The Marantz M-CR611 network stereo receiver belongs to the Japanese brand’s Melody Media range. This range, whose models feature an integrated CD player and network streaming functions, has been a reference among all-in-one compact receivers for the past several years. Built with carefully crafted components, the Marantz MCR receivers (Marantz MCR-603, Marantz MCR-610 and 611) stand out for their excellent musicality and functionality. In addition to CD-Audio discs, the receiver can play files stored on a flash drive, USB disk, iPhone, iPod or iPad (with their original cable) or streamed wirelessly via Bluetooth, AirPlay or DLNA. Evidently, an analog stereo source may be connected, in addition to several digital sources (TV or Blu-ray player, for example). The Marantz M-CR611 receiver is equipped with two sets of terminals to connect and simultaneously power two pairs of speakers, a practical feature when playing music in a second listening area.
For this test, we received the Marantz M-CR611 receiver in a new color. The receiver is now available in a head-to-toe silver version (exclusively at Son-Vidéo.com).
The Marantz M-CR611 receiver?s format reminded us of the Denon RCD-N9 and the Denon DRA-100. Sharing a relatively similar technical design, these receivers are roughly the same size: nearly 30 cm wide and deep and 11 cm high. The Marantz M-CR611 is not as ultra-discreet as the Teac CR-H101, but it is still a lot more compact than most other hi-fi and home cinema receivers.
The receiver?s casing is composed of a plastic which elegantly imitates brushed aluminum. The middle part of the front panel is covered by a piece of plexiglass which protects the receiver?s OLED display. The CD player?s disc tray is up top, the monochrome display (large letters) in the middle, and the power button and headphone jack toward the bottom. Two sets of controls are available: controls on the left to browse the menus (alongside a USB port) and controls on the right to adjust volume and playback settings.
The back panel includes two optical Toslink inputs (24-bit/192 kHz max), a line-level RCA input, a line-level RCA output (fixed or variable), an RCA subwoofer output (filtered and adjustable), a USB input (identical to the one on the front panel), an RJ-45 network connector and an antenna socket. The A and B screw terminals are compatible with banana plugs.
The Marantz M-CR611 receiver is equipped with two Type-A USB ports which are compatible with flash drives and USB disk drives formatted in accordance with the FAT or FAT32 file system. WMA, MP3, WAV, AAC, FLAC, ALAC and AIFF files are all handled, and there is no gap between tracks which share the same sampling rate. The receiver can play WAV, FLAC and AIFF files up to 24-bit/192kHz and ALAC (Apple lossless) files up to 96kHz. Lastly, DSD files up to 2.8MHz are supported (DSF and DFF files). Digital audio playback for iPhones, iPods and iPads is supported up to 24-bit/48kHz.
Hands down, the best way to listen to music with an Apple device is to use the AirPlay wireless transmission technology. With this technology, any sound produced by a Macbook, iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch can be streamed to the Marantz M-CR611 receiver. To benefit from this option, the receiver and the Apple devices must be connected to the same home network (wired or wireless). This is the most practical and efficient solution when listening to Deezer, Qobuz, Tidal, or any other music streaming service for that matter, because everything can be controlled using the service?s official app. Transmission is lossless, and the listening experience is highly gratifying.
Spotify: a special case
An iDevice can be used to stream music via AirPlay, but Spotify proves to be a special case for the Marantz M-CR611 as the receiver itself is compatible with Spotify Connect. Directly integrated into the receiver, the Spotify Connect protocol allows the M-CR611 to stream music directly from Spotify?s servers (via AirPlay, the audio stream has to go through an iPhone or Macbook). In practice, any Spotify app may be used to control the receiver: the iOS version, the Android version, the Windows version or the Mac OS version.
The DLNA protocol is the alternative to AirPlay, and it enables playback of HD audio files up to 24-bit/192kHz. The receiver ensures lossless playback for audio files streamed from a smartphone, NAS or computer. With certain smartphones, as well as with NAS and computers, a DLNA/UpnP compatible playback app (free) or DLNA server app (also gree) must be installed. It is also possible to use the Marantz M-CR611 to search for the server and stream content, or use the Marantz Hi-Fi app for iOS and Android to enable communication between the servers and the receiver.
The Marantz mobile app allows the user to listen to Internet radio stations. However, it is also possible to use a third-party app, which might be a solution to keep in mind as the mobile app has received mixed reviews on the Play Store.
It is worth noting that, apart from Spotify, no music streaming app for Android (Deezer, Qobuz, Tidal, etc.) enables direct streaming to a network receiver such as the Marantz M-CR611. The solution for Android: the BubbleUPnP app, compatible with Deezer or Qobuz, which allows for lossless audio streaming to the receiver via DLNA.
Bluetooth wireless reception
The receiver implements the universal SBC compression codec. This isn’t the most efficient technology out there. It?s clearly not the best solution when lossless transmission is available (AirPlay or DLNA).
FM tuner and DAB digital radio
The Marantz M-CR611 receiver is equipped with a dual radio tuner, one for analog FM stations and the other for digital DAB radio stations.
Pairing speakers with the Marantz M-CR611 receiver
It isn’t easy to give an exact estimate for the MCR-611 receiver?s power in hi-fi conditions, or in other words with a distortion rate of less than 0.1% across the audible spectrum (20Hz to 20kHz). Just as for most Class D amplifiers, power is measured at 1kHz, with a distortion rate of 1% (50 W into 6 Ohms), or 10% (60 W into 6 Ohms). After some research, we found that for a distortion level of 0.1% at 1kHz, the power rating is? 5 Watts. This is rather surprising and contradictory in light of the listening experience, which we?ll soon go into detail about.
In any case, our test showed that, a priori, this receiver will provide enough power to allow any compact speaker to offer a balanced listening experience.
Marantz had some good ideas, first to offer an active subwoofer output, and then to add a high-pass filter for the main speakers, which the user can set to 40Hz, 60Hz, 80Hz or 100Hz. Below this cutoff frequency, connected speakers will receive almost no sound, allowing the user to turn up the volume without draining the speakers and receiver of their power. In the absence of a subwoofer, this filter may be used for compact speakers incapable of restituting very low frequencies. For example, a pair of Eltax Monitor III which ?clip? sound below 50Hz don’t need to receive frequencies any lower than this. Using the Marantz M-CR611 receiver?s filter (set to 40Hz, for example) can be a good idea as this will relieve the receiver and speakers of the need to make an unnecessary effort.
The Marantz M-CR611 receiver is shipped with an IR remote control (with batteries), an antenna cable and a mains power supply cable.
We connected the Marantz M-CR611 receiver to a pair of Focal Aria 906 speakers. Connecting the receiver to our home network via WiFi was a bit of a challenge (undependable WPS), and we preferred to use a wired connection, which was more efficient overall and especially when playing HD audio files. In addition to a few CDs, we listened to some FLAC, HD FLAC and DSD files.
Sonically speaking, the Marantz M-CR611 receiver is a bit like the Denon RCD-N9 receiver, albeit it with a notable difference in terms of smoothness in the highs and additional softness in the lows. The main element in terms of audio restitution is the soundstage, which benefits from unusual depth. The Focal Aria 906?s are generously expressive with the Marantz receiver.
What we liked:
– the great sound
– the depth of the soundstage
– the number of inputs and the dual FM/DAB tuner
– the large remote control and the easy-to-read LCD display
What we would have liked:
– an AptX compatible Bluetooth receiver
– a more refined Marantz mobile app
The Marantz M-CR611 network stereo receiver?s musical qualities with compact speakers and small floorstanding speakers are undeniable. For devices running Android, we advise against using the mobile control app and suggest opting instead for a third-party app (BubbleUPnP), whereas for iOS devices, total comfort will be ensured for AirPlay users.