheaterblog.com/about.html

    Surround is 5.1 currently, changing to 7.1 soon.

    Thanks again.

  • B.Greenway

    Hey Thanks,

    Typo corrected, thanks for catching that.

    As for the price, it retails for $1,099.99 US. However it can be found for as little as $850.00ish on the net.

    And my system makeup/breakdown is listed here:
    http://www.hometheaterblog.com/about.html

    Surround is 5.1 currently, changing to 7.1 soon.

    Thanks again.

  • Home Theater Fan

    Excellent review.

    1) Post the price point that you purchased the receiver at (nice mention about its direct competition in the article)
    2) Post your speaker setup 5.1/7.1 – as well as speaker manufacturer
    3) The picture page has Marantz mispelled – “Marnatz SR-7500”

    — Otherwise this was a very good read. Thanks for taking the time to review it.

  • Home Theater Fan

    Excellent review.

    1) Post the price point that you purchased the receiver at (nice mention about its direct competition in the article)
    2) Post your speaker setup 5.1/7.1 – as well as speaker manufacturer
    3) The picture page has Marantz mispelled – “Marnatz SR-7500”

    — Otherwise this was a very good read. Thanks for taking the time to review it.