Through customized components, a high-grade transformer and HDAMs AV9000 provides an ultra- impressive AV performance. Full 96kHz/24-bit D/A conversion and
the 5.1-channel pre-in and outputs make it future proof for new multi-channel developments. This piece of art is multi-room capable for audio, as well as in video.
Partnered with the MM9000 multi-channel power amplifier, it’s an extremely versatile system setup. The AV9000 includes the RC2000mkII Programmable Learning Remote
I believed this pre was very good until I compared to a very old Pioneer sx-850 receiver (70's). The old pioneer blew this piece of junk. There are no words to describe it. The pioneer sounds alive and detailed while this Marantz sounds dull and masked. Maybe I am been unfair and anything made after the 80's is junk? In this case the Marantz is good compared to the other pathetic components available today.
I upgraded this year from a Sherwood Newcastle pre-pro to the Marantz. All I can say is that the difference is like night and day. I already had a Marantz power amp, and wanted to match the pre-pro to it. Plusses for me were the number of inputs, as well as the flexability to assign various digital inputs to different components. The only downside is that it is a little thin on the analog audio only inputs, and does not have a phono input. I solved this by using a spare Tandberg preamp to connect a cassette deck, CD recorder, and turntable through one set of tape inputs.
I was using my Denon AVR-3300 as an AV controller for my HT/Music system. One day I had a chance to purchase Hi-Fi gear for my friend and got a Marantz AV560 for him. Upon test auditing, I found that the sounds (whether from HT or Music) from AV560 had more details, more air around vocals, better instrument positions, and more lifelike presentations. I was using the same amp, called Fatboy, made by Interactive Labs. That amp has a good reputation on “neutrality”. After returning the Marantz to my friend, I immediately noticed the dryer and narrower sounds from Denon (Don’t make me wrong. The difference is not intensive or even always noticeable. Denon also delivers good sounds. Or I would not have bought it and used it for 3 years. As a matter of fact, I used to own a Marantz DD receiver before this AVR-3300. For beginners, I would recommend both Marantz and Denon receivers.) Therefore I decided to give Marantz AV-controller a try. Since I wanted to make my upgrade significant, I picked the Marantz AV9000.
Did the sounds really improved? Yes, definitely! First, I listened to many CD samplers (Many classicals, some pops, or soundtracks. But no pure hard rocks.) The memory of more details, more air and better positioning from AV560 came back, with better-defined depth and image. My mom, who is 66 this year, confirmed the difference. My father (67) also concluded that the Marantz does provide more details after seriously listened for 15min. Frankly, I have not audited many true hi-end components before (except the Classe CAP-80. But Classe has better amplification too. I have not compared my Denon directly with a hi-end pre-amp with the same amp yet.) Therefore I cannot say that this AV9000 sounds at top level. However, from all the pre-amps or receivers I have owned before, including Yamaha, Denon, Marantz, Technics, The AV9000 is clearly the top one. I am feeling like I have been driving cars like Civic, Camry and Accord then suddenly upgrade to an Infinite I35. (I think a BMW 525 has much bigger improvement over a Camry. So I only picked an upper-scaled car for comparison here.) I also switched between analog and digital source on CD’s. The audio signal from Sony’s old $500 CD player sound’s dry and dead (again, not very intensively but noticeably) compare to the AV9000’s digital decoding. This may be due to either Marantz’s good decoding or Marantz’s bad analog bypass. But I can hardly believe this premium AV pre-amp can have such a bad analog bypass. This implies that the digital-to-analog converter of Marantz is superb. (Marantz’s bypass mode does not generate Subwoofer signals like the Denon AVR-3300.)
How about HT performance? Best I have heard! The Denon performs better in HT mode than in music mode. The AV9000 does too! The full THX processing makes the steering signals travel smoothly (really smoothly) from the left to center to right; from the left front to the right rear; from the right front to the right rear; and so on, with the least (again among the av gears I have ever owned) gaps you can detect. On this matter, AV9000 is significantly superior to the Denon. Furthermore AV9000 delivers a bit more messages. Bass dynamics is at least as good as that of Denon’s. The bass from AV9000 sounds fatter and deeper but not more powerful than that from Denon. Denon seems to drive my NHT passive sub a little louder before clipping. I think it is because my 100W/ch amp is not powerful enough to handle the subwoofer signals. So if Marantz delivers more very low-end bass, the amp will clip sooner. Wait until I get my Parasound HCA 2003 (200W/ch) to check this part again.
Last but not least, the tuner performance is also the best I have heard! It performs at least as well as an upper-graded Denon turner ($400) I owned 15 years ago. The signal sounds clean, clear and deep. Instruments are well separated and located. The tuner on Denon AVR-3300 can find no way to compete with the AV9000’s.
So to me, I have got a pre-amp that sounds significantly better and has more AV input-outputs than my Denon Receiver. This is truly an upgrade. 5 stars for AV9000! For those who are still using receivers of sub $2000 and consider upgrading, please try out AV9000 with a good multi-channel amp (100w/ch name-brand. Parasound for HT purposes, B&K for music. Also try Rotel, Adcom and Carver. All those can be found at around $500 on used markets. For higher ends, try Classe, Krell, … But if you know these hi-end brands, it is very likely that you have better knowledge in it than I do.) You will detect the difference!
Celestion 6SL Si fonts
Paradigm C-170 Center
AR HO 308 for rear (Big for rear, but I got them new for only $130 shipped from onsale.com!)
Kimber Kable 4TC for fronts
Kimber Kable 8VS for center, bass
AR flat for rears
Interactive Labs Fatboy 5-ch amplifier
Adcom 545 amp for rear
NHT 2si passive subwoofer
I went looking for a replacement surround sound decoder for my trusty Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder, which does not do DTS decoding, only six-channel pass-through. I also have a laserdisc player, so I wanted an RF input for those tasty DTS laserdiscs. My power amp is an Arcam AV50, which supplies 50 Watts RMS per channel and has video switching, and the home theatre room is quite small.
Looking world-wide, there were heaps of products, but looking in the real world (Melbourne) over the telephone there were much fewer choices. It came down to the then new Rotel 1066 and this Marantz dinosaur. I went for the Marantz because the Rotel unit was notoriously buggy, despite selling like hot-cakes, or so I was told. If I wanted one, I'd have to put an order in, because they had completely sold out in Melbourne (one sales drone said that Rotel had underestimated the demand.)
The Marantz AV-9000 is a superb unit and easily out-performed the Denon. The clarity, punch and drive are much better. There was more detail and great dynamic range in soundtracks and CD music.
Over the following months, however, I have come to recognise a few flaws in the design. The main one being that the tone controls cannot be bypassed unless you bypass everything, including bass management. Since I use my subwoofer to supplement the bass from my floor-standing front speakers (the superceded ALR/Jordan Entry 5 Ms), I needed bass management for CD playback. I could mess around with the AV50 preouts to send bass to the active subwoofer, but it's not worth the hassle. The bypass mode on the Marantz is called Direct. Sadly the tone controls affect all other surround and stereo modes - yes even DTS. Because the unit does 24 bit audio D/A, some CDs do sound harsh, so the treble control is handy for bringing that down, but I would prefer to bypass tone controls with a hard switch, as with the Arcam AV50.
With CD music the sound is quite good, better than my Arcam Alpha 8 (20-bit). It is being passed in from my Pioneer DVD player via the digital coaxial input raw and decoded in the Marantz to get 24-bit processing. The only draw-back is that sibilants are harsh, but this could also be a symptom of an unforgiving 24-bit D/A, which I was not used to, and/or the audio deficiencies of the Pioneer, and/or video switching in the AV-9000 and AV50.
So far I have not figured out how to change inputs with the remote, and the subwoofer level always disappears whenever you change the speaker levels.
Pioneer 737 DVD player
Arcam AV50 Amp
Loewe Ergo 16:9 CRT 76 cm
Trasnsparent Audio interconnects
ALR/Jordan Entry series speakers
B&W ASW-1000 active subwoofer
I am considering upgrading the amp to three two-channel power amps or a 5.1 power amp.
I should have purchased the Cyruss decoder instead, because I do not need the video switching.
This is a good and a bad product. It is good if you want a lot of AV processing. It does a great job of decoding off my satellite system giving full cinema effect on films. It also allows the use of seperate power amps which is a gigantic step up from any one box AV systems. The problem is any decent DVD player already has on board processing as do all SACD/DVD-A players. So why buy another processer that also has video switching bringing with it huge HF interference. So if you after real sound quality it does not do the job. I have bought a Copland CVA306, a six channel valve stage pre amp with no processing or video switching. I don't need two sets of processors no that SACD and DVD A are here.