Generally, when you're buying an AV receiver it comes down to features and performance, with aesthetics being a wash; there's little difference among all the bulky, black boxes. But in the case of the Marantz NR1601, the main appeal is its slimline design; its 4.19-inch height is substantially smaller than a traditional AV receiver.
Even better, the Marantz's slender dimensions don't have a negative impact on its sound quality; it's one of the better-sounding midrange receivers we've tested this year.
The main trade-offs are HDMI inputs and price. The NR1601 only features four HDMI inputs, whereas many competitors have six, and its $600 price tag is notably more than, say, the $450 Pioneer VSX-1020-K. However, if you don't need tons of HDMI connectivity and are willing to pay for its good looks, the Marantz NR1601 is the way to go.