As expected, the UD7006’s 2D pictures are sublime. We tried out Rise of the Planet of the Apes on Blu-ray, and the deck’s talented video circuitry and processors render every last drop of detail in an emphatic, pristine fashion.
The photo-real ape CG looks crisp and super-detailed, allowing you to see WETA’s excellent work up-close as well as exposing some of the more unnatural-looking effects.
In fact, the deep black levels, smooth, natural colour processing and fluid tracking of the apes’ fast movements make every moment of this movie enjoyable to watch, allowing you to invest in the story without being distracted by noise or judder. Great stuff.
The sense of wonder continues with 3D material like Thor. As the camera glides through Asgard in the overblown but dazzling establishing shots, you really do get the feeling of immersion and depth that the technology promises – thanks in no small part to the UD7006’s ability to pass on the left and right 1080p images without any glitches or artefacts.
We really don’t have a bad word to say about the deck’s picture quality, nor do we about its music playback, particularly from hi-res SACDs like Roxy Music’s Avalon. There’s a wonderfully wide frequency range, which means it delivers warm, full bodied bass and sparkles with beautifully-shaped high frequencies – all the while making sure that midrange sounds are solid. All of the instruments are precisely placed within the multichannel soundstage, while vocals are clear and convincing. You can switch off the video circuitry when playing music to further aid clarity.
We’re also impressed by the deck’s handling of multichannel movie soundtracks through the 7.1-channel analogue ports – channels are cleanly separated, effects are smoothly steered and there’s all the depth and detail clarity you’d expect from a Blu-ray soundtrack.
The only gripe we have over the deck’s performance is the amount of time it takes to load a Java-heavy disc. It chewed over Terminator Salvation for 51 seconds before playing it, which isn’t a disaster but not lightning fast.
A deck at this price really should ace the Silicon Optix HQV disc’s test patterns but that’s not the case. It coped with the Video Resolution Loss and Diagonal Filtering (jaggies) tests fine, but violent strobing and flicker on the File Resolution test reveal minor processing shortcomings.
Most people shopping for a Blu-ray deck will take one look at the Marantz UD7006’s £549.95 price tag, faint and then pick up a Samsung or Sony for £200 or less. If they do, they’ll get loads of extra features, a wealth of internet content and maybe even built-in Wi-Fi into the bargain. The UD7006 is sorely lacking in sexy features, apart from YouTube and DLNA streaming – the latter refusing to play ball for us.
But anyone who knows the value of heavyweight build quality, high-quality components and the impact they can have on AV performance will appreciate what the UD7006 has to offer – its 2D and 3D picture quality is sublime, while music playback is streets ahead of the budget competition. Its ability to play back any disc is also not to be sniffed at either.