Home Cin­ema Has Never Been This Sim­ple

SoundMag - - Review - Writ­ten by Steve May

The NR1607 is the lat­est ad­di­tion to Marantz’s long-serv­ing ‘NR’ AV re­ceiver range. It’s prob­a­bly fair to say th­ese slim-line AVRs were treated with some sus­pi­cion by en­thu­si­asts when they first ap­peared, but over the years the ap­peal of half pint home cin­ema has clearly grown.

Af­ter all, not ev­ery­one wants a ruddy great am­pli­fier in their liv­ing room. They’re rarely ob­jects of beauty and the sheer com­plex­ity of the av­er­age home cin­ema sys­tem is more than enough to per­suade lesser mor­tals to opt for the sim­plic­ity of a sound­bar.

Marantz should be ap­plauded for try­ing to ad­dress both is­sues here.

The NR1607 is as liv­ing room friendly as any AVR as you can buy right now (al­though look out for the first Denon HEOS-branded AVR, due early next year, which takes a dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent cos­metic ap­proach).

Con­nec­tiv­ity is ex­cel­lent. There are seven rear-side HDMI in­puts, all of which sup­port 4K 60Hz with HDCP 2.2. But there’s only one HDMI out­put, so feed­ing a TV and a pro­jec­tor in the same room is go­ing to be a chal­lenge.

There are two dig­i­tal au­dio in­puts (one coax­ial, one dig­i­tal) plus legacy ana­logue in­puts.

The front panel fea­tures an ad­di­tional HDMI in­put and USB. Sys­tem con­trol can come via a 12v trig­ger and IR in/out. The sup­plied IR re­mote con­trol is help­fully back­lit.

Wi-Fi is in­te­grated, sup­ple­mented with Blue­tooth. On­board mu­sic ser­vices are a tad lim­ited though.

In­ter­net ra­dio is avail­able and you can net­work mu­sic via AIR­PLAY or Spo­tify Con­nect. If you want more sources, sim­ply con­nect a Chrome­cast don­gle or add an Ama­zon Dot.

In­stal­la­tion is pain­less. The NR1607 em­ploys a highly graphical user in­ter­face, which gen­tly holds your hand dur­ing setup. When it comes to us­abil­ity, the NR1607 proves as ac­com­mo­dat­ing as they come.

It quickly be­comes clear that cut­ting back on size doesn’t trans­late to fewer fea­tures. The NR1607 is 3D au­dio primed, with Dolby At­mos and DTS:X sup­port, and of­fers sup­port for the best in Hi-Res Au­dio.

This model is a seven chan­nel de­sign. This means you can run ei­ther a 5.1.2 At­mos loud­speaker con­fig­u­ra­tion, or ig­nore the height chan­nel and go for stan­dard 7.1 lay­out.

Power out­put is rated at a mod­est 7 x 50w (into 8 Ohm). There are also pre-outs for the main stereo pair.

To help with set-up, there’s Audyssey room cor­rec­tion on­board. There are sev­eral Audyssey flavours in the wild (MultEQ XT32, MultEQ XT), but this is the rather ba­sic MultEQ with 2x fil­ter res­o­lu­tion, and op­tional Dy­namic Volume and EQ. That said, it does a de­cent job. When set­ting up MultEQ you have a choice of six mon­i­tor­ing po­si­tions, with a min­i­mum of three.

There’s also sup­port for the Audssey app, which is some­thing new. The app was orig­i­nally seen as a pro tool, but now all own­ers can have a play.

One less ob­vi­ous im­prove­ment over what we’ve seen be­fore is HDMI pass-through. Pre­vi­ously, you’d have to turn the amp on to se­lect a par­tic­u­lar source, but now you can ac­tu­ally se­lect in­puts while the AVR re­mains in Standby. This is sur­pris­ingly use­ful.

There’s also been a tweak to the au­dio de­lay op­tion, ex­tend­ing the range to 500ms.

Marantz sug­gests the re­ceiver has been son­i­cally re­tuned, with the in­tro­duc­tion of new com­po­nents. I’m not about to dis­agree with this. There’s a smooth, re­fined note to the NR1607 that I didn’t hear on ear­lier ver­sions. The mid-range pre­sen­ta­tion is ex­cel­lent, with beau­ti­fully nat­u­ral vo­cal tonal­ity.

In­deed, this is a very nice sound­ing re­ceiver, one that’s more than up to de­liv­er­ing the kind of ex­cite­ment typ­i­cal of a sum­mer block­buster. In 5.1.2, us­ing two Dolby En­abled speak­ers, the AVR dis­penses a huge, ex­cit­ing sound­field.

A gen­uinely im­mer­sive 3D soundt­stage is cre­ated with Dolby At­mos trail­ers like Amaze and Leaf. In

Dolby’s trop­i­cal for­est, wings cir­cle around your head, rain fails from the ceil­ing and thun­der rip­ples like an an­gry god.

DTS:X may be play­ing catch-up with Dolby

At­mos when it comes to con­tent, but it’s just as en­ter­tain­ing. If you want the NR1607 to show you a crazy good time, give The Last Witch Hunter (on Blu-ray) a spin – the DTS:X sound mix is a blast.

Sim­i­larly Rio 2 will do a great job of trans­form­ing your room into a dizzy­ing mael­strom of squawk­ing par­rots.

Of course, it’s not just movies which sound great in im­mer­sive au­dio. Mu­sic also ben­e­fits. The DTS:X mix of Mor­gan Page’s club track Against The World, dis­penses high en­ergy through ev­ery chan­nel – lift­ing the cho­rus in the height chan­nel, and rout­ing synths to the rear. Mu­sic and ob­ject-based au­dio seem per­fect dance part­ners.

If you have mainly 5.1 mul­ti­chan­nel, or two chan­nel con­tent, in your li­brary, DTS neu­ral X does a fan­tas­tic job of re-po­si­tion­ing the sound steer­age high and low.

In stereo mode the NR1607 is fine, al­though it ob­vi­ously doesn’t have the mu­si­cal­ity of a ded­i­cated stereo amp in the same price band.

High-Res Au­dio sup­port now in­cludes DSD (up to 5.6MHz) and AIFF. DLNA 1.5 com­pat­i­bil­ity en­sures ac­cess to me­dia on NAS de­vices.

There are some caveats though. While the power plant is good enough to rock most liv­ing spaces, you’ll strug­gle to pres­sure load a larger home cin­ema. The re­ceiver also starts to dry up when volume is cranked to the max. Things be­come thuddy and flat-footed. This isn’t an is­sue with ev­ery­day use, only if you try and push too hard.

Ver­dict

Over­all, we rate the Marantz NR1607 highly.

It’s a worth­while evo­lu­tion of a pop­u­lar line of AVRs. It’s well equipped (apart from that sin­gle HDMI out­put), has a host of lead­ing-edge niceties (from DSD play­back to those HDCP 2.2 HDMI in­puts), and is con­sis­tently fun to lis­ten to. If you want more than what a sound­bar can of­fer, but don’t fancy a hom­ing a gi­gan­tic home the­ater rig, this slim re­ceiver treads a tempt­ing mid­dle ground. Au­di­tion sooner rather than later.

Rat­ing

4/5

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