Unfortunately, the Ethernet port’s duties amount to nothing more than downloading BD Live content from the Internet – there’s no DLNA networking, streaming or anything of that ilk. That’s not particularly impressive at this price, particularly when countless cheap Blu-ray decks can stream music, videos and photos from networked PCs, and the frustrating thing is that the Melody Movie is the sort of product that would really benefit from music streaming given its hi-fi centric approach. Yes, you can play MP3, WMA, AAC and FLAC from USB devices, but that involves uploading files on a PC, which is a pain if you’re constantly acquiring new music.
The Melody Movie features a 2 x 70W Class D digital amplifier and the internal circuitry has been designed with plenty of care and attention, taking its cue from Marantz’s reference Blu-ray decks like the £5k UD9004. Marantz has taken the ‘simple and straight’ approach to circuit design, which means short, uncomplicated signal paths, while the circuit boards have been designed to achieve lower impedance.
Also buried inside this box of tricks are a few other features, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio decoding, DVD upscaling to 1080p and Dolby Virtual Speaker, which adds a surround sound flavour to stereo output. You can also enjoy a surround sound effect when listening through headphones thanks to the built-in Dolby Headphone technology. The Source Direct mode delivers the sound as it is on the disc while DBB mode boosts bass output.
Aside from playing the compressed music formats mentioned above, the Marantz will also play AVI and WMV from USB devices connected to the rear port but not the front one, although DivX files can’t be played back through either USB port – another black mark.
Thankfully, the Melody Movie is very easy to use, primarily due to the attractive, intuitive menu system. Fire it up and you’re greeted by the Home menu. This uses a bright blue background and a clever curved submenu structure that starts on the left of the screen and works its way across, scrolling up and down at each stage. It’s slick, responsive and thorough, plus the use of icons makes it easy on the eye – the small text is the only cause for concern.
The remote lacks this clarity of layout, with buttons confusingly scattered all over the place and microscopic labelling. On the plus side, the main menu controls are sensibly positioned, input selection keys are clearly signposted and the buttons glow in the dark.