The SR6004 left nothing to be desired when used as a simple stereo amplifying device for close 2-channel listening. Quiet, clean, and surprisingly dynamic, it motivated my moderatesensitivity small monitors to quite impressive full-range levels. Playing lossless audio files from my networked music library (via an outboard D/A converter), I heard nothing at all to distinguish the Marantz receiver from my everyday separate-component setup, save a very modest dip in ultimate loudness and peak dynamic levels. This may sound like high praise for an A/V receiver, but receiver and integrated amp performance from the upper-echelon brands and models, even at price points more modest than what Marantz charges for the SR6004, is typically quite good. Given this fact — and Marantz’s customary commitment to serious design, including extra attention to elements such as power-supply capacity and output-device selection — I was pleased but not particularly surprised.
The SR6004 is equipped with Dolby PLIIz, which adds a pair of front “height” channels to the standard 5.1 layout. I found its contributions subtle but intriguing on both movies and music. During movies with an effects-rich soundtrack, it really does manage an element of verticality in both discrete effects and overarching ambience. In the opening sequence of Wall-E, for example, the shot in which Wall-E climbs up into his trailer took on a definite verticality with PLIIz engaged that was absent otherwise. Since I’ve auditioned them at different times and in different setups, I’m not prepared to compare or contrast PLIIz to Audyssey DSX, which I’ve also experienced. But my sense is that they’re indeed audibly different, though the distinction is probably subtle enough to elude all but the confirmed home theater geek. (Yeah: guilty.)
Audyssey Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ worked precisely as I’ve experienced in the past. Dynamic Volume really can level out sources and programs (including commercials!) to a valuable degree without doing too much violence to TV and film soundtrack balances. And Dynamic EQ can make truly low-level listening, particularly on wide-range movie soundtracks, a lot more involving. It’s no substitute for something approaching real-theater reference levels, and it’s occasionally a bit heavy-handed, yielding overly thick, thuddy bass, but its effects are worlds better than that of any conventional “Loudness” button.
While the Marantz’s power ratings are modest by top-of-the-line A/V receiver standards, it delivered plenty of juice to my mid-sensitivity loudspeaker layout and filled my good-size room (about 3,100 cubic feet) just fine. The Who at Kilburn 1977 is a long-withheld, much anticipated historical document — and a testament to what 10 years of hard living will do. The kids look far from alright, and despite its 16-track location recording and extensive digital remastering some 30 years later, Kilburn isn’t a very good-sounding Blu-ray Disc, DTSHD Master Audio soundtrack or no. But turning up the volume helps, a lot — and turning it up even higher helps still more. The SR6004 was happy to oblige, delivering the requisite thunderous, wall-ofwatts attack from all channels without complaint or hint of distortion.
The SR6004’s upconversion of standard- def analog video for output over HDMI worked well: Results were visibly slightly soft, but jaggies were minimal, and it had no problem engaging 2:3 pulldown with film-based material. However, the receiver’s sub-par handling of high-def signals arriving via componentvideo resulted in both visible jaggies and reduced resolution. HDMI signals pass through the SR6004 unaltered: What comes in goes out.
I’ll give the Marantz medium-high marks for usability. The supplied remote is attractive, backlit, and reasonably laid out, but it shares a single key grouping for input- selection and remote-mode assignment. This means you must, for example, key BD twice to switch to controlling your Blu-ray Disc player — and should you forget to re-key AMP to return to control of the receiver itself again, you’ll be left puzzling over why nothing seems to be working. (I also think its Mute key could benefit from a more distinctive shape or placement.)
As noted, the SR6004 eschews any pop-up onscreen displays for volume, mode, signal format, and so on, and its front-panel display is tough to read from a distance of more than 8 feet or so. This makes tweaking individual channel levels from your listening/viewing seat a bit more challenging than with receivers that have HD instant-up/down/overlay graphics — something I found I missed.
On the other hand, the SR6004 package includes a very substantial (and useful) accessory packed right in the box at no extra charge: Marantz’s RX101 Bluetooth wireless receiver. Assuming you have a Bluetooth-equipped iPhone/ iPod touch or equivalent gizmo, this is a woo-hoo add-on. I paired my iPhone up to the RX101 with no difficulty, and enjoyed the convenience of playing my pocket music through the big system with unbeatable convenience and surprisingly decent sound quality. True, the Bluetooth link isn’t CD-quality (or even, I suspect, 320kbps-MP3-quality), but you know what? It ain’t all that bad. And the RX101 packs its own secret bonus: an infrared receiver that relays commands to the SR6004. This will let you, for example, park the receiver away inside a cabinet or even in another room, as long as the deck-of-cards-size, wall-mountable Bluetooth dongle remains “visible” to the remote controller.
The SR6004 also packs a handy frontpanel USB port. This can play files from a thumb drive and also talk to an iPhone/ iPod (5G and up), delivering onscreen display of familiar iPod screen lists and metadata, along with fairly complete control of the iPod via Marantz’s remote.
With the SR6004, Marantz appears to be targeting A/V receiver buyers who demand high-quality audio and video, including latest-generation audio decoding and processing, but not too many other extra features to muddy the waters. If that’s indeed the case, the firm has succeeded admirably.
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.