While most receiver manufacturers churn out new products every year -- regardless of whether a design needs an update or not -- brands like Rotel and Marantz are happier to sit out a year or so on some, if not all, models.
Marantz's slimline NR receivers are an example of this, with the NR150x sitting out every other year. Come 2017 and the company is updating both of its current NR receivers: firstly with the $549/£549 NR1508 and then with the $749/£749 NR1608.
Both models feature pretty everything you'd want in a modern receiver, while also maintaining that slim-line chassis which looks a little slicker sitting on your TV unit.
The one thing we missed from the older models has been fixed with these updates -- multiroom music. Denon's HEOS system has been around for three years -- a dog's age compared to its competitors -- but only now is it coming to pretty much all Denon and Marantz receivers. HEOS uses a proprietary app to stream music around your house to compatible devices which also includes portable speakers like the HEOS 1.
Other features include HDMI ports with 4K/HDCP 2.2 compatibility -- the NR1608 has eight while the NR1508 still has a respectable six.
The entry-level NR1508 has 5 channels at 50W each while the NR1608 offers 7x50W -- both measured at full frequency range with 8-ohm speakers. The main reason you'd want the NR1608 over the cheaper model is that it can do Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The extra height channels can add extra ambience in compatible movies.
The NR1608 will also do other stuff, such as upscale to 4K and enable integration features like ISF controls and a RS-232 port.
Which one would we choose? 2015's NR1506 was a nifty unit, and the addition of multiroom is pretty compelling. At $749, though, the NR1608 is now too close in price to the no-doubt better-performing SR5011.
The two receivers are due to drop later this month (May), but Australian availability is yet to be announced. Expect the price to be closer to AU$1,050 and AU$1,400, respectively.