Marantz NR1603 AV-receiver

AV receivers are too complex, excessively large and too darn old school. The simple truth is that for many, AVRs have just become an irrelevance while house cinephiles will defend an opposed viewpoint.

It is a scenario that receivers' Marantz NR line seeks to address. THX?

The NR1603 appears apparently similar to the NR1602 of last year, but sports several major improvements. The fascia has been de-cluttered as well as the screen made bigger. It also includes appropriate loudspeaker binding posts for each route and connectivity that is practical. There are six HDMI input signals in total, one front. There is still just one HDMI output signal, but at least it is ARC compliant.

There is no integrated Bluetooth, but it is possible to put money into an elective receiver which plugs to the MXPort (Marantz-expansion) interface on the back.

FLAC, WMA, AAC, WAV, mP3 and FLAC 96/24 all unspool. You can leave JPEGs while video playback is not offered.

Despite all this cutting edge functionality, the receiver comes with a vestigial AM/FM radio. I guess someone might have need of this, although it looks rather superfluous given the supply of internet radio.

To simplify installation, the NR1603 provides a hand-holding set up wizard. Including a Sky box proves complicated while that is good for many parts. About the Marantz this is complicated from the fact just putting the input signal is not enough, you must browse a menu that is different to prioritise said input signal. This added complexity caused all manner of head-scraping...

The receiver may be configured by means of a web browser interface when networked. The door opens is definitely the most effective way to dig deep and to some advanced alteration.

The user interface the route has been revised from the version of last year, and today provides an HDMI overlay - however something of a rarity. WiFi capacity, nevertheless, is MIA, which undermines the modern feel of the NR1603.

The remote control, simplified from the button of last year -strewn attempt, proves not difficult to live with, offering colour-coded access to the different environment configurations accessible (Music, Game, Pictures and Pure). DTS codecs and all of the recognizable Dolby are resident.

Audio tuning is via Audyssey MultEQ; upwards to six listening situations computed and may be quantified using the mic that is bundled.

Beneath the bonnet is a comparatively small electricity segment offering 50W per channel, but this seven-channel layout has more poke compared to the numbers suggest. 5.1 users have the possibility of running a second stereo zone; this can function either the same content as the primary room, or a different source.

Avengers Assemble is packaged with popcorn highs rather than even a full blown alien invasion is sufficient to make the Marantz falter. Rise of the Planet of the Apes' opening features a remarkable bustle of jungle fowl in the back soundstage as poachers entrap a troop. The soundstage jumps so as webs fly skyward. Fast forward a smidgeon, and glass shatters when Bright Eyes breaks free in the lab as well as the score pumps in unison. The sound is heavy, clean and interesting.

The receiver shows simian agility with stereo sources, also; a welcome result of distinct circuit configuration, undoubtedly. The receiver's demeanour is party animal than po faced critic. Several cuts from the Monster of Kiss, in multichannel Dolby PL2 Music, will have the humpiest dowager.

All in all, the NR1603 needs to be described as a fruitful revamp of an appealing, forward looking receiver. Marantz mostly getting matters go all the way on, and is doing something different here. Well-built and generously equipped, the NR1603 is evidence that there is life left in the AVR dog that is old .

Marantz NR1603 AV-receiver photo