Page 2 of 2
The last few months I've had a blast experimenting with different speaker configurations, not worried so much about the brand or employing all-in-one setups but focusing on speakers that sound great by themselves already. I assembled a team consisting of DCM KX10s, Athena LS-C50 (center)
Athena AS-B1-1s (surrounds) and Role Audio's Sampans (back surrounds). It turned out very nicely, with lots of bass and shake from the front and plenty of crisp detail from the surrounds. Even without a subwoofer, the Marantz delivered the goods, whether with 2-channel music, 5.1 DVD-Audio or DTS Digital Surround-coded movies. I really wanted to try the Dolby Logic Pro II Z, taking the system to the next level, but I ran out of speakers!
Listening & Watching
The SR 6004 is an eminently listenable and fun-to-use receiver that operates very quietly. One of the SR 6004's greatest attributes is its sound, featuring the lovely Marantz mid-range and smoothness that's been a company stamp for decades. Listening to the DTS 5.1 DVD-Audio version of The Moody Blues' Seventh Sojourn was a revelation. I sat with my wife, both of us amazed at the sheer power and effect of being bathed in sound from the band and all the finery of the backing orchestration.
Though HDCD-coded discs never really captured the mainstream music-buying public's attention, I'm glad to have the feature and hear the few dozen such encoded discs in my collection at full 20-bit output. To me, HDCD discs are the bridge between redbook CD and SACD, and if you're a fan of the Grateful Dead, you'll like hearing the band's many recordings in HDCD resolution. Though it would seem an obvious feature, I also like having the playback type shown on the display. It's cool to see “HDCD” or “96/24” on the panel, indicating the signal passing through the receiver and verifying your choice.
I mentioned earlier how the SR 6004 can accommodate any number of video playback devices, but what makes it all work for me is being able to run, say, component video cables from a DVD player directly into the receiver and then output the signal with just a single HDMI cable by assigning the HDMI out to the DVD (or whatever else). It not only eliminates an extra tangle of wires, but it makes it possible for one HDMI cable to serve as the sole video path from the receiver to the TV, whether you're dealing with HDMI-compatible components or not.
Too often I rely on big-scale action films to test an A/V receiver's surround moxy, but what impressed me most about the SR 6004 wasn't for putting me in the middle of epic battles or car chases; rather it was during one of the quietest scenes from the 2005 film On A Clear Day. It's a feel-good film about a displaced worker named Frank, who decides to swim the English Channel to regain his self-worth and more. For practice, Frank frequents a public pool and there's a scene afterward in the changing room where he and some friends are talking and drying off. As I watching, I heard the sound of water dripping off one of the men, drop by drop. It came through in such detail from of the surrounds and with such an eerie sense of presence that I thought my kitchen sink had a slow leak. I realized it's easy to do “big” big, but it's the little details that make the difference between good and excellent.
I really like the versatility of the receiver's USB function. Not only is it capable of handling large amounts of data – up to 700 folders and more than 65,000 files – but being able to connect directly to a media player, flash drive or hard drive is very cool and convenient. A chunk of my CD collection is backed up on a 250GB LaCie Brick desktop hard drive. To access these music files usually requires connection to a computer hard drive bearing some type of operating software and then opening the files in a media player. Good enough but not often the way I want to go. Sure, I can stream music to a network player and then through the receiver, but that, too, requires my computer to be powered on.
With the SR 6004, I could plug the LaCie directly into the receiver's USB port and access the complete collection without turning on a computer. The TV monitor (and the receiver's GUI) will both display track info, including artist name, album, song name and time data. Navigating through the folder structure is as simple as using the Up/Down arrows on the remote control. I could really get use to having this setup, which nearly eliminates the need for a CD player, save for playing HDCD-coded discs and enjoying the full dynamic range. I do wish the SR 6004 could play FLAC files, but you can still go the uncompressed route with WAVs. One feature I didn't put too much stock in was a real ear-turner – the M-DAX (Marantz Dynamic Audio Expander). I strongly recommend using the M-DAX function for playback of AAC, MP3 or WMA files. It's an easy experiment to hear the very real improvement in sound when this feature is engaged. Two degrees of effect are offered: “Low” and “High.” Even at the low level, the music is much more rounded, 3-dimensional and closer to the real thing. I remain anti-compression, but the M-DAX made me soften my stance considerably. Check it out!
The receiver's FM tuner works very well, and can be fine-tuned in .05 hertz increments. The remote is designed to make this easy, by allowing step-by-step adjustments by pressing the Up/Down arrows once, or to find stations, simply hold down one of the buttons while the tuner scans the airwaves. Again, attention to detail.
I don't have any Bluetooth-compatible devices, as my trusty iPod recently died and I have yet to replace it. That doesn't lessen the receiver's capability with such equipment, however; and I think those of a more techno-bent will love being able to sync iPhones or laptops through just one receiver. I look forward to trying that in the future.
The SR 6004 is a fine performer across the board, with excellent sound and attention to all the controls and devices that users now demand. The quality and performance make this a deluxe model among the competition and often dulls the line of sonic differences between an all-in-one receiver and stereo separates. It's sophisticated yet easy to use and built for today's and tomorrow's technologies. What more can anyone ask?
- Marantz SR 6004 A/V Receiver
- Yamaha DV-S5770 DVD-Audio/SACD player
- Nuvision NVU37L, LCD HDTV
- DCM KX10 loudspeakers
- Athena Technologies AS-B1-1 bookshelf speakers
- Role Audio Sampan mini-tower loudspeakers