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7 channels AVR or Power Amp mating a setup with Zu Audio as front

Nov 1, 2020
Hello All!
I use an HTPC with Dirac Live as source. Have a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 as multichannel DAC.
My front speakers are Zu Audio Union MOC. The rest of the 7.2 is Klipsch.
Currently I use a Marantz SR6003 as amplifier, using only its 7.1 multichannel input.
However, I got better results using an SMSL 50 as power amp for the front, i.e. feeded by Marantz's preout.
Using the Marantz as power amp for the fronts is not so good: sound seems "mudded". SMSL is clearer, nicer.

I am struggling if I should:
A) stay like I am now: Marantz + SMSL for the front. Marantz directly for the rest.
B) look for an AVR that better mates with the Zu's. Which one? I could go for vintage, as I just need a 7.1 multichannel input.
C) look for a 7 channel power amp to be fed by the Marantz as pre. Which power amp?

Budget: max 700€

Thank you!
Dec 22, 2016
Co. Durham, UK
I have a couple of Audiolab 8000x7 multi-channel power amps. They can often be picked up quite cheaply and there are newer versions. They have been reliable and the SQ is fine.
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