Also known as the Melody Media, the Marantz draws comparisons with the Denon: the brands share a parent company, and the design of the two units is similar.
Look closely and there are some big differences, though. The Marantz uses the standard iPod connector cable rather than having an actual dock, and while it has AirPlay as an upgrade (£40), its network connection is wired only, so you’ll still need an Ethernet cable running to your router to make use of it. It trumps the Denon in the radio stakes, however, with DAB on top of FM, AM and internet streaming, and there’s also provision for an add-on Bluetooth receiver. The system can drive two pairs of speakers (as opposed to the Denon’s one pair), and, like its sister model, can play CDs, loaded in the front-panel platter – you do remember CDs, don’t you?
There’s a remote control app called the Marantz Wizz App, and despite its horribly twee name it’s well worth having, putting the controls, track information and extras in the palm of your hand. And this is a system you’ll want to use: it sounds superb, wherever you source your music and, apped up, is as slick in operation as it is in looks. Hard to fault, really.
Wired for sound
Marantz has gone for wired-only as the most reliable option for streaming music at all bitrates. However, an Ethernet bridge or Bluetooth aerial will unwire you and Marantz has a modular M-XPort into which you can plug in the RX-101 Bluetooth A2DP adapter. It’s an extra £100, but you’ll be able to stream music from any phone.
You could buy Marantz speakers to go with it, but the M-CR603 has the sonic chops to deal with something more extravagant. Even KEF’s £450 Q300s aren’t beyond it. Meanwhile iPod dock connector cables and USB memory devices can be hooked up to the front-facing USB port, and there are sockets for non-Apple portables and headphones.
The Marantz shares many features with the Denon CEOL, and one of our favourites is on-demand music streaming from Napster and Last.fm. You’ll need to pay for subscriptions, mind you.
The Marantz lacks wireless networking, but its sound quality more than makes up for it