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Marantz BD7004 Blu-ray Player - Marantz BD7004
There are no complaints when it comes to picture quality. The job of any Blu-ray player is to deliver the digital 1080p signal to the screen over HDMI without any glitches or interference and the BD7004 does it flawlessly.
Monsters Vs Aliens looks absolutely stunning - the deck wrings the last drop of detail from the pin-sharp CG graphics, and its grasp on colours is second to none. Bold hues are reproduced with breathtaking purity and the deck easily gets to grips with tonal nuances and subtle shadow work, resulting in some wonderfully solid and three-dimensional images. We also slipped Angels & Demons into the tray (courtesy of Woolworths.co.uk) and the BD7004 conveys live-action images with the same conviction, particularly when it comes to the movie's frequent dark interior scenes, in which none of the ornate details gets lost in the shadows.
Noise is never an issue and motion is tracked with judder-free fluidity. With the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark Blu-ray, it breezes through most of the tests but takes a while to detect the correct cadence on the Film Resolution test pattern, and even when it did there were some strange 'blooming' artefacts within the vertically striped boxes.
The player boasts Anchor Bay's VRS processing for upscaling DVDs, and a superb job it does too. Kingdom of Heaven's epic visuals look crisp and untainted by noise. Subjective movie viewing doesn't reveal any jagged edges, block noise or motion problems, and even when we switched to the HQV DVD the BD7004 didn't put a foot wrong.
Marantz comes from a hi-fi background, so naturally music playback is of the highest order. After kicking back with a range of CDs, we had nothing but admiration for the full-bodied, sharp quality of its sound, due in no small part to the superb array of high-quality audio components Marantz has put to work inside the unit.
We can't fault its HD audio decoding either. It really goes for the jugular during the Golden Gate bridge scene in Monsters Vs Aliens, reproducing the chaos with smoothness, detail and precision.
Although it's beautifully built and offers impressive performance, the BD7004 doesn't inspire the same level of excitement as the LG BD390 - a player that costs around a third of the price but packs loads more features and, if we're being honest, similar picture quality.
That said, the Marantz is much more sophisticated musically, so if audio and build quality are key buying factors and you don't care about web downloads or PC streaming, then the Marantz BD7004 will be right up your alley, but otherwise save money and go for the LG.
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