If you're building a home theater, probably the two most "difficult" (read: fun) decisions are choosing speakers and the receiver. While there are obvious differences between speakers -- both in terms of style and performance--it can be tougher to choose between receivers. Not only do nearly all of them look the same (a big black box), but some might contend that they all sound the same, too. Of course, to the audiophile community, that last statement is sacrilege: differences between receivers may be subtle, but they are certainly still discernible.
If you're among that small golden-eared fraternity, the Marantz SR5009 is an excellent, though pricey, option: it retails for $900 in the US, £750 in the UK, and AU$1,350 in Australia. The SR5009 offers a raft of features plus rock-solid amplification which comes without the hyped sound of other home theater amplifiers. That its performance with music is even better than its already impressive sound on movies is only a bonus.
If $900 is a little rich for your blood, there is no shame in opting for the $700(£600 in the UK, and $1,250 in Australia), which not only offers a slimmer design but also most of the same features.
In terms of designing something that looks different from its competition, Marantz is leading the pack with its curved lines and idiosyncratic details while still keeping an inherent "receiver-y" look.
The SR5009 has the rounded edges of its brethren but unlike the NR1605 this is still a large, boxy receiver. It borrows the "porthole" display from earlier designs which lists the current input plus the volume level, but if you sit too far away, say 10 feet, this probably won't be readable anymore.
The SR5009 boasts a simple, yet powerful remote which is logically arranged. It comes with luminescent keys though -- unless you "charge" it under a light -- it's not particularly readable in the dark.
The menu system is what you'd expect from a modern receiver with a full-color display with readable text and a sensible layout. It features a wizard to help you set up the receiver as well.
The Marantz SR5009 is an extra $200 over the company's own NR1605 (in the US), thus begging the question, "What are you getting for the extra money?" The biggest upgrade is the beefier power output: seven channels driven at 100W instead of only 50W. The number of inputs and outputs is also slightly better, but otherwise their feature counts are very similar.