This week we reviewed the Marantz NR1200 receiver, a stereo model that is multiroom, AirPlay 2 and Heos compatible and also supports a wide range of online music services such as Deezer, Spotify, Amazon Music and Tidal. The icing on the cake with this Marantz stereo receiver is that it is one of the rare models to feature HDMI inputs (5 inputs + 1 HDMI ARC output). As a result, it can be placed next to a Blu-ray player and an OLED or QLEDUHD 4K TV. Sold for €699, this receiver appears to be an interesting solution for centralizing audio and video sources, but will it provide the musicality of a hi-fi amplifier? The answer is in this review.
Marantz NR1200: the brand
Marantz’s story began in the early 1940s when Saul Bernard Marantz created his first amplifiers to listen to his record collection. In the early 50s, he developed a phono preamp that was revolutionary for the time, as it integrated the equalization curves of different record labels. This model was such a huge success with his audiophile friends that he decided to found the Marantz company in 1953. Marantz then produced his first phono preamp, the Model 1, the Model 2 power amplifier (1956) and the Model 7 stereo preamp (1958) which was a reference high-end audiophile preamplifier for many years.
Marantz was acquired by Superscope in 1964 who decided to focus on producing more affordable products and considered moving production to Japan, with the creation of Marantz Japan in 1975. The partnership with Japan was marked by the arrival of engineer Ken Ishiwata at Marantz Europe in 1978. A true icon in the audiophile world, he produced some of Marantz’s most prestigious products, labeled SE and KI since the 2000s.
Marantz is now an important player in the development of hi-fi and home theater equipment, with products for the general public, as well as prestigious electronics lauded by demanding audiophiles. The company’s catalogue includes the Marantz PM-6006 hi-fi amp and the Marantz CD-6006 CD player, both affordable and very musical, but also high-end hi-fi amplifiers and A/V receivers such as the Marantz PM-10 and the Marantz SR-8012.
Marantz has always known how to adapt to current trends and public demand. This is how the company was one of the first to provide powerful network audio players such as the Marantz NA-6006. Once again, Marantz has displayed this adaptability with the Marantz NR1200, a versatile and connected model that centralizes both audio and video sources.
Marantz NR1200: packaging and accessories
The Marantz NR1200 stereo receiver comes in a large cardboard box that also contains a quick start guide, two WiFi/Bluetooth antennas and a remote control with batteries.
Marantz NR1200: presentation
When we first looked at the Marantz NR1200 stereo receiver, we almost mistook it for the Marantz NR-1609 A/V receiver. The size of the chassis is almost the same and other than a few buttons, both front panels seem identical. The NR1200’s only distinctive features are the three knobs on the front panel used to independently adjust the bass, treble and balance.
The Marantz NR1200 receiver is an entirely hi-fi model designed to power one or two pairs of speakers. To do so, it benefits from carefully chosen hi-fi components that are combined with a symmetrical circuit design featuring a discreet power transformer rated at 75 watts per channel. This design allows the receiver to deliver up to 2 x 75 watts into 8 ohms from 20Hz to 20kHz. This frequency response can be extended to range from 10Hz to 100kHz (+/- 3dB) by activating the direct mode. The NR1200 is certified Hi-Res Audio thanks to this wide frequency response.
HDMI inputs and output
The Marantz NR1200 stereo receiver’s true strength lies in the addition of HDMI inputs, allowing users to enjoy both a hi-fi restitution and high quality stereo sound for movie soundtracks. In fact, the only other device to provide a similar solution is the Denon DRA-800H stereo network receiver. On the back of the NR1200 there are no less than five inputs and an HDMI output, all of which are compatible with UHD 4K video signals up to 60Hz, 4:4:4 Pure Color subsampling, HDR, HDR10 and HLG content, as well as 3D content (pass-through). The HDMI output is ARC compatible, which means that it is possible to play sound from a TV. It is important to note, however, that the Marantz NR1200 receiver isn’t compatible with Dolby and DTS audio formats. Consequently, it is necessary to switch the TV or player’s audio output to PCM stereo.
In addition to its HDMI inputs and output, the Marantz NR1200 stereo receiver also features all of the necessary connectors to make it a true stereo hi-fi amplifier. There are four RCA inputs, including one phono input compatible with MM cartridges. Two digital outputs (optical and coaxial) are also available to enjoy the performance of the integrated DAC. In addition, there is a dual pre-amplified subwoofer output so that you may add one or two subwoofers to accompany compact or small floorstanding speakers and enjoy a more dynamic sound and improve immersion. Finally, the double speaker terminals make bi-wiring possible and allow you to drive two pairs of speakers. Selecting the A, B, or A+B speaker pairs is done using a switch on the front of the receiver.
Marantz NR1200: audio streaming
Boasting both WiFi and Ethernet connectivity, the Marantz NR1200 stereo receiver can access a large number of online music services such as Deezer, Spotify, Amazon Music and Tidal, among others. It is also possible to play music shared over the local network via DLNA by using the Heos app for Android and iOS. These files are read and converted by two 32-bit AK4458 DACs (one per channel). This model has been previously used by Marantz in the Marantz SR-6014 A/V receiver, but also by Denon in the DRA-800H stereo network receiver and even Onkyo in its high-end A/V receiver, the Onkyo PR-RZ5100. This DAC expertly handles most audio formats, including WAV and FLAC up to 24-bit/192kHz, as well as 2.8 and 5.6MHz DSD files. Another of the NR1200’s advantages is that FLAC, WAV, ALAC and DSD files are all played in gapless mode. This means that playback is continuous and there are no gaps in between tracks. It is also possible to play high resolution audio files via a USB flash drive or an external hard drive connected to the USB-A input on the front panel.
Marantz NR1200: Heos multi-room
The Marantz NR1200 stereo receiver incorporates Heos technology, allowing it to be added to a Heos multi-room system. As a reminder, this multi-room technology developed by Denon is present on many Marantz and Denon connected electronics (both brands belong to the D+M Group). By using this technology, it is possible to stream multiple music sources throughout the house. It is even possible to share the sound of the various digital and analog sources connected to the Marantz NR1200 with one or several Heos-compatible multi-room devices. These different connected devices can be controlled via the Heos app for iOS and Android.
Marantz NR1200: AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth
This Marantz receiver is compatible with the AirPlay 2 protocol to easily transmit music and audio streams from any app (Youtube, music services, video games, etc.) running on an iPhone, iPod or Mac. To do this, simply choose the Marantz NR1200 receiver as the playback device in the menu of the iDevice. The receiver is then automatically activated when streaming starts. The AirPlay protocol can also be used to add the Marantz NR1200 receiver to a group of AirPlay 2 multi-room speakers.
The Marantz NR1200 stereo receiver also features a Bluetooth module to stream music from any smartphone, tablet or computer without having to connect to the local network. This Bluetooth controller is only compatible with the SBC and AAC codecs. Consequently, it isn’t the most appropriate method to obtain the best streaming quality.
Marantz NR1200: configuration
The initial setup of the Marantz NR1200 stereo receiver was very easy. A context menu guided us throughout the entire process. It is possible to carry out this configuration directly via the display on the front of the receiver, but it is preferable to use the TV in order to access all of the information.
After selecting the language, the setup assistant guided us through each step in connecting the speakers, subwoofer and different audio and video sources, as well as assigning the different inputs.
If the Marantz NR1200 isn’t connected to the internet via ethernet, it is necessary to connect it to the local WiFi network in order to enjoy its many network features. For owners of an iOS device, the connection is greatly simplified. You simply need to go into the WiFi settings of your iDevice and select the “Marantz NR1200” so that it is automatically connected to your WiFi network. For those who use Android or any other operating system, you must manually enter the WiFi password using the Marantz receiver’s remote control.
Once the receiver is connected, you are invited to create a Heos account or to log in if you already have one. If you already have an account and the Heos app is installed on your smartphone, this step is automatically skipped as the receiver is immediately visible in the app.
Once the configuration is finished, the receiver is immediately operational. However, Marantz hasn’t integrated the automatic microphone speaker calibration, as is the case with its A/V receivers. It is therefore preferable to measure the distance between the speakers and the listening area manually to correct the default measurements. To do this, you have to go into “Setup”, then “Speakers” and lastly “Distances”.
Marantz NR1200: voice assistants
The Marantz NR1200 stereo receiver is compatible with the Alexa Google Assistant and Siri voice assistants. As a result, it is possible to control music playback vocally by pairing the receiver with a smart speaker featuring one of these three assistants. We decided to pair it with an Amazon Echo Dot speaker. Configuration is then quickly carried out via the Alexa app for iOS and Android. In this app, you simply have to install the Heos skill for the receiver to be automatically detected. It is then possible to rename it, add it to a group of speakers and indicate which room it is in.
Marantz NR1200: listening impressions
First of all, we tested the Marantz NR1200’s performance with movie soundtracks. To do this, we connected it to the Pioneer UDP-LX500 UHD 4K Blu-ray player using a Norstone Jura HDMI cable. The Marantz receiver’s HDMI output was connected to the LG OLED television using an Audioquest Cinnamon HDMI cable. For this listening session, we used the Elipson Prestige Facet 8B compact speakers that were connected using a Viard Audio Silver HD12 HP cable. On the Mad Max: Fury Road UHD 4K HDR Blu-ray, the different lateral effects were well restituted. The soundstage was wide and very dynamic. The lows were deep and powerful during the explosions. It is important to note that we connected a REL Acoustics T-9i subwoofer to bring more substance to the sound. Lastly, the voices were natural and stood out very well from the background, even when there was a host of sound effects coming from every direction.
The soundstage was wide and very dynamic. The lows were deep and powerful.
We continued our test of the Marantz NR1200 with a hi-fi listening session, this time with the Hans Zimmer: Live in Prague Blu-ray. During the Pirates of the Carribean score, the orchestra created a truly magnificent soundstage. The sound was epic and, once again, the NR1200 revealed its dynamic character.
We continued this listening session by playing music via Spotify Connect. Despite the compression, the restitution was pleasant. However, we noticed an obvious improvement when playing 24-bit/96kHz and 24-bit/192kHz files shared over the local network. The sound was more accurate and detailed. The lows were deeper, the highs softer and the soundstage more spacious. It is also important to note that the Marantz NR1200’s “Pure Direct” mode provides a further improvement by offering more extension and nuance.
Marantz NR1200: compared to…
Denon DRA-800H: This Denon stereo network receiver is really the only model that provides the same solution as the NR1200. Sold for €649, it also features five UHD 4K HDR HDMI inputs, an ARC output and the same streaming options. The sound restitution of both these receivers is also very similar. However, the Denon model is slightly more precise when restituting voices. They are more efficiently centered during movie soundtracks. Other than that, both receivers provide a dynamic and responsive sound. When it comes to output power, the Denon DRA-800H is slightly superior: 100 watts compared to 75 watts for the Marantz NR1200. Therefore, it is better suited for driving demanding speakers. However, the NR1200 is the winner when it comes to size and integration as it is half as high and, consequently, can be more easily concealed in an audio/video cabinet or placed next to the television.
Marantz M-CR612: These two receivers have a lot in common, especially the network connectivity, Hi-Res playback (FLAC and DSD), AirPlay 2, Heos compatibility and all of the associated online music services. The Marantz M-CR612 provides a slightly more precise sound restitution and tends to go further in revealing the minute details of HD recordings. Nonetheless, the Marantz NR1200 comes out on top in this comparison thanks to its HDMI connectors which make it more flexible.
NAD M10: With a price tag that is almost five times higher, this NAD amplifier clearly isn’t in the same league. Consequently, it has the upper hand in many aspects, especially when it comes to musicality. It is more precise, smoother and more nuanced. Its superior output power allows it to power very demanding speakers. On the whole, the connectivity features are very similar. Still, given its price, the Marantz NR1200 is an excellent alternative. It even proves to be more flexible with its wider range of connectors and many HDMI inputs.
Marantz NR1200: conclusion
With this slimline, next-gen stereo receiver, Marantz provides a practical and functional solution for centralizing all of the audio and video sources in your living room. Its five UHD 4K compatible HDMI inputs are ideal for connecting a 4K Blu-ray player, several games consoles and a TV set-top box, whose image can be streamed without being altered. It is a good option for those looking for an A/V receiver who don’t want to install five (or more) speakers in their living room and who are happy with a stereo restitution. In this type of installation, the Marantz NR1200 proves to be more musical than similarly priced A/V receivers.
What we liked:
- The dynamics
- The many HDMI inputs
- The simple setup
- How slim it is
What we would have liked:
- Microphone calibration
- For it to have been compatible with Qobuz