Every year, you can always expect some new home theater receiver models to come out. But you don’t really have to “upgrade” to a newer model because many of the newly announced models only have few incremental features. But things can get a little bit more exciting when features that used to be present in high-end models are moving to the newer lower-end models. Marantz is doing just that with the Marantz SR5008 and it hopes to attract those audiophiles that want very good audio quality out of their 7.1-channel home theater receivers without spending more than $1,000.
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Marantz made a bold move with the designs of their 2012 home theater receivers and it looks like Marantz is very satisfied with their work as the SR5008 features the same design as its predecessor. But if you have never seen a Marantz device before, you will find that the design of the Marantz SR5008 is very much fresh and unique. From afar, it looks like the front panel has three similarly sized circles laid out horizontally. The left and right circles are actually the knobs for input selection and volume so there is nothing unique there but the middle circle is actually the display. This display is only capable of showing a small amount of text, which may seem disappointing but the overall aesthetic really stands out. The phones jack can be found just under the input selector knob but is unusually above the row of buttons. What makes the design even a bit stranger is location of the USB and front HDMI ports, which are found below the buttons. What matters most is that the essential ports are on the front and the design still looks decent overall. With a depth of just 13.2 inches, you also have more options when it comes to installing this AV receiver.
The back features a generous array of inputs and outputs and they are organized quite nicely. Connecting the speaker cables to the proper terminals is a simple color matching affair since each pair of terminals has its own labeled color group. This layout is a nice improvement over the previous model. There are also 6 more HDMI inputs on the back and 1 HDMI output. Like many other Marantz models released in the past, there is also a modular M-XPort for connecting the RX101 Bluetooth receiver module that is sold separately.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
Unlike the SR5007, the SR5008 incorporates HDAM technology, which is a huge improvement over its predecessor. First, the HDAM technology was previously exclusive for high-end Marantz receivers with the SR7007 being the cheapest. Now the Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Module is brought in full form to the Marantz SR5008 resulting to improved dynamic range. Previous models also relied on voltage feedback but the SR5008 incorporates the Current Feedback technology instead, which quickens the slew rate for even better audio fidelity. The power rating remains at 100 watts per channel but the audio quality is significantly better thanks to these proprietary technologies.
The M-DAX Dynamic Audio Expander is another new function that boosts the audio quality of compressed music sources with MP3 being the most common. This is great if you want to play your music collection from your smartphone or tablet where storing lots of low-quality MP3s is common so you can save space. The improvements are quite noticeable so it is a welcome improvement.
The rest of the features of the Marantz SR5008 are very much the same as the SR5007. Since the 2012 Marantz receivers support 1080p upconversion and 4K pass-through, it is no surprise that each of the 7 HDMI ports on the Marantz SR5008 have these enhancements too. You can also put the home theater receiver in standby mode during those instances where you may want to use the TV’s built-in speakers.
If you want to save by getting the SR5008 instead of higher-end models like the SR6008, you have to keep in mind that the Marantz SR5008 lacks dedicated binding posts for the front height and width channels. This means that the SR5008 supports Zone 2 but you have to use the surround back channels instead eliminating the possibility of using a 7.1-channel configuration and a Zone 2 unless you use an external amp.
The Marantz Setup Assistant makes it easy to set the receiver up. This assistant will present you with some easy-to-follow instructions along with some graphics to assist you along the way. With the color-coded speaker terminals, it should be very easy for a new user to connect the speakers to their appropriate ports. The Audyssey MultEQ XT can handle the rest of the process by automatically calibrating the speakers so they sound their best. Manually configuring the speakers isn’t recommended for newbies because the exact settings vary depending on the way your speakers are laid out. The Audyssey Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume technologies also optimize audio quality by maintaining audio balance across all volume levels and audio sources.
When the receiver is connected to a router, you can also enjoy a friendly graphical user interface on your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Android device. All you need to do is download the free Marantz Remote app and you can change the settings as long as the receiver remains in the same local network as your mobile device.
You can also utilize the AirPlay support if you have an iOS device or computer with iTunes installed. This allows you to conveniently stream music from Apple devices other devices can stream wirelessly via Bluetooth if you attach the RX101 Bluetooth receiver. Any DLNA 1.5 compliant laptops and PC (Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems) can stream music to the receiver as well. Finally, you can connect the receiver directly to Pandora, vTuner and SiriusXM to enjoy their music stream services.
The Marantz SR5008 introduces very few new features if you compare it to the SR5007. But these new improvements are very significant as they boost the audio performance. If you are willing to give up 2 channels for Zone 2 or don’t even care about multi-room support, you can safely go for the SR5008 and enjoy a pretty high-end experience that $1,000+ receivers usually deliver. Marantz has definitely made a powerful $899 receiver.
Update: There is a newer model > Marantz SR5011