Design - 95%
Audio Quality - 90%
Inputs / Ports - 93%
OS, Apps and Features - 92%
Price / Quality - 88%
Cheapest Places to Buy :
When you read about AV receivers the first thing that pops in mind is big, bulky black boxes with lots of buttons and huge turning knobs in the front. And this is the reality as a large percentage of traditional AV receivers follow the same general bulky design with very few deviations. This means you need to keep some dedicated space in your home cinema rack to fit this beast that will be the heart of your home theater. This can be a potential problem for a lot of people with limited space or small home theater or media rooms. And this is where Marantz comes in.
Marantz is a known company for making quality AV receivers and in the last few years they have created a slim lineup of receivers in order to fill this missing part in the AV receivers segment. This way they satisfy the needs of those that want a capable receiver with all the bells and whistles of the big boys and without sacrificing quality, but in a small factor that will enable them to place them in smaller spaces or smaller rooms. Because not everyone owns huge dedicated home theater rooms with enormous speakers. Having a small home theater placed in a moderate sized living room is the most a lot of people can do so a smaller sized AV receiver is the ideal in such situations.
Marantz has payed attention and it seems they have delivered. Let’s check if this AV receiver can offer what it says in our Marantz NR1608 review.
The first thing that is immediately apparent of the NR1608 is it’s small size compared to most AV receivers we usually use. With a size of Width 17.3″ x Depth 14.8″ x Height 4.1″ (6.8″ with vertical antennas) this is a lovely, small looking receiver that can definitely fit in much smaller areas or furniture. Other than the noticeable size difference in height you will not find anything else special about it as it follows the same principles as it’s bigger brothers.
In the front you will find the usual configuration that we see in almost all AV receivers meaning there are two big turning knobs, one on the right for the volume and one on the left for the input selection. Between them is the front display that shows all important information like input selection, audio track and volume among others. Under the front display there is a single row with 8 button for various functions like zone selection, sound mode, status, pure direct and Dimmer.
As for everything else under the left turning knob we find the power button as well as a PHONES jack and the test microphone port. On the right side under the volume knob we find a USB port (5V, 1A) as well as an HDMI port with 4K/HDCP 2.2 support. All other ports and connections are located in the back of the receiver and we will analyze them further down this review.
In total we could not be more happy from what is on offer as the slimmer design does not have any impact on the buttons and front display arrangement and you find exactly what a fully sized receiver would offer. Good work from Marantz on this regard.
The Marantz NR1608 supports 4K UHD compatibility and both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio formats right out of the box. This is a 7.2 channels AV receiver with 50W per channel (8 ohm, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, 0.08% THD). With these seven channels we can either go for a 7.2 channels setup or we can go for a 5.2.2 channels in order to take advantage of the next generation of audio formats by adding two height speakers for overhead sounds. We went for a 5.1.2 setup by using only one sub woofer and two height speakers in order to test how the NR1608 fairs with Dolby Atmos.
The end result we believe is more than satisfying. The receiver managed to fill the sound stage and create a truly immersive sound field with good clarity and sound separation between the various speakers. We used the 4K UHD disc of Pacific Rim: Uprising for our tests since the film offers a lot of action scenes with good environmental and surround effects as well as more quiet moments with clear dialogue and ambient sounds good enough to test the capabilities of any receiver.
In the beginning of the film where the film takes place at an old Jaeger scrapyard you can hear very subtle metal ambient sounds from inside these rusty metal giants making you feel like you are really there. When the action starts the receiver makes sure to put the speakers into overdrive delivering every single explosion, projectile and surround sound with great precision. We tried to up the sound to see how far we could push the receiver and the result although nothing extraordinary it will please those with small spaces but it will leave a lot to be desired for those with bigger dedicated home theater rooms as the receiver cannot go high enough to deliver the necessary power that would fill a large home theater room.
The NR1608 may be good with movie audio tracks but it can be a decent music performer also. Being equipped with the AK4458 32 bit DAC from Asahi Kasei as well as with other good quality audio parts the level of quality produced could not be better for an AV receiver in this price range. The NR1608 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 such a slim design we were very curious to see how many ports this receiver would be able to have and it seems that Marantz has managed a small miracle here as the back of the receiver is fully packed with connection ports. As we said above in the front the get the usual ports we find almost in all AV receivers with a PHONES jack, a test microphone port, a USB and an HDMI port.
In the back we get seven HDMI IN ports all being HDCP 2.2 enabled and one HDMI OUT port that also supports ARC. We would like to have at least two HDMI OUT ports as this can be very useful nowadays but having such limited space it was a given that there would have to be some cutting corners and this seems to be one of them. We also get the speaker ports with different coloring to be easily distinguishable between them.
As for the rest of the connections we get a coaxial and optical digital in ports, an Ethernet port for wired connection to the internet, an IR IN port, a 12V trigger port, Remote control IN and OUT ports and FM as well as AM antenna ports. The receiver also offers a good amount of legacy connections with three analogue IN stereo ports, three composite video IN ports and one video OUT port, two component video IN ports and one component OUT port, coaxial zone audio ports and last but not least 2 ports for dual subwoofer setups.
The amount of ports on offer is a really pleasant surprise if you consider the size of the receiver. What you get is almost as many ports as you would in a fully sized AV receiver and our only real objection is the omission of a second HDMI OUT port. But even like this the receiver offers almost everything you need for your home theater so we cannot be more happy in this regard.
OS, Apps and Features
The receiver following today’s trend supports 4K/60 Hz full-rate pass-through, 4:4:4 color resolution, HDR and BT.2020, plus Dolby Vision compatibility and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG; via future firmware update).
Setting up the NR1608 can be very easy due to the inclusion of the Audyssey MultEQ audio calibration system by following the on-screen instructions and using the calibration microphone. We are always more fond of manual calibrations as this grands you the ability to fine tune your home theater system much better than any microphone would but for those that are inexperienced with such calibrations the Audyssey system can be really helpful.
Other features includes the Audyssey Dynamic EQ that helps sound to retain it’s dynamic levels and clarity even if you have the volume at low levels. There is also the Dynamic Volume feature 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.
There is also an intelligent ECO mode that can be used to minimize power consumption that you can turn to Auto and let the receiver manage when to use it or not or you can turn it off completely if you want to get the maximum out of the receiver for the best viewing and audio experience. Marantz has equipped the NR1608 with a very friendly user interface and although the receiver has a wealth of features and settings we never felt like we were lost or didn’t know where to look for what we wanted. In addition there is a huge amount of video and audio calibration settings that you can change if you are willing to dive deep into manually calibrating your system or you can let an ISF technician do the job for you.
The receiver is also capable of streaming music either from a local source like a network drive or from the internet through some online music service using either WiFi or through wired connection from the Ethernet port. There is a wide support of streaming services with Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, >Pandora, iHeart Radio, Napster, Deezer, Tidal, Sirius XM 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.
The remote that comes with the NR1608 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. Although the design and quality is nothing to brag about the included remote gets the job done and in the end that is what really matters.
The Marantz NR1608 is a fully featured AV receiver in a smaller size. You would think that the size would be a limiting factor as far as it’s capabilities is concerned but what we get is almost a fully packed 7.2 channels receiver that gives you the ability to create either a 7.2 or a 5.2.2 setup. It supports all the next generation audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X as well as 4K Ultra HD 60Hz video and HDR pass-through support on every input. It also supports pass through of Dolby Vision and HLG HDR formats. With the Audyssey and HEOS systems things become very easy to setup and control your multi-room speaker configuration. If you add in all the above the size and price of the unit the end result becomes very impressive.
But as with everything there are a few drawbacks also. The smaller factor of the receiver has an impact on the power it can produce. With 50W per channel there is a serious lack of power that is enough only for small sized rooms. Also the omission of a second HDMI OUT port can be a limiting factor for many as a lot of people use the second one to connect a sound bar.
In all honesty to get so many features in such a small size is a real treat and if you have limited space or small sized media room then this receiver is exactly what you need to still enjoy all the next generation technologies and formats without having trouble where to place an awkward looking big black box. And for this we applaud Marantz for their offering.
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Cheapest Places to Buy :
- Slim Design 7.2 channel AV Receiver with 50W per channel (8 ohm, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, 0.08% THD)
- 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 (HLG; via future firmware update)
- 8 HDMI inputs (incl. 1 front) with full HDCP 2.2 support
- Analog to HDMI conversion and SD/HD to 4K Upscaling for legacy video sources
- Dolby Atmos (up to 5.1.2) and DTS:X
- AirPlay, Bluetooth, Internet Radio, Spotify Connect, Network Audio Streaming
- DSD (2.8/5.6MHz), FLAC, ALAC and WAV support
- Audyssey MultEQ, Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ
- Color-coded speaker terminals, Setup Assistant, Marantz AVR Remote App
- Intelligent ECO mode with off/on/auto setting