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  1. #1
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    Marantz AV8802 - could not be more impressed

    So over the past 3 years or so I've had a few pre-pro's from inexpensive (outlaw 975 and Emotiva budget offering, both of which I returned) to super expensive (had a used Classe SSP-800) in between I've had a Marantz AV8801 and now the 8802.

    The 8802 far and away is the most impressive of the bunch (all things considered). It sounds damn close to the SSP-800 (and some may prefer one over the other), in that it is smooth yet detailed. The SSP-800 is still the most flexible and tweaker friendly of the bunch, but you REALLY have to know what you are doing to take full advantage of it (using the parametric EQ to do your room correction). The SSP-800 also offers a true analog bypass.

    BUT, as far as sound quality - the 8802 is really, really close. Not quite as "warm" as the SSP-800 when using the internal DAC's but by no means harsh. The 8802 pulls off the tough combo of detailed yet not bright. It's a GREAT sounding unit. Personally I find Audyseey XT32 to do a nice job with EQing the bass in particular (I used a SVS AS-EQ1 in combination with the SSP-800, so a decent apples to apple comparison). I also like Dynamic EQ a lot of the time. I tend to bypass XT32 on my mains with music, but do like it for Movies.

    After I heard about the 8802 I figured it was just a slight upgrade over the 8801, after all MFG's need to bring new product along (atmos) but many times add a few features and leave the rest alone. I'm not using Atmos yet, but down the road may add it (waiting to see if I am going to have to move for my job here soon). But I digress. I'm a music guy first and foremost. I had read the reviews (like Davids) and everyone said that the 8802 was better than the 8801. - It is, it most definitely is. It's a much smoother and more musical unit in 2 channel audio. Frankly, it's not as bright or strident as the 8801. I thought the 8801 was good, but the 8802 to me has a clear difference.

    I tend to favor more detailed and uncolored speakers (heck, using old nht 3.3's right now) and that can lead to a brighter sound at times. So, while I think speakers are 75% or more of the battle, I do think your pre-pro can make a difference and there is no doubt in my mind that the 8802 is a smoother sounding unit, but it is NOT dark. It's just a great pre-pro and one I suspect I will finally keep for a while. At a 3k or so street price, I almost consider it a bargain (considering the ssp-800 is still about 7500 street price new, and 4500 used).

    I also finally broke down and bought a SVS SB-13 ultra. It's as good as advertised. I've tried a few subs in the last couple years also, but the SB-13 is truly impressive.
    Last edited by green giant; 11-22-2015 at 08:33 AM.

  2. #2
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    Comparing the AV8802 to the Classe is pretty high praise.

    I'm running an earlier Marantz pre/pro and find it great for movies, but not so for music. After reading David's review, I have considered the 8802, but I have a few other upgrades to take care of. Great to hear your thoughts.

    Let's see some photos.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Rainwater View Post
    Comparing the AV8802 to the Classe is pretty high praise.

    I'm running an earlier Marantz pre/pro and find it great for movies, but not so for music. After reading David's review, I have considered the 8802, but I have a few other upgrades to take care of. Great to hear your thoughts.

    Let's see some photos.

    I know it is high praise. But, I'm that impressed with it. I'll talk about just 2 channel music here.

    The SSP-800 has a very classic traditional audiophile sound when using it's own internal DAC's. Very smooth and warm, almost rolled off. Which, with the speakers I own and tend to buy is nice as I like uncolored speakers traditionally, but when pushed - they can get bright. The SSP-800 is great at smoothing that out. Now, it also has a very cool feature in that it offers a true 100% analog bypass so you only hear the DAC's in your source (or outboard DAC). When running my Sony HAP Z1-ES - it was clearly more detailed, but brighter at the same time.

    The Marantz OTOH, is not quite as warm/smooth as the Classe SSP-800's internal DAC's, however it manages to pull off being smooth but detailed. Somewhere between my HAP Z1-ES and the Classe SSP-800. I'm really enjoying it.

    The 8801 on the other hand, simply wasn't as smooth, it was as detailed but not as smooth at the same time. It's difficult to explain, but it's the best way I can explain it.

    If had real smooth, warm speakers, the 8801 would do the trick nicely and at a really reduced price these days. it's good, but the 8802 I'm really surprised by the difference as typically I feel companies implement small incremental differences in the audio quality, while making sure to keep up with the surround processing etc.

    I PM'd with David a bit before making the jump as I tend to trust his reviews more than most. He was spot on about the SVS SB-13 ultra also (though many have said it was outstanding). I'll post on that here soon, but suffice it to say I tried the JL Audio E112's - the SVS is better, particularly at the price it can be had!
    Last edited by green giant; 11-22-2015 at 01:09 PM.

  4. #4
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    Detailed but not smooth describes my AV7701 with music. I love it for movies.

    I can't decide if I want to replace it at some point, or look for a two-channel preamp for music. If I go this route, I may look at used equipment, like a Proceed Pre or Adcom GFP-750. I think the Proceed can ran in bypass mode so it wouldn't interfere with the 7701 during movie time.

    Decisions, decisions, decisions.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Rainwater View Post
    Detailed but not smooth describes my AV7701 with music. I love it for movies.

    I can't decide if I want to replace it at some point, or look for a two-channel preamp for music. If I go this route, I may look at used equipment, like a Proceed Pre or Adcom GFP-750. I think the Proceed can ran in bypass mode so it wouldn't interfere with the 7701 during movie time.

    Decisions, decisions, decisions.
    Well, I had almost gone that route, even looked at some older Adcoms! I actually sold off my SSP-800 and for a little while ran a nu-force MCP-18 (which is a nice piece) and used my oppo for 5.1.. with the SVS AS-EQ1.

    But David's advice and a few other people i trust said to try the 8802 if I could swing it... honestly it's really good. You could always order from a place that allows trials (I think audio advisor does) and see what you think.

    I'm also using some older Harman Kardon Signature amps right now (the old 1.5's) while I don't think amps color sound that much, they are smoother amps, it's possible that helps some also. But I'm just really enthralled with the 8802 right now. I really didn't want to have more components than I already have (I have two 1.5 amps. and a 2 channel HK also running my rears)
    It's good.

  6. #6
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    I've owned the
    Marantz AV7701 --> Marantz AV8801 --> Arcam AV888 --> Krell Foundation all within a few weeks of each other.

    I completely concur with Tracy's view of the Marantz - excellent for movies and reasonably detailed for 2 channel but not smooth enough. Music never felt really open and "believable". This was my reason for an upgrade to the AV8801. The AV8801 improved on the 7701 in all areas but still failed to deliver the transparency that I was looking for. Don't get me wrong -this was still an impressive unit but not quite up to it in 2 channel in my view. There was a slight midrange "bloom" that colored the sound and became harsh at high volumes. Fantastic though for movies.

    I then installed an Audiocontrol Maestro M4 (Arcam AV888) and found an immediate improvement - wasn't a side by side test but I literally changed over with 30 minutes. The bottom end felt more extended and the transparency and openness was a level above for both movies and music. And that is despite the fact that Arcam's correction software is lame compared to the Audyssey in the 8801. I loved this unit for its sound quality. Movies sounded much more expansive, almost like I was suddenly listening in a much bigger room.

    Despite my love for the Arcam, I felt that there was still some possible improvement in the 2 channel arena and so I then upgraded to the Krell Foundation. It is simply fantastic and sounds incredible in both movies and 2 channel-just edging out the Arcam in this area. Now the Krell room correction software is abysmal but it sounds clearly better regardless. Incredible bass extension, transparency etc.

    My room is well treated but still has huge bass issues that I need to sort out -so the differences may have been negligible without this but I'll never know for sure. I sometimes do wonder though if I'd have been better off settling for the AV7701 for movies and then going for a separate 2 channel pre/pro.

  7. #7
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    Seanoo, great first post, and I totally agree with you on the 7701.

    When I herd about it at CEDIA, especially its feature set and price, I knew I had to get one. As a matter of fact, I reviewed it for HomeTheaterReview and bought the review unit. At the time, I was running a Sunfire Theater Grand III. I loved the Sunfire for music but it was a bit of a hassle to use it with home theater since I was going to an all HDMI interface. I miss the sound of that Sunfire and that's what got me to thinking about running a two-channel preamp.

    I have heard great things about the Krell's sound, and I would love to hear one. It is more than double the price of the 8802, which is something to consider.

  8. #8
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    I think that the newer Arcam stuff sounds really great. I honestly feel that the 8802 is on par, if not a little better (particularly when looking at bang for the buck etc). I've heard the new big Arcam receiver a few times. It's the best sounding receiver I've ever heard.

    Problem is, it's a 6k receiver, which is insane.

  9. #9
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    Thanks Tracy. The price increase on the Foundation to incorporate 4k has changed things a bit since I made my purchase. The difference in street price at the time was approx. $1400 and for me that was enough to justify the changeover.

    The other thing that may be worth consideration is the fact that internal DAC's in the Foundation are excellent. I performed many A-B tests between my Marantz SA-11 feeding analog into the Foundation versus the Foundation accepting a digital signal and doing the decoding. I found that the Krell had better bass extension and was more solid in this area. The remainder was very tough to call with the Marantz maybe just edging out the Krell in the high frequencies. It was very hard to pick and allowed me to move my beloved Marantz SA-11 on, thus bridging the gap further.

    I agree that the new Arcam gear is fantastic and, in my system in as close to an A-B test as is possible, the Arcam AV888/Audiocontrol Maestro M4 was a clear winner. To me it was no contest. However,i understand that the Marantz presents an awesome offering in the sound quality and features provided (which are well beyond the Arcam) for the price paid. I do still think that it is a great unit. By the way, I've seen the Arcam AV750 listed at around $3k so deals can be had.

  10. #10
    Senior Member David Vaughn's Avatar
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    It was my vote for A/V Product of the Year for Sound & Vision and it looks like my vote carried some weight: 2015 Top Picks Of the Year Top Pick of the year | Sound & Vision

    Let's hope my vote matters next year just as much in the Presidential election!
    David Vaughn
    Technical Writer/Blu-ray Reviewer
    Sound and Vision Magazine

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