A few weeks ago we looked at the Denon AVR-X6300H, a premium AV receiver for the real home cinema fan, but what if you do not have room for such a large device and your budget is smaller? Marantz has developed the slimline av-recovers especially for that target group and this year the NR1607 has been released within this series. This very slim AV receiver has been specially developed for those who do not want to lose a hefty receiver but who want to enjoy good audio quality. In this review we look at the Marantz NR1607.
Marantz NR1607 – Specifications and features
The Marantz NR1607 is a 7-channel AV receiver, equipped with separate output transistors with high current and 70 watts per channel. Despite a cabinet that is just over 10 cm this should provide a powerful and clear sound. With WiFi and Bluetooth, a dual antenna and dual band for a stable connection, you can stream music via AirPlay, Spotify Connect , 10,000 Internet radio stations or local radio stations. Support for high resolution audio is also available.
In addition, the slim receiver supports the latest audio formats, including Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. These formats use, among other things, channels above the listening position to make the home cinema experience even more impressive. The video component supports 4k Ultra HD high-resolution video , as well as the latest HDMI specification, including 4k 50 / 60Hz passthrough and HDCP 2.2 compatibility. The receiver is also equipped with HDR ( High Dynamic Range ) and Wide Gamut colors, components of the BT.2020 4k Ultra HD video specification.
All eight HDMI inputs, one of which is placed on the front panel, support HDCP 2.2. Unfortunately we only see one HDMI output at the rear. The NR1607 also has an advanced video component that allows analog and digital source material to be upgraded to Full HD 1080p or 4k Ultra HD.
Installation takes place via the Graphical User Interface, the Setup Assistant and the Audyssey MultEQ room measurement. With the new Marantz 2016 Remote App for Android and iOS, the daily operation via the smartphone is also possible. The NR1607 is also equipped with an Eco mode that allows you to automatically save energy without compromising overall performance.
Main features Marantz NR1607
- Built-in WiFi with 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz dual band support; built-in Bluetooth
- 7-channel independent power amplifier with 90 W per channel
- 4K / 60 Hz full-rate passthrough, 4: 4: 4 color resolution, HDR and BT.2020
- 8 HDMI inputs (1 on front panel) with full HDCP 2.2 support
- Conversion from analog to HDMI and SD / HD to 4k upscaling for traditional video sources
- Dolby Atmos (up to 5.1.2) and DTS: X (via firmware update)
- AirPlay, Bluetooth, Internet radio, Spotify Connect, Network Audio Streaming
- DSD (2.8 / 5.6 MHz) FLAC, ALAC, AIFF and WAV support
- Multiroom / Multisource
- Audyssey MultEQ, Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ
- Loudspeaker connections with color coding, Setup Assistant, advanced GUI, Marantz AVR 2016 Remote App
- ISF video calibration
- Intelligent Eco mode with on / off / automatic switching function
The Maranz NR1607 can be bought at the time of writing for just under 750 euros.
Marantz NR1607 – First impression
The first thing you notice about the Marantz NR1607 is of course the very compact design. The receiver weighs 8.3 kilograms, which is not even very small, and has a size of 440 x 105 x 376 millimeters. With this the receiver fits into almost every piece of furniture and does not even look great on a piece of furniture. Note, however, that the receiver is about 7 centimeters higher when the antennas for bluetooth and WiFi are raised. In our experience, however, you could also aim it horizontally if you are not too far from the router.
The slim design does not, however, detract from the build quality that we are used to from Marantz. The receiver is very tightly finished, feels solid and solid and has a premium look and feel. The design is also typical Marantz, with a slightly curved front, two large rotary knobs and a large display in the middle. However, it is not a round display, which is reserved for the top models.
The front of the receiver is also a bit busier than the front of the top models. Here we see no flap back with some extra buttons behind it, everything is in sight. For example, we come across an HDMI port, a USB port, a headphone output, a connector for the set-up mic and a number of buttons for, among other things, the zones, pure direct, surround mode and internet radio. They are not disturbing but it looks slightly less tight than with the top models.
In this review we use an LG E6V-series OLED TV for the display of video material, Spotify for streaming music, a USB stick with high-res audio, the Panasonic DMP-UB900 Ultra HD Blu-ray player for the playback of CDs and (Ultra HD) Blu-ray discs, and the B & W CM S2 series speaker system for optimal playback of the audio.
Marantz NR1607 – Operation and installation
First of all, it is of course important to place the receiver correctly. The NR1607 comes with insulating feet and in combination with the vertically connected antennas you come to a height of about 17 centimeters. That is not high for a receiver but keep in mind that the receiver also needs some space to get rid of its heat. We would therefore not recommend to put the receiver in a completely dense and tight space. Yet this model is so slim that you can probably just place it in a cabinet under or near your TV.
Installation and menus
We have already tested multiple receivers from Marantz and Denon in the past, and the conclusion was always the same in terms of ease of use and installation; simple and fast. This is also because Marantz and Denon (D & M) work together and both use the same interface. That interface has also been the same for years, with here and there some minor adjustments or additions.
The menus that we find in the NR1607 are very recognizable and if you have ever used a Marantz or Denon receiver you will soon know where to go. Even if that is not the case, it is good to know that the menu is mainly simple and structured. No bells and whistles and no large lists of complicated options. The menu may seem a bit corny, but on the other hand it does provide a straightforward system that can be used by everyone. The navigation in all menus is very smooth and fast, the chance is small that you get lost and functions are clearly indicated.
When you switch on the receiver for the first time you will be guided through a set-up menu. Here you can, among other things, connect to your WiFi network and perform the Audyssey calibration. You will also receive tips and advice about connecting components and connecting your speakers. It is also a very simple set-up but exactly what you need to get started quickly. The set-up can, if you want to do it right away with full calibration, take 20 minutes, but then the receiver is in the base well.
The Marantz NR1607 is equipped with Audyssey MultEQ. This technique allows you to optimally adjust the receiver by analyzing the acoustics of the room. Connect the included set-up microphone to the receiver, place it at up to six (listening) positions in the room and let the receiver do the work. Audyssey looks at the distances, sound levels and acoustics of the room. On the basis of this information, an equalizer is adjusted and the distances and levels are determined. If you have a room that is acoustically not optimal, and you do not have any sense or knowledge to measure the distances and levels then Audyssey is a good option. Our space is completely optimized in terms of acoustics and the distances and levels of the speakers are measured so we have done the calibration manually.
When you use Audyssey MultEQ, you have access to a number of extra options after the calibration; DynamicEQ and Dynamic Volume. DynamicEQ should ensure that the dynamics, range and clarity of the audio is maintained when you listen at a volume below reference level (0 dB). if you use Audyssey, this has in many cases added value because the range is much higher, the surround experience is more immersive, subtle details are more clearly present and the general view is more dynamic. Dynamic Volume has been developed to eliminate, in real time, the large variations in volume level between TV programs, films, commercial breaks, etc. and in films, programs and series. This function leaves us with a less good impression because it does not always work well for normal TV programming and for films the dynamic range is reduced. If you want to watch a movie late in the evening without disturbing the children or neighbors, it can be useful.
Marantz NR1607 – In use
Marantz supplies the NR1607 with a fairly simple remote control, and we have known this remote for years. The accessory comes without a display but with all the important buttons to directly control the most important functions. The keys also light up in the dark and you have a number of smart buttons at your disposal to assign a function yourself. The remote control is well in hand and the buttons have sufficient travel.
Marantz also released a new Remote app for its AV receivers this year. This app is available for iOS and Android and can be downloaded for free. The link with the receiver is made quickly and within the app you can actually do everything you can with the remote control. You will see a large part of the interface on your smartphone so you do not necessarily have to show the menu on the TV.
The app is very comprehensive, user-friendly and neatly designed. It is a clear improvement compared to the app of previous years. However, the app may appear a bit messy in the beginning because you have many options at your disposal that you do not immediately see what they are for. So it is a question of just using it so that you learn what it is all about.
The NR1607 is equipped with 7 amplified channels and that means you can lose 7 loudspeakers, plus two subwoofers. There is support for Dolby Atmos and DTS: X but up to seven loudspeakers. For these formats, this amounts to a 5.1.2 arrangement. If you want a larger setup (5.1.4 for example) then you need an extra amplifier that controls the two extra channels. We used the receiver in the maximum 5.1.2 setup.
An AV receiver is the centerpiece of your home theater system and must now also be equipped with various streaming options. Marantz has the NR1607 in any case richly equipped. The receiver makes it possible to stream music via almost any known standard or service.
This way you can easily view your music via Spotify Connect and for other services Bluetooth or AirPlay can be used. Internet radio stations and FM radio can be played directly via the receiver, just like content from DLNA-compatible devices in your home network, such as a NAS or PC. At the front of the receiver you can store a USB stick with which you can play high resolution material. The receiver supports FLAC, WAV, AIFF, ALAC and DSD.
If your PC and / or NAS is DLNA-certified and is connected to your home network, linking is a piece of cake. The receiver sees the devices within a few seconds so you can get started almost immediately. Depending on the structure you keep on your NAS or PC, files can be found quickly. The media player has not been updated – on the AVR-X6300H we saw a new player – but that is not a big problem. It is pretty standard and here and there a bit slow with loading but with some patience everything is played perfectly.
A feature that we have already seen on av-receivers from Denon and Marantz is Eco mode. In this way the energy consumption is made clear and reduced when possible. You can set ECO mode in three positions; ‘Off’ ensures that the receiver continuously performs optimally without taking into account the energy consumption, ‘Automatic’ ensures that the energy consumption is adjusted to the volume that is currently being used and ‘On’ ensures continuous optimization in the energy consumption. According to Denon, this has no adverse effects on the audio quality, but the receiver obviously does not go to work in the ‘on’ position.
An energy icon and a green bar show at the bottom right of the screen, with an input on the remote control, what the consumption is and how the receiver deals with the volume and consumption. It is a useful function to gain insight into how much energy the device has to deliver and how this can be reduced. For background music or a video in between it is a fun / handy feature but when we want to watch a movie with full force, we also demand full effort from the receiver and Eco mode goes quickly.
Marantz NR1607 – Audio quality
So far we can say that the Marantz NR1607 is a very complete, attractive and user-friendly receiver, but of course it’s all about the audio reproduction. We placed the receiver in our test room and cinema, which is completely optimized in terms of acoustics. In this test room we use the Bowers & Wilkins CM S2 series, accompanied by two AM-1 loudspeakers for the top channels. The subwoofer is in this case the Bowers & Wilkins ASW610XP. We do not use the other speakers (top rear and surround center).
The Marantz NR1607 is first of all subjected to some music, from different genres and from different sources. You have plenty of options to play your music but we have chosen our Spotify playlist (via Spotify Connect) and high resolution audio via USB.
Streaming music is the lesser option because in all cases it is still compressed content. Yet this does not have to be an audible problem, certainly not with Marantz’s M-DAX technology, which partly restores the audio quality of compressed content. We prefer the minimum setting that adds a bit more dynamics to the audio. The NR1607 lets our Spotify music with plenty of subtle details, tight bass lines and a wide audio field. It is not and will not be a high-quality reproduction, but it offers enough to show your music collection tightly in both the high and the low. Yet that bit of ‘body’ is lacking, which makes the distance between the artist and the listener seem larger.
High resolution audio is clearly a step better, with subtle details that contain more clarity, an even broader stereo image and a clear placement of vocals and instruments in space. You actually get the idea that you play for your nose. If we come to some of the more difficult pieces of Muse and display them on quite a bit of volume, then the NR1607 is still standing remarkably well. The power behind every subtle detail lacks something and during dynamic passages the differentiation of instruments becomes less clear, but in general the display stays nice and tight, lively and colorful.
With both high-resolution audio and streaming music, if we turn up the volume further (towards the reference level) the receiver will have a harder time. It becomes somewhat more difficult to distinguish instruments and subtle details, it is somewhat forced and we miss the feeling of space, a lot of space around us. That in itself is not illogical because we are dealing with an entry-level AV receiver that simply has less power on board and also fewer premium components.
The NR1607 is of course a multi-channel AV receiver and should therefore show what it can do with multichannel content. We have a complete Dolby Atmos setup and have subjected the receiver to various films with Atmos. For example, we have looked at Everest, Game of Thrones season 6 and Deadpool.
We still have to emphasize it once more; Dolby Atmos is a big step forward in surround audio. The experience is much more impressive than the standard 5.1-channel or 7.1-channel audio. Even with only two top channels (5.1.2) you notice a clear difference and you already have the idea of actually being in the action. Of course, 7.1.4 is more impressive, but if you do not have a lot of space and do not want to invest too much, this is a good step in the direction.
That said, we can actually draw the same conclusions for film as for music. The Marantz NR1607 manages to provide a spacious, detailed and vivid display with average volume, without you having the impression that certain effects come from a specific loudspeaker. The audio floats through space, as it were, which definitely benefits the home cinema experience. The receiver convinces in both subtle and powerful surround effects, a penetrating layer and a convincing wide and deep soundstage.
But, with higher volumes (for dedicated home theaters or larger rooms), the receiver drops some stitches. Here simply lacks the flexibility and especially the power to show seven channels balanced, tight and convincing. You also quickly miss the idea of space around the listening position. For comparison; with the AVR-X6300H it seemed like we did not have a roof over our head (1.5 meters above us is a roof) so you get the idea to sit in a large room or concert hall. The NR1607 does not manage to achieve this at higher volumes, making the room more emphatically present.
So if you do not like the high volumes or simply do not have to provide a large space with a powerful sound, the NR1607 is a receiver that is able to impress with surround content. The receiver ensures smooth transitions between speakers, allows audio objects to float through space, can display details and effects with sufficient dynamics and ensures that elements such as dialogues, effects and the soundtrack can be separated and heard well.
Marantz NR1607 – Conclusion
The Marantz NR1607 contains a lot of advantages. The receiver is very sleek and neatly finished, the device is provided with a premium design, you get a lot of connection possibilities and you can play or stream almost all your favorite music through numerous options. In addition, the receiver is equipped with a user-friendly interface, a handy and attractive app and support for the latest technologies and standards. If we have to mention some minor hiccups, it is the somewhat corny-looking interface, the lack of Heos support and the lack of a second HDMI output. But, with those minuses we can certainly live.
However, the NR1607 is a receiver for a specific target group in terms of music and film reproduction. If you are a true home cinema fan, want to get the most out of your high-quality speakers and listen to your favorite music at high volume (or in a large room) and watch movies, then you better go to a full (large) model with more premium components and more power look. But, do you want to provide the home cinema system in your living room with a user-friendly, sleek and beautiful hub that also impresses with music and film on normal volumes then you are at the right place at the NR1607. Actually, we have nothing to complain about this receiver; the limitations are purely in what you want to use the receiver for.