During the month of June 2014, Marantz announced 2 new home theater receivers that officially begin their 2014 family of the SR and NR series. Fans of Marantz AV receivers should be familiar with these series and those seeking quality may find the SR5009 to be the more attractive newcomer because it finally brings integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies. But that doesn’t mean that the Marantz NR1605 should be left out despite its slimmer profile because Marantz managed to deliver those new features to this high-end slim receiver too along with a couple of other welcome enhancements.
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The NR1605 may not have the unique circular display that the SR models boast but what it does have is an attractively slim profile with a fairly traditional home theater receiver control layout. Its height measures slightly above 4 inches and it weighs around 4 pounds less than the new and thicker SR5009 model. This adds the kind of flexibility and versatility that you don’t normally see in typical home theater receivers.
From the front panel, the Marantz NR1605 looks identical to its predecessor so you need to look closely at the “NR1605” label just below the Marantz logo to make sure you are getting the latest model. The center of the receiver is a typical rectangular display found in between two knobs that serve as the input selector and volume controls respectably. Just below this display is a few buttons that control the standard functions of the receiver like the Zone 2 toggle, Internet radio and sound mode. Close to the bottom of the receiver is the phones jack, setup mic, USB port and an HDMI input. Those that prefer the other AUX inputs on the front will have to make the sacrifice and go for the bigger model.
The back of the Marantz NR1605 features slight but very significant changes. There is another HDMI port found on the back suggestively labeled “CD” so you can hook up to 8 components and devices through HDMI. Unlike the newly launched SR5009, you only get a single HDMI output. There is also a pair of antennas that help obtain wireless signal from typical wireless routers and hotspots. The Ethernet jack remains available if your router is in close proximity and you want faster local network transfer speeds. Because the NR1605 has built-in Bluetooth too, the proprietary M-XPort, which was for the optional Bluetooth adapter, is no longer present.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
The Marantz NR1605 can finally be considered as a full network home theater receiver thanks to the inclusion of both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality. Without the need for plugging in any dongles, you can have the NR1605 connect to a wireless router to enable streaming from virtually all other devices. Having a smartphone or tablet powered by iOS or Android are the ones that can really benefit from this since you can download the free Marantz Remote mobile app and have convenient access to the settings. Then you can stream whatever files are in your device to the receiver or even launch your favorite music streaming app and let the home theater system take care of it. The mobile app has been updated to support tablets as well.
But if you want to satisfy your Spotify, Pandora or Sirius XM streaming needs, you can do so directly from the receiver. iOS users can also take advantage of the AirPlay functionality to play back very high quality audio. You may not have the same experience with Bluetooth but having the Bluetooth functionality is good because it allows other classes of media players to stream wirelessly to the NR1605 without much effort. DLNA compatibility also allows laptops and desktops running Windows to stream.
The Marantz NR1604 was advertised to support 4K displays and even upscaling support to 4K but it was held back by the HDMI specification. The Marantz NR1605 fixes that by incorporating HDMI 2.0 to every port to enable 4K Ultra HD 60 Hz pass-through complete with 4:4:4: Pure Color sub-sampling pass-through. With 4K displays trickling down to consumer-friendly prices, getting a receiver like the NR1605 is a great way to be prepared.
The rest of the specs of the Marantz NR1605 are similar to the NR1604 so you still have a power output of 70W (50W at 8 Ohm) and a signal-to-noise ratio of 98dB. It remains friendly to first-time home theater receiver owners thanks to the on-screen Setup Assistant which will help you set up the speakers and network connection. The 7.1-channel receiver comes well equipped with support for the Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio high resolution formats along with Audyssey Silver. This means that you can utilize the Audyssey MultEQ function which is a step down from the MultEQ XT found in the SR5009 but it still does the job in making accurate acoustical measurements for every connected speaker and subwoofer. The Audyssey Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume also work together to keep the volume at an audible and consistent level across different channels, sources and program segments. Multi-room support is retained and you can hook up an external stereo power amplifier to the pre-amp outputs if you like.
The Marantz NR1605 is in a very good position right now because it has all the features and connectivity you need in a home theater receiver. With HDMI 2.0 built in, the NR1605 won’t be obsolete at least in this decade. The added networking convenience is necessary in an environment where mobile devices are taking over the living room. You also get a decent selection of legacy ports and decent audio performance. No telling if Marantz will bring the networking features to lower-end models but at $699, the Marantz NR1605 is aggressively priced and could be a great value option for people that find the larger $999 receivers too expensive. The NR1605 continues the series tradition to bring out slim models without sacrificing vital features.