Marantz SR7500 - a mini review of 7500/8500

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I could not find any reviews of the Marantz 7500/8500 receivers online,
so I wanted to post my experience here, in case someone else is looking
at this fine sounding receiver.

I anxiously tracked the shipment of my new Marantz 7500 daily from
accessories4less.com, an authorized Marantz dealer.  During my initial
home theater investigations, Marantz stressed the importance of
purchasing from an authorized dealer or the warranty would be void.
While on the Marantz website, I saw a link for the prestigious
"owners circle".  Of course, I could not wait to put in my serial
number in order to get all the "secret" information about how to
set up the amp.

I sold my trusty Onkyo 787, and felt confident that I was moving up to
audiophile quality.  One dealer I went to informed me that he was
getting out of the Integra line (Onkyo's high end line) in favor of
the Marantz line.  I wonder if I should have been suspicious when he
told me - "don't turn it up too loud".  I reconsidered the
8500, because it had the "special amp section" but accessories4less
said it did not justify the added expense.  Everything else is
identical, except for the torrordal amp and HDMI switching.

The Marantz had everything I was looking for.  7.1, ProLogic II, 100
WPC and I liked the idea of the auto set-up.  I read the newsgroups
that spoke of the Marantz amps (not this one in particular) as being
"musical" and "warm".  People who liked audio seemed to like
this amp, and I was never really impressed with audio only sound
"cd" out of my Onkyo.

My Marantz arrived.  I unpacked it, disconnected my Onkyo and all the
other components, re-arranged my audio shelf, and prepared to plug my
banana plugs into the back of the amp.

Did you notice how "dual banana plug" is conspicuously missing from
the online Marantz manuals?  Dual banana plugs that make hook up easy
on all amps that I have had in the last 10 years - including my old
trusty Onkyo, and my 15 year old Adcom that I use to drive my
subwoofer.  All my Klipsch legacy speakers close to 20 years old use
this standard - pretty much everything I have seen out there -
except my new Marantz 7500 (and the 8500 is the same).  I take off all
my banana plugs, being careful not to lose track of which side is
negative, then, for the next hour, meticulously try to thread 10 gauge
speaker wires into cheap plastic binding posts from the old days.  One
must be careful not to let any strands of wire touch the metal housing,
lest you may blow the amp, and I would suspect, the "authorized
warranty".

1 hour later, all the rest of the hookups are made, I am ready to power
up.  Power comes on; I hear a series of tiny relays click in the amp.
I try to start the manual speaker setup, but soon give up when I can
not find where to set the amp to output 6.1 only.  I decide to run the
auto feature.  The 7500/8500 both come with an included microphone.  I
put the microphone on a tripod stand, push one button on the face of
the receiver, and presto, magic happens!  On-screen I see the receiver
magically adjusting the speaker size, distance, loudness - it was all
very cool!  This is definitely something Marantz has over Onkyo (sorry
Onkyo - but who really cares about net-tune).  At the end of the 3
minute procedure, a confirmation comes up, letting you know all the
settings that the receiver has "set".  Then I notice something
peculiar.  The 7500 says I don't have a subwoofer.  I start to
investigate; the power light to my Adcom is not on.  I check the power
switch on the Adcom, it's in the on position.

One would assume that a new Marantz 7500 would be able to supply power
out of its switched AC jacks in the back?  But this one didn't.  I
moved the plug to the always powered jack, yep, dead too.  OK, well,
maybe I got the 2 in 100 amps that accessories4less says that they get
back, I mean, someone has to win the lottery - right?

I took a break and went to enter my serial number into the secret
"Owner's Circle" on the Marantz website.  Maybe there would be a
secret answer, like some software "switch" that was required to
turn on the AC outlets on the back of the receiver.  I will let you in
on a little secret, the special owners circle is a place where you can
enter your email address to get mailings from Marantz.  No special
FAQ's.  No setup hints.  Not even a moderated site to speak with
other happy Marantz owners - I suspect Marantz knows what the outcome
would be of having any kind of email board on their site.  Go check out
Klipsch to see what a real audiophile site should look like.

I run an extension to power up my Adcom, and on comes my subwoofer.  I
run the auto setup again, and it really is perfect.  I have to say,
that this receiver does sound very good.  I played a couple of DVD's
- then I notice - why do the people have a yellow cast?  HMMM?  I
disconnect the output component video wires from the back of the
Marantz 7500 with all its nifty up conversion crap, and connect the
component video cables directly to my Toshiba DVD player.  Once again,
a beautiful picture restored.

I looked at my banana plugs spread on the floor and longed for my Onkyo
back (it had gone out the door earlier that day - the new owner was
in 5.1 bliss).  I called the Marantz service center - the gentleman
was very helpful, saying that if I took the back off, I should be able
to replace the fuse that "protects" the AC jacks.  He also
suggested that I swap cables to check to see if the cable was the
problem with the yellow cast.  He also suggested that I could turn off
the up conversion module to make sure there was no problem there.  I
did all these things, but the bottom line is, either there is a problem
with this particular unit, or there is a design problem.

I went to the Marantz website to find the authorized service center in
Colorado, of course, there isn't one!  So the authorized warranty,
really means nothing, if I have to mail it off, I may as well mail it
off to China or Japan or wherever it is from (the manual says it was
printed in China - bet that is where they got the AC sockets and the
cheap plastic binding blocks from too).

Well, I can return it, but it is a $100 lesson.  $~50 to have it
shipped to me, ~$50 to return it to accessories4less, where they can
return it to Marantz USA, then they can ship it back to the country of
origin.

This IS NOT the Marantz of yesteryear.  Don't be fooled by terms that
you might see on the internet like "musical", "warm",
"golden" and the like.  You should be interested in less subjective
terms like "is there a place to bring it to get it fixed", "it
does not work out of the box", "it will be a $100 lesson", and
the best "dual banana plug".

I just returned from my nearby Circuit City and purchased an Onkyo 803.
 It is not the Integra - but it does have beefy binding posts - and
it takes dual banana plugs - and a auto set-up microphone.

Will post that review too.

Pete L. - Denver, CO


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