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First Look: Marantz NR1403 review: A slim, simple receiver without frills

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First Look: Marantz NR1403 review: A slim, simple receiver without frills

2:56 /

The Marantz NR1403 is slim, handsome AV receiver with excellent sound and plenty of HDMI connectivity, although it lacks built-in networking.

Hey. I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET and we're gonna take a look at the Marantz NR1403. This is a 5.1 AV receiver that was actually released last year, but it's staying in line for 2013 and it's currently selling for $400. The real appeal of this receiver is its slim line design. It's just 4.1 inches tall which makes it significantly thinner than most AV receivers on the market. The front panel just looks good too with nicely curved edges that don't have the harsh boxy look that most receivers have. The receiver is relatively wide and deep though, over 17 inches wide and nearly 14-1/2 inches deep, so it's a good idea to double check the dimensions on your TV cabinet before making a purchase. The remote is pretty decent. It doesn't include too many buttons, and important stuff like the volume rocker is prominently featured. The remote on the step-up NR1604 is even better, so it's a little disappointing that you don't get that clicker with this model, but it's good enough especially if you're planning on replacing it with the universal remote. In terms of features the big thing is the NR1403 is missing any kind of networking functionality. There's no built-in Wi-Fi or Ethernet which means you're gonna miss out on newer features like smartphone control, integrated streaming services, and AirPlay. However the truth is a lot of those networking features don't work that well on AV receivers, and while AirPlay is nice you can always add it later with an Apple TV. So while the Marantz is missing a lot of checkboxes on a feature comparison chart, in practice it doesn't feel like you're missing that much. What the NR1403 does have is a lot of HDMI connectivity including 6 total ports including one on the front. That's the most you'll find on a receiver at this price, and it gives you plenty of room to expand down the road. There aren't many legacy ports on the back including no component video inputs at all, but that's not a big deal since most devices use HDMI these days. Now a lot of people get worried about sound quality when they see a smaller design like this, but the Marantz sounded excellent in our tests. We had resident audiophile Steve Guttenberg give it a listen and he was really impressed with how close it was to the much larger Sony STR-DN1040. While music and movies sounded really dynamic in detail, so even though it's a smaller overall package you're not giving up any performance. But what the Marantz really comes down to is its unique form factor. The real reason you're buying this receiver is because it's got a great look and it's a lot less bulky than traditional AV receivers. You're giving up networking features, but that's a fair compromise if you're gonna use other devices to stream anyways. So overall if you're into the design it's an excellent value that sounds great and has plenty of HDMI ports for your gear. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this is the Marantz NR1403.

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