|Marantz SR 6004 A/V Receiver Review|
|Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers|
|Written by Todd Whitesel|
|Thursday, 28 January 2010|
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Marantz has long been associated with stereo receivers and has produced an extensive line of components over the last 40 years. Times have certainly changed from when all-one-receivers were at the heart of many a 2-channel stereo system and were called upon to serve as amp, tuner and phono stage. Nowadays, a receiver can hardly get a second look unless it can serve up the video goods, too. Marantz's SR 6004 is part of the new breed of A/V receivers designed to accommodate practically any audio/video connection and demand imaginable. With a suggested sticker of $1,249.99, the SR 6004 proves the old adage, “you get what you pay for.” And it's quite a lot.
It would be a short review if I focused on what the SR 6004 can't do, as its list of features is nearly inexhaustible. One could spend a week just exploring and fine-tuning the multitude of options at hand here. Most folks just want to get setup and call it good, though. And it's hard to imagine a setup scenario this receiver can't accommodate. Interconnectivity is what the SR 6004 is all about, whether your system includes Blu-ray, DVD, VCR, video projector, camcorder, satellite tuner, gaming device, iPod, flash drive or otherwise, you'll likely find the respective connection somewhere on this receiver. Six HDMI 1.3 ports – four inputs and two inputs – open the door for new formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio and make it easy to connect two TV sets.
The SR 6004 replaces Marantz's 6003 model with several new functions and improvements. Perhaps most exciting is the receiver's integration with Bluetooth devices, which enables users to transmit audio signals wirelessly from up to eight devices, including iPhones, iPod Touches, Blackberrys and Bluetooth-enabled computers, and listen through a home theater system. This is accomplished via the RX101 wireless receiver that's bundled with the SR 6004. The front panel's USB input has also been upgraded and can be used to transmit audio from an iPhone or iPod Touch, but it's also capable of reading MP3, WMA and WAV files from other portable devices. If your iPod or iPhone is loaded with music, the receiver's USB transfers audio signals digitally and processes them using the SR 6004's 24-bit/192kHz DAC instead of the portable device. To boost compressed audio, M-DAX (Marantz Dynamic Audio eXpander) helps fill in the “gaps,” adding greater high frequency to minimize any lossy effects.
The receiver also boasts some two dozen surround modes, including Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS Neo:6 Surround, DTS-DH Master Audio and Dolby Pro Logic II Height. If you want just the stereo facts, the SR 6004 features Pure Direct mode, which bypasses the tone control circuit, bass management configuration, output from the video jacks and even turns off the display to ensure faithful reproduction of the original recording.
An i-Chips video processor can take composite or component video signals, converts them to digital and upscale them up to 1080p for HDMI output. Conversely, the receiver can take any signal from the analog video monitor outputs and down-convert. Supported resolutions are 480i for S-video; 480i, 480p, 720p and 1080i for component video inputs and outputs; and 480p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p for the HDMI inputs and monitor output. The SR 6004 also sports component video output for a second zone to bring the sights and sounds into other rooms.
Far more than just an old 5.1 surround machine, the SR 6004 delivers 110 watts, at a miniscule 0.08% THD, across 7 channels (8 ohms) for plenty of noise-free power regardless of setup. The receiver is equipped for 7.1 surround playback via Dolby Pro Logic IIz, and can be configured for front height speakers or any other speaker setup you can dream of. Should you choose, the back surrounds can be re-assigned for bi-amping the front channels. The unit's 24-bit/192kHz DAC is available to all channels. The receiver can decode HDCD-compatible compact discs. An AM/FM tuner can store up to 60 preset and individually labeled stations. If you want to use the receiver for XM or Sirius satellite radio, no problem. There are even two A/C outlets to connect a pair of auxiliary components. About the only thing missing is a phono stage. The 90 pages of info in the User Guide can fill in anything I don't cover.
A GUI (graphical user interface) is control central for the SR 6004. The GUI can be viewed on a TV screen by connecting either a composite or component video or HDMI input from the TV to the receiver's VIDEO MONITOR OUT terminal. Otherwise, the GUI menu is accessible and displayed on the front panel. Every home theater room has a sonic personality that's unique. It's easy to overlook the effect that floor coverings, windows, drapes, furniture and other in-room accessories can have on the area's acoustics. To compensate for all these anomalies, Marantz employs an Audyssey Laboratories' calibration microphone to ensure that the sound passing from the SR 6004 and out your speakers is specifically tailored to your environment.
After connecting all speakers (the receiver's banana jacks work with bare wire and banana plugs but not with spade terminations), plug the mike into the SETUP MIC input, place it in the first and main listening position and select “speaker setup” from the menu. From there it makes a series of acoustical customizations specifically for the room to optimize the playback experience. Speaker size, speaker distance, sensitivity and cross-over network are all accounted for. Dynamic EQ adjusts surround and subwoofer level according to volume, so there's less degradation of dynamics when the receiver is played at lower volumes. It's an unfortunate reality that most home theaters have a very limited sweet spot when it comes to sound, so the Audyssey can be used to optimize up to six different listening points for everyone's enjoyment. In addition, Audyssey manages dynamic volume to reduce the blare of overly loud TV commercials and save your hearing the next time someone peddles the world's greatest vegetable chopper.