Marantz announces $6k Blu-ray player, other models

UD9004-BEAUTY-

This might be the first time I've seen a product announcement span a 10x increase in price for different models. Marantz has just announced four new Blu-ray Disc players, ranging from the $550 BD5004 to the $6,000 UD9004. No, that is not a typo, that's a six followed by three zeros.

Marantz is known for high-end audio/video gear, but $6,000 for a Blu-ray player seems steep even for them. The UD9004 is almost three times as much as the company's second most expensive Blu-ray player, the just-announced $2,200 UD8004. For the price, Marantz offers what it calls the "ultimate-quality" Blu-ray player, a feature-rich and meticulously built device meant for the most advanced home theaters.

The UD9004 will play almost any 12cm audio or video disc created, including Blu-ray, DVD, SACD, DVD-Audio, and even discs with DivX and AVCHD content. It features twin Sharc DSPs for audio decoding, and SACDs get an extra boost from Marantz's Hyper Dynamic Amp modules (HDAMs). It can internally decode every audio track from Dolby TrueHD to DTS-HD Master Audio. It can be integrated into nearly any system, thanks to its dual HDMI outputs, 7.1 analog audio output, and RS-232C support. It includes a Vertical Stretch feature that Marantz says eliminates the black bars on 2.35:1 video without warping it, for use with projectors with anamorphic lens systems. It's also built like a tank, with machine-milled copper feet, a thick bottom plate, and a profile better suited for a tube amp than a Blu-ray player. Weighing in at 42.3 pounds, it is a beast of a player.

Next in line and retailing for just over a third the UD9004's price tag, the UD8004 packs many of the same features into a smaller package. The smaller player still has internal HD audio decoding, 7.1 analog output, and Marantz's HDAMs for SACD playback, but lacks the massive, solid frame of the UD9004.

For users who want to pay less than a grand for their Blu-ray playback, Marantz also announced the BD7004 and BD5004 Blu-ray players. With respective price tags of $800 and $550, these players are much more affordable (but still targeted towards high-end users). Both players support HDMI 1.3a with 36-bit Deep Color output, and feature Anchor Bay video processors for upscaling video. The BD7004 also features internal Dolby TrueHD and Dolby DTS-HD Master Audio audio encoding, and can play back DivX and AVCHD content.

The BD5004 and BD7004 are currently available from Marantz. The UD9004 is scheduled to ship in August, and the UD8004 will be on sale in October.

Will Greenwald

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