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  1. I recently swapped out the Onkyo HT receiver with a pristine Marantz 8801 pre pro that I picked up for a great price and wanted to give some impressions, as I, like others, rely a lot on reading up on different brands and equipment when purchasing something that I haven't owned previously. To put this into perspective a bit, this is by no means some technical measurement with regards to one versus another, nor is it implying that because I happen to like something better, that you will. I've run through quite a few setups over the years, 4 or 5 different Onkyo HT receivers, Outlaw pre pro, Revox and Saba equipment (way back in the beginning 30+ years ago) and currently for pure 2 channel listening, I really still like my big old Sansui 8080, unfortunately, I only have room for so much gear in my main listening area so it's give and take between HT and 2.1 audio. I played with an inexpensive used Marantz HT receiver a couple years ago that I had picked up for the shop, just because it had a usb port on it and I could use it instead of having a cd player in that environment, but it sounded so smooth to my ears, that I knew I would eventually get a better piece to incorporate into my main system, and I'm glad that I did. I hooked up the 8801 yesterday, still powering everything with QSC on the 7's and XPA 5 on the other channels, but the sound coming out of the Marantz is noticeably different than any Onkyo I've owned over the last 30 years, the outlaw, and various other pieces that have lived a short life in any of my systems. It's always about what I hear and what I like versus what I can measure and prove out, which is really pointless, if in the end, it doesn't sound better to you. I listened to a lot of material that would be considered my "go to music" that I'm extremely familiar with and while I hear all of the detail, and then some, compared to the Onkyo I pulled out, the Marantz, at the same time, had a much smoother and more appealing sound, much like my Sansui, or any of the Saba gear that I ran for years. The imagining was completely different and I was fooled into believing that the processor was in the wrong mode and that my center was in the loop and pushing out a lot of db's, but when I walked up towards the unit, I was shocked to find out that it was in the right "stereo" mode and the center wasn't playing anything at all, but the sound stage was all right in front of me without there being such a defined left and right speaker (except where that was intentionally part of the recording), I was very pleased to say the least. The networking and ability to utilize DLNA with my PC has been something that I've been looking forward to for a while, and even though I had a workaround with my last unit, it was a PITA to operate but now it's finally all at my fingertips. Setup and the 200 page manual were all very straight forward (although I got a little frustrated wondering why I wasn't getting sound from some of the channels) except for me forgetting to switch the inputs on the XPA from unbalanced to balanced. Just one persons opinion and I'm sure that a few years down the road, or when I run across a deal that I can't pass up on what was once, a $10,000 pre/pro, or amp, I'll try to find another unicorn (that's all this is), but for now, given patience, some wisdom as to how and when I want to spend money on "upgrades", I'm at another point where I'm really satisfied with my main rig, from T.V., pre/pro, amps and my aging RF's, I'll add another couple of channels when the right set comes along, but unless someone comes along wanting to blow out of their KI-396's, I'm really not hunting any more gear for a while.
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