Product Review - Marantz SR5000 Receiver - August, 2000 Daniel Long - Editor, ASIA
When my trusty old NAD 218THX stereo power amp lost a channel about a month back, I considered my options. I wasn't prepared to buy a new amp just yet as I was just in the process of acquiring a new car and well, and some things do take priority over the Hobby. But I couldn't do without a main channel. I'd just gotten the V4 upgrade to my Lexicon and was dying to see whether it was good money I paid for it. Besides, I had a whole single DVD with Surround EX encoding that I wanted to watch/listen to ("The Haunting"). So I thought. What has at least a couple of channels of amplification, a tuner, a learning remote bundled in, doesn't weigh a ton, and could be a good reserve unit if my DC-1 ever had to take a vacation. Oh yes, it had to be inexpensive too. Hmmm.
The SR5000 is something of a junior in build among AV components. It even weighs very little (a mere 13.5 kg). But it has the requisite features in modern AV receivers: DD and DTS decoding, a set of RCA analog 5.1 inputs, and pre-outs (it lacks a seventh input for the center rear in Surround EX playback; this isn't a major shortcoming, yet) and five amp channels for external connection (!) in case that's all you want.
Being a receiver, it also comes with a decent tuner, three video inputs (both S-Video and composite but no component, as expected in a modestly priced unit such as this . . . only US$290 or S$489) and a single monitor output. There are a total of three digital inputs (1 TosLink, 2 Coax), quite surprising given the cost.
Setup and Radio in the morning!
Couldn't be simpler. I had the the speakers calibrated, the radio tuned, and started with some FM. Nothing spectacular about the tuner. Perhaps I'm too used to CD. Radio sounded bland and un-appealing if I was listening for dynamics or timbre and excitement. But it was fun to have radio again. We have a local radio DJ pair Joe and the Flying Dutchman (actually Joe Augustin and Mark Van Kylenberg) on the very popular Morning Express (Class 95 FM) who rip thru the airwaves every weekday morning from 6 to 10am. Catch them if you ever visit Sunny Singapore. Apart from speaker levels (relative to the fixed front channels), the only other thing that I could adjust was the delay.
Listening to Music
I started off my audition with music. Some staple audiophile fare (Jennifer Warnes The Hunter; remember that one?) was followed by some rowdier Robben Ford and Jimmy Vaughn. The sessions ended with local songbird Jacintha on her debut "Here's to Ben" and the more recent "Autumn Leaves". Overall, my impression of the SR5000 is that it was a little more ragged on top and had less definition down below, compared to my DC-1 through the NAD. When I swapped out the (Acarian) Alon IVs for a pair of NHT SuperOnes, it helped a little, although the top end remained slightly forward. The smaller NHTs sounded very punchy with either amp, and I didn't miss the higher power of the NAD when I played rock (lots of it). These speakers are very amplifier friendly!
Audio/Video Performance with Movies
Ah . . . this is what does it for the SR5000. For less then what you'd have to pay for certain universal remotes, you get DD and DTS. The usual DD and DTS spectaculars did the rounds. Again, it was against the venerable DC-1. Was the Lexicon embarrassed? Not a chance! Was the SR5000 badly bruised? Nope. While I used the SR5000 for all of two weeks, I did miss the DC-1's (still) remarkable processing prowess. However, if I wanted a good time with my movies, I could certainly have it with the SR5000. There was punch and pace with my usual benchmarks like "Speed", "Jurassic Park", "True Lies", "Dragonheart" and "The Rock" (all on Dolby Digital/DTS LD). Low bass was plentiful and quite good, though without that last bit of definition I get with the DC-1. My Velodyne FSR-18 was an invaluable tool with which I could detect difference in delineation in the lowest registers. But none of these faults keep me from enjoying the sonic landscape. It was a different matter with the video switcher, however. Whether I watched LD or DVD, colors appeared quite unnatural and washed out. Not just in the dark areas but in the light areas as well. Sunlight, which was natural and orange through the DC-1 or my Crystal Vision VPS-1 outboard comb filter, was just plain bright and ugly via the SR5000. This is probably a bandwidth issue in the receiver's video switching circuitry. Stay away from using the S-Video connections on the receiver, and connect the video directly from your DVD or LD player to your TV!
One last thing. The remote was a shame. I frequently had to press anything twice before the SR5000 would respond. Get a universal remote, learn the codes from the SR5000 and use that instead.
This is tremendous value. It has some shortcomings that can be overcome and represents a real budget performer. Recommended for starters.
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Theater & High Fidelity