How Important Are SOA Home Theater Processors?

The processor is the heart of a home theater. Every source goes in, is processed, flavored with DSP, and sent to the various channels. I wonder how much difference there is between an entry level processor (NOT a receiver, a separate) and a flagship? Is squeezing more and more features into the same box a positive? Are you paying for features like Imax Enhanced or DTS-X with very little content on discs and even less content being streamed? Do you really need more than a 7.2.4 setup? Do you really need SOA room correction or simply good room correction in a well treated room? Does it make sense to have the $$$ DAC in your processor when you know it will get stale in 5 years or better to put the money saved from an upgrade into a separate DAC? I see prices going up but question a lot of these additional channels/features as an upgrade, maybe just different rather than better.

Anyone do a processor upgrade and feel underwhelmed by their investment? Anyone do a processor upgrade and was blown away?


There can be a large difference in performance between a cheap surround pre and a better-made one. I had a Rockford-Fosgate surround pre, and after it died, I bought an Arcam FMJ  AV-9 processor, large differnce in sound quality and performance.



It has been a while since I have chosen a surround processor, but have listened to a few newer ones. I have a high end Meridian. And the rules of audio completely apply to surround processors. The higher quality / less featured processors tend to sound a lot better. The designers have to put in careful work in routing the signal, the power supply, and sub component’s sonic character. All this cost money.


This signal then goes to your amps… also important. The better the signal the better the sound out of the amps.


On the other hand, when watching video you are distracted so, most folks are a bit less sensitive to nuances. But it is still really important for me.


Which number of channels you want are going to depend on how much you appreciate the directionality vs the quality of the sound. Unless, you are really wealthy there is going to be a trade off.



The Marantz 8805 can be found on certain online stores for around $2500 with a 3 YR warranty vs the new Marantz A10 for$7K. The Anthem AVM70 is $3500 new vs the AVM90 for $7K.

Worth it? I am only interested in better SQ, not different features.

I'm not sure about flagship vs. entry level, but I can tell you the difference between brands when I last compared was absolutely huge.  Anthem and Oppo were near the top, while Onkyo and Emotiva and Marantz were really not good at all, and sounded really thin. 

This is why I hung onto my Theta Casanova far after it was too old for HDMI.

If you’re looking for a warmer sound the 8805 is probably a good choice, but if you prefer more transparency and detail the AMV70 would likely be better.  Not sure what room correction the Marantz uses, but Anthen’s ARC system is very highly regarded.  Is this primarily for HT or is 2-channel important too?

Thanks, in my system I have a 2 channel preamp/streamer that uses ARC. My Marantz processor has the paid $200 upgrade for Audyssey (not the $20 app upgrade) and a calibrated mic. I couldn't say one is better, maybe because I have a well treated room. The version of Audyssey that uses the mic that comes with the processor is a noticeable step down than either version.

I do like a warmer sound with music. Accessories4less has the 8805 for around $2500, 3 YR warranty which is around 50% of the MSRP. I don't need the 8K upgrade with my PJ so that might be worth a try.

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I see user posts like this one and that is what got me thinking if it is better to upgrade sources instead of the processor. Someone listed a Marantz 7706 processor for under $3K and had this to say. I have seen similar posts from customers who have owned both brands:

Marantz 7706

Almost newused 3 months ... great sound/flexability. Replaced a McIntosh MX-170 ($15,500) after lightning strike killed the McIntosh and was as good to my eyes and ears.