First of all, the AVR's HDMI inputs are all v2.0a with support for HDCP 2.2, meaning it can pass a 4K HDR signal from an Ultra HD Blu-ray player (HDR 10, at any rate. Dolby Vision is a different matter – see Feedback, p85) and whatever other 4K source you're likely to want to use it with. And on the audio side, it decodes Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and can be upgraded (via a 'net connection) to support Auro-3D if you're prepared to pay the €150 fee. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Spotify Connect and DLNA are also on the menu, so your music collection won’t get left behind either. This is home cinema at its most progressive.
Ahead of the curve In terms of design, there’s a sense of style here that you don’t get from most AVR manufacturers. Available in black or silver-gold, the amp has curved front panels that flank the brushed metal faceplate. The brand's usual porthole display and surrounding blue light make an arresting visual centrepiece, too. However, this is small and strips info down to the basics; a larger, more thorough display lives under the heavy flap below, amid a bevy of buttons and auxiliary sockets. One of the eight HDMI inputs resides here, alongside a USB port, headphone jack, AV inputs and a port for the setup mic. At the rear you'll find well-spaced speaker terminals and plenty of legacy connections. The AVR has three HDMI outputs, one of which supports ARC, while another can be used to pipe video to a second zone. As a nine-channel amp, you can employ the Marantz to drive a 5.1.4 or 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos setup, or expand it to 7.1.4 with an external two-channel amplifier thanks to the Marantz’s 11-channel processing capability. For the amp stage, Marantz's spec sheet claims a healthy 125W per channel into an 8 ohm load (20Hz- 20kHz, two channels driven, 0.05% THD). Put it in full-bore multichannel movie mode and you can expect this figure to drop, but it's still an AVR more suited to medium/large setups than budget satellite speakers.
An onscreen assistant guides you through the setup process step-by-step, even down to connecting speaker cables. The menus aren’t the most sophisticated you’ll ever see, but the layout is clear and welcoming. The logical, stylish remote is a pleasure to use, while the backlight comes in handy for when the curtains are drawn. You could use Marantz’s smartphone app instead, but with a physical remote this good it seems a shame to go virtual. Aiding setup is Audyssey’s MultEQ XT32 auto room correction, using a supplied microphone to measure each speaker’s output from eight positions and optimise the response for your room. It’s easy to run and worked well for my system; I didn't feel the need to indulge in post-setup tweaking. On the video side, the SR7010 is ISF-certified, meaning it has a range of calibration controls for a trained engineer to play with. I'm not sure this is a feature worth having, as calibrators prefer to work at the display end. Appetite for destruction Onto performance and the SR7010 is gob-smackingly good. Whether you’re using a standard or height-inclusive setup, it creates a huge, cohesive soundstage with masterfully-orchestrated effects. Revisiting Cloverfield on Blu-ray, the Marantz makes the destruction of Manhattan sound colossal, and as the army moves in the scale of the battle is remarkable. Meaty explosions, shots firing across the room, the beast’s booming roar, stomping footsteps – the SR7010 plunges you into the action brilliantly. The integration and interplay between channels is seamless and immersive, not allowing your attention to wander for a moment. This sense of immersion is helped greatly by the SR7010’s top-end subtlety and finesse, a hallmark of Marantz receivers. Small details like scuttling rats and gentle echoes add to the tension as the group creeps through the subway tunnel. The receiver musters hefty power, but there’s more to it than just muscle. Its ability to harness and control that power is really impressive. The .1 channel thumps and slams while transient effects shoot from the speakers with a sharp, snappy quality, but even at film-night levels the Marantz remains composed and easy on the ear at points where lesser machines will harden up or start to sound booming and unorganised. Rival AVRs do sound more aggressive in their presentation, but for me this doesn't make the Marantz any less appealing.
Partnered with XTZ's Cinema Series speakers in a 5.1.4 setup (see HCC #259) and running the Atmos mix of Mad Max: Fury Road, the result is heavenly home cinema. The three-dimensional soundstage is presented with precision and cohesion – the sound of angry car engines and colliding metal is a real thrill as it moves overhead and around the room. In the midst of it all dialogue remains lucid and authoritative. And Marantz’s musical leanings make the SR7010 a wonderful way to enjoy tunes from any source. There’s a sense of warmth and clarity in its two-channel playback that makes this a good choice for anyone who likes music as much as they do movies. A top-drawer receiver, then. It'd be nice to see the brand go a step further and launch an 11-channel version... n