I've used the Marantz AV8802 for years. It is an excellent processor for home theater. I use the Marantz for home theater only, I have never used the Marantz for 2-channel. I've never heard the Krell Foundation.
Here's something to think about:
Currently the tech landscape is changing, and the current pre/pros don't have the latest tech. If you are looking for something new now, you'll be lapped in about 2-3 months when the new gear comes out. For example, if you're looking to move to 4k (needing HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2) in the next 5 years, or want the latest codecs, neither pre/pro has them.
I'm in a similar situation, and I decided to get a really cheap pre/pro now, and move up to Anthem's new flagship which should come out in January.
"I just ordered the new Anthem AVM 60. It has HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 full 4K passthru all the latest codecs. It is 11.2 capable and the best part it is reasonably priced."
I have been eyeing the new Anthem ever since I read about it a couple of weeks ago. I am amazed how they can slash their price in half without degrading(I hope) the quality of the product.
You have some great choices...
You have not considered Meridian.
Meridian G65 is a very Powerful and Analog sounding Surround Sound processor made !
You can go Active or Passive with the Meridian system
We offer the G65 for $4999.00
Combine it with the Lexicon ZX-7 Amplifier for Retail $8000.00
Now at $4500.00 when purchased with the Meridian.
Buy the HD621 at $1999.00
This unit separates the Audio and video signal leaving the G65 with no Video noise, making it the best sounding processor out there.
I agree with Smer319. Meridian has, by far, the best sounding digital D/A's, DSP's and surround processors in the business. Don't believe it ? How's this for a comparison - in the new Automobile magazine the editors of Automobile and Sound and Vision tested and auditioned the highest end integrated car audio systems offered by Mercedes-Benz, Range Rover, Cadillac, Acura, Volvo, Lincoln, Bentley, Infiniti, etc.
The best sounding and measuring system, by a wide margin, was Meridian's system installation in a Range Rover. They beat out Bose, Burmeister, Naim, Krell, Revel, Sony, B&W and many others. Remember these were factory-installed multi-channel systems in $100K + cars. Bob Stuart and his colleagues at Meridian are so far out in front of everyone else on multi-channel digital, and "apodizing" A/D and D/A filters that it is doubtful that anyone can catch them. And this is coming from a die-hard analog guy.
Finally, when Meridian's "Master Quality Authenticated" (MQA) becomes the hi-rez audio standard, you are only a firmware change away. Everyone else will need a new processor to hear MQA to its best advantage.
The Krell Foundation will make the Marantz (and Denon) products sound soft, boring in comparison. The level of detail, the snap, the weight of instruments, voice, dialogue, etc. is night and day better. The Marantz/Denon gear is great stuff for the money, but the Foundation is HUGELY better in performance. :-)
I'm just curious why there's no mention of NAD's master series. They are the only units I know of with truly modular and upgradable construction, that actually gets upgraded! :)
I've not heard them though, but occasionally they come on sale and I am really tempted to pull the plug.
Excuse me, I meant to say the only "affordable" modular units. Of courses there is Theta and Digisat, but sky high prices for either and Theta's upgrade history is spotty in terms of staying current.
Anthem has sold many processors claiming to be upgradeable but AFAIK they rarely follow up in comparison to releasing brand new processors.
I see that everybody has their opinion what what is the best processor. Though, nobody really sat down and tried to answer the OPs question.
The Marantz is an economical giant corporation that has large teams of R&D. It also has a very large retail network and sells a lot of units. This means that the cost of the individual units are lower for what you are getting. The Marantz has a fully discrete analog section. They may even be fully balanced/differential. There’s definitely enough elements on each of their analog channels to have two individual op amp circuits for differential/balanced (as seen in below picture). I know hernanbob indicates the Marantz will sound soft/boring. This may have been true with the older generation (8801), but Marantz has re-designed their HDAM circuits to give you more slew rate (and therefore more detail/snap).
The Krell is a smaller company and has a very small retail network (in comparison to Mrantz). These economics mean that Krell has to charge more for their units to recoup R&D. This is a basic economic rule for all audio companies. The Krell Foundation may sound very good, as there are tons of very positive feedback. Based on the cost of the Foundation vs their fully discrete S-1200, and the fact the Krell doesn’t even mention "discrete" on the Foundation page (something they specifically make clear on the S-1200/707 pages), I think the Foundation uses only monolithic op amps. I think there’s a good enough power supply capacitance on the Foundation, which will be really good for bass/midbass on the op amps. I don’t know that they use their discrete power regulation (like S-1200/707). It’s really difficult to see, but they may be using the common LM78xx/LM79xx monolithic regulators. Has anyone opened up a Foundation to see? I do know that Krell normally has excellent power supply design in that they do have a shared transformer, but they have completely independent and isolated power supply sections (diode/rectifier, capacitor, regulator). I have never seen them cascade power supply sections like I have seen on other equipment (like feed the 17V power supply into the 5V power supply).
Both units support 4K and a variety of features, such as room correction. Marantz may have more input/output features (don’t know if this is important). The Foundation has excellent user feedback, but the Marantz also has positive reviews. In this case, I might actually lean towards the Marantz because of the discrete/balanced audio stages. The Marantz equipment has generally been very musical and nice/natural to listen to.
Please note that I have not heard either unit. Unless somebody has sat down and listened to BOTH of these units, I don’t know how accurate I would take someone’s assumption that "Krell is better than Marantz" (or vice-versa). As far as if the Krell is worth twice as much as the Marantz, I would say not. It may be worth a little more if someone has compared these two side-by-side and determined Krell sounded better, but the Krell equipment definitely reaches into the realm of diminishing returns (i.e. you will pay a lot more for a little bit of sound quality improvement).
@erik_squires - totally understand. Just chasing after the fastest slew rate is not a good idea (and I know you can get lightning fast op amps for cheap - they are all over the place). Actually, in my extensive R&D with DAC circuits, I have found that 20V/us slew rate is about the perfect slew for audio. A faster slew rate will actually translate waveforms to be faster than they should (i.e. you’ll see a push in the upper mids/highs). However, when the slew rate drops below 20V/us (such as 12V/us of the MUSES01 op amp), the sound will become warmer/fuller but it can also be described as slower/boring.
I was just trying to illustrate that Marantz has made a design change in their HDAM circuits from the older generations and I also read that slew rate was part of that.
Out of the ones you selected to my ears only the Anthem was a better sounding processor. The Marantz will provide you with a lot more features.
I am a Quested Speaker Dealer for South East Asia and have been through tons of processors including Datasat and Trinnov. After spending a lot of time with high end processors and mid level processors I have chosen the Anthem for my personal rooms.
I don't use room correction anymore, I work on the room and then the Processor EQ only. I find this method gives me better natural non fatiguing sound.
Clients can wish to buy what ever they can afford.
The Trinnov was a terrible sounding processor which has a ton of features often reshapring the sound to what ever suites you at the expense of more distortion adding into the chain. Mind you this is not actual distortion you would pin point out easily but Trinnov was the least natural sound processor even with all the Room correction turned off. Honestly I can never recommend this processor to anyone unless you absolutely need over 16 channels and you live in mansion.
Next up is the Datasat, All Room correction turned off, it still have a nice natural sound to it, their was a smoothness to the sound but tons of bass at the same time Datasat just overall sounding better than Trinnov room correction turned on or off.
Marantz Not bad, room correction sucks but you can bypass this and get outboard DSP Dirac boxes to do the room correction for you.
Anthem, similar sound to Datasat with extra features but probably not as flexible as Datasat when you need more pro level tools to work on getting things done right. Out of all the processor the AVM 60 when correctly setup with speaker and amplification gave me enough satisfaction as the Datasat in overall steering of the sound around the room and the bass to clarity.
Why spend 20,000 on a digital gear when you can match performance with 2500 dollars easily.