Marantz is a highly recognizable brand in the high-end audio space and it made some huge waves in the mainstream when it merged with Denon forming D&N holdings as a result. Both companies still release their own separate lineups of AV receivers so you can expect features and technologies to be quite similar. With Denon being well-known for offering high-quality AV receivers at different points, it is expected for Marantz to do the same and it does with the Marantz SR series where cutting-edge technologies are included along powerful specifications.
But what is striking about the Marantz AV receivers are their unique designs making these AV receivers an attractive choice even over the more traditional-looking Denon home theater receivers. Although these models cost more than $700, Marantz doesn’t plan on leaving the traditional designs to their cheapest AV receivers. In fact, the home theater receivers in the budget-oriented Marantz NR series have their own unique selling point which happens to be the low-profile design. The Marantz NR1403 represents the cheaper version of the pair of NR models which makes the NR1403 the cheapest of Marantz’s 2012 line-up of AV receivers.
The height of the Marantz NR1403 only measures 4 and a half inches which makes this home theater receiver great for cabinets or racks where space is very limited. The great thing about this reduction in height is that nothing is sacrificed on the front panel. The input selector and volume control knobs on the opposite ends of the front panel are as large as they should be for easy control and the essential buttons like display, status, pure direct and sound mode are present below the small display which is still readable.
Although there are no dedicated buttons for input sources, this is an entry-level model so the knob should be good enough. The front ports are minimal with a phones and setup mic jack on the left side just near the power button. Although there are no composite ports on the front, Marantz did the right move to add an HDMI port on the front which many entry-level AV receivers coming from competitors lack. This makes it possible to do things like hook up an HD camcorder right on the front port for maximum convenience.
There are 5 additional HDMI inputs on the back of the NR1403 each with its own label so you can get an idea on all the home theater equipment you can hook up at once. There are also some composite ports on the back but no component ports so you are out of luck if you want to hook up more than 6 HD devices or prefer using the aging standard. But that shouldn’t be a bad thing since 6 HDMI ports is sufficient even for mid-range AV receivers. This member of the Marantz “Slim Line” family may be lighter than regular-sized home theater receivers but it still weighs a massive 22 pounds suggesting that Marantz didn’t skimp on essential features.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
The back of the Marantz NR1403 clearly shows that a slimming the design results to some compromises. Some entry-level AV receivers are ready for 7.1 channels but the NR1403 only supports 5.1 channels. But if you have a 5.1-channel speaker system, don’t underestimate the capabilities of this receiver. On the inside, the NR1403 still features a discrete power amplifier design so the sound quality capabilities are there. This means that anything you listen to whether it is the sound coming from an action movie or a racing game will be optimized.
Another nice surprise that the Marantz NR1403 can brag about is the Audyssey technology integration. Don’t expect a full suite of Audyssey technologies that many high-end models possess but NR1403 does have one of the most important which is the Audyssey MultEQ. This ensures that the audio quality of the entire home theater system it is connected to reproduces balanced and clear sound. 3D pass-through technology is built into this AV receiver as well so you should have no problems with playing 3D Blu-ray discs.
Because the NR1403 targets the entry-level crowd, it is very important for the AV receiver to be easy to set up and use. Fortunately, the Marantz NR1403 meets that objective by introducing a special onscreen guide called “Setup Assistant” which makes the installation process very easy to follow. The remote control isn’t as intimidating as the ones used for the more complicated systems. Input sources are just a button press away and it is easy to change things like the sound mode. There are even 3 programmable numerical buttons where you can assign a favorite station.
No fancy Internet features are included in the NR1403 but the Marantz NR1403 can have a networking feature if you have the Marantz RX-101 accessory. This accessory allows the NR1403 to receive Bluetooth signals so you can send music from your smartphone or other mobile device after you made a successful pairing and once it is in range.
The Marantz NR1403 isn’t really for everyone and people looking to expect beyond 5.1 channels should look for pricier offerings or the other member of the Slim Line family which is the Marantz NR1603. Choosing the NR1403 instead of other models is all about gauging your needs and taking a good look at the back of the AV receiver so you can really see what you can hook up to the AV receiver. The abundance of HDMI ports can be a selling point if you can just think of a basic home theater system that can take advantage of these ports.
As long as you have no plans in expanding your home theater system any time soon, the Marantz NR1403 is an excellent deal for the $400 price tag. The low-profile chassis not only adds to the installation possibilities but it also looks more attractive looking. Compared to the more feature-rich Marantz NR1603, you can save $200 as long as you are confident that this AV receiver won’t leave you asking for more.