The Marantz NR1604, expected to sell for $650, will offer 7-channel surround sound and have AirPlay built-in for wireless streaming directly from iTunes on a Mac or PC, or from an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. It also hosts a whopping seven HDMI inputs, five analog video inputs, 3D pass-through and support for next-generation displays capable of reproducing 4K/Ultra HD video. Part of that includes 4K up-conversion from HD sources using a video processor that is also able to up-convert standard definition content to HD.
The NR1604 will also include multi-zone functionality in that audio can be pushed from one room to another by using an additional pair of speakers. Configuration options also mean that users can opt to go with a 5.1 setup in one room and have audio play on two other speakers in a different room to make use of the two extra channels the unit can handle. They can also play separately, so that a movie could play on 5.1 in the living room, for example, while someone else could listen to music from speakers in another.
On the networking side, both units will be able to stream thousands of Internet radio stations and streaming services like, Pandora, Spotify and SiriusXM. Wired connections for iOS devices can be found on the front panel’s USB port, though it’s universal, so it can be used to charge non-Apple devices as well. Marantz says a USB thumb drive or external hard drive can be plugged into the port to play back stored audio content. Bluetooth isn’t built into the device, so it requires an optional RX-101 wireless adapter to enable streaming from portable devices using the standard. There is no Wi-Fi built-in, nor an adapter to enable it, so Ethernet is the only option unless users want to invest in a wireless bridge.
The Marantz Setup Assistant has been designed to get the receivers up and running quickly after being unboxed, and as a way to acclimate new users unfamiliar with the brand. Setup and configuration is managed through the graphical user interface on the unit, while connection options in the back for audio, video and speakers have been separated into specific blocks to avoid confusion.
The Audyssey MultEQ system measures acoustics and is designed to simplify the process of optimizing the home theater setup for the best fidelity. There is a supplied microphone that can measure the characteristics of each speaker in the system, plus the subwoofer, and then make the necessary adjustments for tonality and balance over the entire audio range.
The NR1504, selling at an MSRP of $500, doesn’t sport a feature set nearly as rich as the NR1604. It lacks 4K pass-through and upscaling, and standard definition up-conversion. It does have AirPlay, though, which is an improvement over last year’s entry-level model, and an impressive six HDMI inputs, including one in the front. The NR1504 is also a 5.1 receiver, not 7.1, so rear surround speakers and powered second zone audio are out of the picture. Still, Marantz sound with Airplay and a host of inputs at $500 looks pretty good.
Marantz hasn’t yet announced when the new receivers will actually ship. but we’re holding out for late spring.
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