Marantz NR1509 Review (5.2 4K UHD Receiver)

Marantz NR1509

Summary

Product Name: NR1509
Manufacturer: Marantz
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com , Amazon.co.uk

Design :
Audio Quality :
Inputs / Ports :

OS, Apps and Features :
Price / Quality :
Final Score :


Pros
Excellent sound quality
Compact design
Lots of features
Very good price

Cons
A bit underpowered at 50W per channel
It has only one HDMI OUT port
No Dolby Atmos or DTS:X support
No upscaling support


A few months ago we were introduced to the Marantz slim lineup of AV receivers when we reviewed last year’s NR1608 which left us very good impressions overall despite it’s slimmer design. What impressed us very much was that despite it’s smaller size Marantz made no compromises to what features it would include in the unit and we could say that other than it’s overall power which was rather limited naturally due to size constraints everything else could have been included in a fully sized AV receiver.

Marantz NR1509

Following last year’s recipe Marantz has released two new units for 2018 and although at first glance they seem very similar there are a few differences that set them apart. The bigger, and more expensive, of the two units is the NR1609 while the one we will be reviewing here today is it’s smaller brother, the NR1509. From the outside they look the same but keeping a closer eye reveal a few key differences in their specifications and features setting them apart which makes them target difference audiences. Having only good things to say for this slim series we were curious to see what they managed to do with this obviously budget-friendly model for this year.

So without further delay let’s dive deeper and analyze what this lovely little AV receiver has to offer in our Marantz NR1509 review.

Design

We fell in love with the size of this slim series of AV receivers. Having a smaller footprint means that they fit in tighter spaces, they produce less heat and in general they don’t look like a big black box sitting with the rest of your home cinema equipment. The NR1509 follows the same principle by having a size of 17.3 x 16.2 x 7.3 inches (440 x 376 x 105mm) and weight of only 8,2 Kg or 31.1 lbs if you prefer making it ideal for anyone that has limited space or small furniture. Having dual WiFi antennas can make the need for a bit more height but you can turn them sideways without downgrading the receiving signal at least from our testing.

Marantz NR1509

In the front we see the usual configuration we see in all their slim lineup. The NR1509 features the familiar curved front side that Marantz is using with a big functions display in the middle  showing various information like audio track, input and volume while on both sides there are two big turning knobs, the one on the right for the volume and the one on the left for input selection. Under the input selection knob we find the power button while under the functions display there is a single row with 8 buttons that control various functions like tuner preset channels, internet radio, dimmer, status, sound mode and pure direct.

Under this row we find a few frontal ports for quick access with a PHONES jack and the test microphone port being placed under the left side of the display while on the right side there is a USB port (5V, 1A) for connecting external storage devices as well as an HDMI port that support 4K/HDCP 2.2 that makes it ideal for connecting some projector that you don’t plan on placing it permanently. All other ports are naturally placed on the back and we will talk about them in our dedicated section.

Marantz NR1509 remote

The remote that comes with the NR1509 is nothing special but provides all the necessary functions needed. The buttons have the necessary space between them making them easy to be pressed and they are separated into groups depending on their functionality. The buttons could be a bit bigger and we would like to have some kind of backlight functionality but that’s a no with this remote. Although the design and quality is nothing to brag about the included remote gets the job done and for such a budget friendly receiver we shouldn’t expect anything fancy.

The NR1509 follows the same design that we saw in last year’s NR1608. It’s slim size makes it ideal for tight spaces, small rooms and not so ideal furniture while keeping it’s nice curves and functional characteristics. It doesn’t miss anything important that a fully sized AV receiver would have and this a small win for Marantz. And we have to applaud them for managing that.

Audio Quality

The Marantz NR1509 may not support the latest audio formats but it has full support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD: Master Audio making it more than capable of delivering an immersive experience. Having five channels of amplification it means we can only create a 5.1 (or 5.2 if you prefer a dual subwoofer setup) audio setup with only two surround speakers. Not having height channels that the new audio formats are using is definitely impacting the end result creating a sound stage that definitely feels more restricted vertically. The receiver is rated at 50watts per channel (8 ohm, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, 0.08%, 2ch Drive) ideal for small rooms, bedrooms and media areas.

Marantz NR1509

For our tests we used, as usual, the 4K UHD disc of Pacific Rim: Uprising, a film with an audio track that has plenty of effects and destruction that can push any system to it’s limits. The results we got were more than satisfying considering the limitations we have to deal with. The sound stage expanded all around us and the NR1509 managed to deliver all the surround effects clearly and with precision. Especially projectiles and fast moving objects like fighter jets felt like they were moving all around us. Missing the top layer that the Dolby Atmos offers of course made the experience a little bit less enthusiastic but at no point will it prevent you from enjoying what is offered to the maximum.

During more calm scenes like in the beginning where the main hero is inside the Jaeger scrapyard you can hear various ambient sounds from the metal carcasses of these robotic beasts. Center channel is also very distinguishable with the dialogue being clear and separated from the rest of the effects.

Marantz NR1509

The NR1509 may perform admirably when used at normal volume levels but when we tried to push the receiver to test it’s limits it is when it started to show it’s weakness. At times it felt like struggling to deliver the necessary power given it’s limitations and the result left a lot to be desired. But if you consider such a receiver then going very high in volume is probably not the thing you plan to do.

As with movies we also tried a few music tracks and we got similar performance delivering a dynamic soundstage with very good speakers distribution. Details were clear and instruments separation was audible. Even when there were fast changes in the songs dynamics the receiver did well to keep the pace. Only when pushing the volume to it’s limits it felt a bit like loosing control. The NR1509 supports a wide variety of lossless and lossy audio formats like MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, ALAC, WAV, FLAC HD 192/24 bit, WAV 192/24 bit, ALAC 192/24 bit as well as DSD streaming (both 2.8 and 5.6MHz).

Inputs / Ports

With last year’s NR1608 we were hugely impressed by the amount of ports that Marantz had managed to fit in such a slim design and we hoped that this would apply this year also. Unfortunately since the NR1509 we are reviewing here is supposed to be the budget friendly model from the two that were released in the series for 2018 it was bound to have less ports than it’s bigger brother.

In the front as we mentioned  there is a PHONES jack, a test microphone port, a USB and an HDMI IN port. Now in the back the first thing we see is the five HDMI IN and one HDMI OUT ports with all of them supporting 4K and HDCP 2.2 while the HDMI out also supports ARC. Not the biggest amount of ports here but we would say normal in this price range. The NR1509 also comes equipped with color-coded speaker terminals for easy and fast installation.

Marantz NR1509

Everything else includes four analogue stereo inputs, three composite inputs and one output, 0ne remote control input and one output, one digital optical input and one digital coaxial input, multichannel pre-out ports, two outputs for a dual subwoofer setup, antenna connections and an Ethernet port for wired connection to the internet.

For such a budget friendly receiver we couldn’t expect to find the same amount of ports as the bigger model in the series so in this regard we have to be happy with what we get. Choosing such a receiver means that you don’t have a lot of requirements and what is being offered should be more than enough to create a respectable dedicated audio system.

OS, Apps and Features

Any receiver in 2018 should support the latest resolutions and protocols and as such the NR1509 supports 4K/60Hz full-rate pass-through, 4:4:4 color resolution, HDR and BT.2020, plus Dolby Vision compatibility and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG).

One difference we saw during setup compared to the more expensive model was that the menus for the NR1509 were more simple visually. We don’t know if this is a hardware thing or something else but we found it strange to see a visual difference in the menus as they were not so much computational intensive to begin with. But even if they are visually different, they were very simple and easy to navigate and at no point did we feel lost. Marantz provides a setup assistant that helps you through the whole process of connecting your devices and setting up your speakers.

There is also the ability to control the receiver through the Marantz 2016 AVR remote app which is available for both Android and iOS and grands you the ability to change every single function as there is a plethora of options and audio settings you can play with. The visual interface is also much better than the one provided with the built-in menu of the NR1509 making it more pleasant to use.

Marantz NR1509

Setting up the NR1509 becomes way easier with the inclusion of the Audyssey MultEQ audio calibration system and the help of the included testing microphone. Of course doing a manual calibration is always the optimal way but for people that are not very experienced or don’t want to go through the trouble the results of the system are very good, all things considered, creating a very balanced system that will certainly satisfy most.

The Audyssey MultEQ also includes the Audyssey Dynamic EQ feature that helps sound to retain it’s dynamic levels and clarity even if you have the volume at low levels. Another included feature is Dynamic Volume that helps balance the volume spikes when there is change between television programming and commercials. Marantz also offers the Audyssey MultEQ Editor App which you can install in your Android or iOS smartphone and grands you more options for the setup and tuning of the AV receiver. The only negative about the app is that is not free and Marantz charges a one time charging fee in order to get it which in our opinion is unacceptable and Marantz should rethink of offering this app for free also.

Marantz NR1509

For those that are economy sensitive there is an ECO mode that can be used to lower power consumption. You can either turn it to Auto and let the receiver manage when it is used or turn it off completely in order to get the maximum out of the receiver.

The NR1509 has also the capability to stream music either from a local source like a network drive (NAS) or from the internet through some online music service using either WiFi, that supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, or through wired connection with the help of the Ethernet port. There is a wide support of streaming services like Spotify, Napster, Deezer, Tidal and Sound Cloud giving you a wide variety of options to choose from.

You can also stream high res audio from an external storage through the frontal USB port as well as through your tablet or smartphone using Bluetooth connectivity or with Airplay. There is also support for the HEOS multiroom audio technology with which you can connect with other HEOS enabled speakers around your house.

Marantz NR1509 HEOS

One new feature for 2018 that was not available in last years models is Amazon Alexa voice control via the HEOS Home Entertainment skill with which you can control the receiver through a compatible Alexa enabled speaker like Amazon Echo or a Sonos One. Voice commands include switching inputs, change volume and stream music among many others and the system seemed to respond rather well to the commands we gave it.

Final Thoughts

Marantz has managed to create a very good receiver that is targeting a specific group. Those that have tight spaces, small rooms and furniture, low budget and not very high expectations or requirements will find the Marantz NR1509 ideal for their needs.

The receiver supports both Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD: Master Audio and you can create a 5.2 surround setup that for most mainstream consumers will be more than enough. It has 5 HDMI ports, enough to connect most of your devices and all of them support 4K Ultra HD 60Hz and HDR pass-through. There is also Dolby Vision and HLG HDR formats pass-through. If you add the very good overall audio performance and the low price it’s offered the NR1509 can be a very good addition to your dedicated surround system.

Naturally being the budget friendly model in the series it was bound to have lower specifications. As such there is no support for the new object-oriented audio tracks like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. Also at 50watts per channel it may feel a bit under-powered but it will be more than enough if it is used in small rooms and media areas. Also it is missing some key features like up-scaling and multi zone support. Connection ports are also limited so you have to be sure that it has enough to connect all your equipment.

Today AV receivers pack so many features that when you see what Marantz NR1509 offers it may feel a bit underwhelming. But if you consider that we are talking about a budget friendly AV receiver with specifications and features that a few years ago were considered high-end and all these in half the size of a normal receiver then we believe that for people that cannot afford or don’t care to spend huge money to get top of the line equipment it is a great piece of hardware that will offer you countless hours of immersive cinematic enjoyment.


Specifications

  • Slim Design 5.2 channel AV Receiver with 85W per channel
  • Dolby True HD and DTS-HD decoding
  • AirPlay, Bluetooth, Internet Radio, Spotify Connect, Network Audio Streaming
  • Works with Amazon Alexa via the HEOS Home Entertainment skill
  • Built-in WiFi with 2.4GHz/5GHz dual band support; built-in Bluetooth
  • 4K/60 Hz full-rate pass-through, 4:4:4 color resolution, HDR and BT.2020, plus Dolby Vision compatibility and Hybrid Log Gamma
  • 6 HDMI inputs (incl. 1 front) with full HDCP 2.2 support
  • DSD (2.8/5.6MHz), FLAC, ALAC and WAV support
  • Audyssey MultEQ, Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ
  • Integrated Phono input to directly connect your turntable
  • Colour-coded speaker terminals, Setup Assistant, Marantz AVR Remote App
  • Intelligent ECO mode with off/on/auto setting

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14 thoughts on “Marantz NR1509 Review (5.2 4K UHD Receiver)

  1. The NR1509 certainly looks like a decent piece of kit and I like the fact that it’s not too intrusive, i.e. it’s not as big as normal models. 

    I am a bit of an audiophile and I notice that it has a built in 9 band graphic equalizer – do you feel that 9 bands are enough to handle quality audio or do you feel they could have (maybe even should have) included more?

    1. Hey Chris, you should not forget that we are talking about a budget model so expectation shouldn’t be too high. In this regard I would say what it offers it’s enough.

  2. I love that this is for people with a low budget with low expectations, because when you pay little for something you can’t expect it to be the best range, but this sounds perfect, for the price its asking for. Perfect that its for small rooms too! Thank you for bringing this to my attention. 

  3. I absolutely love Marantz products.

    They always seem to be so sleek and elegant.

    I had a whole Marantz system when I was n my twenties in England and the sound was always so beautiful.

    The NR1509 looks like a sleek black panther in action!

    I now live in a condo, so the smaller size unit is ideal and living in a tropical country it’s good to know that it emits less heat.

    It has mixed reviews on amazon, but I think sound is subjective to each person.

    It would certainly be worth going to an audio shop to listen first.

    I enjoyed your review.

    Great job!

    Tim

    My Life Is My Passion

    1. Sound is always subjective. But there are certain standards and in this regard what the NR1509 offers is very good for the price. As for the actual sound performance the best way is to listen it yourself.

  4. Hello Stratos,

    I really enjoyed reading this article and thought it was well researched. With the increase focus on developing home entertainment using web based platforms, home entertainment hardware is being forced to develop at the same pace.

    When comparing this manufacturer with the likes of Roland and Yamaha, how would you say Marantz is able to effectively compete with more main stream rivals of a similar price range?

    Thanks for your feedback,

    Rich

    1. Marantz is a well respected company for many years now so in regard to AV receivers I would say both Marantz and Yamaha offer great models. It’s just that Yamaha has a more recognizable name even to people that are not very much into home cinema equipment and thus has a stronger brand.

  5. I know looks are not everything but this product looks very slick. I like the finish on the dials especially. I think that you are right about the footprint. People like small packages that do a lot (like smartphones). It sounds like power may be an issue.

    If I am totally honest I don’t think that it would be a problem for me since i probably wouldn’t be blasting it too often. It definitely has enough HDMI ports and again the small footprint would make it fit in great with other devices.

  6. Hello there. You really made a great review. I am planning on buying a cheap set/receiver and I think Marantz might be the perfect fit. Now, I am a little bit worried about sound quality. I know you said it is quite descent for this price range, but I still have my doubts.

    Comparing to other models priced little more than this, do you think Marantz is still a better buy? Also, at the last part of your reivew where it says “Cheapest place to buy” I believe the links are left out.

    I am going to find more alternatives before deciding to buy this model.

    Best regards,

    Strahinja

    1. The quality of the NR1509 is just fine. It’s just that it was not meant for big spaces as it doesn’t have the necessary power to take the volume to very high levels. As for the links I checked them out and they work just fine. It must be something on your end.

  7. Being a little audiophile myself, I really liked your review!  In this case, I understand that quality is equal to price paid, but I see this model as a perfect fit for my small “man cave” (I should call it my movie room really!)  which is only  about 12 x 12.  That room would not require a “big brand” like Yamaha or Roland.  

    I also believe from your perspective that Marantz is quite respectable!  I looked up the reviews on Amazon and they are mixed, but that being said, sound is more of a personal opinion right?  Plus I won’t need to put the volume too high for the size of my room!  

    Thanks for your honest review, I got your website bookmarked and will be returning to get more info for my purchase!

    1. Hello Denis. I am glad you liked our review. From the dimensions you give the NR1509 will be just fine. Sound is always a personal thing as two persons can hear different things. But we try through our reviews to give an honest and well based opinion.

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