AV Receiver of the Year under $1000
The AV receiver of today is a long way from the AV receiver of old, which provided just amplifier channels and a radio tuner, with inputs for other sources (with up to five cables per source!). HDMI has simplified the input process, while the use of more efficient Class-D amplification has made it possible to reduce heatsinking and therefore size. Yet most receivers are still double the height of a hi-fi stereo amplifier.
Marantz is among the few to take advantage of this to deliver an AV receiver which is described as ‘slimline’, although since it’s the height that’s reduced rather than width, we prefer the term ‘short-arsed’. Both the NR1609 ($1299) and our winner here, the NR1509 at $999, have this useful size advantage, yet there’s remarkably little in terms of compromise over a larger design. The NR1509 has five channels of amplification, enough for standard 5.1-channel surround sound, though not for the newer innovation of height channels, so it supports Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, but not Dolby Atmos or DTS:X - for those you’d need to step up to the seven channels of the NR1609.
But the NR1509 is fully compatible with Ultra High Definition (4K) sources, including 60Hz content, and High Dynamic Range in both HDR and Dolby Vision, across all six of its HDMI inputs. There are three line-level audio inputs which can be used with composite video inputs or for audio sources; just one each of optical and coaxial digital inputs (perhaps the only input limitation for some users, but you do get a phono input for a turntable, hoorah!).
Perhaps the biggest bonus is that even at this level Marantz has included the HEOS platform, bringing full streaming abilities, Bluetooth, AirPlay, high-res audio playback, Spotify Connect and other streaming services, app control and even voice control from both Alexa and Google devices. The inclusion of HEOS potentially puts the NR1509 at the heart of a wireless multiroom system.
The single biggest limit over larger receivers is the power rating, which is 50W per channel at hi-fi specification, whereas larger receivers quote far higher. But Marantz is one of the world’s great
JUDGES’ COMMENT “Space-saving size is just the start of this five-channel Marantz receiver with full-UHD compatibility plus HEOS streaming and multiroom abilities. If you’re not going Atmos, it’s a bargain.
amplifier makers, and we found those 50W channels to have plenty of control when driving speakers of average or higher sensitivity; you might need more for tough speakers or a giant room, but for a moderate home cinema set-up, and certainly a lounge room with 5.1-channel surround, the NR1509 is ideal - décorfriendly, a fair selection of inputs, the whizz-bang addition of HEOS streaming and multiroom, and the cachet and quality of Marantz behind the amplification circuits. This is why we’ve returned to this range of ‘slimline’ receivers year after year in our Awards.
More info: www.marantz.com.au