It spring once again: Time for flowers to bloom and audio manufacturers to update their consumer product lines (A/V products intended for the custom-install market are typically announced in the fall, around CEDIA). Marantz and Pioneer are keeping that tradition alive with new network receivers.
Marantz NR1607: Big fun in a small package
The Marantz Slim Design NR1607 looks more like a Blu-ray player than a full-blown A/V receiver. Meausring less than four inches high, it's designed for space-constrained home-theater enthusiasts who don’t want to give up any performance. One of the ways it achieves its low profile is to keep analog connections to a bare minimum.
This 7.2-channel network A/V receiver features high-current discrete power amplifiers on all seven channels. The NR1607 is rated to deliver 50 watts per channel (8-ohm load) from 20Hz to 20kHz with 0.08% THD. We always caution readers to take manufacturer power specs with a grain of salt. They are rarely done with all channels driven, and the press materials don't disclose that information.
Dolby Atmos (up to 5.1.2 channels) surround decoding is standard. A future firmware update (expected in September 2016) will allow the NR1607 to also decode DTS:X soundtracks. High-res audio playback and streaming, including support for AIFF, ALAC, DSD, FLAC, and WAV files, is also standard.
The NR1607 doesn’t shortchange on the video front: Its video section has HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 (needed to play 4K Ultra HD copy-protected content) on all eight HDMI inputs (including the one on the front). All HDMI inputs support 4K Ultra HD video at 60Hz, with 4:4:4 Pure Color sub-sampling, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Wide Color Gamut compatibility, 21:9 video, 3D and BT.2020 pass through. The receiver will upscale any analog or digital source to 4K Ultra HD.
For it’s $699 MSRP, it’s pleasantly surprising to see that the NR1607 is ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) certified, with a full suite of video calibration controls along with ISF Day/Night video modes.
What's not surprising is that the NR1607 can connect to your home dual-band Wi-Fi network. There's an onboard Bluetooth adapter, too. Once connected, you have a host of streaming choices at your fingertips including AirPlay, network-attached storage devices (NAS), Internet Radio, Pandora, SiriusXM, and Spotify Connect. Marantz expects to deliver the NR1607 in May.
Pioneer enables 4K UHD on a budget
Pioneer announced a pair of mid-range network A/V receivers: The $600 VSX-1131 and the $450 VSX-831 each have seven HDMI inputs that support 4K video, HDR (high dynamic range), BT.2020 wide color gamut, and HDCP 2.2 copy-protection. Oddly, Pioneer never explicitly states that these are HDMI 2.0a inputs.
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