We started reviewing the SR7011 by listening to various lossless 5.1- and 7.1-channel mixes using both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. The Marantz handled these very effectively delivering the audio with an enjoyably nuanced accuracy and producing an open front soundstage. The music and effects were spread across the three front channels with skill, whilst dialogue was centred on the screen, always remaining clear and defined. The steering of effects around the room were precise, with a balanced level of tonality around the sound field, producing a surround experience that envelops you. The bass was also handled well, with the lower frequencies and the LFE channels nicely integrated with the rest of the speakers, producing an excellent foundation for the audio.
We tested the SR7011 with the 5.1-channel soundtrack on the original Blu-ray release of Gravity
and the receiver handled the highly directional soundtrack very well. There was a subtlety to the performance that we liked and the tonal balance meant that as voices moved around the room, they remained clear and focused. The use of low frequencies effects during the sequences in a vacuum really underpin the entire soundtrack and the SR7011 handle this area well. We frequently use the 7.1-channel mix on the Blu-ray of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
to test AV Receivers because the opening scene is a brilliantly conceived piece of layered sound design. The Marantz delivered the subtle elements with great skill, revealing the breathing of the apes within the falling rain and picking out the sound of them almost silently moving through the tress as thunder rolled overhead.
The SR7011 includes the Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X upmixers, both of which proved very effective and neither one seemed any better than the other in testing. The two systems were very capable of taking 5.1- or 7.1-channel sources and upmixing them to use all 11 channels during playback. The opening scene of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
we mentioned in the previous paragraph really opened up with the sound of thunder rolling above us thanks to the overhead speakers. Although we don't usually approve of processing a soundtrack to make use of more speakers, especially some of the more gimmicky DSP settings. we certainly found that both these upmixing features were more than capable of delivering a greater sense of immersion without adversely affecting the overall sound experience.
Of course one of the big selling points of the SR7011 is its ability to decode Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks and in this regard it certainly delivered the goods. We watched the Ultra HD Blu-ray of Suicide Squad
and we enjoyed how the receiver delivered the comic book mayhem with great skill and verve, producing an enjoyably immersive audio experience. The same was true of the Blu-ray of The Conjuring 2
, with the supernatural events making full use of the overhead speakers to scare the life out of viewers. The SR7011 was an accomplished performer with multi-dimensional audio, producing a hemisphere of sound around which sounds are move with precision. The same was true with DTS:X and the newly re-mixed soundtrack on the Ultra HD Blu-ray of Jason Bourne
was equally as impressive with the receiver delivering the action with great dynamism.
Those who prefer the delights of two-channel audio often feel that multi-channel AV receivers struggle to compete with a dedicated stereo amplifier. However for most people it is impractical to run an AV receiver for movie watching and a separate stereo amplifier for music. So what you really need is a receiver that can deliver both, a great multi-channel sound and a decent stereo performance. The SR7011 is just such a receiver and it handled two-channel music extremely well, with the new live Kate Bush album Before the Dawn
sounding superb. The receiver delivered the complex arrangements with a sublime level of detail and allowed the open nature of the live recording to feel spacious but nuanced at the same time.
The Marantz is a classy performer and it handled the jazz-influenced music on David Bowie's Black Star
with consummate skill and subtlety. As is often the case, the most effective results were gained by running the Marantz in its Pure Direct two-channel mode without the subwoofer, although if you prefer to use your sub with music that also works very well. Aside from streaming music from our network and via Bluetooth, we also tried through USB and AirPlay and, overall, the SR7011 delivered excellent results. Where possible we try to keep the resolution of our music as high as possible but we did find that the Marantz could be surprisingly sympathetic to heavily compressed sources.