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Review and Measurements of Marantz AV8805 AV Processor

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Marantz AV8805 flagship Audio and Video Processor. It is on kind loan from a member and costs USD $4,499. If you are not familiar with this category of device, AV Processors are the heart of high-end home theaters. They provide all the input switching and processor for both audio and video and leave amplification to external devices. The latter separates them from AVRs (Audio/Video Receivers).

The AV8805 is a massive box to go with its massive specs such as 13.2 channels of audio:

Marantz AV8805 Audio Video Processor Review.jpg

Even though it has no amplifier, it weighs as much as AVRs which do!

It has the same "porthole" design of Marantz processors, going back many years. Not much is shown on that display though. To see more and to configure the device without a display, you open the larger door in the center and you have a much larger display and a bunch of buttons replicating what is on the remote. Sadly, none of those two displays, nor the information page on the HDMI out display shows the sample rate of audio being played! I have to wonder if despite the audiophile pretences behind the marketing message, whether any audiophiles were invited to comment on its features.

A larger miss for audiophiles is lack of USB input. You can use HDMI, S/PDIF, Toslink and Ethernet to stream data to it but can't use it as a USB DAC. For my testing as such, I resorted to S/PDIF and HDMI.

Nicely included is XLR balanced outputs which I used exclusively for my testing. Needless to say, with so many channels, the back of the unit delights any AV marketing person with more connectors than you can count:
Marantz AV8805 Audio Video Processor Rear Panel.jpg

There is Audyssey Room equalization of course which I did not have time to test.

As is common with brand name products, we have full safety and regulator emissions certification which is always nice and reassuring.

I only messed with the unit enough to configure it for 2-channel testing. I found the menu graphics primitive for this class device. Icons were ugly and small, lacking resolution. This is a missed opportunity to make a good impression on the customer that you have purchased a high-end product.

Anyway, I leave you to read the manual or other reviews on details of its functionality, video subsystem, etc. Here, our focus is the audio datapath and engineering design within. So let's get into that. Sadly the few reviews I found of AV8805 had no such data, nor has Marantz provided any information on its own. What is passed as "specs" is just a list of connectivity and features. Sad.

S/PDIF Measurements
As mentioned, I limited my testing to balanced output. If you are getting such a processor, that should be your method of connection. I fed the unit S/PDIF signal from my Audio Precision analyzer and adjusted the output to nearly 4 volts (volume level shown on display above):
Marantz AV8805 Audio Video Processor Balanced Measurements.png


I don't know if I should be happy or sad. I am happy that the SINAD (signal over noise and distortion) is not sub 90. Sad because this would be poor rating even for a $99 desktop DAC let alone a $5,000 processor. We have tier three performance of all the DACs tested so far (numbering over 100 in this table alone!):

Marantz AV8805 Audio Video Processor Balanced SINAD Measurements.png


THD+N is dominated by the third harmonic which means that it will peak above the noise floor of 16 bit CD content (96 dB dynamic range). So we lack transparency there let alone for high-resolution content.

Dynamic range is good:
Marantz AV8805 Audio Video Processor Balanced Dynamic Range Measurements.png


Intermodulation distortion is pretty decent with respect to noise (the downward sloping aspect of the graph) but has too much distortion as the signal gets louder:

Marantz AV8805 Audio Video Processor Balanced IMD Measurements.png


There seems to be some sign of "ESS IMD Hump" around the usual level of -35 dB. It is not as extreme but that is because of elevated noise floor.

Considering that I kept the output level at 4 volts, i.e. well below max, the rising distortion is worrisome.

Jitter is too busy for the eye but OK audibly:

Marantz AV8805 Audio Video Processor Balanced Jitter Measurements.png


There are low-frequency jitter components hugging our main tone, rising up to -108 dB or so. Due to perceptual masking however, the main tone at 12 kHz would not allow them to be audible. Likewise the rest of the spikes would not be audible due to -120 dB level (below threshold of hearing).

Multi-tone test tone shows reasonable performance:
Marantz AV8805 Audio Video Processor Balanced Multitone Measurements.png


Yes, we have more "grass" at the bottom of our tones than the best DACs but hey, it could be worse!

Linearity out of the blue surprises us positively:
Marantz AV8805 Audio Video Processor Balanced Linearity Measurements.png


Had it stayed below -.5 dB, it would have garnered the rating of excellent from me.

Next test, THD+N versus frequency was a shocker:

Marantz AV8805 Audio Video Processor Balanced THD vs Frequency Measurements.png


What the heck? The moment we go past 5 kHz, the distortion+noise shoots sky high. It is off the chart literally post 10 kHz. What is going on here? We are using 90 kHz bandwidth so lots of things may be going on in ultrasonic range that is not visible here. Let's tease them out using high-resolution FFT spectrum:

Marantz AV8805 Audio Video Processor Balanced 10 kHz FFT Measurements.png


We now have our answer but not why. We have a tone around 34 kHz that is just -45 dB down from our main signal. If we were to run the dashboard using the same 10 kHz tone and 90 kHz bandwidth, the SINAD would drop to just 45 dB! The level of that peak fortunately is proportional to the signal. Since in real content there is not a ton of amplitude at 10 kHz and higher, practical impact is not as high but let's dig in to find out what is going on.

Thinking this may be an aliasing issue, I ran my white noise test where we look at how much filtering we get at 22.05 kHz. Theory demands that we get infinite amount of signal reduction at that frequency. This is what we get instead:

Marantz AV8805 Audio Video Processor Balanced WHite Noise Filter Response Measurements.png


There is almost no filtering at 22.05 kHz! It is not until we reach almost 40 kHz that full filtering takes effect. I searched the manual for any DAC filter setting but did not find anything. This is flat out broken. I get wanting slow roll off but this smells like incorrectly programmed filter setting.

HDMI Performance
Back in 2014 I tested a number of AVRs and found their HDMI performance to be much worse than their S/PDIF. Is that still the case? Let's see by running our dashboard again, this time with HDMI audio being extracted from my desktop graphics card running in 4K resolution:

Marantz AV8805 Audio Video Processor Balanced HDMI Measurements.png


Ah, that is a relief. We get essentially the same performance. Then again, what we have here is limited by high harmonic distortion which is likely in the analog domain post the DAC so improvements elsewhere may not show up.

Let's run the jitter test to see if that is revealed there:

Marantz AV8805 Audio Video Processor Balanced HDMI Jitter Measurements.png


Performance is definitely worse with HDMI (in red). We have tons more spikes relative to S/PDIF. Fortunately once again, their levels is below audibility so not a practical concern. HDMI slaves audio to video signal so the moment you use that interface, you light up tons more circuits in the unit, resulting in more interference leaking into sensitive analog portions of the DAC chip.

Conclusions
From pure objective performance, the Marantz AV8805 Processor cannot touch 2-channel dedicated desktop DACs which cost less than its shipping cost! With no published measurements by Marantz, nor that of any reviewer, companies are getting away releasing products that leave good bit of performance on the table. Fortunately there is nothing drastically wrong here, sans the DAC filtering. That aspect needs to be reported to Marantz as hopefully can be fixed with a firmware update.

From subjective point of view, if you wrestle enough with Audyssey Room EQ, you should be able to get better in-room performance than any non-EQ DAC in a real room. Then again, you can get the same in much cheaper AVRs and processors.

I would say buy the Marantz AV8805 because it has the features it has not because you think it will provide reference quality audio performance. It will not.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Just collected all of my pennies to afford the nice Carne Asada we had for dinner tonight at the local restaurant. Before my pocket develops a hole, would appreciate some replenishment of those funds using:
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/audiosciencereview), or
upgrading your membership here though Paypal (https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...eview-and-measurements.2164/page-3#post-59054).
 

RayDunzl

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#3
Where do I find 13.2 content?
 

miero

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#4
Where do I find 13.2 content?
Any Dolby Atmos content should be mixable to 13.2 or even 15.2:
Along with overhead sound, Dolby Atmos (and its rival DTS:X) offers enhancement over traditional surround sound setups by placing each “sound object” (such as a radio alarm or a buzzing bee) in a specific spot in the soundstage, as designated by the film’s sound engineers
More info and links: https://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/dolby-atmos-movies/2/
 

vitalii427

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#6
Thank you, Amir, for continuous shedding of light on the hi-fi backstage.

What a shame for Marantz! I always thought that Yamaha receivers/processors has better sound quality. Hope someday we'll find out if I was right.
 
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#7
Disappointing performance for the price. I feel like finding a well-performing AVR/surround processor is important for those who want to listen to multi-channel music in addition to movies, and there's not too much information on this out there, certainly not provided by the manufacturers. Wonder how Anthem's stuff performs.
 

vitalii427

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#8
Disappointing performance for the price. I feel like finding a well-performing AVR/surround processor is important for those who want to listen to multi-channel music in addition to movies, and there's not too much information on this out there, certainly not provided by the manufacturers. Wonder how Anthem's stuff performs.
I still have Classe SSP-800 which has superb audio quality and digital out if you want more. Classe Sigma SSP MkII is a more current product with 4k, Atmos and also has digital out.
 

cjfrbw

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#9
Another big shock-er-ooney. I would have predicted outstanding rather than routine measurements.
 

VMAT4

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#10
Disappointing performance for the price. I feel like finding a well-performing AVR/surround processor is important for those who want to listen to multi-channel music in addition to movies, and there's not too much information on this out there, certainly not provided by the manufacturers. Wonder how Anthem's stuff performs.
Or Arcam's AVRs and their AV860 processor.
 
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#12
Thanks a lot, @amirm! :)
Nice to see you going to review various audio gear!

Where do I find 13.2 content?
I do think many UHD Bluray contains Dolby Atmos with 13.2 channels.

The "integrated version" of this would be the Denon AVR 8500, from the same group. Would be interested to see how it measures with the Amp part.
denon_avc_x8500h-04-5a5f6f681eb02.jpg
 

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#13
Thanks for the review. I haven't come across any pre/pro or receiver with USB input. Perhaps some really high end units have it.
The Classé Sigma SSP has a USB-Input which works without drivers on a current Windows 10 (there is a driver supplied by Classé, but it was not necessary to install it on my Notebook) and supports 24/192.

BTW: my first posting in this great forum. My first posting in any forum. Until now I was only active in the newsnet. I will say more about Marantz/Classé later.
 
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#15
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Marantz AV8805 flagship Audio and Video Processor. ....
This a really awful performance. I really would like to know how much worse the AV7705 must be...

On the other hand I am not much surprised regarding THD and SINO. I used an AV7701 for the last 4 years and replaced it by a Classè Sigma SSP MK1 a few months ago which I got for a third of the current price of an SSP MK2. The SSP is quite a bit more transparent and smooth than the AV7701 (subjective review) and since I own it I listen much more to music than before. It's not the kind of listening like 'never heard this before' or 'have to listen through all records again' or 'all these lifted veils'. It's just a much more relaxing listening experience. The AV7701 has a more forward presentation which someone listening to rock only may prefer though.

Regarding SINO: A colleague had bought an AV7701 to feed 5 Genelec 8020 and a Genelec 7060. He reported problems with hum and noise and the dealer was not able to solve it when he brought it back into the shop (there really are bad high end dealers). I invited him to me and found out that the volume pot of his 8020s was set to 100% (5 o'clock) and there was noise and hum coming out. The AV7701 had its output levels configured to something like -15dB. Reducing the input level of the 8020 to the 11 o'clock position solved the problem sufficiently (you could here noise and hum only with the ear very close to the 8020) and then the AV7701 configured its output levels to around 0dB.

This problem solving session however led to myself also buying the AV7701 because
  • its sound was better than what I used then (an analogue DIY preamplifier and a Behringer Ultracurve DEQ2494 used as DAC). Feeding an active 2.1 monitor system was without any problems regarding noise and hum, maybe because the monitors have audio transformers in the XLR input, and the input sensitivity is not that high even with 100% input volume.
  • it has room control
  • It replaced three units (FM-tuner, DEQ2496, DIY digital patchbay - the DIY preamp is still required for phono)
  • no longer required to reconnect the single HDMI cable from the beamer between sat tv receiver and BD-player
  • I got it for € 999 (some 50% rebate). Any other AV-processor was much more expensive (€ 2000 and more), and other current 2ch preamps with DAC were also more expensive and could still not solve the HDMI switching problem.
What are the problems of the AV7701 (and, I think, with other Marantz AV models as well):
  • inconsistent results of Audissey: each time I ran Audissey it seems to come to different results, and it was necessary to listen and decide whether I like it or not. Since I was not able to save the current settings for later retrieval it was hard to decide to do another repetition because the new result might be worse than the previous.
  • You need a display to run audissey. Since using the beamer with its noise is not an option I had to carry my computer monitor into the living room. There is an analogue video output which feeds a 7" display but it does not show the menu of the AV.
  • the user manual is horrible. It tells you what you can do but there are no explanations what it really does internally, e.g. what does pure audio really do besides sounding better?
Replacing the AV7701 with the Classé Sigma SSP solved all these problems. I already have a measuring microphone (Behringer UCM 8000) and with Room EQ Wizard and an old Edirol UA25 USB-Interface it was not very difficult to set the EQ of the SSP (peak compensation only) and get a really good sound. Classé specifies
  • 0.0005% THD and 105 dB SINO for digital sources
  • 0.0005% THD and 104 dB SINO for unprocessed analog sources
  • 0.002% THD and 101 dB SINO for processed analog sources (room EQ or tone control active)
I really would like to measure the SSP but the Edirol UA25 is probably too bad (Loop back is 0.0074% THD+N at 24/44.1). What kind of audio interface would be required to confirm the specs of the SSP? I would also use it for needle drops of a very good turntable. It should be class compliant so I can use it both in Windows 10 and Linux.
 

Timbo2

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#16
Thanks! That's rather depressing.

I don't have either the physical of financial resources to support different dedicated systems for both music and video. The Marantz and Dennon lines were on my short list to replace my "hanging on by a thread" Onkyo AVR. This isn't helping their case.

This is again pushing me to going to NAD. I'm getting close to pulling the trigger on the T758 V3, but without some independent review it's a shot in the dark. Part of the attraction for that is that it comes with Dirac Live.
 
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#17
With no published measurements by Marantz, nor that of any reviewer, companies are getting away releasing products that leave good bit of performance on the table.
There are at least published specs, but you have to download the users manual:

https://www.us.marantz.com/DocumentMaster/US/AV8805U_ENG_PDF_UG_v00A.pdf

On page 330+331 are the specs:

Analog:
S/N: 105 dB (IHF–A weighted, Direct mode)​
Distortion: 0.005 % (20 Hz – 20 kHz) (Direct mode)​
D/A output:
Total harmonic distortion — 0.008 % (1 kHz, at 0 dB)​
S/N ratio — 102 dB​

BTW, these specs are identical to the AV7705 and the old AV7701! One should expect some kind of improvement with (a) time and (b) marketing the 880x series as superior over the 770x series.
 
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#18
Thanks! That's rather depressing.

I don't have either the physical of financial resources to support different dedicated systems for both music and video. The Marantz and Dennon lines were on my short list to replace my "hanging on by a thread" Onkyo AVR. This isn't helping their case.

This is again pushing me to going to NAD. I'm getting close to pulling the trigger on the T758 V3, but without some independent review it's a shot in the dark. Part of the attraction for that is that it comes with Dirac Live.
If a 7.1 system is sufficient and 4K is not required: an old Classé Sigma SSP (not the MK2 version) should be cheap to get since no one buys AV processors without 4k support. I got one for 2000 €, normal price was 5000 €.

Maybe worth a try, if 4k is required: check with the Classé support if they still do upgrades of the Sigma SSP to MK2 version (should be around 1000 US$/€). If yes try to get a SSP (see above) and upgrade it to MK2. Normal price of the SSP MK2 is 6000 €. You are still limited to 7.1 though, although the MK2 supports Dolby Atmos and DTS-X. And only one of the 8 HDMI inputs supports HDCP 2.2. And no Dirac Live, only 9 parametric EQs per channel.

EDIT: just saw that you're looking for something with power amps inside.
 
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Kal Rubinson

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#20
The Classé Sigma SSP has a USB-Input which works without drivers on a current Windows 10 (there is a driver supplied by Classé, but it was not necessary to install it on my Notebook) and supports 24/192.
The Emotiva XMC-1 has one.
AFAIK, these, and all other prepros with a functional USB input, are limited to stereo only. Since these are multichannel devices, it is unfortunate that they cannot accept multichannel input via USB. (BTW, a tech from Emotiva has confirmed that implementation of multichannel input over USB is possible with the same hardware.)
 
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