Marantz NA7004 Network player

It's all out there, but how do you get to it? How do you integrate it with your system? And how do you make it sound its best?

The answer to all of these questions may very well be Marantz’s NA7004 network audio player. The NA7004 works with all manner of digital music, whether it’s coming from the cloud, over your home network, or from a USB-connected device or iPod, to bring your music listening into the 21st century. And with its top-shelf processing circuitry, all tunes " whether heavily compressed or high-resolution " should sound as good as they possibly can.

First impression: The Marantz is well built, with a solid feel. Compared with many components I’ve handled recently, including Blu-ray players that don’t break the 5-pound mark, the NA7004’s 14-plus-pound heft was impressive. Granted, weight doesn’t tell the entire tale, but it’s usually a good indicator of a quality power supply and decent construction. The front panel has a clean, high-end look, with an OLED display and transport/navigation control buttons. The back panel has a good amount of connections, but, surprisingly, none are for video. Like, none " no HDMI, no composite, no special Marantz video link. Nothing.

Audio connections include analog and optical/coaxial digital audio outputs and inputs. The digital audio inputs are very slick, as they allow you to connect other digital sources like a CD player or satellite radio tuner, routing them through the NA7004’s digital outputs. Other connections include two USB ports (a Type B connector on the rear panel and the more common Type A connector on the front) and an M-Xport connection for use with Marantz’s optional

RX101 wireless receiver for Bluetooth streaming from compatible A2DP devices. But, hmm, there’s no Wi-Fi capability.


Lying curiously at the bottom of the NA7004’s box was a mysterious black plastic thing. It bent and folded kind of like that coat hanger in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but for what purpose? When I eventually read the manual, I learned that this was an iPod stand. While it looks a tad hokey, it held my Pod with no mishaps. The manual suggests, “Make sure to disable the iPhone vibration function before you set it on the iPod stand ... it could fall off from the stand and be damaged.” Anyhow, free iPod stand included with purchase.

I connected an Ethernet cable and both the analog and coaxial digital outputs to my Marantz AV7005 processor for easy digital-to-analog converter comparisons. (The NA7004 employs the same Cirrus Logic CS4398 DACs as those used in Marantz’s $3,000 reference SA-KI Pearl SACD/CD player, meaning that it has pedigree audio chops.) After I turned the unit on, it automatically found my network and established a connection. After that, setup basically amounted to signing in to my Napster, Rhapsody, and Pandora accounts. The NA7004 located the music on my PC, and once I clicked “Allow” in the Windows firewall, it was ready to stream that content as well.


Since there are no video outputs whatsoever, your control options are either via the display using the front-panel buttons or the included remote, or via a Web interface. While the three-line OLED display looks slick, I often found myself struggling to read some of the characters from my listening position about 12 feet away. This made it tough to search for things on Rhapsody, or select tunes from my digital music library or iPod. I often resorted to getting up, walking over to the NA7004, and then making a selection.

Fortunately, Marantz offers a free iPhone/iPod touch app called “Wizz App” that I downloaded to an iPad. Upon startup, the app immediately found the NA7004 and allowed me to make input changes and browse both network and cloud content far more easily. For those without an iSome-thing, Web control via Mac or PC provides the same functionality. Even so, the NA-7004 would benefit greatly from a video output to improve the 10-foot experience.

Even though I live in a connected world, I don’t often have access to a component that offers all of the NA7004’s streaming options. It was great! I found myself frequently jumping between Internet radio, Rhapsody, Pandora, iPod, Napster, and music stored on my PC. With the NA7004, you should never run out of good music.

I generally eschew the radio because, well, reception in Myrtle Beach sucks. And the stations we do get, well, they suck, too. But with Internet radio it was so easy to find and explore cool new things. Want college radio from Athens, Georgia, the latest techno-club-rave tunes from Berlin, or fresh country from Nashville? It’s all there and easily sorted by location and genre.

The NA7004 handles all the most popular file types, including WMA, WMA Lossless, WAV, MP3, AAC, and FLAC. My current audio obsession is listening to the high-resolution 96/24 FLAC albums that I’ve downloaded from HDtracks ( But none of my FLAC files appeared. While the NA7004 is a DLNA version 1.5-certified DMP (Digital Media Player) and DMR (Digital Media Renderer), Windows Media Player doesn’t recognize FLAC, so the Marantz can’t “see” them. (Plugging a USB drive loaded with FLAC files directly into the Marantz works like a champ; the problem only exists when you stream them over a network.) Marantz recommended that I use the J. River Media Center program (; free 30-day trial, $49.98 purchase), which does recognize FLAC " and about every other file type " as a player. Once J. River was installed, my high-rez files appeared, played, and sounded magnificent.

The NA7004 is also capable of extracting a direct digital audio stream from a USB-connected iDevice. This means that it bypasses the iPod’s lower-quality DACs, using its superior processing instead. The result is music that sounds as good as it possibly can. You also get full metadata " on either the front-panel display or a Web browser " and control over your iPod.

While you can search Napster, Rhapsody, and Pandora by artist, album, and more, searching content on an iPod or networked PC is significantly more sluggish. Navigating the iPod’s album, artist, song, and genre lists is limited to paging through seven selections at a time. With more than 9,000 songs and 900 artists on my iPod, this was a lengthy process. A “search” option on network music jumps to the first letter, but this worked sporadically, sometimes jumping to the correct letter, other times not, and sometimes saying "unsorted list” and doing nothing. Even when working, it was quite slow, taking several seconds to move from one letter to the next.

Sonically, the NA7004 is a very strong performer. Internet music was thoroughly engaging and enjoyable; my family spent many dinners enjoying my “Kind of Blue” station on Pandora. I went back and forth comparing the performance of the NA7004’s DAC (via analog output) to my Marantz preamp/processor’s own DAC (with the NA7004 connected via its digital output). The NA7004’s brighter, more forward sound was especially apparent on things like cymbal crashes and high piano notes. For most listening, I preferred its slightly better detail and high-frequency emphasis. However, on some recordings " a 96/24 FLAC version of John Coltrane's "Blue Train," for instance " it could lean toward being a tad edgy, especially at high volumes. If you have speakers that are on the bright side, you might prefer using the NA7004's digital output.

The NA7004 is one of the first devices to be Apple AirPlay compliant, which means you can use an iDevice to control streaming of your iTunes library directly to the NA7004 over a wired network. This feature, a $50 upgrade option, was unavailable for review prior to my deadline.

Marantz NA7004 Network player photo