Marantz SR6003 A/V Receiver Reviewed

Published On: January 19, 2009
Last Updated on: October 31, 2020
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Marantz SR6003 A/V Receiver Reviewed

Appearance wise, this receiver is "crazy, sexy and cool," while the sound the SR6003's two-channel music performance "had me grinning ear to ear at just how outstanding the sound quality was." When using surround sound, the performance was "beautifully balanced and the level of nuance and detail...veiled in comparison"

Marantz SR6003 A/V Receiver Reviewed

  • Andrew Robinson began his career as an art director in entertainment advertising in 2003, after graduating from Art Center College of Design. In 2006, he became a creative director at Crew Creative Advertising, and oversaw the agency's Television Division, where he worked for clients such as TNT, TBS, History, FX, and Bravo to name a few. He now has one of the most popular AV-related channels on YouTube.

marantz_sr6003_receiver_review.gifThe A/V receiver market is hotter than ever, with nearly
every manufacturer from the high end on down offering an all-in-one feature-laden,
HDMI-loaded solution for consumers. Yet the larger consumer brands, such as
Sony, Denon and Marantz, to name a few, are able to do what many of the smaller
or even higher-end brands cannot: keep performance high and costs low. In the
case of the Marantz SR6003 A/V receiver, the performance is off the charts and
the retail price, $999, is phenomenal, considering that less than a year ago, a
similar receiver, even from Marantz, would have been twice as much.

Additional Resources

Read more HDMI receiver reviews from the likes of Sony, Marantz, Integra, Onkyo, Sherwood and more.
• Read a
Marantz SR-7005 receiver review here.

The SR6003 takes its styling cues from the new Marantz
AV8003 processor
, in that it is crazy, sexy, cool and built like a brick well-you-get-the-idea.
The SR6003 is stunning, with its black on black textured façade accented by its
symmetrical tuning and volume knobs and clear-as-day FL display. The SR6003's
manual controls are conveniently hidden from view behind a standard trapdoor
and the normally obnoxious NASCAR-style logo lineup rests not on the face of
the SR6003, but along the top edge. 
The slightly curved edges of the SR6003 look phenomenal in a custom rack
configuration, such as a Middle Atlantic rack putting the SR6003 in the looks
department next to Classé, Krell and Mark Levinson. Another thing you'll
immediately notice about the SR6003 in terms of looks is its overall
dimensions, which are compact, to say the least, measuring a little over 17
inches wide by nearly seven inches tall and 15 inches deep. The SR6003 weighs a
total of 29 pounds, making it easy to fit and maneuver into spaces where few
receivers can go.

Around back, the SR6003 is cleanly and uniformly laid out,
with the usual list of legacy and digital inputs and features. The SR6003 is a
seven-channel receiver, yet there are nine speaker inputs and two sets of main
speaker binding posts, labeled Front A and B. The SR6003 puts out a robust 100
watts per channel across all channels, so unless you have a massive room or
hugely inefficient speakers, you should be good to go. If more power is what
you crave, the SR6003 has a full set of 7.1 preamp outs for use with an
outboard amplifier. The SR6003 has three HDMI 1.3a inputs and two HDMI 1.3a
monitor outs. All legacy video connections, whether analog SD or HD, can be
converted and/or upsampled to digital 1080p via the SR6003's HDMI monitor
out(s). The dual HDMI outs are a hugely beneficial feature, though the SR6003
cannot output two HDMI monitor streams simultaneously, but toggling between
outputs one and two is simple and straightforward. Other notable features
located on the SR6003's back panel include RS-232C support and Sirius and XM
satellite radio inputs, as well as dual 120-volt AC outlets and a detachable
power cord.

Under the hood, the SR6003 is as full-featured as they come,
especially considering its sub-$1,000 asking price. For starters, the SR6003
has both Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio capabilities, not to mention support
for countless other surround sound formats. The SR6003 features Audyssey's
latest MultiEQ calibration and room correction software, which seems to get
better with every inception, with the SR6003's version being among the best
yet. The SR6003 features a 10-bit video converter to help scale SD and HD
sources to its HDMI monitor outs. I have to assume the SR6003's video processor
is either proprietary or an OEM design for Marantz, since there is no mention
of an Anchor Bay, Gennum or Faroudja-based chip set.  While it's not uncommon to find a third-party video
processor in a receiver costing a grand or so, the unnamed processor found in
the SR6003 is more than capable when it comes to performance. Lastly, the
SR6003 features a front-mounted (albeit behind the trap door) USB port for use
with portable music devices, such as iPods.

This brings me to the SR6003's remote. The shape and size of
the SR6003's remote is good and a departure from the usual bigger than thou
remotes found on similar receivers. The buttons are a bit on the small side,
though they are fully backlit via the touch of a button. There is a small LCD
screen at the top of the remote, letting you know what function and/or features
you are accessing, but all controls are hard buttons. All in all, I like the
remote and consider it a class leader, though it is hugely directional and not
very powerful at a distance.

The Hookup
Installing the SR6003 into my reference system was about as
easy as one could hope it would be. I was an HDMI input short, so I had to skip
connecting my Toshiba HD DVD player for the time being. I could have connected
it via a set of component cables and analog audio cables, but I've barely used
it in the past six months, so I didn't bother. Due to the SR6003's rear panel
layout, cable clutter is kept to a minimum, and the shallow, compact chassis is
a huge benefit, even though I have the room to accommodate much larger

The onscreen GUI (graphic user interface) is superb and
intuitive and negates the need for the manual altogether. The SR6003 responded
promptly to remote commands, provided I was within a clear line of sight, and
the Audyssey EQ process was a snap. The SR6003 bested my former reference
receiver, the Onkyo 805, in terms of set-up ease and simplicity by a wide

I kicked off my evaluation of the SR6003 with some music,
though I bypassed traditional CDs, opting instead for the Blu-ray release of
John Mayer's Where the Light Is: Live in Los Angeles (Columbia). I set the
disc's internal audio settings to stereo and cued up the track "In Your
Atmosphere," which features Mayer flying solo with his acoustic guitar. The
SR6003's two-channel music performance was superb and had me grinning ear to
ear at just how astounding the sound quality was. Mayer's vocals were rich,
warm and carried an appropriate amount of weight and air, making for a very
believable and dimensional performance. The solo guitar was lifelike in size
and had a sort of sonic "oneness" I don't normally associate with receivers in
the SR6003's price range. The SR6003 isn't bright or punchy the way a Yamaha or
Sony receiver is, nor is it dark-sounding like an Onkyo. The SR6003 definitely
has a sound, though I found it to be somewhat middle of the road compared to
other receivers, which suited me just fine. It is among the more analog and
old-school-sounding receivers I've come across, though has enough spank on tap
to surprise you. Spatially, especially for stereo playback, the SR6003 proved to be a juggernaut. The soundstage width and depth was impressive and at times created
a nearly surround sound performance in its own right. 

Continue reading about the SR6003 AV receiver strengths and weaknesses on Page 2.


Changing the sound settings from stereo to Dolby TrueHD on the same disc, I shifted my and the SR6003's focus to multi-channel audio and the track "Come When I Call." "Come When I Call" features the John Mayer Trio, with Mayer at the microphone and guitar, Steve Jordan at drums and Pino Palladino on bass. The bouncy jazz track was rife with soul and rhythm and the drum/bass guitar addition provided a steady pulse that was texturally rich and weighty throughout. Mayer's vocals and presence changed little from his earlier acoustic set, though the change from acoustic guitars to electric was very noticeable and proved the SR6003 could jam and had a bit of energy on tap I hadn't experienced with the mellower acoustic set. The sheer resolving power and breadth the SR6003 gives to a performance is awesome, allowing you to experience the space and performance in ways you may not expect from a sub-$1,000 receiver. The drum kit was faithfully rendered with exceptional weight and slam, and the SR6003's control over the lower frequencies was superb. The entire surround sound performance was beautifully balanced and the level of nuance and detail that could be heard across all five of my full range in-wall speakers made the high-resolution stereo mix sound veiled in comparison. If one wanted to make a case for how to evolve the ailing music industry, Where the Light Is by John Mayer would be my opening statement. 

Since Where the Light Is is essentially a concert video, I turned my attention to the SR6003's video performance as well. While nowhere near as lit or vibrant as, say, Dave Matthews' Live at Radio City Music Hall on Blu-ray, Where the Light Is' image was beautifully captured and rendered by the SR6003. The black levels were rich and contained a good amount of detail, coupled with a low noise floor. Skin tones were natural and dimensional, even under the harsh lighting conditions of a concert spotlight. The rugs used to define many of the musicians' stage areas were clearly and cleanly rendered, with nary a hint of artifacting and/or noise. The rich reds and neutral tan hues were vivid and stood out in stark contrast to one another. In shots with complex or more than directional lighting, the SR6003's video processor was able to resolve fine detail down to the pile of each rug, which was an astonishing feat. However, when I played back the same tracks with my Blu-ray player feeding my Sanyo 1080p projector directly, I saw similar if not identical video performance, which let me know that while the SR6003 isn't going to "hurt" the video experience, it isn't going to sprinkle magic fairy dust on it, either.

Leaving the HD music behind, I popped in the Ben Stiller-directed comedy Tropic Thunder on Blu-ray (DreamWorks). The opening war sequence was amazing through the SR6003, with each gunshot, explosion and helicopter flyby rendered with reckless abandon. For what would ultimately be a comedy, Stiller and his team created a true homage to war films of old and the SR6003 didn't let down the filmmakers' hard work. The tree line explosion that ends the opening sequence was so visceral and thunderous that I thought for sure some furniture had gotten broken. Needless to say, the SR6003 proved to be as adept at music as it was with action films. During the film's quieter moments, the SR6003 was far from a one-trick pony, striking the right balance between ambient and textural sound cues and dialogue for a truly immersive experience. Visually, the SR6003 helped smooth out a few problem areas in terms of macro blocking and noise levels, but did little to reduce motion artifacts associated with fast pans and rotary blades. However, due to the HD nature of the film itself, these anomalies were already held to a minimum.

I ended my evaluation of the SR6003 with the Blu-ray release of the box office hit The Dark Knight (Warner Home Video). I was fortunate enough to sit in on a live mixing session/demo of several sequences from the film with the sound design team and composer Hans Zimmer a few months ago. Listening to their set-up and comparing it to the playback I experienced through the SR6003 wasn't night and day, which is what I had expected.  While the mixing session featuring the chase sequence through Gotham, ahem, Chicago, was a bit over the top and louder than life, the emotion and feeling I got from being there remained intact when watching the film through the SR6003 in my listening room. I could discern all of the subtle and textural details that made up each of the vehicles' sound signatures and they blended beautifully together for an overall experience that far exceeded the quality of the theatrical presentation I witnessed on opening night in my local theater.  The bass was palpable and plunged so deep I thought for sure my sub would crap out, but it came through. The SR6003 is capable of dynamic swings that must be heard to be fully appreciated. With Dark Knight in my Blu-ray player, my earlier thoughts regarding the SR6003's smooth musical nature went out the window, for it has a nasty, violent side. When pushed into a corner, it comes out swinging and will beat you into submission long before you get it to cry uncle. Now, I'm not saying the SR6003 is abrasive or harsh. No, it is supremely composed, incredibly resolving and possesses tremendous balance across the frequency extremes. However, when necessary, it can get a touch irreverent that with big films like Dark Knight or music in the rock genre, an ability that is a welcome addition to its repertoire. The Joker says in Dark Knight, "Introduce a little anarchy," which the SR6003 is more than capable of doing.

Low Points
While I adore the SR6003, there are a few things that caused me to take exception. For starters, I would have liked one more HDMI input. While dual HDMI outs are a big deal for me and many others, I'm sure three HDMI inputs just don't cut it. If a DVR, a Blu-ray player and, say, an HTPC or HD DVD player fill the SR6003's HDMI capacity, there is little to no room for future formats and/or upgrades. There is a somewhat affordable switcher from Marantz that you can use externally but other receivers handle this task in one chassis. 

I also applaud the front-mounted USB port for use with portable music devices, such as iPods, but getting it to work is a whole other story and one that is rife with issues. The iPod and MP3 players alike are nothing new and subsequently need to be truly plug and play with no ands ifs or buts about it.

Lastly, while I liked the remote and consider it to be one of the best in the receiver market, it is far too directional and distance-impaired to be of any long-term use for anyone placing the SR6003 outside of a direct line of sight. 

The Marantz SR6003 A/V receiver is about as full-featured and well-rounded as a receiver can get in today's marketplace, regardless of price. However, when you consider its sub-$1,000 sticker, its performance and prowess becomes all the more impressive, for the SR6003 is truly a
giant killer. It bests my former references in nearly every regard and, while it's not the top dog in Marantz's lineup, its more expensive siblings appear to be just that: more expensive. Unless your room is larger than average and your speakers are just pigs for power, I can't see you needing more than the SR6003, unless you simply have money to burn. I highly recommend it.

 Additional Resources 
• Read more HDMI receiver reviews from the likes of Sony, Marantz, Integra, Onkyo, Sherwood and more.
• Read a Marantz SR-7005 receiver review here.

  • Armen
    2009-07-23 20:03:06

    <p>I have a Marantz SR-5600. And i have no regrets is buying a Marantz. The performance is awesome! i just got it last July 16,2009. And paired with a JBL SCS260.5 + a pair of back surround speakers. to make full use of 7.1. Best buy ever!</p>

  • Jerry
    2009-02-22 06:27:19

    <p>This is so great that you love your components this much.</p> <p>Truly - what its all about.</p>

  • Drew Daniels
    2009-02-22 05:31:12

    <p> I have a Marantz model 18 with its SR18 remote. I got it at half price ($1250) because it was returned to the dealer after the buyer got a consulting AV person who had different ideas. The performance of the 18 is awe-inspiring; it has 5x 150 watts with 8-ohm loads, though at the present time I use four of its amp channels--two in bridge for my double 18" 2245H subs in custom 30 ft enclosure flat to 14 Hz, and two for a pair of JBL L250 towers that can easily hit 120 dB broadband without clipping the 18. The preamp's five outs drive five biamped JBL LSR6328p studio monitors which contain 250 watts of biamp power inside.<br /> There are some issues I would caution about Marantz in general, and this receiver in particular. When power fails the receiver loses ALL its settings, stations in the tuner, and input assignments to the digital and analog inputs, and has to be reprogrammed ten times a year here. A UPS is not available at reasonable cost that can supply the current demands of this 110 pound monster. The SR18 remote drains its four AA batteries in a few weeks, its mute button no longer functions and it is the most arcane and tiresome to program and use remote I have ever seen, with a display that is just short of unreadable without walking to a downlight and turning it on. Lastly Marantz itself exists only in the ether. Yes, they have a web site, but all attempts to communicate with the company are futile, the product is complicated and it's difficult to impossibe to find repair facilities even here in the Hollywood CA area that will even discuss working on such a piece with so little corporate support, literature or contact available.<br /> All in all, I would always recommend powered loudspeakers from a solid manufacturer who is LOCAL enough to take or send and receive via UPS or FedEx, and a tuner/preamp or receiver that can likewise be repaired locally. Unless you're so rich that you regard your AV guy whose name you don't know the same way you regard the other guy whose name you don't know who replaces your tropical fish, this stuff represents a good chunk of your disposable income, it supplies a good portion of your relaxation and entertainment hours, and it can be high on your annoyance list if it becomes problematic, so we might all consider discussing reliability along with other aspects of the gear we love.</p>

  • Ken Taraszka, MD
    2009-02-13 02:21:06

    <p>I always remember SAE as well when I think of older audio gear!</p>

  • greg
    2009-01-30 02:40:33

    <p>Marantz, that name brings back the early days of audio. Marantz, Scott, and Mcintosh tube amplifiers. Great sound, warm and plenty of oozing bass. Despite some of the low points mentioned here, this is a great receiver. And its very good to see a company that has been around as long as Marantz has, to still be at the top of its game with all the ups and downs that come along with longevity.<br /> If these receivers, sound anything like their new separates, I would put them at the top of the home theater receiver chain.</p>

  • Ken Taraszka, MD
    2009-01-28 03:56:58

    <p>I almost went with a different receiver for the scaling alone but decided in my bedroom I could live without scaling, and I never regret the Marantz! </p>

  • Ken Taraszka, MD
    2009-01-28 01:41:20

    <p>When I was receiver shopping, I had had several Denon's and reviewed the Marantz 8001 and really liked it, I almost didn't get the Marantz as it didn't have 1080p video scaling, but decided in the bedroom I could live without it. I know/knew they would likely come out with it in the next generation, but I needed a receiver then. </p> <p>I am still very happy with the sound of the unit, and it is currently where my turntable lives, until I buy one for the main rig..........</p>

  • Andrew Robinson Managing Edito
    2009-01-27 02:06:31

    <p>I assure you the SR6003 is every bit a Marantz sounding product. It's more analog sounding than just about any other receiver out there in the marketplace today. I had to send it back so that another writer could review it but oh do I miss it so. If it had four HDMI ins and 2 outs it might have been the perfect budget receiver for me. </p> <p>Andrew</p>

  • Jerry Del Colliano
    2009-01-27 00:36:42

    <p>People buy Marantz receivers on sound. They are built really nicely but often don't have ALL of the bells and whistles of the cheapie receivers but what they lack in one extra HDMI input - they make up for with some drastically better sound.</p> <p>j</p>

  • Brian
    2009-01-27 00:31:57

    <p>Ken<br /> I also have an 8002 and have been pleased with its performance. If the new 03 series of receivers can maintain the sound quality of the 02, the sound quality combined with the feature set should make them a stellar choice for those who value performance.<br /> Brian</p>

  • Ken Taraszka, MD
    2009-01-21 16:31:32

    <p>I wish my 8002 had the scaling in these new models!</p>

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