With the Cinema 70s, Marantz continues to do something unique: offer a slim AV receiver at half height. This slimline device also gets a major makeover, with a switch to the brand’s new design language. And hooray: finally the TV interface has been adapted to 4K screens.
The Marantz Cinema 70s is a sleek 7.2 AV receiver . It is as wide as a classic device, but about half the size of a typical receiver. So you can safely say that this is a living room-friendly device, something that can subtly stand on a TV cabinet. You can also see it as a multi-channel alternative to the many new stereo amplifiers with HDMI-ARC on board. The NR1200 from Marantz itself, for example, or devices such as the NAD M10 v2 or the JBL SA750.
The Cinema 70s is the successor to the NR1711, the 7.2-channel receiver that was still decked out in the previous Marantz design. Since Marantz’s updated design philosophy is applied here, this new device really looks completely different. Very much in the vein of stereo top models such as the Marantz Model 30 or Model 40 .
Despite its modest dimensions, however, the Cinema 70s is not an entry-level model nor is it watered down in terms of capabilities. Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are on the menu audio-wise, as are codecs like DTS:Virtual X to upscale limited surround tracks. The support of HDR standards is also excellent, including Dolby Vision. That makes this device of approximately 1,000 euros a real maverick in the segment. You won’t find anything similar in the competition.
The screen as heritage
Marantz’s new design language appears to work just as well with an AV receiver as with the stereo devices that appeared in the past year or two. Although there is a big drop – if you want to call it that – compared to the previous generation. The Cinema 70s opts for a small round screen, instead of the large screen on the NR1711. It really shows a minimum of information. The volume level, for example, or the selected input. It’s not that valuable in this area. The small screen is reminiscent of a porthole, and is of course a reference to historical Marantz models (and the more expensive current devices). That’s no coincidence; With its new design, Marantz wants to refer more explicitly to the many successes of the past. And also appear a bit more luxurious.
Apart from the history lesson, the new design is quite handsome. A recurring element is the smaller front that pops out of a larger front panel. Rounded corners and a kind of crosshatch pattern soften the whole. The only regret? The more expensive Marantz devices have lighting on the flanks of the front. When it shines on that pattern, you get a nice effect. With the Cinema 70s, this lighting is completely absent, just as it was with the CD60 . Sad but also understandable. In a darkened living room you want to be 100 percent focused on the screen and not be distracted by a lighting up audio device. As usual with Marantz, you can get the Cinema 70s in black or in a silver gold. We still find the last color version the most beautiful.
Ready for 8K
Despite the narrow profile, the Cinema 70s is well equipped in terms of connectivity. You can connect up to six video sources via HDMI, with three ports supporting HDMI 2.1 . So you can connect your three PlayStation 5s or Xbox Series Xs to this. Those are currently the only 4K120/8K60 sources. There is one HDMI eARC output that can also handle 8K at 60 fps. Want to build a more complex setup, like with a projector in one room and a TV in another? Then you have to choose a higher model with multiple HDMI outputs.
The number of audio inputs is relatively limited. Still, we think the typical buyer of this device will get their hands on more than enough. For example, there may only be one optical and one coaxial digital input, there are three cinch pairs for audio devices such as CD players and there is a dedicated input for a record player. Those hipsters from Marantz have seen that well.
It is also very positive that there are pre-outs for all channels. This means that you can, for example, have the stereo channels amplified by a hi-fi amplifier. In the interface you can indicate per channel whether you want to use the amplified speaker output or the pre-out. Or if you later discover that you need more power, you can use the Cinema 70 as a preamplifier in combination with a multi-channel output stage (such as the Marantz MM8077 or Primare’s A35.8) . Admittedly, not something many people will end up doing. But it makes this device just that little bit more sustainable in the longer term.
Realistic power figures
It is striking that Marantz has become a bit more realistic in terms of its marketing. In the past it liked to deliver spectacular powers, which were measured by loading one channel at one frequency (and then with a relatively large amount of distortion). That produced good numbers, but was not really very relevant if you watched a movie. And that while Marantz (just like sister brand Denon) did have quite powerful receivers in its range. Now Marantz states that the class AB amplification of the Cinema 70 delivers 2 x 50 watts when two channels are driven full-range (at 8 ohms). That figure says a lot more. As a consumer you have to make a certain click, after years of being bombarded with figures such as 150, 250 or more watts. Please note that this device does not have the typical Marantz HDAM parts on board.
TV interface sprucing up
For the past four or five years, with every test of a Denon or Marantz AV receiver, we wrote that the interface on a new Ultra HD TV looked very old-fashioned. It was still in 720p, imagine. But we can now put that criticism in the broom cupboard. The TV interface of the Cinema 70s shows razor sharp on our 65-inch Sony OLED TV. Finally… At Marantz, that step to a higher resolution is even more important, since with this brand you can adjust all settings via the TV interface. So you conjure it up relatively often on the screen, more often than with competition that is mainly set up via a web interface.
You have fewer setting options via the accompanying Marantz AVR app than via the TV interface, it is more intended as an advanced remote. What is new is that you can now also access all settings via a web interface. That is great for installers, but also useful if you want to adjust things while playing a movie. The interface of the Cinema 70s is noticeably more responsive than the Denon AVR-X6300H that has been serving the test room for years.
Apart from the resolution increase, the interface received a complete makeover. Marantz (and Denon, with whom it shares software) has always presented things very nicely, including the part where you configure the surround setup. There, the speaker setup is shown graphically, now presented in a more modern way, including how to connect the cabling. You can set how you are going to use those seven channels of the receiver so quickly, even if you are not very familiar with surround. There are also plenty of options. Building a 7.1 or a 5.1.2 setup is very easy. You can also bi-amp your front stereo speakers. If you opt for height channels with an Atmos setup, you will quickly find your way between the various options in that area (wall speaker or Dolby speaker, for example). Unusually, you can also choose to place the height channels mid-top or on top of your surrounds. With receivers with only two height channels, you are often limited to the front of the room – although we would argue that the other options are less interesting anyway.
Since the previous generation, you also get two speaker presets. Quite an exotic option, for those who want to experiment with speaker setups and associated room corrections. For the rest, there are many smaller options that are quite useful, such as the easily renameable inputs and the adjustable placement of the volume bar on the screen. This way you can prevent subtitles from being covered when you turn the sound up a bit.
The clear approach and the support for Dutch make the interface at Marantz easy to use and informative. It remains something where the brand maintains an edge over the competition. A strong point also remains the Setup Assistant, a step-by-step plan that makes setting up a complex device such as this easy for those who are not so familiar with AV receivers. Measuring your room with Audyssey is also made simple via a graphical step-by-step plan. Advanced users can also opt to perform room measurements with the MultEQ app. Unfortunately a paid app, but useful if you want to tweak the measurement result yourself. Good to know: from spring 2023, Denon and Marantz receivers will have the option to exchange Audyssey for the Dirac software. But not the Cinema 70s, the option will only be available from the higher Cinema 60 model. It must be said that Dirac handles acoustic problems very well and also adjusts speakers better – but requires more knowledge and further investment in a license.
The streaming options with the Cinema 70s are extensive as always with Marantz. And familiar, because the offer in that area has remained fairly constant compared to the previous generations. This means in the first place that you can stream music via the HEOS platform, which can be controlled via the HEOS app. In this simple app you will find a number of streaming services (Amazon, Deezer and Tidal) plus internet radio. Speaking of the latter: there is an FM tuner built in, but no DAB +. Strange, because Denon sometimes has a DAB + tuner.
You can also play your own music files over the network or from USB storage. HEOS is also a multi-room platform. You can therefore also select physical inputs on the Cinema 70s in the app and forward the sound to another HEOS-compatible device. You can therefore also play a record player connected to the Marantz receiver on the speakers that are connected to the Denon PMA-900HNE in the dining room, for example. Or on the wireless HEOS speakers in the kitchen. HEOS works quite smoothly as a platform, but we still think that the app deserves a makeover to present music just a bit more attractively. It is functional rather than seductive.
Apart from HEOS, there are still plenty of streaming options : AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth. What’s new is that you can disable unwanted options, which can sometimes be useful. The Bluetooth function is two-way. If you dive into the settings, you can use to send sound to wireless headphones. A bit cumbersome to do, but useful. However, support in terms of codecs is limited to SBC – that could be better.
Modest in form, but quite ok in terms of performance
We connect the Marantz Cinema 70s to our fixed surround setup, consisting of DALI Rubicon speakers all around and Alteca height speakers. Well, only two out of four, of course. The subwoofer on duty is an ELAC Sub 2050. With a full Audessey measurement we get a reasonably balanced result. Although after a first session with an episode of Rings of Power and a piece of ‘Black Adam’ (Dolby Atmos), the rear channels tended to be turned down a bit. Fine-tuning that bit goes very smoothly via the Option button in the app.
After that, the Cinema 70s delivers quite an inspiring experience at a normal volume. In the final battle between Sabbac the demon and the Justice Society – the most boring sounding superhero group ever – the Marantz receiver controls the surround setup well. Among other things, when Doctor Fate multiplies, there is a good placement of the voices of his clones around the seat. In good Marantz fashion, the Cinema 70s treats explosions and other powerful sound effects a bit politely, but that doesn’t detract from the immersion feeling.
Does a surround setup only provide added value for noisy action films? Far from. For example, the new Apple TV series ‘Slow Horses’ (Dolby Atmos), based on the well-known books by Mick Herron, puts the spotlight on a group of failed slash MI5 agents who have just missed being fired. Their boss, a role tailored to Gary Oldman, seems particularly strong at unloading winds, but as the search for a bunch of terrorists intensifies, we are served more and more scenes in London at night. There is not much spectacle, but the rousing music is a bit warm and enveloping by the Marantz. The dialogues are delivered clearly. The Dialog Enhancer function can still tighten that up, but after the Audyssey measurement we already find the standard result excellent.
Looking at the performance with movies, the Cinema 70s comes out stronger than you would expect given its slim lines. It is indeed a real AV receiver, although there are limitations. If we really turn up the volume, it can sound a bit less spectacular in hectic scenes. And of course you are limited in the number of channels – it remains a 7.2 model. In our opinion, a real home cinema should have four height channels in 2023. But we’re willing to bet that the Cinema 70s will end up in living rooms rather than home theaters. There, those two height channels at the front can already deliver a nice Atmos experience.
In that living room, the Marantz receiver may also be switched on for music. The Cinema 70s has an edge in that area, with its Marantz tuning that is slightly different from the Denon counterparts or, say, Yamaha. You also get quite a few options in terms of streaming, which was already discussed. We opted to play music from our test NAS via the HEOS app. Hi-res PCM in the form of 96kHz/24-bit FLACs from Gregory Porter’s ‘Liquid Spirit’ play smoothly, as do 5.6MHz DSDs from 2L. That smooth processing of hi-res music does that HEOS platform well, provided that your network can deliver the higher bandwidth. This also worked without any problems with any DLNA player app such as BubbleUPnP, if you don’t like the HEOS interface.
Anyone who wants real surround performance, but does not feel like a typical AV colossus, will quickly end up with this device from Marantz. Its slimmer size fits well with the new design, which immediately makes the Cinema 70 a handsome AV receiver. However, the modest dimensions contain a lot of functionality, a truckload of streaming options and a reasonable amount of power. If you do not take challenging speakers and do not intend to shave the very highest decibel tops, you can certainly continue with this in many living rooms. It is a pity that the Cinema 70s will not take the step to Dirac , that privilege is reserved for the more expensive models. The TV interface in a higher resolution? We are very happy with that.
- Preouts provide upgrade path
- TV interface is 4K ready, and web interface
- Excellent music player
- Interior friendly
- Only two height channels
- Dirac upgrade is not coming to this device
- HEOS app deserves a refresh
- No DAB option