MARANTZ NA 6005 NETWORK PLAYER
A great streamer that ticks all the boxes with its extraordinary connectivity, its ability to play back any music file type and that it’s super-easy to connect and operate.
Check the capabilities, features—and specifications!—of Marantz’s NA 6005 Network player and you’ll find it hard to reconcile them with the recommended retail price, let alone the ‘haggle’ price.
Marantz’s NA 6005 is definitely a ‘network’ player, in that if you connect it to your computer network (via Ethernet or WiFi), it’ll give you access to any music you have stored on the hard drive of your computer or on standalone attached storage (a NAS drive). And it really doesn’t matter how that music is stored, the NA 6005 will find all your albums (and/or tracks) and play them for you: WAV, FLAC, MP3… whatever… at up to 24-bit/192kHz. Even if you’ve stored your music as DSD files, it will find and play these too, at up to 2.8/5.6MHz. If your computer network is connected to the Internet, the Marantz NA 6005 will also give you super-easy access to Internet radio and Spotify Connect.
‘But wait!’, as the voice-over in the latenight TV commercials always says, ‘there’s more!’ … to the NA 6005’s interconnectiveness than just this: You can also wirelessly access music stored on your iDevice or Android device, via AirPlay or Bluetooth.
But wait… there’s even more! If you’d like to spin discs and your CD spinner has an optical digital output, you can connect your player directly to the NA 6005.
You can also input via USB, so if your portable device has a USB output, it can connect to the socket on the front panel, in which case the NA 6005 will charge your device at the same time it’s playing the content stored on it.
As you can see for yourself from the photographs illustrating this review, despite being a ‘new’ type of component, Marantz has applied the same cosmetic styling found on other current-generation Marantz models, so if you have other Marantz components, it will be a visual match. To the right of the display is a transport control that allows you to play and stop tracks, as well as pause them, skip forward tracks (or skip back tracks), or fast forward (or fast reverse) inside a track. These transport controls are mirrored on the remote that’s provided with the NA 6005 (and provided free, not as an added-cost extra, as is becoming increasingly common these days), so you can perform all these functions from the remote as well (plus many more).
I think Marantz has been very clever to provide this type of operability, because it means that once you’ve found an album on your server, and started playing it, you can use the same ‘familiar’ controls you’ve become used to when playing your CD player… or at least familiar to those users who own (or owned) a CD player. And the fact that they’re laid out in a fashion similar to those found on portable music players mean they’ll also be familiar to the iPod generation.
The controller panel to the left of the display is not labelled (or identified in the manual!) but is used for navigation within, say, your NAS drive, once you’ve selected that drive using the ‘input’ selector. (These ‘inputs’ are actually ‘Setup’, ‘Favourites Call’, ‘Internet Radio’, ‘Music Server’, ‘Bluetooth’, ‘iPod/USB’ and ‘Optical’.)
IN USE AND OPERATION
I’d be the first to say that having your music stored on a network makes a lot of sense, and gives enormous flexibility. However this does require you to have a network with suitable components, and if you don’t, you may require someone with computer skills to set up the NA 6005 for you. For example, Marantz recommends you use the NA 6005 with a router that has a built-in DHCP server (which automatically assigns IP addresses) and a built-in 100BASE-TX switch.
I’d be the first to say that having your music stored on a network makes a great deal of sense, and also gives enormous flexibility
Most routers will have both, but yours may not. My advice is to make sure your hi-fi dealer is happy to come to your home and set up the NA 6005 if you run into any problems doing it yourself.
That said, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to connect the NA 6005 to my own home computer network. I simply plugged it (wired connection) into my router, told the NA 6005 to search for a network and less than 60 seconds later it had found the network and located the folders on my NAS drive. Then it was simply a matter of pressing the input button until ‘Music Server’ showed, then the ‘Enter’ button to show those folders and select between them. Then, using the up/ down arrows on the selector button, I could scroll through my albums, and once I found one I wanted to play, pressing ‘Enter’ again would start playback, after which I could use the controls on the right of the display to stop, pause etc, as I noted earlier. It was all pretty intuitive, and I could do all this using only the front panel buttons, or with the infrared remote control. Although I didn’t use it for this review, I also disconnected the Ethernet cable and set-up the NA 6005 wirelessly, using a similarly straight-forward set-up procedure (clearly described in the manual, which is provided on CD-ROM) without running into any issues at all.
When I tried to connect the NA 6005 the hard way (by manually entering the SSID and Network details) I found that the alpha-numeric buttons on the remote that are supposed to make this easy didn’t work, so I had to do it even more laboriously using the front panel buttons. This is so basic that I assumed it was a glitch with my particular remote (or with my understanding of how to do it), but you could check this at the time of purchase.
I also had a few issues with Marantz’s app. My first problem was that I loaded completely the wrong app (one titled ‘Marantz Remote App’) for the NA 6005 and it was only after almost an hour of trying to get this app to work that it finally informed me that it wasn’t compatible with the NA 6005. I then went to the app store and loaded the correct app (which is called ‘Marantz Hi-Fi Remote’) which loaded beautifully and located my NA 6005 and music in a matter of seconds. I think the different Marantz remote apps should be more clearly identified.
Once it loaded I was a bit surprised at how basic the app is—particularly since Marantz presumably has access to coding used in Denon’s HEOS system, since the two brands are owned by the same company—but the fact that the ‘Hi-Fi Remote’ app is so basic makes it quite easy and intuitive to use, and it certainly did everything I want an app to do, which is find and play tracks and albums and create, store and play playlists. My only gripe was that if I took too long to do something, it would occasionally take me back to the root folder of my NAS, so I’d have to start over again. Once or twice during the time I had the NA 6005 on loan, the app also occasionally just stopped working. Both these issues could have been caused by my long-in-the-tooth Android phone, rather than by the app itself, but this, too, is something you could also easily check at the time of purchase. (And once again, is yet another good reason you should buy from a bricks ‘n mortar hi-fi specialist retailer.)
Sonically, the NA 6005 delivers everything you’d expect from a product with the Marantz pedigree. The delivery of bass is precise, with all the pace, rhythm and timing you could wish for, combined with depth and a wonderful fullness to the bass sound. I was thrilled with the way the NA 6005 delivered Mama K and the Big Love’s debut album ‘Blind’, with its infectious take on what the band itself calls ‘heathen gospel’. Who’d have thought a band hailing from Tassie could deliver R&B that, but for its Aussie twist, could otherwise have been piped in direct from America’s south. The chunky driving bass is always to the fore, presumably because most of the songs were written by the band’s bassist, David Johnstone, and if you’re the one writing the songs, you may as well give yourself some of the best musical lines, but what makes the album totally infectious is the vocal energy created by the three lead singers, Crystal Campbell, Wendy Moles and Kartika Franks. I just loved the funky syncopated sounds on This Man, along with the brass arrangements.
Listen to While Others Sleep for more, this time with keyboards thrown in to good effect. The clarity of the vocals in this track is amazingly good, particularly against the complexity of the background sound… did I mention the recording quality is great as well? (It was recorded and produced by Stewart Long (Violent Femmes) at Red Planet Recording using a 1975 vintage Harrison 24/32 recording console and mixed to a Studer B67 open reel analogue machine.) I wasn’t overly enamoured of the track that seems to be getting the most airplay ( Moth to the Flame) and I certainly hate the video of it, but I do really like the lyric. The Right Time has to be my favourite track on a disc that’s full of favourite tracks, great bass lines, terrific drumming, amazing keyboards and beautifully interwoven vocals. A standout… though the lyric may not play well with the feminista.
The arrival of the NA 6005 coincided with the arrival of the first album in over seventeen years from punk sensations At The Drive-In and tracks such as Governed by Contagion showed the band hasn’t lost its fire: ‘ There’s a woman eating her newborn/Under a tractor’s frame’ and the Marantz NA 6005 proved that it’s more than up to the task of delivering sonic mayhem and thrash with the very best of them. The sound is wild and distorted, and the NA 6005 preserved and delivered it flawlessly. On lesser players the sound comes through as merely ‘chaotic’, but it takes only a few moments listening to the NA 6005 to hear the method in the madness and the musical artistry that’s woven into the fabric of the music.
The arrival in Australia of Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper’s hit musical ‘Kinky Boots’—plus concerts by the lady herself— triggered a local revival in her music, one enthusiastically welcomed by yours truly.