Denon and Marantz AVRs Receive eARC and IMAX Enhanced Firmware Updates

Denon and Marantz AVRs Receive eARC and IMAX Enhanced Firmware Updates

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(November 4, 2018) Both Denon and Marantz have issued milestone firmware updates for select models in their receiver lineups. According to the companies, the updates unlock Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC), IMAX Enhanced functionality, and Smart Remote Management (SMR) and Web UI capabilities.

A Sound United press release indicates that all eligible Denon and Marantz AVRs and processors are receiving eARC functionality, which is an HDMI 2.1 specification feature that’s backwards compatible with HDMI 2.0 gear. eARC allows uncompressed DTS:X and Dolby Atmos codecs (in addition to 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, 7.1 DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, and 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) to pass from a TV to a receiver or processor. In addition to other audio enhancements, eARC also unlocks a communication channel that allows an AVR to tell a TV which sound formats it supports, thus guaranteeing the best possible format is automatically selected.

IMAX Enhanced is also making its first appearance in both Denon and Marantz gear. Owners of the flagship X8500H and AV8805 AVRs will be the first to enjoy IMAX Enhanced content once it becomes available. According to Sound United: “With meticulous adjustments modeled on how the IMAX theatrical sound system operates, this proprietary IMAX audio mix is translated for home theatre environments and exclusively delivered using a special variant of the DTS:X codec technology integrated in home entertainment equipment to deliver immersive, powerful sound.”

AV NIRVANA has requested more information from IMAX, Xperi, and Sound United to further understand IMAX Enhanced and its true real-world impact.

Finally, Denon’s AVR-X8500 and Marantz’s AV8805 and SR8012 are getting a remote management boost at the hands of monitoring made available by ihiji and Domotz pro. This feature is meant for the custom install segment, further enhancing the brands' desirability in the home theater installer market.
 
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Matthew J Poes

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I look forward to finding out more what imax enhanced really is. Is it a quality standard? Special processing? Both? Something else entirely?
 

Todd Anderson

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It’s a little bit of everything. On the retail side, it’s a certification badge that will be awarded to gear that meets specific performance requirments.

On the content side, IMAX is saying saying that films will undergo unique post production processing for sharper/better 4K HDR images... and that a special variant of DTS:X... a performance optimized variant.... is being used.

It’s not clear what that means and how it will translate to a real-world audible difference.
 
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Robert Zohn

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At CEDIA this year Sound United (Marantz) and IMAX had live IMAX demonstrations from a demo BD. In Sound United booth they had a dedicated theater that showcased Marantz's AV8805 processor feeding two MM8077 7 channel power amps with Panasonic's UB820 BD player all feeding Sony's new VW995ES 4K Laser projector.

Can't say it was IMAX special sauce or just the world class system, but the demo delivered the best UHD/HDR experience of the show and the best that I have ever seen and heard.

Here's another special feature that will soon be officially announced by Sound United, but owners of Denon's AVR8805, Marantz's, SR8012 and the AV9905 will be able to ship the receiver/processor back to Marantx for a true HDI 2.1 hardware upgrade when the new HDMI 2.1 SoCs become available. I expect a charge, but that's not know at this time.

No other brand of receivers or processors have a HDMI 2.1 upgrade path.
 

Todd Anderson

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I spent quite a bit of time at their booth but skipped their demo - shouldn’t have ! ;-)

I don’t think the 2.1 chipsets are quite ready yet - have you been told differently, Robert?

Just to clarify - both NAD and Emotiva are modular and will offer upgrades to 2.1 at some point in the future. The other big players - Yamaha, Onkyo, Pioneer, etc... I don’t believe have announced upgrades, but you’d have to imagine they will. It will be impossible for them to stay competitive as the 2.1 frontier arrives.
 

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I don't know when we'll see 2.1 HDMI chip sets. But when Sound United has the HDMI 2.1 chips and boards ready they will offer the hardware upgrade to existing owners.

Sorry I did not know NAD and Emotiva would also be offering HDMI 2.1 upgrades. Thanks for correcting me!
 

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My impression is that it’s going to be a while...

I’ll poke around and see if other manufacturers will be offering upgrades... I think you’re right, tho. Not many others have been advertising it.

If I read correctly, it’s only flagship models from Denon and Marantz (covered)?

Robert, what’s the chatter on the TV side. Are manufacturers indicating we might see it at CES?
 

Robert Zohn

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Yes, the HDMI 2.1 hardware upgrade option is limited to Denon's AVRX8500H, Marantz's AV8805 processor and the AV8012 receiver.

No official word at this moment as the TV manufacturers are holding all of the spec's confidential, but my take is no HDMI 2.1 for the 2019 model year.
 

Todd Anderson

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SVS Ultra Center
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SVS Ultra Surround
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dual SVS SB16s + dual PSA XS30s
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Behringer 1124p; Aura Bass Shaker Pros; SuperSub X
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JVC RS520
Screen
Carada Cine-White 0 gain
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I’m ok with that.. in some ways it feels like things are moving a tad too fast. - a leader from the HDMI consortium told me (CES) that it would be a while before the SoCs would hit production. At that time he thought it would be at least until the end of the year. But there was very little 2.1 hype at CEDIA, know what I mean? It feels like it’s still a ways off.

Interesting that Sound United has opted to dangle the upgrade for its top-end buyers. Definitely not comforting to midrange buyers!
 

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My impression is that it’s going to be a while...

I’ll poke around and see if other manufacturers will be offering upgrades... I think you’re right, tho. Not many others have been advertising it.

If I read correctly, it’s only flagship models from Denon and Marantz (covered)?

Robert, what’s the chatter on the TV side. Are manufacturers indicating we might see it at CES?
I cannot confirm if chipsets are ready, but I can confirm that SoundUnited particularly Marantz and Denon stated that they would be upgrading the boards of those who purchased their flagship pre-pros and AVR's. I bought two 8805's for that very reason.
 
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