Marantz sets sail with flagship preamplifer/processor

marantz av8801 flagship preamp is ready to set sailHome theater isn’t merely about the size of the screen or the resolution of the picture. Those are obviously important considerations, but video is just half the story in any home theater. The audio is the other half of the equation, and for those who take it seriously, the Marantz AV8801 AV preamplifier/processor is serious indeed.

This reference series 11.2-channel unit – which has been designed as a companion for the new flagship MM8077 Power Amp – features a toroidal power supply, Marantz’s HDAM and High Current Feedback technology, and a copper-plated chassis. It offers 4K video capability and 3D pass-through, along with Apple’s AirPlay, allowing users to easily stream iTunes music from a Mac, PC or iOS device including the iPhone and iPad.

The MM8077 also includes multi-DSP audio processing to tackle a range of surround sound decoding modes – including support for high-resolution audio formats – and multi-channel decoding, including Audyssey DSX and DTS Neo: X, which provides users the ability to add front height or width channels to existing home theaters. The audio section is equipped with the latest high resolution 192 kHz/32-bit DACs on all channel. Plus, it can decode WAV, FLAC and ALAC audio files, and includes gapless audio playback.

It is further equipped with both unbalanced (RCA) and balanced (XLR) audio outputs, plus there is a built-in HD Radio tuner and an included phono input for playback of vinyl records.

On the video end, it has the ability to upconvert SD and HD to Ultra High Definition (4K), and it can also accept and pass-through 4K content. Additionally, it features advanced high resolution video processing and decoding, and is equipped with video upscaling that upconverts standard definition (SD) video sources from legacy components to high definition.

The AV8801 is about as hard-core a pre-amp as you might want – it certainly has us drooling – but its price is equally hard-core. Plan on shelling out about $3600 for this beast.