The Good: The Marantz NR1605, despite it’s small stature, has a good balanced sound quality. The 1605 sounds great for movies and despite only pushing 50 watts per channel, it has a surprisingly big sound.

 

The Bad: While the Marantz 1605 sounds spectacular for movies, for music it could use a little more oomph. Also, despite it’s bevy of features, there are competing receivers like the Sony STR-DN1050 that are less expensive but offer similar options.

 

Summary: The 1605 is an impressive piece of equipment for movies. Few receivers we’ve tested this year have created such an engaging sound field. Although we wish it had just a tad more power for music playback, it’s sonic accuracy makes up for this.

Marantz NR1605 Review

Marantz NR1605 Receiver

Marantz has a reputation as an elite AV receiver manufacturer. They’re also one of the few manufacturers that actually puts some effort towards designing an aesthetically pleasing piece of equipment. Most AV receivers are your typical chunky black boxes. (the operative word being chunky). The past couple of years Marantz has actively tried to buck this unfortunate trend by creating a “slim” line of receivers. The Marantz NR1605 is the latest in their slim line-up. However, despite being vertically challenged, the 1605 still packs an impressive array of features that rivals it’s stout competitors.

 

Appearance and Connectivity

Marantz NR1605 Receiver

The 7.1 Channel Marantz NR 1605 measures 17″ wide  x 14″ deep and a meager 4″ high. The smallish 1605 incorporates design cues from it’s larger brethren. The brushed aluminum front curves gently on the left and right sides which serves to soften it’s appearance. The front panel has a simplistic layout which is mostly clear of extraneous button clutter. On the left and right sides you have volume and input select knobs.

 

Despite it”s limited dimensions, the 1605 houses 8 HDMI inputs (7 rear/1 front) and 1 output. It also includes an optical and a coaxial digital input. If you have a large amount of equipment that requires analog audio inputs you may be in trouble since the 1605 only includes 3. Not surprisingly, the 1605 doesn’t have an s-video input, but it does include 2 component video inputs. In addition, for home automation and custom installs it has a RS-232C Serial Port and a 12 Volt Trigger. The front of the unit has a USB port which works well for connecting a USB drive, iPod, or iPhone.

 

Marantz 1605 Remote

AV manufacturers typically love to cram loads of buttons on their remote controls. Thankfully Marantz’s simplified button layout for the 1605 makes it a cinch to use. The on-screen menus are easy to navigate and well laid out. Marantz also offers control apps for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire devices that control the basic features of the receiver.

Marantz 1605 app

 

For networking, the Marantz NR1605 features one ethernet jack along with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. The Marantz 1605 is able to remember up to 8 bluetooth devices which is great if you have multiple family members who like to listen to their favorite music. The DLNA compatible 1605 is also able to stream music from other DLNA compatible devices on your network such as a PC or NAS drive. AirPlay comes included with the 1605 so you can wirelessly push your favorite tunes from your iOS device to the receiver. During our listening tests both AirPlay and Bluetooth streaming worked flawlessly, although when it comes to sound quality, AirPlay edged out Bluetooth. Marantz includes a few internet radio streaming options as well including;  Pandora, SiriusXM and Spotify.

 

On the audio front, the Marantz NR1605 decodes most of the major HD audio formats including; Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Pro Logic IIz. For video, NR 1605 supports 4K/60Hz/4:4:4 Pure Color full-rate pass-through. 4K Ultra HD hasn’t quite caught on yet however, with industry giants such as Netflix and Amazon jumping on board and providing content, odds are that it will become the defacto TV resolution standard in the future.

 

Calibration & Setup

For calibration, the 1605 uses Audyssey’s silver calibration package which requires you to place the provided microphone at several locations in your listening area. Marantz is nice enough to include a cardboard tri-pod to set the microphone on top off during calibration. While the tri-pod is a nice touch it’s relatively fragile and if you need to use it more than a few times it will begin to deteriorate.

 

After the receiver blasts a series of test tones through your speakers, it then calibrates your system based on your speakers performance and your rooms acoustics. The whole process takes about 15 minutes. The only issue we came across was that the Audyessey calibration set our front speakers to large however, we prefer to let our subwoofer handle the low frequencies so we changed them to small and set the crossover to a THX recommended  80 Hz.

 

Marantz NR 1605 Performance

During our review of the Marantz NR 1605, we couldn’t help but draw comparisons between it and the Pioneer VSX-1124 which we recently reviewed. The Pioneer VSX-1124 was one of the best sounding mid-range receivers we listened to this year. That being said the Marantz NR1605 which is rated at only 50 watts per channel, doesn’t quite have the power of the 1124. However, it’s remarkably warm balanced sound has more than enough power for a medium sized home theater room.

 

Audyssey gives you four MultEQ sound options when listening/watching your media; Reference, L/R Bypass, Flat and Off.  Reference seemed to create the most balanced sound field especially for movie watching. L/R Bypass (which bypasses MultEQ on the front left and right speakers) is a good choice if you have front/stereo speakers which are full range or close to full range.

 

We listened to Rusko’s “Hold-on” which is a very bass heavy track. The 1605 didn’t break a sweat, with it displaying impressive bass response. Lord’s “Glory and Gore” track sounded equally impressive. As a testament to the 1605’s sonic accuracy, when listening to Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” single, we heard frequencies and notes we never heard before. The one thing we did notice with the receiver was that with music playback, it seemed a little restrained. Almost like the Marantz 1605 was holding back just a bit. This was more noticeable on Rock tracks where you’re just waiting for the receiver to just cut loose, but it never does. However, vocals were crystal clear with excellent treble and smooth mid-range.

 

Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow on Blu-Ray, never sounded so good. The Marantz NR 1605 didn’t hold anything back. Edge of Tomorrow, which has been likened to Ground Hog Day with Aliens, is an action packed Sci-Fi adventure. The Marantz 1605 created a fantastic and wide sound field. Sound transitioned from channel to channel smoothly creating a seamless listening experience. Explosions had the gravitas you’d expect with our subwoofer actively rumbling when needed. When the first on screen battle occurs the 1605 drops you in the middle of the war zone, with the sounds of wizzing bullets and tearing metal all around. Dialogue and vocals were never impeded by the intense on screen action. On a side note, the beginning intro of Edge of Tomorrow has a violent subwoofer torture test that will make your sub rumble like never before.

 

Conclusion

The small form factor of the Marantz NR1605 gives more flexibility for placement options, but it comes at a price. At an MSRP of $699 it’s a little pricier than some of it’s competitors like the Sony STR-DN1050 that offer many of the same features but at a lower price. However, when you look at the Marantz-NR 1605 in it’s totality it’s amazing that Marantz was able to bundle so many features in a small little package. You would expect there to be trade-offs with this many features, but somehow Marantz has managed to load-up the 1605 while still keeping the excellent sound quality that they’re known for. While the 1605 wouldn’t be ideally suited for a large home theater room, it could easily power a nice set of speakers in a small or medium sized home theater.

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