Home Cinema Has Never Been This Simple
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.
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.