It’s hard to find the point of diminishing returns correctly. If you aim for too low of a price point on a product, you might leave off a feature that is too important to be without. Of course if you can’t decide when to stop adding features, the price escalates out of control. Knowing what is essential and what to cut is how you wind up with a product that works great for most people. The Marantz AV7702mkII preamp manages to find that sweet spot. It has every feature most people will need, but sacrifices the ones you don’t want.
The essentials are present: HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, Audyssey XT32 with SubEQ, AirPlay and Bluetooth, along with more inputs than most people will need. There are some items, XLR outputs and Auro-3D support, that are nice to have. Items that most people never use, like USB DAC support, an HDBaseT output, and XLR inputs are missing. The Marantz AV7702mkII succeeds by offering value and performance.
Flexible and Easy
|Inputs:||8x HDMI 2.0a, 4x Composite, 3x Component, 6x Analog Stereo, 2x Optical, 2x Coaxial, 7.1 Multi-channel, 1x Phono|
|Outputs:||3x HDMI 2.0a, 2x Composite, 1x Component, 13.2 Channel Pre-out|
|Size:||17.3" x 15.4" x 7.3"|
|Review Date:||May 13, 2016|
|Price:||Check on Amazon|
Setting up Atmos and DTS:X speakers is always a pain. Since they share an output with either height or width channels, you are never sure where to connect them. The on-screen guide from the AV7702mkII shows you all the possible setups to let you choose the one that matches. Then it has an on-screen diagram showing you how to connect your Atmos speakers to the correct pre-out terminals. Never before has this been easy to do or even worked the first time.
The Marantz AV7702mkII has the full complement of Audyssey XT32 features. It includes the optional SubEQ which provides for independent calibration of two subwoofers. Running dual subwoofers provides much more even bass response in a room. Aside from expensive options, like the JL Audio Fathom, you often only can EQ a single subwoofer. With my dual subwoofer setup, the Marantz AV7702mkII can dial both in with their own EQ.
Among the obscure features, the AV7702mkII includes support for Control4 SDDP. As I run Control4 in my main listening room, it made detection and integration of the AV7702mkII almost automatic. With RS232, Ethernet, and WiFi it is easy to integrate with any control system from a Harmony one to advanced custom install solutions.
The AV7702mkII goes into my usual system with KEF R300 fronts and surrounds, R600c center, and R50 Atmos modules. Amplification from Parasound and Emotiva uses RCA connections, and I use Ethernet instead of WiFi.
As the first DTS:X decoder in the house, there was an excuse to watch Ex Machina again. Already a creepy film, the extra immersion provided by DTS:X makes it worse. Added height channels put you right in the isolated house, making the feeling of dread more intense than it has been before. Only having two height channels makes the effect not as pronounced as it is with four, but it still adds much more than I had expected the extra channels to.
One of my initial impressions of the Marantz AV7702mkII is that bass is a bit anemic after running Audyssey. I’m convinced that I was wrong about this and that I have been running my bass too hot instead. Audyssey made me turn down the subwoofers by around 10dB each, or half their previous volume. Most room correction systems only allow for -10dB of adjustment for a channel, so likely the subwoofers were running too loud before.
Playing the SACD version of Dark Side of the Moon brings this point across. During the opening track, the heartbeat in the background grows louder and louder over time. It never is too quiet compared to the rest of the track, it just blends in. Sure, you can set the subwoofer levels on your own with an SPL meter and test tones, but most people won’t do that. Audyssey doing this for me gave me well integrated bass that matched the other channels.
Like most people today, I stream the majority of my music. I actually put away all my CDs this year because I have lossless rips of them on my network that I use for listening. The AV7702mkII supports DLNA streaming and file playback from USB, but also has Bluetooth, AirPlay, and Spotify Connect support. DLNA support works but isn’t elegant. Placing the new Radiohead album on my NAS (in 24/48 resolution), I can navigate the menus on the front panel or through my phone to find it and playback. If I pause and try to come back to play, it often requires me to search out the album again. If your media server lets you choose a target and has its own UI, as mine does, it works much better than the Marantz one.
Spotify Connect just works in all my testing. I can queue up my standard testing playlist from my phone, or the weekly Discovery playlist Spotify makes for me. I can control volume from my laptop, smartphone, or the Marantz remote. AirPlay also works just aswell on the AV7702mkII. For an early listen of the new Radiohead album, before buying it, I can send it from the Apple Music app to the AV7702mkII for more serious listening. With AirPlay, Bluetooth, DLNA and Spotify Connect, the AV7702mkII can handle your streaming requirements.
With HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0a support, the AV7702mkII is ready for anything that is coming in the foreseeable future. Using the Samsung UltraHD Blu-ray player, an UltraHD Blu-ray with HDR, Wide Color Gamut, and Atmos sent through the Marantz displays pixel perfect on the JVC X550R. The Roku 4K and Nvidia Shield also work at 4K resolution with no flaws to see. After holding off on updating a processor for years with the UltraHD standard coming, the AV7702mkII is ready for them.
In use the Marantz AV7702mkII is flawless. Music and movies both sound fantastic, with a huge soundstage and perfect mixing of the speakers and subwoofers. It supports every video and audio format today and it works with the UltraHD hardware arriving soon.
Marantz AV7702mkII Improvements
There are a few things I’d like to see improved on the AV7702mkII. I wish they would include an RF remote instead of the IR model they use. Many people using a preamp have it placed out-of-sight, and the IR remote just doesn’t work in this case. When a $50 Roku includes an RF remote but a $2,200 processor does not, it seems like something needs to change.
I also want to see Audyssey with support for HiRes audio without a 48kHz sample rate limit. You can play back HiRes files, but everything past 24kHz drops because of the speed of the processing chips. Audyssey can support this, it just costs more by using better DSP units. Since the high-end audio industry is trying to make HiRes the big push, supporting it in their room correction seems like a no brainer.
A Great Package
With the AV7702mkII, Marantz has hit upon a sweet spot for a home theater processor. It supports every standard you need today and can drive 11.2 channels of audio. Atmos and DTS:X support works flawlessly with any setup you have, and the intuitive GUI makes it easy to set up without needing the manual. Audyssey XT32 with SubEQ offers a very good room correction system that supports multiple subwoofers and provides a large, immersive sound stage. With HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 built in, you won’t need to worry that your future UltraHD TV or projector will require you to upgrade your surround system as well.
The step-up options from the Marantz AV7702mkII are the Anthem AVM60 and Yamaha CX-A5100. Both of these sell for $3,000 which is over 35% more the AV7702mkII. The Anthem gives you their award winning room correction, ARC, for this price and includes PlayFi support. The Yamaha CX-A5100 uses their own room correction system, YPAO, which I’ve never found as impressive as Audyssey XT32 and it can’t EQ a subwoofer below 31.5Hz. Both of these can apply room correction to HiRes audio files while the Marantz stops at 24/48, but that might not be an issue for you.
Despite owning the Marantz AV7005 for a number of years, I had overlooked the AV7702mkII. I was so focused on the AV8802a and the new Anthem AVM60, I basically forgot about it. Until a friend asked me about it, I didn’t realize all the features it comes with. After using it for a month, I can say I would certainly recommend it for a system. If my budget today would allow, I wouldn’t even send this one back to Marantz and I would keep it for myself. Kudos to Marantz for designing a product with all the essential features we need at a price point that most other companies can’t approach today.
|Pros:||Great sound quality, every recent input and feature, easy setup, XT32 and SubEQ included|
|Cons:||IR remote should be RF at this price, Audyssey processing doesn't fully work on HiRes audio|
|Summary:||The Marantz AV7702mkII offers everything most people need in a preamp at a fantastic price. For far less than most competitors you get every feature you need today, and are ready for tomorrow with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 support.|