Over the past few years, we've almost started to take for granted that new features appearing on the most recent Marantz AVRs would, at some point, trickle backward to previous years' models. It happened with eARC and AirPlay 2. It happened, a little more slowly and selectively, with IMAX Enhanced. The Marantz SR6014 and its kin in the company's 2019 AVR lineup, though, seem to be a bit of a break from this tradition.
New to the SR6014, the SR5014, and the slim NR1710, and exclusive to those models in the Marantz lineup for now, is a technology called Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization, which allows you to experience Dolby Atmos soundtracks without the need for overhead speakers or Atmos effects modules. (The tech also appeared on new AVRs from Pioneer, including the recently reviewed VSX-LX504, though it wasn't available on that model until a firmware update that dropped after I finished my review.)
Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization is, in effect, similar to DTS Virtual:X, which did appear on last year's Marantz AVRs, including the predecessor to the SR6014, the SR6013. Interestingly, while you cannot apply Virtual:X to Dolby-encoded audio, you can apply Dolby Surround (and hence Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization) to DTS-encoded audio.
Oh, and you can now use Spotify Connect with a free Spotify account.
Other than that, things remain largely consistent from SR6013 to SR6014. You still get 110 watts per channel of output with two channels driven (rated with an 8-ohm load, 20 Hz to 20 kHz, 0.08 percent THD). With more channels driven, you'll get less output per channel, of course. Connect five speakers (not counting powered subs) and you'll get between 75 and 80 watts per channel, assuming an 8-ohm load. Hook up all nine speakers, and the per-channel power output goes down from there.
The SR6014 features a total of eight HDMI 2.0b inputs (seven 'round back, one up front) with HDCP 2.3 (not 2.2) compliance and three HDMI outputs, one with eARC and one for Zone 2. It supports BT.2020, Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log Gamma pass-through via HDMI, and also includes two component inputs and one component out. In addition to 7.1-channel analog audio inputs, it also boasts 11.2-channel pre-amp outs. For control options, it supports IP, RS-232, and mini-jack IR in.
In addition to the Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization discussed above, a couple of new features are worth noting: With past years' models, I don't remember being able to assign the same HDMI input to multiple sources. If that was added at a later date via firmware, I might have missed it. But with the SR6014, out of the box, you can use the same HDMI video input for multiple sources. Say, if you want to watch the video from your satellite or cable box while listening to analog or optical/coaxial audio from your CD player, you can do so. Also new is automatic HDMI input re-naming, assuming the source supports it.
The specs for the SR6014 also list Bluetooth Headphone Transmission as a feature, meaning you'll be able to beam audio from the receiver to your wireless headphones, which is a handy addition. Or, it will be once it's enabled via firmware late in 2019.
Of course, comparisons with previous years' models may not be super helpful if you're just shopping for a new AVR. So, it's worth pointing out what the $1,499 SR6014 gives you that the $999 SR5014 doesn't. In addition to more power (110 watts per channel versus 100) and more powered channels (nine versus seven), the SR6014 also features better room correction (Audyssey MultEQ XT32 versus MultEQ XT), independent level and delay controls for two subwoofers (the SR5014 treats its dual subwoofer outputs as a single out with a virtual y-splitter attached), the aforementioned Zone 2 HDMI output, the multichannel analog audio inputs also mentioned above, and 11.2-channel preamp outs (the preamp section of the SR5014 is limited to 7.2, or more accurately 7.1, given its parallel subwoofer outs).
All of these upgrades are what make the SR6014 the sweet spot purchase for most HomeTheaterReview.com readers, and by this time next year end I expect it to be one of the two best-selling receivers via our Amazon Affiliate links, alongside the semi-equivalent Denon for the latter part of 2019, which hasn't been announced just yet but which we assume will be called the AVR-X4600H, following Denon's standard model designation conventions.
In past years, Marantz fans might have also looked forward to an eventual step-up in the form of an SR70XX model (although maybe not, given that we never got an SR8013; Marantz sometimes skips a year at certain tiers in its lineup), with even more power per channel, a beefier power supply, and perhaps the addition of Auro 3D decoding. But Marantz has informed us that there will not be an SR7014, which leaves the SR6014, with its $1,499 price point, as the sweet spot in terms of the balance of performance, features, and value for most of our readership.
If you've read my reviews for previous Marantz (and, indeed, Denon) AVRs in this general performance and price range, you pretty much know exactly what to expect from the SR6014 in terms of setup, so I'll mostly just hit the high points here, since I have a lot to say about Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization in the Performance section, and I'd rather this not turn into a 6,000-word review.
To cut right to the chase: Marantz hasn't fundamentally changed its setup procedure much in quite some time, because it doesn't need to. Upon firing up the receiver for the first time, you're greeted with screens that walk you through the setup process, ask you which speakers you have, tell you where to connect them, help test those connections, and identify any problems with the physical setup of the AVR.
Physical setup is made extra easy due to the standard Marantz layout, which places all of the speaker binding posts across the bottom of the back of the cabinet, side by side, with all of the HDMI connections across the top, and ample room in between for any legacy connections you need to make. In my case, the only analog hookups were for my pair of RSL Speedwoofer 10S subs, which left a lot of room for me to work on the rest of the connections. Old as I am, and tired as my eyes are, I didn't even need a flashlight to make the connections in my relatively dim secondary media room, which is lit by nothing more than a pair of small lamps on the other side of the room.
If I have an constructive criticism about the setup process, it's the same criticism I've leveled at all recent Marantz and Denon AVRs: I do wish the setup menus did more to tell you that, hey, instead of running room correction via the GUI, you may want to go download the $20 MultEQ Editor App and run room correction via it instead, 'cause if you run it via the GUI you're just going to have to do it from scratch if you want to use the app.
And you definitely want to use the app, because it turns Audyssey MultEQ XT32 from a solid room correction solution into a really, truly fantastic one, allowing you to establish your own target room curves, set a maximum filter frequency, and make other tweaks and adjustments that aren't available via the GUI.
For this review, I tinkered around with a few different max filter frequency settings, but generally kept the filters below 350Hz, except with my surround speakers, where a bit of recent redecoration in this room led to some unevenness in the response just north of 500Hz. Since I couldn't fix that with placement in short order, I set a 600Hz max filter frequency for those speakers, and noticed no deleterious effects for having done so.
One other setting worth pointing out has to do with Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization, though you won't find those words within the SR6014's menus. Instead, within the Audio menu, under Surround Parameter, you'll find a setting labeled Speaker Virtualizer, which can be engaged while a Dolby Atmos audio stream is playing, or if your sound mode is set to Dolby Surround or +Dolby Surround, so long as you don't have overhead speakers connected. (It can also be used to "virtualize" surround sound speakers, but I didn't test the unit without dedicated surrounds, so I can't speak to the effect.)
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...