MARANTZ SR6011 – DESIGN AND CONNECTIONS
One thing you can always count on with Marantz receivers is a refined yet robust design, and the SR6011 doesn’t disappoint. The big, imposing bodywork is a far cry from the demure NR1607, but the suave styling should ensure seamless living room integration.
Key to its allure are the curved matte panels on the fascia, which flank the central control panel. It’s a subtle touch, but enough to distinguish it from black box rivals. The centre section has a lovely brushed finish, with large volume and input selection dials bridging the grooves between panels. Marantz sent me the black version, which goes well with other black kit; the alternative silver version is far more attractive, however.
Another standout feature is the porthole display showing the current input and volume level. This pared-down panel looks great and doesn’t bombard you with information, but it’s a pity the surrounding ring doesn’t light up like it does on the SR7011. If you want a more comprehensive display, you’ll need to call up the on-screen menus.
The whole unit oozes luxury, from the smooth-turning dials to the thick flap at the bottom that hides an array of buttons and sockets.
Here you’ll find the first of eight HDMI inputs, which accepts 4K/60p and HDCP 2.2, alongside composite/stereo audio input, a USB port for iPods and USB sticks, an output for headphones and a port for the calibration microphone. A row of buttons provides control over sound modes, radio presets and more. The step-up SR7011 also includes a full-size LED display under this flap.
Owners of big, complex systems will welcome the extensive rear socketry. Seven more HDMI 2 inputs and two outputs (one of which sends an independent signal to a second zone) are the headliners, all of which support 4K/60p, HDR and HDCP 2.2. Owners of UHD Blu-ray decks are in safe hands.
And with four digital audio inputs (two optical, two coaxial), 7.1-channel analogue inputs, 13.2 pre-outs, dual subwoofer outputs plus loads of analogue AV ports, you won’t be stuck for places to shove your cables. You’ll also find Ethernet, RS-232, remote control, trigger and IR ports for custom integration use, plus terminals for the radio and Bluetooth/Wi-Fi antennas.
Eleven pairs of binding posts run the entire width of the rear panel. These can be assigned for use in a variety of scenarios, including 9.1 systems, 7.1.2 Atmos setups, bi-amping and driving a pair of speakers in a second zone. And thanks to its 11.2-channel processing, you can hook up an external amplifier to the SR6011’s pre-outs and expand the system to 7.1.4. The level of flexibility on offer here is mind-boggling.
MARANTZ SR6011 – FEATURES
The SR6011 is a nine-channel receiver – a step up from its seven-channel predecessor, the SR6010. Marantz claims a power output of 185W per channel, although such figures should always be taken with a pinch of salt.
It supports Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, plus Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X 11.1, which create "3D" sound from conventional Dolby or DTS content, and even stereo music. If you want Auro-3D, you’ll need to step up to the SR7011.
There’s built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the latter allowing you to stream music via AirPlay, Spotify Connect, DLNA and internet radio. It happily plays hi-res files, with support for FLAC and WAV up to 192kHz/24-bit, ALAC up to 96kHz/24-bit and DSD5.6.
The only thing missing is HEOS multiroom support, which is again reserved for the SR7011. That means you can’t send music from the SR6011 to other Denon and Marantz speakers around your home, or access music streaming services such as Tidal, Deezer, Napster and SoundCloud. That’s a little disappointing if you’re spending a grand on a new amp, particularly when you consider how ubiquitous multiroom functionality has become.
However, there’s tons of other stuff to get your teeth into; the manual runs to 312 pages. The SR6011 is certified by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), with a suite of tools allowing a professional technician to calibrate the picture and store the settings in Day and Night presets. The SR6011 can convert SD and HD sources to 4K resolution.
It also supports Crestron Connected and Control4 SDDP (Simple Device Detection Protocol) for quick and easy integration with home automation equipment.
MARANTZ SR6011 – SETUP AND OPERATION
The SR6011 is a complex, multifaceted machine, but Marantz has made setup easy for the first-timer. Rig up the SR6011 to your TV and the excellent Setup Assistant guides you through every step of the process, using clear descriptions and informative graphics. It tackles speaker wiring, connections and network setup, before delving into the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 auto-calibration system.
Using a microphone and cardboard tripod placed in up to eight positions, MultEQ measures the acoustic characteristics of your room using a series of test tones, then sets the optimum speaker distances, levels, polarity and subwoofer crossover values. It’s remarkably easy to perform and doesn’t take as long as you might expect.
Meanwhile, Audyssey Dynamic EQ works alongside MultEQ to maintain the optimum tonal balance; Dynamic Volume prevents sudden jumps in loudness; Sub EQ HT aids integration in dual subwoofer setups; and Low Frequency Containment prevents the amp’s deep bass from getting on your neighbours' nerves.
For those who want to take calibration to the next level, the new Audyssey App offers even more control. It replaces Audyssey Pro, which is found on selected AV models via RS-232 and can only be used by a registered Audyssey Pro installer. The new app wasn’t available at the time of testing, but is due for release in "early 2017" with a €19.99 price tag.
Operating the SR6011 is surprisingly simple for such a complex machine. With their warm, fuzzy graphics and uncluttered layouts, the on-screen menus are friendly and welcoming, while the setup menu presents a wide array of options in a way that won’t scare the uninitiated.
The Online Music menu plonks three icons over a black background, allowing you to access favourites, internet radio and network media servers. When exploring NAS drives or USB sticks, the simple layout and quick response times make it a cinch to find the music you’re after. Liberal use of cover art and metadata keeps you up to speed during playback.
The remote may be on the large side, but it’s comfortable to hold and the buttons are within easy reach of the thumb. It’s uncluttered and well labelled, with the crucial direction and volume keys given due prominence. It isn't backlit like the SR7011’s remote, but most of the buttons helpfully glow in the dark, while the brushed finish with silver trim boost its coffee table appeal.
A bank of inputs at the top makes it easy to jump between sources, while the four Smart Select keys store an input, volume level and sound mode in the memory, providing quick access to preferred settings.
Too old-school? Try the recently overhauled AVR Remote app, which turns your phone or tablet into a remote control. Its slick, sophisticated menus are dressed in shades of grey, with sliding sidebars providing access to sources and setup options. It’s easy to configure the amp’s volume, sound modes and speakers.
The new landscape-orientated tablet app is particularly impressive, as you can browse your music library and view the "now playing" screen all on the same page. You can even build playlists on the fly by dragging and dropping files into a queue.
MARANTZ SR6011 – PERFORMANCE
Let the SR6011 loose with a range of movies and Marantz’s impressive sonic pedigree shines through. It combines wall-shaking power with a silky, detailed top-end and a rich, articulate mid-range.
I start with The Force Awakens’ DTS HD Master Audio track, and the SR6011 stirs the emotions with a powerful rendition of John Williams’ iconic theme. After hitting the opening stab with punch and precision, the Marantz follows it up with a luscious arrangement of strings, cut-glass trumpets and rich bass
Cut to Rey and Finn evading Tie Fighters on Jakku, and the amp isn’t flustered by the flurry of explosions, blasters and dialogue. It tracks the pursuit with precision and clarity, giving you a clear sense of where every sound is coming from. The Millennium Falcon’s roaring thrusters move quickly and smoothly across the spacious soundstage.
The Marantz bolsters every crash and explosion with tight, weighty bass, but doesn’t let it stifle the sharp clank of colliding metal or the intricate fizz of falling debris. It strikes a perfect balance across the frequencies, bringing a great sense of cohesion.
Its character is smooth and refined, but there’s more than enough attack to keep boredom at bay. When lightsabers clash, you can feel the energy crackling from the speakers, but there’s no harshness to lessen the impact.
Switch to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the SR6011 displays outstanding subtlety and insight as the apes stalk a herd of deer. The hissing rain is airy and layered, and there’s a solid wooden thud as the apes’ feet launch from tree branches. It’s utterly captivating.
The scene is enhanced by the SR6011’s Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X processing, which add a clear sense of elevation as the apes traverse the trees.
But for the full 3D audio experience try a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X-encoded disc, both of which the Marantz delivers with aplomb. Star Trek Beyond gives the SR6011 plenty of height content to get its teeth into, like the swarm of bees that Krall sends to attack the Enterprise.
As they rip the ship to shreds, a vortex of flying objects swirls overhead and their accurate movement allows you to keep your bearings amid the chaos. It’s immersive and enthralling, made all the more convincing by the SR6011’s pin-sharp detail and attack.
The SR6011’s multi-directional talents are affirmed by a viewing of the DTS:X-encoded Crimson Peak disc – its lofty soundstage clearly communicates the scale and grandeur of the creaking manor, while the groaning pipes and ghostly voices clearly emanating from every channel will scare the bejesus out of you.
A common factor across all of these test platters is the SR6011’s excellent dialogue reproduction. Voices are imbued with body and nuance, making them easy to distinguish, whether it’s Caesar’s gruff bark or Tom Hiddleston’s silky tones.
With so many music sources at its disposal, the SR6011 will have all genres, tempos and resolutions thrown its way. But thankfully, it handles everything with an assured hand, from low-bit-rate MP3s up to hi-res FLAC files.
Stripped down to two-channel with Pure Direct mode engaged, a 320kbps MP3 of Gregory Porter’s "Insanity" is rendered with wonderful richness and fluidity.
The behatted jazzman’s vocal tones are suitably warm and chocolaty, but the Marantz also coaxes out the gentle husk that might go missing through a less insightful amp. There’s plenty of detail elsewhere, from the simmering hi-hats to the leading edge of the muted trumpet.
Switch to the hi-res version of Daft Punk’s "Lose Yourself To Dance" and the Marantz goes in with deep, punchy drums, crystal-clear guitar riffs and sparkling percussion.
It doesn’t matter whether you play music via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, CD or USB, the SR6011’s detailed, tuneful approach makes anything sound good.
SHOULD I BUY THE MARANTZ SR6011?
Anyone with a grand to splash on an AV receiver would be a fool not to give the SR6011 a whirl. Much like its more affordable stablemate the Denon AVR-X1300W, the Marantz delivers an obscene amount of features for the money and a polished, powerful performance that will delight music and movie lovers alike.
It also boasts a classy design and a foolproof operating system, whether you’re using the slick smartphone app or the old-school remote and on-screen menus.
The only fly in the ointment is the lack of HEOS multiroom support, which prevents you from linking the SR6011 with other Denon and Marantz speakers. Is that enough to deny this superb receiver our recommendation? No, but if multiroom capabilities are essential then you might want to save your pennies and step up to the SR7011
A multi-talented AV receiver that offers outstanding features and performance for the money, although multiroom fans should look elsewhere.