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Multichannel music from HD channels like Paladia was superb, as was 5.1 movie mixes, with dialogue crystal clear and panned effects rather startling. I had just received the new Blu-ray of Jimi Hendrix’s seminal Jimi Plays Berkeley, a superb documentary and concert video from 1970. The original 16mm film has just been newly digitally mastered, with a great 5.1 mix. Picture and sound quality were excellent. I have owned this title on VHS tape and DVD, and this was clearly the best version yet, very well served by the Marantz.
Ergonomically, everything worked beautifully. The volume control offered super smooth transitions and HDMI switching was very responsive. BTW, there is an app available for controlling networked Marantz receivers via phone or tablet, for those who are interested. I used the iPad app and it was very good. I tended to use the supplied remote most of the time, however, out of habit.
Connecting an Ethernet cable to the NR1603 allowed for tuning of Internet Radio, and the streaming of content from a networked computer or NAS, as long as you have UPnP software installed. I have been using Twonky for the past few years with great success. I was able to stream music files from Mac Mini with no issues. AirPlay also worked well, allowing my wife to stream music stored on her iPhone. All of this allows for the NR1603 to act as a central digital hub, so to speak.
After several weeks, I packed up the NR1603 and installed the NR1403 using the identical procedures noted above, except for connecting an Ethernet cable, as the NR1403 is not designed to be connected to a network. Picture quality was identical and HDMI switching was immediate and precise. The remote for the NR1403 is a bit less busy, and but is laid very out well ergonomically.
The NR1403 also sounded virtually identical to the NR1603 to my ears. I would have nothing to add sound quality wise. Movie soundtracks, music, DVDs, and Blu-rays all sounded terrific, filling my large living room without strain. The biggest difference between the two units is networking. The NR1403 needs your sources in the room, while the NR1603 allows you to pick up content on your computer or networked drive. The NR1603 also has a front panel USB input.
Marantz's home theater products division has been on a roll over the past several years. Their flagship AV7005 pre/processor and multi-channel MM7055 amp, to my mind, compete with trophy AV separates costing many times more. The beauty is Marantz trickles down the cutting edge technology to their entry-level products. This is great news to those with limited budgets who want high quality products.
The NR1403 and NR1603 are both fabulous products that performed flawlessly in my home theater set up for over a month. Which one do I recommend? It depends. If you have a home network, tons of content on computers or network drives, enjoy internet radio and streaming devices and want AirPlay, and own a 7.1 speaker set up, the NR1603 is the way to go. If you have a 5.1 set up, and strictly use your home theater for DVDs, Blu Ray discs, and Digital Cable, the NR1403 is what you need. The fact these two components can be priced at $649 and $399 is really a miracle based on what they deliver. Both get my highest recommendation for those seeking cutting edge home theater under $1000.
● 7.1-channel AV receiver, 50 watts per channel
● Built-in AirPlay and DLNA
● Built-in streaming apps for Pandora, Sirius/XM, Flickr
● Ethernet jack
● Analog video upconversion
● Two component video inputs
● Powered second-zone functionality
● Front-panel USB input, iPhone/iPod compatible
● Controllable via iPhone app Marantz NR1403
● 5.1-channel AV receiver, 50 watts per channel
● Six HDMI inputs (including one front-panel input)
● Supports 3D video pass-through
● Two digital inputs (one optical, one coaxial)
● Audyssey MultEQ automatic speaker calibration
● Graphical user interface
● Three-year warranty
TV: Vizio 55” LED
Preamp/Processor: Marantz AV7005
Multi Channel Amplifier: Marantz MM7055
BluRay Universal Player: Oppo BDP-93
Speakers: Paradigm Monitor Series 9 V.5 for L, R, and C.
Paradigm Atom for surround.
Cables: Kimber, QED, PS Audio, Transparent
Digital Cable: Time Warner/Motorola DVR