MARANTZ NA 6005 NET­WORK PLAYER

NET­WORK PLAYER

Australian HIFI - - CONTENTS -

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.

THE EQUIP­MENT

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.

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