Marantz has been making high-quality, high-end audio gear since the 1950s. Until their newest line of AV receivers, which includes the $799 SR5003 model, they have maintained the same overall appearance and feel for the entire brand. The Marantz new line has dared to go beyond a 50-year-old proven look and the results are nothing but positive. The new Marantz look keeps a solid metal middle face, but adds smooth, rounded glass-reinforced resin edges to the sides, making the whole face more modern, while the clean and simple design keeps it all in line. This receiver is one of the cheapest on the market to handle all the new audio codecs, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio, with its three-to-one HDMI 1.3a switching, sending all that uncompressed audio through seven 90-watts-per-channel amplifiers to make any home theater sing.
While this would be considered by many to be a budget receiver, and likely one of the least expensive models to handle all the new codecs, it is still full of goodies, like Audyssey's MultiEQ room correction and calibration, as well as 1080p video scaling. The SR5003 includes an FM and AM tuner and is XM- and Sirius radio-ready, offering control via RS-232, DC trigger and IR flashers. A total of eight analog inputs and a single 7.1 channel input, as well as a host of analog video inputs for your older legacy gear, are there, too. Should you like to add more powerful amplifiers in the future, full 7.1-channel preamp outputs are also included.
Marantz is known for high-end audio sound and, even at this price point, their heritage shows, with smooth and detailed sound with enough power to handle small to moderate rooms, depending on the sensitivity of your speaker. Add to that the ability to control a second zone and you've got one great deal in an AV receiver.
• The 90 watts per channel the SR5003 offers will be limiting for larger rooms, especially with inefficient speakers. As a place to start for people with bigger rooms, the Marantz SR5003 is perfectly suitable. For those looking to make the paint fall off the ceiling, you can always add an external seven-channel amp.
• The three-to-one HDMI switching will suffice for some simpler system configurations, but for larger, more complex theaters, there simply aren't enough HDMI inputs. You either need a bigger receiver or an external HDMI switcher, and most of these devices will not pass the HD audio that this receiver can so effectively decode.
• The SR5003 does do video scaling, but for larger screens (like a front projector), you might want to use another product to scale your video to improve performance. The DVDO Edge comes to mind as a solution. For most HDTVs, the Marantz SR5803 will be perfectly suitable for video scaling.
The Marantz SR 5003 is one of the lowest-priced receivers that can handle all the new audio codecs of Blu-ray and HD DVD and, as such, must be applauded. The famed Marantz sound quality is present in this receiver, but the 90 watts per channel may be a bit too low for larger rooms or systems with inefficient speakers. For anyone looking to build a cutting edge theater without spending yourself into oblivion, I can solidly recommend the Marantz SR5003 receiver.