OUR FULL REVIEW IS BELOW, BUT YOU CAN READ THE ORIGINAL MAGAZINE PAGES BY CLICKING THE PAGE ON THE RIGHT TO DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION.
The NR1607 is the latest iteration of Marantz’s slimline receiver. That’s the one where they take all the stuff that’s in Marantz’s big receivers, drop a few non-essentials, rein back on the power a little, and provide you with a home theatre receiver that will more than do the job in 90% of installations in a more compact package. Seriously.
Even though we love our beefy equipment here at Best Buys Audio & AV, we remain surprised at how trimming 60mm or so from the height of a AV receiver can make it easier on the eye. The NR1607 still conforms to Marantz’s styling norms, with a facade that is rounded at the left and right edges, but sitting only 105mm tall — including the feet, not including the antennas.
Inside that is packed a full seven-channel AV receiver, complete with support for the latest surround standards: Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The support actually extends only to seven-channel variants of those — so three front channels, two surrounds, and two height or Atmos speakers plus subwoofer. There are no pre-amp outputs to permit additional speakers, for additional height channels, for example. But you can eschew height and have conventional 7.1-channel surround, or 5.1-channel-surround and a stereo Zone B, or 5.1 with the front stereo speaker pair bi-amped.
There are two pre-outs for subwoofers, but the signal delivered to each is the same, so we count this as a 7.1 receiver! But interestingly, and very usefully, there are pre-outs for the front left and right speakers. Let’s say that you have interesting and highly loved speakers which you want to use for stereo, but you have doubts about the suitability of the NR1607’s built-in amplifiers — fine, you can use a separate stereo power amp for those speakers. (We will note that the built-in amplifiers support loudspeakers with impedances of four ohms, with a setting to limit output.) One reason you might want to do that upgrade could be the desire for more power if, say, those special speakers are low in sensitivity. This receiver offers 50W per channel into eight ohms, two channels driven, which is fine for most speakers in regular rooms. (Remember, 50W is only three decibels quieter than 100W.) We doubt most people will avail themselves of this front-channel pre-out facility, but it’s nice to have it there just in case.
The rear panel is very well populated with connections. In addition to the seven pairs of speaker outputs, there are seven HDMI inputs (and a matching output), one optical and one coaxial digital audio input, three line-level stereo inputs, and both component and composite video inputs and outputs. We thought that by now they’d be cutting back on these legacy connections, but not yet it seems.
All the HDMI inputs support full 4K video at up to 60Hz and 4:4:4 colour resolution, and incorporate the necessary HDCP 2.2 to allow use with Ultra HD Blu-ray players.
Zone B is also supported by pre-outs. Marantz’s remote control system has connections for linking with other products, and there’s a trigger output, plus the antenna connections for the AM/FM tuner. On the front panel is another HDMI input, plus USB for connecting USB storage containing music or an iPod/iPhone/iPad.
This is a full networked receiver with an Ethernet socket in addition to the two aforementioned antennas at the back. They support both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. One upgrade over last year’s model is that the Wi-Fi support is dual band, so if you’re streaming say double-speed Direct Stream Digital music wirelessly, the less-crowded higher-throughput 5GHz band may help.
The Bluetooth is Version 2.1 + EDR (for Enhanced Data Rate). Yes, there are later versions of Bluetooth, but they don’t do anything much for audio. The codecs supported are SBC (the standard) and AAC. The inclusion of AAC should allow for higher quality streaming from most Apple devices. Android devices will typically fall back to the lower quality SBC.
There is no longer a full manual included in the box, even on CD, just the quick start manual. But you can still download the full thing as a PDF from Marantz’s website. A full function infrared remote control is provided, plus there’s an app to control the receiver.
AV receivers are inherently complicated things, with a host of functions and massive number of settings and tweaks that can be made to optimise the sound. But the Marantz NR1607 features one of the best wizards in the business. This guides you through it all. If a novice, it even gives you advice on connecting the wires and shows you which wires to connect to which terminals. Colour stickers are provided to tag the cables — easy!
The wizard takes you through speaker and room calibration with the Audyssey MultEQ system. A cardboard stand for use with the calibration microphone is provided.
If talks you through network connection too. If you’re going wireless, you can do the usual scan-and-enter-password routine, or use the WPS key on your router, or automate the process using an iOS device connected either via Wi-Fi or USB. You ought to find a technique there with which you’re comfortable.
We had quite a bit of fun with this receiver, and better yet, a complete absence of aggravation. Sometimes things work most of the time with some equipment, and then unaccountably stop working until you do a restart. None of that here. We used it as a AV receiver for more than a week, and then relegated it to network audio/stereo amplifier duties on our smaller, high quality 2.1 speaker system.
In both positions it did a fine job, even with our new Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. The picture passed through perfectly, while the sound — including Dolby Atmos — was swiftly and accurately decoded. As we’ve remarked elsewhere, Atmos with two overhead speakers is remarkably effective, easily nine-tenths as good as system with four height channels. Given our druthers, we’d rather four, but we’re still happy with two. We find going 5.1.2 (the last digit is the ceiling or Atmos-enabled speaker count) and using Dolby Surround for non-Atmos surround material gives much more engaging results than 7.1, so that’s what we used.
And, no, we didn’t find the power output a practical limitation, but then we did choose a set of speakers well suited to the receiver.
We particularly enjoyed the network features. Much of our listening was using this for stereo music. We checked out the Apple AirPlay functionality, and it indeed worked, but for the most part we stuck with DLNA material, because the great bulk of our music is in FLAC format, plus we also enjoy a bit of DSD from time to time, neither of which works with AirPlay.
The receiver happily played all our music including even double speed DSD and FLAC at up to 24 bit, 192kHz. Even via Wi-Fi there were no hiccoughs, no unseemly delays (apart from the time taken for our Network Attached Storage to spin up). Part of the time we used our own preferred Android app as a controller, and part of the time Marantz’s new AVR Remote for 2016. This is available both for iOS and Android.
We’ve been complaining about Marantz’s AVR Remote for a couple of years, but this new version is much improved. The Android one did crash out very occasionally, but restarted itself when it did so, and who knows, it could be the tablet.
Both our own app and the Marantz one provided gapless playback and excellent track control. The advantage of the Marantz app was that it added specific controls for the receiver, such as volume and various sound processes. Plus of course we could use it to switch to other inputs, and other network functions, such as vTuner which makes tens of thousands of radio stations from around the world available.
For Spotify you have to go to the Spotify app, since it resists allowing others to create their own interfaces to the function. You will need a premium Spotify subscription to use Spotify Connect, but since the music streams directly to the receiver rather than via your portable device, you can use the higher quality setting in Spotify.
If your loudspeakers are of reasonable sensitivity, the Marantz NR1607 recommends itself as a well-priced and highly capable AV receiver with strong performance and that particularly attractive low visage.
Marantz NR1607 networked AV receiver
+ Fine overall performance
+ Attractive styling
+ Full Ultra HD support
- The much improved app could still improve in stability
Tested with firmware: 1100-6023-8052
Power: 7 x 50W (8 ohms, 20-20,000kHz, 0.08% THD, two channels driven)
Inputs: 8 x HDMI, 2 x component video,
3 x composite video, 3 x analogue stereo,
1 x optical digital, 1 x coaxial digital, 1 x USB, 1 x Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Outputs: 1 x HDMI, 1 x component video, 1 x composite video, 1 x 2.1 pre-out, 7 pairs speaker binding posts, 1 x 6.5mm headphone
Zone: 1 x analogue stereo, assignable
Other: 1 x set-up mic, Marantz R/C I/O,
1 x 12V DC out
Dimensions: 440 x 105 x 376mm