Review Of The Marantz SR-8012 11 Channel Surround Receiver By Dave Moritz Date: November 2018 Posted: March 2019 A special thank you goes out to a good friend who was also my consultant through the entire reseach phase and made my purchase possible! Jon Gomes I have been I have been with Home Theater Forum since July of 2001 and no where have I had such access to information in a community that is about home theater and for those who love home theater! Some of you know me and many of you do not. This is the first time I have attempted to write a review and while I do not own fancy test equipment I hope I can articulate my thoughts and feelings about the newest addition to my home theater. Let me add that in no way has Marantz funded or provided me anything to do this review! General Overview: Marantz, what can I say about a company that many of us ether know because you have owned there gear or just know of the brand itself. Marantz is a 60 year old company that had it’s beginnings in the 1950’s making stereo equipment. The actually started out making a preamp and power amplifier as Saul Marantz and Andres Segovia together designed the model 7 preamp and later the model 8b amplifier. Marantz over the years built many two channel products and went on to build home theater products and along the way earned a very good reputation for quality products that perform. Fast forward to recent history and Marantz introduced the SR-8012 flagship 11 channel receiver. I had been looking for some time for a receiver to move up to from my Pioneer Elite SC-05. I was looking for something with the newest surround decoding that could decode Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. I was looking for something that could do 4K resolution switching but could pass the video as well. Something with high quality parts, very good decoding, amplifier section and that had great audio reproduction. Do not get me wrong there are a number of very good products out there from the likes of Yamaha, Onkyo and Marantz sister company Denon. But this is about the Marantz SR-8012 which for me checked all the right boxes so I saved up and made the purchase. I have been now living with the Marantz SR-8012 since the beginning of October 2018 and here is what I have found so far. In a world where there are a lot of low cost to mid cost options some would say why bother with spending so much money? And I would sort of agree to a point. There is a point of diminishing returns where you could spend more money but what will that money get you? And yes the SR-6013 and SR-7013 do a very good job and are worth a definitely look if the SR-8012 is above your budget. There are also a number of options from Yamaha, Denon and even Sony that may fit what your looking for. But I am going to tell you about my experiences with the Marantz SR-8012. Getting the SR-8012 and unboxing it checking everything that came in the box and getting it ready for installation was a breeze. So once the power was hooked up along with the speakers, subwoofer and all the incoming sources was done. It was time to power up the Marantz for the first time and go through the set up. I found the set up menus to be very well thought out and easy to follow even for the novice. The first thing I did was go through the automated Audyssey MultEQ XT32 which is the best version of Audyssey currently. Audyssey did a very good job getting the setting in the ball park. Depending on what speakers you have and the room you equipment is in Audyssey can get super close to close enough. There is nothing that says you can not make some tweaks in manual mode with any receiver that will improve upon what the room correction software does. This goes for Audyssey, YPAO, MCACC, DCAC EX or Dirac Live don’t be afraid to do some manual tweaking and see where the software set things. So once done I used a number of movies and albums to do some critical listening test because you can read all there is on a company website but nothing speaks volumes more than actually hearing and using something for yourself and actually hearing the audio and seeing the video that passes through the unit! Over the past month I spent a lot of time listening to surround sounds tracks and two channel and multi channel audio albums. After about two weeks I did some tweeks to the settings that Audyssey made during set up for multi channel sources. I changed the crossover for my left and right speaker which helped my stereo reproduction. One thing I will highly suggest is if Audyssey sets your speakers to large, change it to small! Unless you have large drivers that can handle really low bass then your setting should be low. This is what your subwoofer is for and you will have better sound that way in most cases. Movies used in my critical listening test: Star Trek (2009) ( 4K UHD Blu-ray – Dolby Atmos) John Wick (4K UHD Blu-ray - Dolby Atmos) Saving Private Ryan (4K UHD Blu-ray – DTS-HD Master Audio) Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (1080p Blu-ray) DTS-HD Master Audio) Star Wars: The Last Jedi ( 4K UHD Blu-ray) San Andreas (4K UHD Blu-ray) The Grudge (1080p Blu-ray) Heat (1080p Blu-ray) Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt2 (4K UHD Blu-ray - Dolby Atmos) The Dark Knight (1080p Blu-ray) The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (1080p Blu-ray – DTS-HD Master Audio) Minority Report (480p DVD /DTS 5.1) The Haunting (480p DVD /DTS 5.1) Furious 7 ( 4K UHD Blu-ray – DTS:X) Life Of Pi ( 4K UHD Blu-ray – DTS-HD Master Auido) - Some Dolby encoded movies where also played back using the Auro format to see how they sounded in comparison. Currently I do not have height speakers so no movie can be played back using height channel speakers! Music used in critical listening test: Pink Floyd: Dark Side Of The Moon (SACD) Norah Jones: Come Away With Me (SACD) Eagles: Hotel California (DVD-A) Metallica: Black Album (DVD-A) Supertramp: Breakfast In America (CD, Original Master Recording) Queensryche: Empire (DVD-A) Miles Davis: Kind Of Blue (SACD) Stevie Ray Vaughan: Texas Flood (SACD) Mozart: Symphony 40 & 41 (Denon CD) Billy Joel: Storm Front (CD) Rush: Moving Pictures (CD, Original Master Recording) Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (CD, Original Master Recording) Sting: The Dream Of The Blue Turtles (CD, Original Master Recording) Dire Straits: Brothers In Arms (CD) Queen: The Game (DVD-A) Additional listening was done with mp3’s played back via a USB thumb drive as my cat6 cable is currently out of commission. Before I get into my thoughts and experiences with the Marantz SR-8012 lets talk about what the Marantz brings to the table! The Marantz SR-8012 is a 11 channel surround sound receiver which you can operate as a 5.2.4, 9.2.2, 7.1.2, 7.1.4 or 7.2.4 and if you do not use all your channels you can assign unused internal amplifiers to another zone for example listening to music in another room. The SR-8012 is backed up by a large Torodial 835va transformer that works out to roughly 840 watts. Sure the Marantz SR-6013 will do a good job and so will the Yamaha RX-A1080 and the Onkyo TX-RZ830 and even the STR-ZA3100ES from Sony. But what you will not get with many of these other receivers is the larger transformer that will not only give you more headroom when listening to very demanding soundtracks but the extra power to drive lower impedance speakers! The SR-8012 also uses larger 22,000uf 81 va capacitors for each stereo channel. If you decide to run a power amplifier with the SR-8012 the preamp outputs are capable of outputting 4.5 Vrms unclipped from the multi-channel outputs. More than what you honestly need to drive an external amplifier to full unclipped power. Denon and Marantz for many years across there entire line up have offered receivers with excellent base management. Another feature you will not find in other receivers that offer dual subwoofer outputs is the ability to set two separate cross overs when using dual subwoofers. Many models out there may have dual subwoofer outs but they tie both subwoofer to a single crossover. This receiver also gives you the top of the line Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction software. Another design feature that you do not seem to see much of in todays receivers is dual heat sinks. The amplifiers in this receiver are basically divided in half with almost half on one heat sink and the rest on another heat sink. What this will do for you is the ability to run the receiver at louder volumes without the need for internal fans to regulate the temperature. Other receivers will give you all your amplifiers on a single heat sink and will use fans to help cool the amplifiers and in many cases the internal controller will end up taking power away to control the heat being generated. One thing I will recommend is to change the default subwoofer setting if it is set to 120 Hz to 80 Hz as there is no reason to have anything above 80Hz going to your subwoofer IMHO. Also check and make sure Eco Mode is not active as this will only serve to limit the power output of your receiver! The Marantz has great build quality across the line but especially with the SR-8012! You get a very well designed unit with a very stiff chassis and even a nice high quality copper bottom plate. Here is more of what you get with the Marantz SR-8012: · 11.2 channel AV Receiver with 205W per channel – Enough power to fill big rooms with renowned Marantz sound · Latest HDMI standard for future-proof compatibility – 4K/60 Hz full-rate pass-through, 4:4:4 color resolution, HDR, BT.2020, Dolby Vision and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) pass-through · High-end build-quality for the ultimate in audio performance – Single board per channel power amplifier design; centrally mounted, oversized toroidal transformer; copper-plated chassis · Extended connectivity: ready to feed a TV and projector in parallel, and even a display in a second room – Eight HDMI inputs (including one front) with full HDCP 2.2 support; Three HDMI outputs (including Zone 2) · eARC supports the most advanced audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X via single HDMI connection between AVRs and compatible TVs – eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) support via firmware update · HD video quality from existing DVDs or analog sources – Analog to HDMI conversion and SD to HD/4K Upscaling · Immersive 3D sound with effects from overhead – Dolby Atmos (up to 7.1.4 or 9.1.2), DTS:X™, and Auro-3D built-in · Improved network stability especially in crowded homes – Built-in Wi-Fi with 2.4GHz/5GHz dual band support · Built-in HEOS Wireless Multi-Room Audio Technology – Integrated with other HEOS devices for whole-house entertainment · Access to almost unlimited online music sources – AirPlay, Bluetooth, Internet Radio, Spotify Connect, TIDAL, Deezer and more · High Resolution audio streaming with gapless playback – DSD (2.8/5.6MHz), FLAC, ALAC and WAV support · Delivering the ultimate optimization and equalization for your room – Audyssey MultEQ XT32, LFC, Sub EQ HT, Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ · Hassle-free installation, setup and operation – Color-coded speaker terminals, Setup Assistant, Marantz 2016 AVR Remote App · Energy-conscious without compromising on performance Intelligent ECO mode with off/on/auto setting · Advanced multiroom options; 11.2-channel processing with pre-outs for all channels; RS232 control; Crestron Connected > Audio and video around the home; expandable surround; ready for third party home automation systems The Marantz SR-8012 also will offer you a future upgrade to HDMI 2.1 and a future upgrade to IMAX Enhanced! Along with Immersive surround sound like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X you also get another immersive surround sound format called Auro 3D that is not offered on many other receivers or prepro’s. The SR-8012 also gives you the ability to connect a 4K flat panel in your main listening room and also run a 4K projector in the same room. All this while giving you a 3rd HDMI to run another display in another room. While I was generally happy with my Pioneer Elite SC-05 it did not give me the audio performance or the flexibility that this Marantz gives me today. Thoughts And Experiences: So lets get to some of the things I found and experienced with the Marantz SR-8012! This receiver gives you a lot of flexibility that so many receivers lack or just leave out in there lower end receivers. Set up with the Audyssey was easy to use and the menus where easy to navigate weather it was using the remote or the buttons under the face plate door. Even if you’re a novice this receiver gives you easy to follow menus to get your new receiver up and running with 8 optimization points when setting up your receiver using Audyssey. While Marantz gives you a cardboard stand for the microphone I would suggest ether using a camera tripod or a microphone boom stand that will give you better results. Another thing I wish would have been done differently was the multi channel input. When navigating the digital input assignment menu it doesn’t give you the ability to assign the 7.1 analog input to a certain source. What you do have to do is go to input select that will give you the ability to override any HDMI or digital input and use analog 7.1 input on the back of the receiver if you have a multi channel SACD player and or multi channel DVD-A player. Sure you could use the decoder in your blu-ray player or 4K blu-ray player and output it as analog multi-channel out to the receiver using separate analog rca connectors but IMHO this receiver especially will do a better job especially with the onboard bass management. Music: Audio from this receiver is very open, dynamic and clean. No matter what kind of music I threw at it and no matter what movie I played the audio play back was very good. The Marantz SR-8012 has handled everything I have thrown at it so far. And it is a big step up from the Pioneer Elite SC-05 as in my honest opinion the SC-05 had a tendency to sound harsh when pushed which is not the case with the SR-8012. In keeping with the Marantz heritage this flagship receiver is very musical from the stand point of faithful reproduction of music which also extends to music in movies as well. From Mozart to full throttle Metallica there is more than enough current to drive speakers and to reproduce the sound to what ever you are listening to. This receiver plays back with authority and delivers plenty of detail and texture you do not find in low end receivers. My experience is that this receiver doesn’t add anything unwanted into the experience and the noise floor is low enough that any limitations will be from source or speakers. Good quality recording are also not a bad thing so if you have a great recording this receiver is going to give you a very good listening experience. Movies: As far as movie playback this receiver is one of the few that actually offers not only DTS:X and Dolby Atmos but also Auro 3D. Listening to Dolby Atmos using Auro decoding seems to offer an additional sense of spatial decoding and depth. Not that Dolby True HD or Dolby Atmos have problems because Dolby did a great job and even sticking with there decoder when watching a Dolby encoded track is still a great experience. Playing back newer lossless audio codex like DTS-Master Audio and Dolby True HD along with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X provides audio with crisp highs to booming base depending on the movie. But going back to legacy surround formats you hear how the newer formats actually deliver a better audio experience over what we use to have. While legacy DTS still performs well it also supports legacy Dolby Digital. The internal amplifiers provide enough power to back up the most demanding movies without sounding strained. The audio is crisp and dynamic while maintaining a natural sound as well. The 8012 gives you options for audio processing so you can listen to Dolby Atmos untouched or listen to it using Auro 3D decoding. Features on this receiver offers solid performance and should provide a great movie experience for anyone that purchases this receiver. Final Thoughts: There are a number of choices out there from companies like Yamaha, Sony, Onkyo and Marantz’s sister company Denon. I find that Yamaha continues to make a solid great sounding receiver and Sony does a good job as well. I did find when researching that I did not care for the real estate the 8 port Ethernet ports take up replacing what legacy connections could have been placed there. But with offerings from Yamaha, Onkyo, Denon, Rotel, Anthem, NAD and Arcam and a few others there is a lot out there to choose from. I found the Marantz to be worthy of high end status and offering all the newest codexes including Auro 3D which unless you can afford higher end gear like Trinnov Audio or JBL Sythesis that seems to be the only other way to get Auro 3D at this time. So for most of us the best way to get Auro 3D is ether Marantz or Denon which is owned by the same company currently. The Marantz SR-8012 is built very well and offers high grade components and enough conductivity and features for the most demanding customer. Even with different speakers in my home theater this receiver with Audyssey produces very good audio from speaker to speaker. I am currently planning on switching speakers and adding the height channels using all Klipsch speakers for surrounds and height channels and front center channels. I will keep my Altec Lancing A-7’s and the Klipsch so match up very close to the vintage Altecs. The Marantz has not disappointed and it performance and sound quality has elevated my home theater beyond what the Pioneer Elite SC-05 could produce. The only other receiver out there that comes close is the Yamaha flagship and the only other match is the flagship Denon that will give you 13 channels instead of 11. I highly recommend the Marantz SR-8012 for those who want build quality, audio quality, flexability and the ability to use legacy equipment. The only problem I had was with my Toshiba HD-DVD player that seemed to have a HDCP handshake issue between the version it was using and the newer version the Marantz was using. The HD sources like Dish Network and HD-DVD upconverts to 4K and looks very good even using component video for the HD-DVD player. Again I do not recommend using the ecco mode as that takes away power from your amplifiers and who wants to do that. I run my 8012 with Dolby Volume and Dynamic EQ off, you may find it works for you but for me I decided to leave both turned off. If you want to take some load off the receiver and like to listen to your movies loud the preamp outs offer around 4.3 – 4.5 volts out which is enough to drive about any amplifier to full output. Again I highly recommend this flagship Marantz to those who want one of the best receivers on the market and for those who want high quality audio and features! Update: March 8th, 2019: Finally got my speakers stands and Klipsch RP-600M’s to run as my surrounds thus moving my 4 Advent Marbles to Atmos duty. So far my limited exposure to immersive audio is very positive and the Marantz SR-8012 is doing a great job. I will try and update my review and give more thoughts on the immersive audio side of this receiver. My apology’s to not posting this earlier but have spent a lot of hours at work and time got away from me. I truly hope this review is useful to anyone looking for a new high end receiver. So far I have watched Hacksaw Ridge twice, first time was in Auro 3D and the second time in Dolby Atmos. The second movie I have watched was Saving Private Ryan in Dolby Atmos and both movies where from a 4K UHD blu-ray disc. So far I found with Hacksaw Ridge that for at least this movie I give the nod to Auro 3D for a slightly more noticeable open and spacious audio environment. Dolby Atmos sounds very good so by no means is this meant to knock Atmos. It is still early and I have not actually watched a movie with full DTS-X yet but in the next few months I intend on getting more time with Auro 3D, Dolby Atmos and DTS-X. So more thoughts and comments to come!