Marantz SR6006 A/V Receiver Page 2
For this review, associated equipment included five Paradigm Reference Studio v4 speakers, a Paradigm Seismic 110 sub, and an Oppo BDP-83 Special Edition Blu-ray Disc player. With the exception of a single CD, all movie and music demos were Blu-ray Discs with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. It was a lossless feast.
Sleight of Ear
The phrase that came up more than once in my listening notes was “receiver just disappears.” This is also a trait of my speakers—that’s why they are my reference speakers. When neither the receiver nor the speakers impose much in the way of their own personalities, listening becomes an adventure. Description also becomes a challenge. How do you attribute sonic characteristics to a receiver that “just disappears”? Let me qualify the description. With best-case content, sound from the SR6006 was as clear as a bell. Its midrange exhibited a fine balance among midbass, midrange proper, and the upper-midrange region. Where detail was to be had, the receiver retrieved it effortlessly, but did not hype it. In addition to being well balanced, the mids and highs were also unusually clean, which allowed the receiver to achieve a degree of transparency well above its pay grade. All of this was consistent with similarly priced Marantz receivers I’ve reviewed.
Winter in Wartime begins its tale of resistance in Nazi-occupied Holland with a plane crash. This dynamically challenging event was painless, partly because it was brief, but also because the receiver’s clean and sturdy amplification prevented noise and clipping from becoming onerous at high volumes. The film’s use of the orchestra departed from both normal practice and the more conventional tonal balance of the following two demos. It had a deliberately forward and lively sound—due to the source, not the receiver—which greatly intensified in volume during a climactic scene. Again, the receiver kept this vast orchestral swell within my comfort zone. From the outset, having identified this title as manifesting the sonic subtleties of a quality drama as opposed to the bombast of a typical action movie, I avoided using Audyssey Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume. It turned out to be a great decision. The movie’s dynamic swings were as sophisticated and palatable as a well-recorded Bruckner symphony, and the receiver delivered them with an attuned musical sensibility.
The scenario of Shark Night places annoying youths in a shark-infested backwater full of hostile yokels—basically Jaws with a touch of Deliverance. Of course, vigorous cellos serenaded the shark attacks, which the receiver delivered with the right midbass weight. I invoked Dynamic EQ/Volume at the latter’s lightest setting to modulate the screams. This also benefited more subtle surround effects such as chirping crickets at nighttime.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a multigenerational drama based on Lisa See’s novel about coded communication among female friends. The receiver supported the score’s variety of moods ranging from warm and mellow, western orchestral strings to the harsh, traditional reed instruments and popping fireworks in a wedding scene. As someone who’s collected traditional Chinese music, I recognized that the biting top end was characteristic of the reed instruments, not imposed by the receiver, but I also appreciated the receiver’s willingness not to roll off the sudden eruption of in-your-face sound. There seemed to be no sensation this receiver could not bring to life.
The Richard Thompson Band: Live at Celtic Connections showcases the master guitarist and his five-piece band with material from his recent Dream Attic album. Here, the receiver revealed details I’d previously thought were undermixed in the recording. I could hear Joel Zifkin’s violin—which was refreshing, given the instrument’s rarity in Thompson’s recent backing bands—along with Pete Zorn’s often submerged acoustic guitar and mandolin parts, and backing vocals from everyone onstage. Thompson’s live and studio mixes always emphasize the lead guitar and vocal parts, and properly so. But the high resolution of the SR6006 enabled this live document to spotlight the entire band’s individual contributions.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland documents London’s Royal Ballet production of the Lewis Carroll classic with fresh and original choreography by Christopher Wheeldon. It was as vibrant sonically as it was visually. The orchestral balance was lively, not laid back, with an in-the-pit perspective—yet another beneficiary of the receiver’s sheer clarity. The receiver’s Audyssey-tweaked bass response enabled the footfalls of the dancers to thunk gently from the stage, while the soundfield focused the audience’s appreciation of the ballet’s many comic moments as detailed clusters of laughs. Once again, the SR6006 brought me closer to another live experience.
The lone stereo demo was the CD release of Thelonious Monk’s Big Band and Quartet in Concert. This is the better of Monk’s two big-band recordings and includes a few solo piano interludes in addition to the large and small ensemble playing. Given the acoustic ills of Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall circa 1963, the recording wisely utilized close miking to isolate the instruments from the venue and reveal their texture. The SR6006 picked up the ball and ran with it, delivering luminous imaging with vivid outlines (an easy trick) that were fully filled in (not so easy). Not all receivers do well with the center and surrounds shut down, but the Marantz was a confident two- channel performer. As I shifted among listening modes, I noted that the buttons cycling among stereo and surround options were far apart, making direct comparisons more difficult. But there were no major gains to be had by leaving the two-channel sphere in which Marantz has historically been an acknowledged master.
Those seeking an audiophile-level surround receiver are usually better off going to an A/V specialty retailer, seeking out a boutique brand, and getting by with fewer features. But what about those who stubbornly prefer to do their shopping at, say, Best Buy/Magnolia or Amazon.com, especially if they want a full-feature set? Marantz is one of the few brands that occupies that kind of mass-market territory with a product that’s loaded with features and delivers truly high performance. This scrupulous and classy receiver does it all with aplomb.