The Marantz NR1506 is not your typical AV receiver. The NR1506 is about half the height of your average AV receiver, measuring just over 4-inches. The front of the 1506 curves slightly at the outer edges. These two features make the Marantz look less chunky than most AV receivers. The face of the unit is dominated by two knobs protruding on the left and right sides. The left knob acts as your input select while the right knob controls the volume. Sandwiched between the two knobs is a large display screen with earphones, USB, and HDMI inputs nestled directly below.
The remote bundled with the Marantz 1506 is serviceable. If you’ve used a Marantz amp the past few years, you’ll feel right at home with it. The remote has a simple layout with large buttons making it easy to use. Powering up the 1506 reveals a somewhat dull-looking interface. Much like Onkyo’s amplifiers, the 1506 uses a simple text-based based menu system that’s easy to use and navigate. However, with today’s era of slick interfaces, the on-screen menus of the 1506 do look a little dated. Marantz has a remote control app that’s available for iOS and Android devices. With it, you can control many of the main features of the receiver, but unlike the amps on-screen interface, the app has a better visual appearance.
With the Marantz NR1506’s short stature, you’d expect it to come up short in the connectivity department, but surprisingly it doesn’t. You get three analog audio inputs, one digital coaxial, and one optical digital. The receiver comes loaded with a total of six HDCP 2.2 HDMI 2.0a inputs. HDCP 2.2 is an encryption standard expected to be widely used for 4K content. Without it, the 1506 would not be able to pass through any 4K content that uses the encryption.
Along with the above connections, the 1506 comes equipped with Bluetooth and WiFi. If you prefer a wired network connection, the amp also has an ethernet port on the rear.
The Marantz NR1506 offers up 5.1 channels of amplification with an expected output of about 50 watts per channel. On the surface, this doesn’t sound like a lot of power, but Marantz’s low profile AV receivers are more about finesse.
With the 1506’s cramped quarters, you’d expect Marantz to skip on features, but it’s pretty loaded. Spotify Connect, Pandora, AirPlay and Internet Radio are part of the amps streaming features. The Marantz NR1506 also has a multitude of ways to transmit music from other audio sources. AirPlay can be used to send music from most iOS devices. DLNA compatibility makes it possible to stream audio from networked devices such as external hard drives. Lastly, with the USB input on the front, you can push compressed or HD audio files up to 24-bit/192kHz from a flash drive or smartphone to the receiver.
As far as surround formats, the Marantz NR1506 can decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, among others. However, the 1506 does not support Dolby Atmos or DTS:X.
Calibration & Setup
When first booting up the receiver, the NR1506 will walk you through the initial setup via onscreen prompts. The Marantz NR1506 uses Audyessey’s Bronze calibration system, which requires you to place the provided microphone at several locations in your listening area. A cardboard tripod is included with the 1506. Insert the microphone on top of the cardboard tripod and follow the on-screen prompts is all you have to do. The receiver does the rest. The entire process will consume a few minutes, but it is worth it. Audyssey will calibrate the receiver based on your room and speaker’s acoustic characteristics. As usual, Audyssey did a bang-up job calibrating our system. The only problem we noticed (and this is a recurring one) is that it set our fronts to large instead of small. That is a common problem with many calibration systems, so we recommend that you go in and double-check your speaker settings after running the calibration just to be safe.
Not wanting to go easy on the little 1506, we decided to test it out with a challenging soundtrack. So we popped in Mad Max: Fury Roadon blu-ray and sat back to see the capabilities of the NR1506. To our surprise, the 1506 handled the soundtrack with ease. The 1506’s performance was detailed and furious. The amp’s reproduction of revving car engines was authoritative and powerful. As cars raced by on-screen, the 1506 reproduced every screech and engine rumble. The Marantz 1506 did an excellent job smoothly transitioning from the front to rear speakers, creating the illusion that sound was moving around the room. The result was that it felt like we were part of the action.
For music, the Marantz was equally impressive. At high volumes, the 1506 did show signs of strain. However, Marantz’s slimline isn’t designed to fill cavernous rooms with sound. Instead, receivers like the Marantz NR1506 are about focus, clarity, and accuracy.
The Marantz NR1506 is a great little amp. With HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2, the receiver is well prepared for the future. The 1506 is easy to use and, despite its small frame, has surprisingly good sound quality. The amp only has a few drawbacks. It lacks Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support. Plus, because of its low power output, it may struggle in larger rooms, but for most home theater users, it makes a great choice.