As all of our readers know, or should know, no component is perfect; choices and compromises are made in the design and production of any component based upon a set of priorities determined by the manufacturer of that component. Throw in every available feature and have a large expensive box? Strip it down to the bare minimum and charge a pittance? Where along the continuum do you place your product? Marantz has done a commendable job in balancing the priorities listed above and picking a spot on the features size/price continuum with their new NR1501 "Slimline" receiver. The NR1501 is priced at $599 which is on the lower side of the mass market, full featured A/V receiver price range. The Slimline receiver was designed to address the demand for a receiver that can fit into smaller spaces without sacrificing key features. The NR1501 measures 17 3/8 inches wide, 4 3/16 inches high and 14 ½ inches deep. The front panel features Marantz's new curved panel design that has a large display front and center, flanked by two large knobs to the sides. Under the display are control buttons, a headphone output, setup microphone and an auxiliary input. The outer portions of the front panel are gently curved back for an attractive, modern look. Most people will immediately notice the relatively slim front profile, but even more importantly to many of the space challenged installs I have seen recently is the reduced depth of 14 ½ inches. Most receivers are deeper and this can pose problems if the installation is on a shelf or cabinet that is not designed for audio gear. Simply put, this receiver fits where others will not.
Hooray for the small form factor. However, there are other small form factor receivers and if the Marantz NR1501 cannot deliver the goods, it really does not matter how small or attractive the enclosure is. The NR1501 features a 7 channel, 50 Watts per channel amplifier, (4) HDMI 1.3 inputs, (3) each composite and Component Video inputs, (5) analog audio inputs and (3) digital audio inputs as well as a 1/8 inch stereo auxiliary input for iPods or other portable devices. The receiver can convert analog video to HDMI so that only a single HDMI cable needs to be run to your television. Also included is Marantz's MRAC setup and room calibration system. Additional audio capabilities include HDCD, dts-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD decoding and 192 kHz / 24 bit capable DACs on all channels. What's missing? There are no S-Video capabilities, satellite radio, multi-channel inputs or outputs, multi-room capabilities, 12v triggers, networking or USB capabilities. While some users in the targeted demographic may miss these features, most will not.
Comparison and Competition
Compare the Marantz NR1501 against some of its competition by reading our reviews for the Denon AVR-789 HDMI receiver and the Harman Kardon AVR 354 AV receiver. If you are interested in learning more about Marantz products please read our reviews of the Marantz SR 5003 AV receiver and the Marantz UD5005 Blu-ray player. Learn more about Marantz by visiting our Marantz brand page.
Read about the high points and the low points of the NR1501 on Page 2.