Marantz M-CR611 Network CD Receiver Review 
Home Theater Audio Sources CD Players
Written by Andre Marc   
Monday, 26 October 2015

There has never been a time in high-end audio where customers have demanded plug and play devices that can accommodate a slew of sources like the current market. Ironically, early on, the home hifi industry offered stereo “consoles” with integrated speakers, a record player, and an amplifier. Back in those glory days, sources were limited to vinyl and tape, which certainly made things simpler. A bit later on, audio component manufacturers figured out they could sell multiple boxes, each dedicated to a specific task, and maximize sales. This also allowed for “upgrading”.

Marantz happens to be one of the grand old companies who were around during the so called golden era, the early days of high fidelity. Marantz has always looked forward, being one of the earliest high-end companies to mass produce CD players, home theater products, SACD players, and network streamers. But I would guess even the most future-conscious engineers could not have foreseen the digital revolution, which has detached media from the optical disc and seen the rise of streaming services.

With many younger people, and even some long time audiophiles, rejecting the expensive, room dominating, multi box approach to hifi, the one box solution is back, in a big way. There are a slew of companies designing units that simply require a set of speakers. Cocktail Audio, Naim, Cary, Cambridge Audio, and many more. Simpler solutions even include products that are standalone music makers, with built-in speakers and amps, like the Denon Heos and Sonos, and they offer all sorts of connectivity.

Marantz has taken things to another level with the introduction of their new network receiver, the M-CR611 , which retails for $699. The M-CR611 is so packed with features, you will need to hold onto your hats. The M-CR611 connectivity checklist includes Bluetooth, WiFi, Ethernet, Analog In, USB, Headphone, and coaxial FM.

The feature set includes two sets of speaker binding posts, with 60 wpc of power on tap, a remote control, access to Pandora, Sirius XM satellite radio, Internet radio, Spotify, DLNA support and, amazingly, a CD transport (with DSD file support)! A Marantz mobile app is available to control all functions, including volume, but you can use other control apps as well.

http://www.avrev.com/images/stories/equipaudiosources/marantz/marantz_mcr611_rear.jpg

Set Up

Out of the box, the M-CR611 is very attractive, with classic, curved Marantz lines, very nice casework, and quality connectors. The entire unit is compact, with the buttons and inputs/outputs all smartly laid out. I used the M-CR611 with a pair of Harbeth Compact 7ES-3, and hooked it up with DH Labs Q-10 speaker cable. That was it. Nothing else needed.


For the first part of the review, I connected the M-CR611 to my network via wired LAN. It immediately found my 8 TB remote library. I switched between the Marantz iOS app and Audionet to control playback. Initial impressions were that this was high-end sound. Familiar tracks I normally stream on various, more expensive streamers sounded delightful, with good weight, flow, and a very enjoyable presentation.

Listening

http://www.avrev.com/images/stories/equipaudiosources/marantz/marantz_mcr611_remote.jpgVestiges & Claws, the new album by Swedish folk rocker Jose Gonzalez, in 24/96 FLAC, was totally absorbing through the M-CR611. The syncopated rhythms and chant-like melodies were hypnotic, and had great presence. The M-CR611 drove the Harbeth speakers with ease, and was not out of place with a speaker costing five times as much as it does.

Prince’s LotusFlow3r, from 2009, ripped to FLAC, is a delicious mix of old school funk, modern R&B, Santana style rock guitar, and it just popped out of the speakers as streamed via the M-CR611. Interestingly, I played the actual CD in the transport to compare the files streamed from my local library. I strained to hear any difference, and ultimately did not. Marantz historically has always made great disc players, at all price points, and it was obvious they did not skimp here. Thankfully, they also chose a tray mechanism, which I much prefer over slot loaders.

After being very satisfied with the performance of the M-CR611 via wired Ethernet, I switched over to WiFi for the second half of the review. Hard pressed to hear any difference in sound quality, the only thing I noticed some large, high-resolution files, mostly 192 kHz, stuttered. This was during times of particularly heavy network traffic, and only happened a few times, but it should be mentioned. There were no issues with CD quality streaming. Other than that I found the WiFi connection to be robust and reliable.

I used my wife’s premium Spotify account with ease on the M-CR611. One needs to simple use a mobile device, in my case an iPad, pull up a playlist on the Spotify app, and select “Play To: Marantz M-CR611”. Simple as that. Despite being a lossy stream, it sounded quite nice. With access to millions of songs, it is tough to complain.

On an ergonomic level, the M-CR611 worked without a hitch. Menu navigation was easy, and the remote well laid out. The unit ran cool, it will pretty much fit anywhere.



My complaints are few, but should be noted. I thought the Marantz app was a bit sluggish, and it could use some updating. I preferred to use Audionet for basic music control, but the Marantz app lets you actually control the M-CR611 specifically, with volume up/down/mute, input selection, etc. Therefore, it would be nice if it was improved. The only other complaint was that the front panel did not display resolution or filetype when streaming from my NAS, only track time elapsed. The Marantz app, however, did display file type and resolution.

I was able to use the Bluetooth function with no issues with several devices including, an iPhone 6 an iPad Air, and a Mac Book Pro. Albums on the devices local iTunes library can be streamed to the M-CR611. In my case I had a bunch of CD rips in AIFF that played just fine. I was also able to plug both an iPhone and iPad directly into the front panel via the device’s own Lightning/USB cable. The sound via this setup was extremely satisfying; as good as the same file streamed via the network in my estimation.

So abundant are the features on the M-CR611 I was not able to test them all. For instance, I currently have no in-house digital optical sources, so using the unit as an external DAC was not possible. I also did not hook up an additional set of speakers. I should note there is a Pre Amp Out for driving active speakers or a subwoofer as well.

http://www.avrev.com/images/stories/equipaudiosources/marantz/marantz_mcr611.jpg

Conclusion

The super fun and easy-to-use Marantz M-CR611 network receiver is the Hifi console of our time. Much smaller, much more capable, and far more ergonomic. You want to stream music from an iPhone, iPad, Android phone, Mac Book, Windows PC, NAS, Spotify, or Pandora? Got you covered. With a 60 wpc amplifier, remote control, and a built in CD player as well. The big bonus is the M-CR611 sounds great, As I type this I have a Grateful Dead soundboard recording from 1977 in FLAC streaming from my library wirelessly and and I could not be more satisfied.

At $699, the Marantz M-CR611 is a nice bargain. It is fully loaded with features modern listeners crave, and it is pretty future proof from my perspective. It produces fine, balanced sound that I had a hard time finding fault with. There are dozens of speakers in the same price range as the M-CR611 that would be a terrific match. Your only other expenditure is a pair of speaker cables, and you are off and running. For those seeking a plug and play audio entertainment solution, the Marantz M-CR611 is highly recommended.


Specifications


Marantz CR-611 Network Receiver: $699

  • 60W x 2ch (6 ohms THD10%)
  • Air Play on board.
  • Online Music Service Spotify Connect, Pandora(NA), Sirius XM Internet(NA), QQ music (CN), Internet Radio
  • Computer/NAS music file streaming (DLNA1.5)
  • Plays CD, WMA/MP3(CD-R/RW)
  • Built in Wi-Fi network module and built in diversity antenna.
  • Bluetooth with NFC.


Review System 1


Server: Bryston BDP-2
DAC: Bryston BDA-1, iFI Micro iDSD w/ iUSB 3.0
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Preamp: Coffman Labs G1-A, CIAudio PLC-1 MKII
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Simaudio 760A
Speaker: Thiel CS2.4, Bryston Mini T
Cables: Stager Sound, Acoustic Zen, Element Cable, DH Labs
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks and Svelte Shelves, Shakti Stone, Bryston BIT-15, Salamander rack

Review System 2


Music Server: SOtM sMS-100 w/ Battery XPS,
DAC: iFi Micro iDSD w/iUSB 3.0
Integrated Amplifier: McIntosh MA6600
Power Amplifier: CLONES Audio 25p
Tape Deck: Sony TC-350
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3
Cables: Stager Sound, Transparent, DH Labs
Accessories: Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Sound Anchors Stands, Audience aR6








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