24-Bit Audio Renaissance Throws Spotlight on Marantz

The 24-bit audio renaissance has thrown new light on the Marantz AV receiver fleet. The line has long wrestled to escape the shadow of stablemate Denon, so dominated in home cinema sales, but with growing interest in high res content, these audio-centric offerings, tuned by legendary Marantz brand ambassador Ken Ishiwata, demand respectful evaluation.

Certainly, there’s some great functionality built-in to these Bluetooth-ready Wi-Fi boxes. Connect via a mobile device and the AVRs automatically power up. A dual purpose Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antenna keep things neat and tidy, while an enhanced setup assistant simplifies system hook-up. Up to eight BT devices can be paired in memory.

All these new season receivers are forward looking. They sport HDMI 2.0 inputs, for full compatibility with 4K UHD TV at 60Hz, with full chroma subsampling at 4:4:4. Interestingly, none of the receivers have HDCP 2.2 copy protection, not least because the relevant silicon is not yet widely available to manufacturers; however it’s unclear just how significant this omission is. We probably won’t know the ramifications until an assortment of 4K content sources become available.

Another intriguing new feature on these AVRs is Eco mode. This aims to reduce power consumption by as much as 50 per cent, yet claims to have no impact on audio performance.

Leading this rejuvenated Marantz charge is the SR7009. A beautifully turned out  nine channel amplifier, it offers seven HDMI inputs and is capable of 11.2 channel processing with 13.2 pre-outs. If you really want to surround yourself with a forest of floorstanders, you can! Channel power output is rated at 200W. The feature specification is similarly generous. Most significantly, it’s Dolby Atmos compatible. The new 3D sound format may only be available on a handful of Blu-ray releases, including Transformers Age of Extinction and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it’s been a hot topic with home cinephiles since its introduction. Bringing new levels of sonic immersion courtesy of a dedicated height channel, as well as more refined image placement, Dolby Atmos has been hailed as the biggest thing to hit home theatre since Dolby Digital 5.1.-FQZr-r1OozMpFnVaCYJ4g14y35Eus8GqjrSni_WWKY

What’s more, Soundmag has heard that the SR7009 is also in line for a firmware upgrade which will make it compatible with rival next generation sound format Auro-3D. This will be an optional charged upgrade, but gives a unique claim to fame over many rival receivers. We expect details on Auro-3D software to be released in the coming months.

The SR7009 also offers native streaming support for DSD 2.8MHz and AIFF audio files, along with more common codecs and wrappers. For optimum clarity, it also boasts the brand’s latest clock jitter remastering wizardry, as well as auto calibration in the form of Audyssey XT32.

If you’re not sold on the benefits of Dolby Atmos, then the Marantz SR6009 could be a great alternative buy. It shares much in common with its bigger brother, including audiophile grade components and sound tuning, but is a seven channel design with a rated power output of 185w per channel; this just pips Marantz’ entry-level receiver, the SR5009, which in turn is rated at 150w per channel.

Those looking for that distinctive, almost analogue, Marantz sound, might also want to audition the brand’s slimline NR1605 AVR. This Bluetooth Wi-Fi model also supports 4K 60Hz HDMI 2.0 pass, and has excellent file support, including DSD 2.8MHz, but has none of the bulk of its bigger brothers. Distribution is via QualiFi.

For more information: www.marantz.com.au

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