Marantz’s new A/V receivers skimp on size, not on features

Marantz is readying its latest pair of Slimline network receivers, the NR1508 and NR1608, and audiophiles, videophiles, and minimalists alike should take note. Svelte, capable, and loaded with features, the latest from Marantz are tasked with delivering powerful sights and sounds from a very small package.

The first of the pair, the NR1508 ($549), is a feature-rich receiver for its price point. It packs six HDMI inputs, and support for a 5.2-channel speaker setup with a 5-channel discrete power amplifier, delivering 50 watts per channel at 8 ohms.

On the audio side, the receiver supports Dolby True HD and DTS-HD decoding. As for streaming, the receiver boasts WiFi and Ethernet to stream hi-res files from a NAS drive at up to 24bit/192khz and DSD files at 5.6MHz, as well as offering a USB port for plugging in directly. On-board streaming applications include TuneIn Internet Radio, as well as Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, iHeart Radio, Sirius XM, Sound Cloud, Tidal, Napster, and Deezer. You can also stream music from a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth or Apple Airplay.

In addition, the NR1508 can also act as a central hub for your HEOS multiroom speaker setup, which can be controlled via your iOS or Android device through the HEOS app. It also features an intelligent Eco mode which minimizes power reduction without affecting playback.

When it comes to video, the receiver offers everything you’ll need, including 4K video passthrough at 60fps and support for HDR, including HDR10 and Dolby Vision, as well as the up-and-coming Hybrid Gamma Log via a future firmware update.

For a $200 upgrade the NR1608 ($749) ups the ante, offering eight HDMI inputs and a 7-channel power amplifier that delivers the same 50 watts per channel at 8 ohms. In addition, the 1608 folds in support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based surround sound (5.1.2), alongside Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD in both 5.1 and 7.1.

It also, of course, maintains support for 4K Ultra HD content at 60fps, as well as the full list of HDR formats, including HDR10, Dolby Vision and High Gamma Log HDR passthrough (again via a future update). For those wanting to dig further back into their movie library, the NR1608 also offers upscaling for DVDs to 4K Ultra HD resolution, along with audio enhancement for Dolby Surround sound via Neural:X processing.

The NR1608 also gives users the ability to fine-tune their audio settings with Audyssey MeltEQ calibration through the Audyssey Editor app, and video settings with ISF video calibration. Equally, automated features like Audyssey Dynamic EQ helps keep the details even when listening at lower volume, while Dynamic volume keeps volume level steady — no more sudden spikes in volume during those commercial breaks.

HEOS multiroom features are also expanded on the HR1608, allowing for both single-source and multi-source playback. Finally, the Intelligent Eco mode present in the NR1508 is also included in the NR1608.Despite the greatly expanded feature set, the NR1608 is still just a sleek as its sibling, both of which stand at just 4.1 inches tall, and will easily fit right into your entertainment system.

Both the NR1508 and NR1608 will be available in May at $549 and $749 respectively.