Marantz SR6004 A/V Receiver Page 3

Miles & Monk at Newport, on vinyl, dates from 1963. It’s memorable for the inclusion of John Coltrane in the Miles Davis Sextet and a guest appearance by clarinetist Pee Wee Russell in the Thelonious Monk Quartet. The outdoor recording venue had virtually no reverb. Still, the Dolby Pro Logic II Music mode opened the soundfield a little, which made it more spaciously outdoorsy, while giving me the impression of being closer to the stage. A bass solo in the Davis set (accompanied by finger snapping) highlighted the benefit of Audyssey MultEQ, which sculpted the bass beautifully in my subless system.

To Our Children’s Children’s Children is my favorite Moody Blues LP. A celebration of the 1969 moon landing, it starts with a rocket-like roar, which sets the soundstage for attacks of raga guitar and bad psychedelic poetry. The band’s highly melodic songs augmented rock instrumentation with Mellotron, flutes, harp, and celesta—all drenched in echo, which gave DPLII a lot to work with. Again, Audyssey MultEQ got the most out of the swooping bass lines. This is a fine album for children as well as adults with a sense of humor or fond memories of the progressive rock era.

iPod Play
iPods supported by the USB input include the iPod with video, classic, touch (1G and 2G), and nano (1G to 4G), as well as the iPhone original and 3G. As the owner of first- and second-generation nanos, I was delighted, especially since the last Denon receiver I reviewed didn’t recognize my players. Marantz has managed to get a digital signal out of the iThings for use with the AVR’s own high-quality digital-to-analog converters. It can even operate the iPod in either of two modes: Direct mode, which uses the iPod’s controls, or Remote mode, which uses the AVR’s controls. You have to hand it to the folks at Marantz—when they adopt a feature, they do it thoroughly.

I set the SR6004 to the USB source input and plugged in my first-generation iPod nano. The poor old thing wheezed to life, its rheumy eyes staring out from its tiny LCD. It displayed the Artists, Albums, Settings, and Now Playing options—I keep my iPod main menus simple. I started some music using the iPod’s clickwheel. The iPod, the GUI, and the Marantz’s front panel displayed the metadata, but there was no sound. The GUI prompted me to press the Mode button. This took some squinting because the remote’s Setup/Mode key is labeled in two colors, with the Mode part in a nearly invisible dark blue-gray against a black background. I hit the magic key, so the GUI now accepted commands. Then I made a selection with the GUI, and music came out of the speakers. The 1G nano apparently preferred to operate in Remote mode, with the SR6004’s controls.

I powered down the Marantz, powered it back up again, and plugged in my second-generation iPod nano. The GUI flashed repeatedly, as though its life were passing before its eyes, including its general status display and the now-familiar iPod menu. But at length, when I made a selection using the iPod’s clickwheel, music began to play over a blank TV screen. I hit the remote’s Setup/Mode button, and the GUI returned to the iPod menu—but with no music. Instead there was an “Initializing” message. Marantz later commented that this problem stemmed from an outdated firmware in the nano itself. The receiver was not to blame.

Even so, after I powered down everything and started again, the receiver and the nano eventually got onto speaking terms. The 2G nano could still operate only in Direct mode, with its own controls, not the AVR’s.

Still, both iPods worked reliably in at least one mode. The manual warns that outdated iPod software may trip up the process. That seems likely, since I’m a scofflaw when it comes to updating iPod software. I was satisfied with the Marantz’s iPod functionality. Look ma, no dock.

The Marantz SR6004 has a relatively restrained feature set, which may put it at a disadvantage to more fully featured AVRs that sell for the same. I don’t consider Audyssey DSX much of a loss, but I would have liked to see PC access and Internet radio via Ethernet. There’s still a lot to like, including its Audyssey setup and low-volume modes, Dolby Pro Logic IIz height-enhanced listening mode, USB input, direct iPod connections that really work, and the free Bluetooth adapter. Performance is musically trustworthy. Marantz also gets a high rating for ease of use. If you want an AVR that won’t give you a headache, this one is well worth your consideration.

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