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The BD7004 is the middleman in Marantz's latest Blu-ray line-up, sandwiched between the reference-class UD9004 and entry-level BD5004. With a price tag pushing £700 it's clearly aimed at buyers who take home cinema seriously, and that's reflected in the classy build quality and high-grade electronics lurking inside it.
But with a number of much cheaper players on the market, packed with all sorts of cutting-edge features and impressive picture tech, the BD7004 needs to come up with something special to justify the extra expense.
You certainly feel like you're getting £700 worth of player when you first haul it from the box. Thanks to an extra metal plate fixed to the top cover, the thick aluminium front panel and all-metal chassis, it tips the scales at a substantial 4.9kg. Heaviness doesn't necessarily translate into top-notch performance but it's always a reassuring sign, and rigid construction like this helps reduce vibrations that can have a negative impact on performance.
Thankfully Marantz has also made its chunky bodywork look delectable and distinctive. The front panel is curved and adorned with neat rows of buttons down either side of the centrally-placed disc tray, which doesn't rattle forward like most budget decks but slides out with a beautifully smooth action. The silver embossed Blu-ray logo and disc tray detailing add an extra touch of glamour.
As you'd expect from a deck designed for demanding home cinema systems, there's plenty of action on the back panel. There are Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio decoders on board and the 7.1-channel analogue outputs let you enjoy hi-res soundtracks even if your amp lacks HDMI sockets. A separate set of stereo audio connections, isolated from the multichannel sockets, is best used for straight-up CD playback, while the coaxial digital output passes the 5.1 audio stream to a receiver.
On the video side, the HDMI v1.3 port fires out 1080/24p pictures from Blu-ray discs, Dolby TrueHD/DTS HD Master Audio bitstreams and upscaled DVD video signals (at 720p, 1080i or 1080p). Component outputs deliver hi-def video up to 1080i and benefit from a 297MHz/12-bit video DAC (the BD5004 offers a 150MHz version).
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