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2020 Marantz SR Home Theater Receiver Series Comparison
2020 brings us an all-new Marantz SR home theater receiver lineup. We are going to take a deep dive into them to help you understand the differences between them and other competing brands.
Company & Product Overview
It was back in 1953 when Saul Marantz launched his company from a tiny space in his basement. He was dissatisfied with the sound of all of the equipment from the day he had tried and was determined to design gear with a more musical sound. From that early launch, Marantz has grown to be one of the most respected companies ever in the audio world.
If you ever come across a very old Marantz product at a yard or estate sale, you should definitely grab it up as they are now commanding thousands of dollars on the used market.
The world of home theater receivers is pretty crowded today, with many brands vying for your attention. The Marantz SR series has always been known for having that great balance of almost all of the latest and greatest features while at the same time paying attention to the design to make it sound better as well. You will find them to sell for a bit of a premium if you simply compare their features to other brands, but if you dive a bit deeper and compare the internal components (or even just look at their weight) you’ll see why they are worth a little more.
For Marantz, the DNA of Saul Marantz still lives strong, as it's all about the sound. They back this up with their two channel Ruby Reference series that is a tribute to the early Marantz stereo products. When you make two channel gear that pushes $10,000 a unit, you do tend to learn some things you can filter down into more affordable products, which is one reason the Marantz home theater receivers sound so good!
When we do home theater comparisons, we first like to talk about the features and technology that are common to all the models, then get into the differences between each model so you can make the best decision as to which one is best for your system. We will do the same with the new 2020 Marantz SR home theater receiver series lineup.
Features and Technology the SR Series Units Share
Video Features and Tech
You’ll get all the latest video tech with the new SR series. All are HDMI HDCP 2.3 certified, work with Dolby Vision, and are ISF certified. All of them are also capable of HDMI 2.1 giving you the ability to connect up future 8K gaming consoles to them. HDMI 2.1 supports a higher frame rate that will improve the video gaming experience. Nothing will really change for movies or TV content as those will maintain 24 or 30 frames per second.
They all also support eARC which can send Dolby Atmos back down an HDMI cable from your TV. This would come in handy if you were using the apps on your smart TV for streaming to allow you to get Dolby Atmos back to your home theater receiver. If you are lucky enough to have a new 8K TV, this would allow you to watch the 8K resolution content that is showing up on YouTube and get audio over to your receiver in full Dolby Atmos.
The bottom line is these new models are as future proof as anything out there!
You’ll find every model has Dolby Atmos and DTS-X. One feature Marantz has added this year we really like is the ability to do two-room correction memories. All of the Marantz receivers have Audyssey which is a great system to fix room-acoustic problems. With two, you could have one set up around a single listening position and another for a large group. Or another option might be with your blinds closed or open.
At Audio Advice, we feel the room has the biggest impact of almost anything on your sound. Audyssey is a wonderful system for correcting issues in your room. With the Marantz receivers, they make doing the calibration super easy with a wonderful on-screen step by step process that is almost totally impossible to get wrong.
For the true calibration geeks, you can (for a small price) purchase an editor that lets you really fine-tune things.
Marantz included Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization this year on all the SR models which simulate height speakers. While we feel having actual height speakers is far better than trying to fake it, this does provide an ok effect.
If you want to stream music you find it very easy with all of the Marantz models as they have Heos built-in (which has almost all of the major streaming services), Bluetooth, WiFi, Airplay2, and Spotify Connect. They are all also Roon Tested for those of you who have discovered this very cool music management system. WiFi streaming supports High-Resolution Audio formats up to 24-bit/192-kHz; DSD 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz.
Another feature they all share we are really happy to see is the ability to transmit audio to a set of Bluetooth headphones for private TV listening. Just a couple of years ago, doing something like this required a much more complicated set up with a pair of special headphones and an adapter. Now, virtually any pair of Bluetooth headphones can be used with the new Marantz models.
If you use the multi-zone audio capabilities all of these receivers have, you’ll be happy to know they can transmit signals from HDMI feeds to zone two as well, allowing you to listen to TV from another room It used to be that most receivers only supported analog sources for zone 2, but these new models allow any HDMI signal to go out to zone 2 for audio.
Finally, all of the SR receivers have a moving magnet phono preamp for your vinyl playback system.
Control & Tech
If you are into voice control, the new Marantz SR models will allow you to use Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri. They all also have their own app for control via your smartphone or tablet.
All of these models also have CEC control, which means your TV remote could control the volume, mute, and power of your Marantz. This works especially well if you are using the apps in your TV and the ARC (audio return channel) HDMI connection.
Another handy feature we love is an HDMI information tool that can be used to find out if your cables are all passing the highest speed of HDMI and even to troubleshoot HDMI issues.
Components Made for Better Sound
The power amp sections use all discrete output devices instead of digital chip amps. They sound far more natural with the ability to deliver much better dynamics with no sense of strain.
Every receiver has to process digital signals which means the DAC or Digital to Analog Convertor is a critical part of the audio chain. It is easy for a manufacturer to skimp on the DAC’s as you never really see them, but Marantz uses higher quality DAC’s in their units.
If you look back at some pictures of early Marantz gear from the ’50s and ’60s, you’ll see where Marantz pulled their retro styling for these receivers from. We love the round center display, flanked by two big knobs. The panel has a very clean look with all of the controls behind a fold away door.
Now let’s take a look at each of the four models to help you understand the benefits as they might relate to your home theater system.
The Marantz SR Home Theater Receiver Models
Marantz SR5015 Home Theater Receiver
The Marantz SR5015 home theater receiver gives you 6 HDMI inputs with 2 outputs. One of the HDMI inputs will accept an 8K signal. You get 7 onboard powered channels that can be configured for a 5 channel surround system with a powered zone two, or a full 7 channel surround system in either a 5.2.2 with two Dolby Atmos speakers or 7.2 with mains, surrounds, and rears. There are preamp outs for all the channels should you wish to add more power later, as well as preamp outs for zone two if you are using all 7 channels for your home theater.
If you noticed the “.2”, yes, the SR5015 has two independent subwoofer outputs, which is pretty cool.
The SR5015 comes with Audyssey MultEQ XT which measures up to 8 positions in your room to optimize the audio for your specific room. We also like Audyssey Dynamic Volume which is great to turn on when you are watching TV with those loud, blasting commercials, as it will make everything more even in output. We do advise you to turn it off for movie watching though.
The SR5015 weighs in at over 22 pounds, so you can tell it's got a pretty beefy power supply.
Each amplifier channel is rated at 100 watts per channel across the whole spectrum at a low distortion figure, so we view their specs as honest and not deceiving like some we are seeing these days. They also specify the 100 watts per channel only happens with 2 channels driven and can drop by 30% when all channels are being driven, again, an honest specification and very typical for how all home theater receivers actually test out.
For someone who is not going to go beyond 7 channels in their system, the SR5015 would be a great choice. It has that classic, warm Marantz sound with the ability to provide you with full decoding for 7 channels. However, if you thought that later you might want to expand the speakers in your home theater beyond 7, you would not be able to with the SR5015 as it does not have any more decoding capabilities or outputs on board beyond 7 channels.
The SR5015 is ready for the future with a dedicated input supporting 8K plus 5 more 4K inputs with two outputs.
7 Powerful Flexible Channels
Rated at an honest 100 watts per channel, the SR5015 uses all discrete amplifier circuitry for better audio performance. We love the way you can configure the output channels however you wish to best match your system needs.
Pure Marantz Sound
With real power, great internal DAC's, and reduced jitter, the SR5015 will sound far more musical than you would expect for it's price. You can not beat classic Marantz sound.
Marantz SR6015 Home Theater Receiver
We think the Marantz SR6015 home theater receiver is the best value in the whole line up. You get 7 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs with one 8K input. Power is only 10 watts more per channel than the SR5015 with the same two channels at a time, but the big deal on the SR6015 is its decoding capabilities, extra powered channels, and a big jump in Audyssey.
The SR6015 has 9 powered channels on board but has decoding for 7.2.4 channels built-in. For many rooms, the most immersive bang for your buck is to go with a 5.1.4 config with two pairs of Atmos speakers. The SR6015 can power this right out of the box. Should you later decide to add another pair of rears, the decoding and preamp outs are built-in. All you would need to do is add a small 2 channel power amp. This is why we feel it is such a good value, with its future-proofing outputs.
For those of you who enjoy multi-channel SACD, you’ll be happy to know the SR6015 gives you a 7.1 input for your SACD player.
The SR6015 adds more surround sound features with IMAX Enhanced and Auro-3D. The IMAX function offers both picture and audio enhancements, while Auro-3D is another object-based speaker layout that competes with Dolby Atmos.
The bigger deal though about MultiEQ XT32 is the fact it has Audyssey Sub EQ HT which lets you fine-tune each subwoofer independently.
From a sound perspective, the SR6015 sounds very similar to the SR5015, which is just fantastic. When you add in the extra two channels, 11.2 channels of processing and the better Audyssey, we feel this one is easily one of the best receivers on the market for the money.
Since we are really into room correction at Audio Advice, we love that the SR6015 steps up to Audyssey MultEQ XT32. You can do the same up to 8 measurement points as the SR5015, but the Audyssey processing is improved for better correction. This also adds Audyssey Low-Frequency Containment which is a pretty interesting way of delivering bass you can feel with less disturbance to your neighbors.
The SR6015 is ready for the future with a dedicated input supporting 8K plus 6 more 4K inputs with three outputs.
9 Powered Channels Plus More Preamp Outs
With the 9 channels on board you will be able to configure your Dolby Atmos system several different ways and if you want to go all the way to 11.2.4, the SR6105 has the processing on board with preamp outputs
Legendary Marantz Sound
When you combine an all discrete power amp section, with Hi Res Audio DAC's, and a huge power supply, you get far better sound than most receivers in the same category. The pure sound of Marantz will give you a sound that has been loved for decades.
Marantz SR7015 Home Theater Receiver
When you look at the specs on the Marantz SR7015 home theater receiver and compare it to the SR6015, they really look pretty similar. The SR7015 adds one more HDMI input and a 3rd zone but otherwise, the two units are very similar from a capability standpoint.
The reason you get the SR7015 is its much better amplifier section. Marantz paid special attention to the power supply, caps, and output devices in the SR7015 to give it an even warmer sound with far more dynamic impact. Even though both of these units have 9 powered channels and the output difference is only 15 watts per channel, the SR7015 is almost ten pounds heavier due to the much more massive power amps built-in. It just flat out sounds more powerful and dynamic than the SR6015.
While the SR6015 is still what we feel is the best value, the extra $700 in cost for the SR7015 will get you far better audio. If you have speakers capable of good dynamics and resolution, you will definitely appreciate the audio step up the SR7015 offers.
Marantz SR8015 Home Theater Receiver
Marantz has pulled out all the stops for the SR8015. Like the SR7015, it's mostly a big step up in sound, but also adds a few features as well. It's definitely the top of the line for the Marantz SR home theater receiver series.
First, this is one beast of a home theater receiver weighing in at almost 40 pounds due to its very large toroidal power transformer that sits right in the middle of the unit. All of the top-of-the-line Ruby Marantz gear is made in Shirakawa, Japan where they also manufacture the SR8015. Continuing the vein of excellent build quality, each channel gets its own circuit board and Marantz uses custom made capacitors for better performance.
Like the SR8105, you get 8 HDMI inputs and 2 outs with one of the inputs being 8K capable.
Power is rated at 140 watts per channel, but with its big reserves, the SR8015 has pretty amazing dynamics. You also get 11 powered channels built-in with decoding for up to 13 with full preamp outputs for all channels for those of you that might want to go to 7.2.6 or 9.2.4 with just the addition of a two-channel amp!
There is a new DTS:PRO surround sound piece of software coming out in the next few months which the SR8015 will get through a free software update. The phono preamp is quieter and more refined in the SR8015 as well.
How well a surround sound processor tracks all of those great surround effects and precisely places them in your room has a lot to do with the power of the internal processor. Marantz developed new processors for their $4500 separate home theater processor, the AV8805. These same exact Griffin Lite dual core SHARC DSP chips are used in the SR8015 giving it incredible tracking of surround sound effects for a more immersive experience.
And not only is the power amp section much more massive, but the preamp section also has many upgraded parts that give it a better signal to noise ratio that gives it more focus and a wider soundstage. It also has far better bass and transient attack characteristics pulling you closer to the original sound.
If you want great audio and the capability to go up to 13 channels of immersive home theater sound, the SR8015 has it all.
We hope this overview of the Marantz SR home theater receiver line up will help you make your buying decision a little easier.
As always, if you have any questions at all, we are available through phone, chat, email, or drop into one of our stores in Raleigh or Charlotte, NC.
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