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Marantz Melody Movie M-ER803
Marantz doesn’t do all-in-one home cinema systems, but if it did… they’d probably include a unit like the Melody Movie, or M-ER803 to give it its less poetic model number. It’s a combined Blu-ray player and two-channel AV receiver, like the ones you find in an all-in-one system but a bit posher. All of the playback, processing and power handling takes place in this single compact box – all you have to do is add the speakers and a powered sub. As this product hails from Marantz, an audio brand through and through, naturally it’s designed to satisfy the needs of hi-fi buffs as well as movie lovers, but with a price tag that could buy you two 5.1 home cinema systems is it enough to justify the outlay?
The Melody Movie certainly earns its corn on the aesthetic front. It’s a beautifully designed little box, measuring just 280mm wide and fashioned in a suave black finish. Like Marantz’ receivers, the curved edges at each end communicate a sense of elegance, while the white lights on the fascia and glossy black top panel are designed to catch the eye and keep it there. It’s constructed from an impossibly robust aluminium cabinet, which makes it surprisingly heavy – always a good sign. This wonderful build quality and gorgeous styling are exactly what you’d expect for this sort of money, laying the groundwork for what we hope will be an equally satisfying performance.
The front panel is fairly busy, featuring two rings of buttons, one for playback and one for menu control, which sit either side of the disc tray and a small but informative display panel. Towards the bottom is a flap that conceals a headphone port, minijack input, a USB port for storage devices and iPods plus three buttons that let you switch between the various sound modes.
There’s a useful if not overly generous array of connections on the rear panel, headlined by the HDMI v1.3 output that carries 1080p Blu-ray pictures to your TV. There are no HDMI inputs though, so you can forget about running other hi-def sources through it. There aren’t any digital audio inputs either, which is a big surprise – that means there’s no way of feeding sound from digital TV receivers like Sky+ into the unit, and you’ll have to rely on the pair of analogue stereo inputs instead.
It’s not all bad news though – the speaker connections are robust banana plug compatible binding posts and there’s a second USB port that lets you keep a memory device permanently connected without it poking out of the front panel. You’ll also find a subwoofer pre-out, composite video output, inputs for the FM/AM radio aerials, an M-XPort (which lets you connect Marantz’s optional RX101 Bluetooth receiver) and an Ethernet port.