Two weeks ago we looked at the Marantz NR1609 an AV receiver with a very slim design and a price tag of 749 euros. If you want to spend a bit less and do not mind delivering some loudspeaker channels and features, then the NR1509 is an interesting alternative. In this review we look at the Marantz NR1509, which has a price of 579 euro.
A number of elements from this review is taken from the review of the NR1609. This is because both devices correspond exactly to different parts.
Marantz NR1509 vs NR1609 – the differences
The NR1609 is a 7.2-channel receiver with a power of 50 watts per channel (8-ohm, 20Hz – 20kHz, 0.08 % THD, 2 channel driven), while the NR1509 is a 5.1 channel receiver with the same power per channel. Both receivers have the latest standards and techniques, including support for HDR and 4K Ultra HD. Both models are also equipped with bluetooth, Apple AirPlay and HEOS. With the HEOS app, you can make the receiver part of a multiroom system and stream music from services such as Spotify, TuneIn and Deezer. Support for Amazon Alexa is also on board, allowing you to use the voice commands to control the receiver.
Both receivers support Dolby Atmos, DTS: X and DTS Virtual:X plus support for high resolution audio in the form of Flac, AIFF and WAV up to 24-bit / 192kHz, plus DSD 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz. There is a phono input for the vinyl fans. In addition, the NR1609 has eight HDMI inputs and one HDMI ARC output. The NR1509 has to do with six HDMI inputs and one HDMI ARC output. Support for HDCP 2.2, 4K Ultra HD 60Hz, 4:4:4 subsampling Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10 and the BT.2020 color range is available on all connections. Just like the NR1609, the NR1509 features automatic calibration with Audyssey MultEQ Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ.
The main differences
|DTS: X / Atmos||No||Yes|
|Conversion analogue> HDMI||No||Yes|
|Scaling HDMI> HDMI||No||Yes|
|GUI Overlay||No (older menu)||Yes|
Design and connections
In terms of design, the NR1609 and NR1509 are almost the same. The NR1509 looks sleek and premium. It is a compact AV receiver, which simply means that this model is a lot less than traditional AV receivers. The device weighs 8.2 kilograms, which is not even very small, and has a size of 440 x 376 x 105 millimeters. With this the receiver fits into almost every piece of furniture and does not even look great on a piece of furniture. Note, however, that the receiver is about 7 centimeters higher when the antennas for bluetooth and WiFi are raised. In our experience, however, you could also aim it horizontally if you are not too far away from the router.
Appearance is a matter of taste, but the NR1509 certainly appeals to us. The finish is neat and we also see the well-known Marantz features, with a slightly curved front, two large rotary knobs and a large display in the middle. The device also has silver-colored insulating feet. Beneath the display there are buttons for, among other things, the zones, pure direct, surround mode and internet radio. The receiver is solidly built and has a premium look and feel.
In terms of connections we see elements on the front as well as the back. The back is equipped with 5 speaker terminals, five HDMI inputs, one HDMI output, two subwoofer outputs, a coaxial and optical audio input and various analog inputs. There is also an ethernet port. On the front we see an extra HDMI input, a USB port and a Phono input back.
In this review we use a LG E8 series oled tv For the display of video material, Spotify for streaming music, a USB stick with high-res audio, the Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray player for the display of CDs and (Ultra HD) ) Blu-ray discs, and the B & W CM S2 series speaker system for optimal audio playback.
Operation and installation
Although the operation and installation are not so different from the NR1609 there is something important in terms of the appearance of the menus, and not in a very good sense. The menu structure is almost the same and we also encounter almost the same possibilities, but the design is one of a few decades ago. The jagged edges, the low resolution; it does not really look like that. We would have liked to have seen the same menu here as on the NR1609. That menu also needs a freshening up, but this goes a few steps further (back). Fortunately, you have access to the Marantz app, which gives you access to the menus, in the same style as the NR1609 does.
That said, there is still very little change in ease of use. The menus are well structured and everything is very straightforward. The navigation in all menus is very smooth and fast, the chances are that you will get lost and functions are clearly indicated.
The nice thing is that Marantz provides a set-up assistant that will guide you through the entire installation process. and configuration leads, but unfortunately again in the resolution of the first Wolfenstein. You will get step by step instructions on how to connect the receiver to other devices, how to connect the speakers and what surround configurations you can use.
In addition, there is the possibility to calibrate the receiver automatically the included set-up microphone and integrated Audyssey software. Audyssey looks at the distances, sound levels and acoustics of the room. Based on this information, based on six measuring points in the room, an equalizer is adjusted and the distances and levels are determined. Once analyzed, the Audyssey software ensures that the receiver is optimally adjusted. If you choose the calibration then you are busy with the set-up for fifteen minutes but your receiver is perfectly adjusted immediately. However, you can also skip the calibration and get started with the distances, sound levels and other settings.
Marantz NR1509 – In use
Remote control and Remote app
You can operate the NR1509 in two ways; using the included remote control and the Marantz 2016 AVR Remote app (Android and iOS). The remote control is not a special feature; a plastic accessory with simply the most important buttons for comfortable operation and buttons that give light in the dark. In addition, you have a number of smart buttons at your disposal to assign a function to yourself.
The Remote app is also one that has been known for a while, like the name of the app suggests. The free application makes it possible to fully operate the receiver. All functions of the remote control are available but also important parts of the TV interface appear in the app so that you can also watch the settings during the movie without being distracted. The app can use a freshening up, but it works well and quickly. For the novice user it can get used to the amount of options and hidden menus.
In the field of streaming we see with the arrival of the NR1509 and NR1609 for the first time HEOS back on the slimline models. Thanks to the integration of HEOS you have the possibility to install the HEOS-app and via this app to get access to numerous streaming services. You can play music from your mobile phone or a NAS via the app or from services such as Deezer, Tidal, Spotify and TuneIn. You do not necessarily need multiple HEOS speakers for this; the receiver is seen as a playback point and is therefore sufficient to get started. However, you can always expand with multiple HEOS speakers or devices to set up a multiroom system. The support of hi-res audio formats is wide and complete, so chances are you can play all your favorite music without problems.
The HEOS app has been using the same interface for years and does not look very exciting, but is functionally well together. The app works with three large screens, selectable via the tabs below. The first shows the list of connected HEOS devices, the middle all music sources (including all physical inputs on the receiver), the third one currently playing. Very practical is that in the HEOS app you can switch from a streaming source to, for example, your connected CD player and that you can select sound modes (such as ‘stereo’ or ‘surround stereo’). You do not have to return to the Remote app or the remote control.
In addition, you can of course connect a CD player or a turntable, physically and there is also a USB port for those who have their music on a usb storage medium. You can also use a WiFi or other network drive in your home network via WiFi, you can stream from all mobile devices via Bluetooth and if you have an iOS device you can use AirPlay to play your content via the receiver. Incidentally, Marantz promises an update to AirPlay 2, allowing you to group the receiver with other AirPlay 2 speakers in the future and to stream music through Siri.
Finally, the NR1509 has Spotify Connect which allows you to get your Spotify numbers through the Receiver can be streamed, while you use your smartphone purely for operation and all other things. If that is not enough, you can search and listen to Internet radio stations, in addition to the traditional AM and FM channels. All these options work smoothly and well, but of course make sure you have a stable internet connection.
The NR1509 also features Amazon Alexa integration. This means that the receiver can be paired with an Amazon Alexa speaker that you can talk to. This can be for example an Amazon Echo or a Sonos One. This linking is done through a Marantz skill for Alexa, which you can activate in the Alexa app. You can then pronounce voice commands in the direction of the Alexa speaker, with which the Marantz receiver can be operated. Alexa allows you to stream music and control certain receiver functions, including switching inputs. Unfortunately, Alexa is currently not officially available in the Netherlands, nor in Dutch, so it’s just waiting for the official launch.
Marantz NR1509 – Audio quality
In terms of features and connections we see a few important differences between the NR1509 and NR1609 back, but do we also hear differences in audio quality? Let’s say first of all that in terms of surround, we will certainly notice differences because the NR1509 does not support Dolby Atmos or DTS: X, unlike the NR1609. So you can not link elevation channels and must do it with a (maximum) 5.1-channel setup. We have also placed this receiver in our test room and we use the Bowers & Wilkins CM S2 series, accompanied by the Bowers & Wilkins ASW610XP.
Let’s go straight to the door ; the audio quality of the NR1509 does not differ much from that of the NR1609. Both receivers have the same warm Marantz signature and apart from the number of channels that can be controlled there is little difference to be discovered. If we look at the music reproduction, the NR1509 is able to create a dynamic and lively soundstage, which also has convincing stereo distribution. It is a colorful display – as we know from Marantz. The real live-for-your-nose feeling is lacking, but the placement in the room is good, the low tones are displayed with sufficient punch, details are clearly audible and distinguishable, and even with the more intense songs the receiver knows to stay fine. Incidentally, with the comment that the device is noticeably harder at higher volumes. There is less control due to the lack of power and therefore less flexibility. Forced is perhaps the right word; the trained ear will notice that the receiver is at its limits here. As with its more expensive brother, the (emotional) space remains on the small side, but we can not blame the receiver given the price and specs.
If we switch to the surround experience then it is to notice a difference, but not in quality. After all, we miss the two height channels compared to the NR1609 for the Atmos experience. They are not present now and that makes the surround experience a bit less impressive, especially for films like Everest and Deadpool that are full of action and effects. That upper layer of the surround, what Atmos has to take care of, is lacking and also makes the space feel somewhat smaller. That is how this device is sold so you know what you get.
That said the 5.1 channel experience is still of impressive quality. Surround effects are placed tightly in the room so that you forget the actual speaker placement quickly, in the deep bass you can see a lot of punch and the space is kept convincingly horizontal. In addition, no parts are snowed under each other and the receiver knows how to separate dialogues, music and effects for a nice movie experience. Yet when watching movies, the same applies as when listening to music; the higher the volume, the less control the receiver has over the output. He simply gets it harder to play it all balanced and accurate.
The lower price and the lesser spes must of course have an influence on something and that is evident in the ability to also in larger spaces. and to maintain control at higher volumes. The NR1509 is especially ideal for smaller rooms where the volume does not have to be fully open. There the receiver feels at ease and the surround experience is impressive.
Marantz NR1509 – Conclusion
All in all, we can safely conclude that the NR1509 does not really do much for the NR1609 in terms of audio quality. The NR1609 only offers more possibilities, such as an arrangement with Dolby Atmos, which definitely has its added value but what you have to be able to dispose of. If you do not need the larger number of HDMI inputs, are satisfied with a simpler (low resolution) interface and do not want to use extra zones then the NR1509 is definitely a good alternative. Like its more expensive brother, this is a receiver for a specific target group; a target group that likes to use the small space well, has a limited budget, seeks ease of use and wants to tightly control a good speaker system with a serious receiver. Both are not receivers for the really large rooms or for the maximum volumes, but receivers that do what they have to do very well. You have unlimited streaming capabilities and multi-audio capabilities thanks to HEOS, you can control the receiver with an app, you have various settings and calibration options and you can enjoy an above-average stereo and surround sound. All in a compact but premium-looking jacket.