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Marantz Sr6004 Initial Impressions

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Greetings and Salutations,

I thought I would share some general early impressions of my new toy. I had to look at replacing my high end Proceed AVP pre-amp and didnt want to spend another $5K on something of that magnitude at this time. So I decided a receiver would work for the short term in my family room where my HiFi is currently shoe horned. Eventually, the HiFi will be residing in my living room with a projection system for a dedicated Home Theater/listening room and the receiver will permanently reside in the family room with the Plasma in a theater wall unit.

It should be noted that Im only using the unit's pre-amp outputs and not the internal amps for my system at this time, so I cant comment on the amplifier section. Associated equipment includes;

Linn 5140's run active with Linn 5105 amps for L & R

Linn 5120 center run passive through a Linn LK 100 amp Bi-wired

REL Storm III Subwoofer

JBL Dipole surround speakers

Adcom 6000 amp running the surround & Zone 2 outdoor speakers

Linn Karik CD transport fed via coax digital & analog

Marantz DV-8400 DVD, SACD player fed coax digital & DVI to HDMI

Pioneer BDP-120 Blue Ray player via HDMI

Panasonic TC-54G10 Plasma TV

Direct TV HD DVR fed via HDMI

The appearance of the new curved face is clean and functional, and a nice departure from the flat, thick aluminum faces of most receivers. It has only a power button and 2 big knobs on the face, one volume, one input selection. There's a flip down cover that hides a row of function buttons, and aux inputs including a USB port. The remote is a backlit learning remote with an LCD screen. My only gripe here is the writing is so small that I have to hunt up the reading glasses so my aging eyes can read the labels. The Japanese people must have great eyes is all I can say. I guess I should have eaten more seafood in the past.

So Ive had SOME time to play with it and tweak it to the room. I chose a receiver for the HDMI in/outputs for the TV as only the expensive Processors have them at this time. First off, hook up is a breeze using digital and HDMI cables. I was amazed at the pile of interconnects I had left over from my Proceed. Then when I had everything hooked up, I went to fire it up and NO remote control. I tried everything I could come up with, to no avail. To make a long story short, it turned out to be the setting on the bluetooth module that disabled the remote control :). Since I have no bluetooth equipped devices that I want to play into my system, I unhooked it and left it out.

Initial set up.

I used the Audessy Multi EQ to set it up to the room. That was easy and brought better results than my own attempts. My local HiFi guru told me that I probably wouldn't like the Audessy settings over my own. That was the case for all but the "flat " settings. I prefered it to my initial adjustments or the other Audessy adjustments. Fortunately, the unit comes with an 9 band digital EQ built in, which makes it easy to check your results or tweak the settings.

Right off the bat, I have to say Im very impressed with this unit. It sounds really tight, neutral with no added sound of its own and suprisingly close to my old Proceed. I cant say that I could give this an apples for apples test here because the Proceed has NO tone controls at all, damned purest engineers! It plays analog very good and its not half bad at digital processing either. I'm using a Linn Karik as my transport for CD and using the Marantz's Digital conversion proved to sound better than the Kariks's internal conversion, but not as good as the Proceed or a Nuemerik D to A converter. That was the one area where there is no comparison to my Proceed. It has a very good clarity in the upper mid range and treble region without any artificial sheen or sibilance that is so common with bad D to A conversion, but it cant hang with the Proceed in this department. But then again, the AVP was a benchmark product at the time for bringing high end D to A conversion to an affordable processors. It used Mark Levinson D to A chips that were available only in their top of the line pre-amps and stand alone converters back then. Still, it hung in there very well for a unit costing 1/5th the price.

It has the most common Surround formats, and I haven't had the time to check out & tweak each one. It plays stereo playback very well, but Im not sure how much of this is related to the receiver or the active 5140's and the rest of the system. Of the surround modes, I find myself going back to PLII music and NEO 6 modes. Maybe with some tweaking, I will like some of the other modes too.

Video processing and upconversion is very good, although admittedly I have relatively little experience to judge this. But playing DVD's through the unit was a pleasant experience. It brought the picture quality up to a very watchable, albeit inferior picture to Blue Ray. I compared it to a straight feed into my 54" Panasonic Plasma for comparison and was quite pleased with the difference. When I hooked up the Blue Ray player up to the TV directly, I could see no noticeable difference to the signal as compared to being fed through the receiver. My old school Pioneer Laser Disc player finally shot craps, so I couldn't give it the acid test for up conversion. All in all, I've read that some receivers do a slightly better job of upconversion, but this receiver left me with no disappointments in this area.

The receiver features a Zone 2 and 3 feature that met my needs at the time of purchase. But I found one of the compromise for the price point issues here. It seems that Zone 2 will only run using analog inputs, and Zone 3 will use digital inputs, but has no volume control, which I assume is for a straight feed using a dedicated multi room system - too rich for my blood. Since I only need zone 2, it was back to the cable pile for analog cables for the different players I use for outdoor playback. Once I got these hooked in, the 2nd zone worked great with no issues.

I look forward to getting more time to play with this unit and tweak some of the other settings. I have yet to set up the tuner, although FM in Phoenix is nothing to write home about. The M-DAX feature is said to bring back some of the dynamics lost on XM, Sirius and MP3 formats, which I have yet to play with. I guess you have to hook it up first, HA! As I get older, it gets harder to find the time to sit down and play with my new toys like I used to.

All in all, I chose Marantz over Denon & Pioneer for their dedication to music reproduction. My belief is that if you get the music reproduction right, film soundtracks are a given. I have owned a couple of different Onkyo receivers in the past, but reliability issues had me leary of looking at them again, although they have received many good reviews as well. But once you've been burned,.... And I have the above Marantz DVD player as well as an older Marantz DVD930 that haven't missed a beat for many, many years. They have sold me on their quality control as well as their musical reproduction. The MSRP of the SR6004 is 1250.00 and is well within the range of a bargain for great sound, category, in my opinion. What else can I say, but I highly recommend this receiver.

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