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Review: Marantz SR7300 AV Surround Receiver


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#1 of 150 Jeff D.

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Posted November 11 2002 - 04:10 PM

I've been running in a brand new Marantz SR7300 this long weekend and thought I'd offer my opinions.

As many know, the last series (x200) from Marantz was quite controversial and some even felt it marked a step backward for the company. From what I have seen and heard from the new series (I have also been working with the 5300), it seems like they have learned from their mistakes and this new series could prove quite successful.

Before I even opened the box I saw something which made me happy - the 7300 is made in Japan. I have no idea why, but it offers me some reassurance. The x000 series, with the excellent SR7000 and SR8000 came from Japan and was in its time probably the best series of HT receivers on the market, offering stellar performance for both stereo and multichannel applications. Here's to hoping the new x300 series picks up where that series left off.

The cosmetics of the 7300 are slightly changed, but similar to the last series. A solid brushed aluminum front panel is dominated by two large metal knobs. The right knob controls volume. The left knob, reserved for selecting the surround mode on previous generations, now acts as a multi-function control. Combined with the Select and Enter buttons below it, one can navigate and control the menu system from the front panel, reading the very legible display. A nice feature for the pros, who don't need to see the menu onscreen. Posted Image

There is the standard Auxilliary input on the front panel, only it is now joined by an optical digital input as well. Round the back you'll find six digital inputs - three coaxial and three optical - which can be assigned to any of the 10 inputs on the receiver. When assigning these inputs, you can designate the digital input exclusively, or use an 'Auto' mode, whereby if no signal is detected at the digital input you choose, the receiver looks to that input's analog input for the signal.

The rest of the panel is clean and elegant looking, allow you to choose the source input, control the primary functions and operate the tuner. Silkscreen logos indicate the presence of pretty much everything anyone could want in terms of surround modes: Dolby Digital EX, Pro-Logic II Movie and Music with the appropriate adjustments, DTS ES Discrete and Matrix, DTS 24/96, Circle Surround II.

This is a six-channel receiver which will provide amplification for the surround back channel. It also offers A/B speaker switching for the main front pair. Power is rated at 105WPC for all six speakers. You will find an RS232 port on the back of the receiver, presumably for future software updates. The SR7300 also offers component video switching, with two inputs and a single output - along with the usual composite and S-Video switching.

The one possible downside to the new model is the remote control. Gone is the familiar RC1200 and RC2000MkII. The remote control is a completely new design. You will have to forgive my lack of knowledge of this remote - I have a Pronto and used the codes from my own SR8000 to operate the 7300 and quite simply forgot about the remote. I will test it out and offer my opinions later.

So, let's cut to the chase. Most people reading this will know the problems the previous series had. Time to say if Marantz has learned from the past and remedied these problems.

The first problem was not really a problem, but simply a design choice, and it has affected every Marantz receiver prior to the 7300 - a fixed crossover point at 100Hz. With the 7300, a variable crossover control is now available. The user has options of 80, 100 and 120 Hz, found in the on-screen menu system. Ultimately it would've been nice to see a 60Hz option - maybe we will see such a thing in a software update. In the meantime, this is an excellent start and certainly offers some more flexibility for installations.

Next up: the performance of the digital inputs. The previous series was famous for taking its time in grabbing the digital signal from a DVD player or CD player. The SR8200 seemed to be the worst offender, sometimes taking as long as 4 seconds to latch on. I am happy to report there is no such delay in the 7300. In fact, in all my testing, there appears to be no discernible delay at all. Whether it be navigating menus or simply pausing and restarting a movie, the 7300 was always right on the ball with the signal from my Panasonic RP91 DVD player - so fast it almost seemed ahead of it by a few milliseconds. Posted Image There is certainly no cause for concern here.

S-Video switching was also a common problem (though very quickly remedied by Marantz). I can say there are no difficulties with the S-Video switching at all. The picture does not blank out during bright scenes and there are no wavy lines or other distortions at all.

Having established that the general performance of the unit was solid, it was time to get it set up and do some listening. The usual set of set-up options are provided in the on-screen menus, thus I won't elaborate further.

Right out of the box, the 7300 sounded quite chirpy and crisp. This settled down in about the first hour, though I am finding it requires more break-in time than I have found usual with Marantz receivers. With DD and DTS soundtracks, the sound can be likened much to the 8200 - which I found a highly dynamic and engaging performer. My SR8000 sounds downright dull by comparison. The sound is fast and punchy and keeps you gripped. Everything seems justly right with multichannel material and the slightly edgy sound suits the soundtracks on most DVDs.

2-channel mode offers a similar taste, though it is toned down a bit. Still, by Marantz standards, the stereo sound is quite lively. I think this feeling is lessening in intensity as the unit breaks in. Initially soundstaging was a bit flattened, but it seems to be working itself out now. The high-end in particular in quite engaging - this could be a problem with particularly bright speakers or rooms. Of course the 2-channel performance cannot come close to that of a dedicated stereo system, but it certainly does a good job, as Marantz receivers have always done. Whether your listening is geared more towards HT or music, you should find the Marantz more than capable in either situation.

Thus concludes my review. Hopefully you haven't fallen asleep reading. My overall impression is very good. I have always been fond of the Marantz sound and was interested to hear this model. I must say the sound is a bit edgier than I have been used to with the company's previous HT receivers, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. They appear to have freshened up the sound of their receivers, and tossed in a solid feature set as well. Highly recommended.

/Jeff

#2 of 150 Paul Chalk

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Posted November 11 2002 - 04:24 PM

Thanks for the review Jeff.

Nice to see Marantz fixed the problems from the x200 series.

I need to audition one of these babies now.

#3 of 150 Tom_Mack

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Posted November 12 2002 - 12:54 AM

I'm glad to hear that the delay issue has been resolved. This was my biggest problem was my (returned) 8200.

#4 of 150 ChrisAG

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Posted November 12 2002 - 02:28 AM

Jeff,

Thanks for a very informative review. Your report of "lively" sound in two-channel concerns me a bit. I have Mordaunt-Short 906's, which sounded a bit harsh with an old Yamaha receiver, but are great with my Marantz SR6200.

Since Marantz is the US distributor of MS speakers,does your store carry them? If so, have you tested the combo?

#5 of 150 Jeff D.

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Posted November 12 2002 - 06:57 AM

Chris;

I wouldn't be concerned about my calling the sound of the 7300 "lively". I will stand by that assertion, but it is not meant in any way to compare to the sound of Yamaha. I would find them, by comparison, to sound "bright" and "shrill" - the sound offered by the 7300 is nothing like Yamaha at all.

I think mainly it is just a different sound that I am used to hearing from Marantz. My own SR8000 has a warm sound - sometimes bordering on lush...almost. Posted Image It suits my taste for music wonderfully. If I had to choose though, I would definitely take the 7300's lively sound for HT - sometimes I find my HT sound can lack just a bit of bite.

I have not heard the MS speakers, as we do not carry them.

/Jeff

#6 of 150 Matt Lopp

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Posted November 12 2002 - 07:19 AM

Great review Jeff. Especially because I was originally locked in on the 7200, but was waiting for finances to arrive.

No snoozing here. Posted Image

#7 of 150 Lewis Besze

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Posted November 12 2002 - 09:36 AM

Quote:
As many know, the last series (x200) from Marantz was quite controversial and some even felt it marked a step backward for the company. From what I have seen and heard from the new series (I have also been working with the 5300), it seems like they have learned from their mistakes and this new series could prove quite successful.
While it seems, that most problems being addressed,the most controversial issue was the weak powersuply,especially in the 7200,though this would require and indpendent lab test, not a subjective listening one, to verify if indeed this has been addressed.
It's a bummer that they dropped the RC remotes,I wonder if this has to do with the "separation" from Philips.
The variable crossover is finaly a good addition,I agree that a 60hz option would have been a welcome,but it's a good start indeed.
Thanks for the report!

#8 of 150 ChrisWiggles

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Posted November 12 2002 - 10:46 AM

How is the actual power output on Marantz receivers in general? I'm looking at a more modest, but hopefully equally nice 5300, and I'm planning to have 7 speakers running of those 6 amps in there, and I can't really afford a nice stereo amp to relieve some strain. Will the 5300 be able to take that in stride? Keep in mind I won't be at reference level, but I don't want to be at the limits during louder than average playback...

#9 of 150 Bill Will

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Posted November 12 2002 - 10:52 AM

Great ReportPosted Image & anotherPosted Image for being made in Japan. That's one thing I wish that receiver reviews would publish along with the bandwidth on the Component Video. How much is this model going for? & looking forward to your report on the remote & thanks again for this report & if possible what do you think of the tuner section & what is the bandwidth on Component Video?

#10 of 150 Jeff D.

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Posted November 12 2002 - 10:55 AM

We've been here before Lewis;

Quote:
the most controversial issue was the weak powersuply,especially in the 7200

This was due to one review by S&V, which Marantz later rebuked, saying the model they received was a pre-production model. We'll go no further here - we have no more reason to believe S&V may have made an error than to believe Marantz lied. The reality is there are many, many happy 7200 owners out there.

Chris:

Power output on the Marantz receivers is par for the course at the price range. Don't let anyone tell you that any other brand can squeeze 115watts x 6 with all channels driven at the same price.

The reason power output falls is simple: HT receivers rely on one common power supply to power all 5 (or 6) amplifiers. When the going gets tough, and all the channels are being driven, that single power supply will buckle under the stress. It is not uncommon for an HT receiver, rated at say 100wpc, to drop significantly, say maybe to 50w, when all channels are driven.

Inexpensive receivers from Marantz and others have been happily driving many an HT with this problem. In most reasonable circumstances, this is not a problem and the receiver should perform fine. You need to be concerned if you either listen extremely loud, or simply need loud volumes to fill a large space, or you have particularly demanding loudspeakers.

As you go up in the price strata of HT receivers, you will find that the most common improvement is the power supply. Receivers up in the $2K+ range will have much beefier power supplies and should be able to drive all channels with ample power.

/Jeff

#11 of 150 ChrisWiggles

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Posted November 12 2002 - 11:07 AM

Gotcha jeff, I understand about over-rated wattage numbers etc. I'm not expecting a full 90 watts(or 85 i've seen it rated differently) through all 6 channels, but I don't want it pooping out during a long, loud movie played at somewhat loud volumes. Nor do I ever want to hear 90 wattsx6 .... I value my hearing.
I plan on using paradigms, which aren't very demanding, i think like 86-88 or something like that sensitivity-wise. It's just that I want this baby to last me a long time. It seemed that marantz took some flak for underpowered supplies, but I figure it is probably better than or equal to anything comparable to the 5300 in price/features. I just wanna make sure my 600 bucks are well spent Posted Image. Perhaps I may find a good deal on a used or older model amp for the fronts to releive some stress, but I figure an SVS is a much better investment Posted Image I'm just waiting for my dealer to get the x300 line in..... guh I'm so anxious!!

#12 of 150 Lewis Besze

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Posted November 12 2002 - 02:05 PM

At this price range of the 7300 the power shouldn't drop below 70% of the 1 or 2 channel rating continious period.It's not unreasonable to ask from any reputable company.But like I said it is only one way to find out!

#13 of 150 MWestyn

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Posted November 13 2002 - 05:08 AM

Just ordered a 7300 from acousticsoundesign.com for $699 + $29 shipping.

No, not an authorized dealer, but they'll back the mfr's warranty and if they don't, my credit card will. It's worth the $200+ price difference between them and my local dealer.

Can't wait for it to get here.Posted Image

#14 of 150 Chris S

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Posted November 13 2002 - 02:21 PM

Great review Jeff! You covered all of the major points very well. I too am glad to see no signs of the same issues the x200 line had at launch (as exaggerated as they sometimes seem). If you have time I would love to read your thoughts on the 5300.
Thanks again!

Chris S.
DVD & Blu-ray - It's all about the movies!

#15 of 150 HarryR

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Posted November 14 2002 - 04:00 AM

Does it have more than one set of 5.1 analog inputs??

#16 of 150 Jeff D.

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Posted November 14 2002 - 11:34 AM

ChrisWiggles:

No worries about power. Even IF the 7300 dropped 50% of its power, do you know how loud 50 watts is? You would be surprised at how little power is needed to make a big noise. I get a kick out of people who actually think they are pumping 100 watts into their speakers continuously at loud levels. Not even close people. Posted Image

Again, the only real-world concern, in most domestic settings, is dynamic power, the ability to support short bursts of extremely loud material.

ChrisS:

The 5300 is a nice product. Comparing it directly to the older 5200, there are some improvements in sound quality. I felt the sound quality of the entire x200 series was rather "ho-hum" - when compared to the previous x000 series. The x300 series seems to have picked up where that series left off. I find the sound more open, more dynamic and more engaging. The 5300 is a nice sounding amp, but doesn't have quite the liveliness or excitement of the 7300. Still a sweet sounding piece, and it has the latest gee-whizz surround modes too. Posted Image

HarryR:

The 7300 has one 7.1 channel input with its own independent level controls.

/Jeff

#17 of 150 Lewis Besze

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Posted November 15 2002 - 07:45 AM

Quote:
. I get a kick out of people who actually think they are pumping 100 watts into their speakers continuously at loud levels
Me too, but that's not what's the question here is it! Dynamic power is usually between 1-3db more then the continious power,however without knowing the actual figures[measured] of continious power the point becomes moot.
We just have to wait, till someone provide objective data on this.Posted Image

#18 of 150 Jeff D.

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Posted November 15 2002 - 02:40 PM

Lewis:

The point is people obsess too much about power. Even if the 7200 performed as poorly as S&V said it did on the test bench - and Marantz verified they received a preproduction model - the 7200 sounds excellent in the real world. I have heard it playing loud and hard, and there are no worries about its power.

I'll say it again - whatever the measured results are, for any decent HT receiver, they are not important except in special circumstances (large room, insanely high levels, inefficient speakers). Most of the time, any HT receiver from a competent brand will perform adequately.


/Jeff

#19 of 150 Jeff D.

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Posted November 15 2002 - 02:50 PM

An addendum to the review, having spent more time with the unit...

This unit definitely needs more time to break-in than I am accustomed to with Marantz receivers. The 2-channel sound is losing that uncomfortable edge, but it is retaining its dynamics. I will still maintain it has a much more "lively" sound than what I am used to. It isn't quite so "edge of your seat" now though.

I will have to say the one disappointment with the receiver is the remote control. It isn't so much that its a bad remote - though I have definitely seen better - but rather that anyone familiar with Marantz will compare it to the old RC1200 and RC2000MkII. Sadly, it doesn't even come close to these remotes. I imagine this is why the price point was able to be brought down. While it is a disappointment, I don't think it totally detracts from the unit, just a point against it. The remote is useable and, as I find with any remote, once you get used to it, you'll like it more.

/Jeff

#20 of 150 Pablo Abularach

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Posted November 16 2002 - 06:41 PM

Jeff,

Great review, a lot good info. Thanks for explaining everything so detailed. The only thing that I didnt expect form the new SR7300 was a ugly remote.

I bought my SR6200 about six month ago in Guatemala, for around $700, and I'm very happy with it, but the Remote was one of the things that didnt like, and the SR7200 had a better remote, so I was thinking to upgrade to an SR7300.

I'm friend of the owner of the guatemalan store, and he has a policy of upgrading the receiver if you previously purchase from him.

So the question is, how much will a good deal be, considering the SR6200 has six months of use (like new), upgrading to an SR7300?

Thanks,
Pablo





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