Initial impressions of the Marantz SR8300 (long)

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by John Garcia, Aug 10, 2003.

  1. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Well, after a few weeks with the 8300, I thought I’d post some initial impressions of it. I have put it through every type of music I own, at least a dozen movies, and tried it with a number of different speakers. So far, I am very happy with the results.

    The 8300 is about 1.5” taller, 2” deeper, and weighs almost 2x that of the 6200.

    Configuration – The menus are a bit simpler, more straight forward than the 6300 I had on loan. The 8300 also has the same drawback that the 6300 did though; you cannot adjust speaker levels without the internal tones on like the 6200 could. Each group of settings can be individually locked, unlike the 6200 which would lock in all your settings to prevent accidental changes if the OSD was activated (this was actually a problem when switching to source direct, it would retain the "large" setting for all speakers regrdless of mode). One thing I would like that the 8300 does not have is the ability to retain settings per source.

    Power – I moved up from a 6200, rated at 105 x 6, which didn’t seem to be quite enough in my fairly large room; ~21x19 w/angled, high vaulted ceilings and open to another room. The 8300 is rated at 120 x 6. The 6200 wasn’t struggling, no clipping at ref calibration, but I noticed that I had to turn it up more in my new room than my previous one (14 x 25 x 9). Average listening level with the 6200 was -20 to -18 on the dial, but with the 8300, I am reaching clear listening levels at -25. If I cranked the 6200 with SACDs, I felt that I had to turn it up too high, meaning as I turned it up, it did not seem to get correspondingly louder, louder yes, but not linearly. The 8300 does not have this issue. I have not tested its upper limit; suffice to say that it is very clear at the highest levels I have tried (loud!).

    DACs – I have gone back and forth on the DACs, between the 222ES and the 8300, and I was surprised to find that, where the 222 was head and shoulders above the 6200, the DACs in the 8300 perform nearly as well as the 222’s. The DACs are so good that I actually switched to using coaxial digital from the 222 for redbook CD playback. This was comparing Audioquest VSD-2 coax to their Diamondback analog interconnects; I have not tried out my Viper from my 2ch system yet. Sound is smooth and clear. I noticed a decent increase in depth and imaging with the 8300, with no other changes to the system.

    Music – Everything from soft Jazz to heavy Drum and Bass sounds great. SACDs sound sublime; Diana Krall’s vocals are smooth and clean, the piano is clear and well defined, and guitar & bass are clean and tight. Dark Side of the Moon has amazing envelopment with surround. (Current speakers will be replaced in the near future).

    Movies - Seem to have a more cohesive sound to them; surround has excellent placement and directionality. Rear panning effects with EX/ES material comes across amazingly, though I am only using a 5.1 setup.

    Processing – The addition of full blown, configurable DPL-II made a noticeable difference over the version that the 6200 had. Even with the default settings, it is sounds much more discrete and clear than previously, approaching that of true 5.1. Even DVD menus sound great. I am not a fan of using DPL with stereo music, so I have not tried it out. Oddly, CS-II is not as impressive as the previous version, however that is using the default settings, and I have not played with this much yet. Auto detect mode has done quite well selecting everything, though it does seem to get confused now and again – I have had it display a 5.1 signal, but remain in stereo mode with a few DVD; easily fixed by reselecting “auto”.

    Negatives - The good goes with the bad. I DO NOT like the RC3200 touch screen remote (that sounds familiar, I hated the 6200s remote). I am still using my RC2000 MkII for most functions, as it has all of the core codes to control the 8300 already. I have not downloaded the customization software yet, but I already know that it will be difficult to get enough items onto few enough screens to make it functional for me. I can’t get rid of it, because I need any special codes it has, and I don’t really like the RC5000 much better. I also had difficulty teaching some of the new codes to the RC2000.

    The power cord that came with the unit is cheap, and does not fit snugly into the socket on the back of the amp.
     
  2. Edward Schatz

    Edward Schatz Second Unit

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    Funny, the 8200 has the exact same problem with the power cord. It does not seem to really go in there. I am never really convinced it will stay there. Sadly, I am away and my 8200 is sitting at home, upgraded with DTS 96/24, CS 2 6.1, new firmware, etc. and I have not yet had a chance with it. I want to go home and fiddle!! [​IMG]
     
  3. ChrisDixon

    ChrisDixon Second Unit

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    John,

    It seems we agree once again. I too hate the RC3200 remote, which surprised me since I heard a lot of glowing praise about it. I actually kept the RC1200 from my old SR7000 to use with the 8200 and am perfectly happy. I know all those buttons by feel, and simply could not get used to scrolling through menus and finding touch points on the screen.

    I also had the same element of surprise when I tried the 8200s DACs for music, as I've mentioned in a few previous posts. With my SR7000, analog CD output and source direct was the only way to go. When I got the 8300, I couldn't believe how good the DACs sounded, and I use them all the time now. It may have to do with the "Dual Differential" system that utilizes multiple DACs per channel when in stereo mode. This was great news because analog SD is harder to deal with when it comes to bass management.

    Chris
     
  4. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Also, no sub with source direct and 2ch material, digital or analog, which is how I wanted it (6200 was this way also), so I can listen to music without the sub.
     

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