Marantz’s home cinema receivers have traditionally been known for being big, stylised boxes – imposing AV leviathans of the living room. But its entry-level slimline models are anything but gigantic. They’re around half the height of a typical receiver, and have become popular because of it. The Marantz NR1604 is the higher-end model of the two new 2013 slim receivers, and costs £549.
The Marantz NR1604 is all about its shape and its looks. These separate it from the many keen rivals at the price – from Yamaha, Sony, Onkyo and Marantz’s sister company Denon. This is probably the best-looking, most lounge-friendly receiver you can get at the price.
The NR1604 and companion Marantz Blu-ray drive
There is a price to pay for a size zero – ok, more like size 10 – frame, though. The Marantz NR1604 has significantly less power on tap than most larger receivers at the price. It has just 90W per channel, making it best-suited to your typical speaker setup of diddy satellites and an active subwoofer, rather than an array of giant floorstanders.
However, it is a 7.1 amp, rather than a 5-channel amp – one of the main upgrades over the £349 NR1504.
Aside from this power issue, the Marantz NR1604 has a pretty comprehensive array of features. It has seven HDMI ports, six on the rear and one up front, 4K upscaling, Audyssey MultiEQ XT auto setup and online features.
Like Marantz’s other receivers, the NR1604 does not have Wi-Fi built-in, but you can plug in some third-party dongles or use the Ethernet port to connect directly to your router. Once hooked-up, you’ll be able to access Spotify and Last.fm, stream music over AirPlay or DLNA and control the receiver using a tablet or phone.
Marantz offers a free remote control app for Android and iOS devices, and it lets you control most of the receiver’s settings. There’s a traditional remote control too, if using your smartphone doesn’t appeal.
The Marantz NR1604 is most ways a minor update to its predecessor, but these slim-line models are a good solution if small size and good looks are important factors to you.