Same deal on sound. The Marantz passed my DVD-Audio and SACD auditions without breaking a sweat. The exposed, quad-like surround of Beck's Sea Change on SACD lets you appreciate subtle effects and timbres from individual instruments in ways you rarely can with stereo. Take, for example, the startlingly present rear-right cello in "It's All in Your Mind."
PLUSExcellent video quality.
MINUSPoor remote control legibility.
Similarly dramatic soundscapes await you on plenty of DVD-Audio discs, too, like the series of "you-are-there-on-stage" jazz mixes from Aix Records. The combination of string-bass and jazz drum-kit on Cheryl Bentyne Among Friends is remarkable, and the Marantz delivered its realism right down to the preternaturally present rattling of the snares and felt-not-heard woody vibes of the stage flooring under the double bass.
The Marantz offers bass management for DVD-Audio discs and SACDs as well as for Dolby Digital and DTS DVDs - a welcome change that we hope to see more of. However, SACD bass management is handled somewhat differently, with a high- and low-pass crossover point of 80 Hz instead of the 100 Hz used for all other formats.
On the ergonomics front, the remote control is not too cramped, and its slightly odd layout, with its off-center four-way cursor keys, was easier to learn to use by touch than I expected. And that's a good thing because the gold-on-black labels were unreadable in my home theater when I dimmed the lights to watch a movie.
The Marantz player's setup options and operating features include all the usual search modes, video zoom, and selectable black-level controls. There's a nice bidirectional fast-search for DVD-Video, too: 2x, 8x, 50x, and 100x, which lets you get around in a pretty spry fashion, though the higher-speed reverse-scan modes were less smooth and predictable than the forward ones. This player was also quicker in skipping SACD and DVD-Audio tracks than some of the other universal players I've tested.
The Marantz DV6400 handily strikes a balance between stripped-down DVD-Video players made to sell at the lowest possible price and universal players that are built like safes and finished like jewelry - and priced accordingly. It defends this middle ground with considerable aplomb, and its audio and video qualities will leave no one feeling disappointed.
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