Perhaps the most exciting new feature that the SR6004 offers is its Bluetooth connectivity. Since it doesn’t offer a network interface, the receiver’s Bluetooth and USB connectivity are likely to be the most heavily used input sources. We tested each one of these inputs using our iPhone 3G, first with compressed files, then with uncompressed files. What we found was that the all digital USB interface was clearly superior in sound quality with uncompressed files and less distinctly so with compressed music. The Bluetooth interface, however, was significantly more convenient. We were able to control everything from our phone from across the room and, in some cases, from adjacent rooms. When we moved out of range, the music stopped, then resumed once we were back in range of the receiver. With Marantz’s M-DAX processing engaged, we noticed a considerable improvement in the high frequency response, but it was still pretty obvious that the source was compressed to begin with.
The first track off of Mark Knopfler’s Get Lucky release opens with eerie woodwinds backed by a lush string section, then bursts into a double-time groove that takes off – just like the big rig truck the song is written about. During the quiet opening, the SR6004 exposed a tremendous amount of air around the Scottish flute and gave us a real sense of texture as bows etched across strings. When the rhythm section kicked in, so did the Marantz’s prodigious power supply – bass was taught, punchy and balanced against the terrific transients of the acoustic guitar. We’ve listened to this track through several systems, and it has often had a rather flat, compressed sound stage, but the SR6004 breathed a life of depth into the recording that was very satisfying.
For multi-channel music, we queued up Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on SACD and kicked back as the room lit up with instruments from every direction. We’ve heard this recording dozens of times, but listening to it through the SR6004 was an entirely different experience. There was remarkable separation amongst the channels while simultaneously maintaining musical cohesion. Each layer of the recording was well-balanced and crystal clear.
For movie playback, we put the SR6004 through a series of speaker configurations. Most receivers support either a 7.1 speaker configuration or a 5.1 configuration with the option to add “height speakers” supported by Pro-Logic IIz, but not both at the same time. The SR6004 is one of the few receivers available that will allow both in tandem. You may also forego height speakers and use the outputs to bi-amplify your front speakers or run a pair of speakers in another room. This flexibility allowed us to run our full 7.1 system and include the height speakers at our discretion. It didn’t take much listening to conclude that the SR6004 really did behave more like separate components than it did a receiver. The clean channel separation, lack of crosstalk, instant power and super low audible distortion levels all pointed to a Pre-Amp/Processor and 7 channel amplifier combo. By offering such exemplary performance from a receiver, Marantz has made it considerably more difficult to make the leap to separate components.
To be frank, we were finding it difficult to sniff out any weak points that the SR6004 might exhibit. So, we subjected it to a barrage of tests to determine the quality of each of its components and, in the end, we were impressed that the SR6004 managed to pass each with flying colors. We even stacked its on-board DACs against those found in high-end SACD and Blu-Ray players and found that in most cases, the Marantz’s decoding actually sounded better. It is true that the SR6004 doesn’t offer THX processing, but its absence was hardly noticed and should only be a factor of consideration for those that really enjoy THX flavor of processing.
The Marantz SR6004 is perhaps the best sounding receiver in its price class that we’ve had the pleasure of testing. It pairs cutting-edge technology, top quality components, breathtaking sound, high style and extreme flexibility to culminate in what we would feel safe calling “the audiophile’s receiver.” In short, if you long for the sound of separate components, but crave the convenience of a receiver, then the SR6004 is your ticket to audio paradise.
- Superb sound
- Bluetooth and USB connectivity
- 7.1, multi-zone and bi-amp capable
- Pro-Logic IIz support
- No THX processing
- Only one S-Video input