The Marantz SR5006 is a home-theatre receiver delivering good audio performance (if you adjust certain settings) and strong new-media support, including AirPlay.
As a lower-level receiver, Marantz has shed this unit's S-Video, but provides six HDMI inputs. None are on the front panel, although there is USB there. Ethernet is provided, along with a sufficient number of older connections, including full 7.1-channel analog audio inputs.
This receiver has a variation on standard connections that we have never seen before. Most receivers either come with just a subwoofer preamplifier output, or with a full set of preamplifier outputs (typically, 7.1 channels). The advantage of the latter is that you can then use the receiver as a surround processor, and connect new power amplifiers to give your system a performance boost. With the former, you're stuck with whatever amplifiers are built in to the unit.
The receiver has two subwoofer pre-amp outputs (same signal to both), plus one pre-amp output each for the left and right front channels. The purpose of these last two? Why, to allow you to use high-power amplifiers, if you choose, for the front stereo pair. Those who are into more exotic stereo loudspeakers could well appreciate this. We do. In our comparison system, for example, we use 300-watt monoblock power amplifiers for the front left and right channels, and the receiver's built-in amps for the rest.
Marantz has included a step-by-step set-up wizard in the unit. It's very detailed — more like an installation wizard on a computer — with clear text explanations of what you need to do. It even talks you through connecting cables to each of your loudspeakers, one by one.
When you get to the point of speaker calibration, the receiver employs the Audyssey MultEQ XT system. It can do a simple install with one point of measurement, or one taking greater account of your room acoustics by measuring three different positions. As its name suggests, it provides frequency-response equalisation, as well as the usual speaker size, distance and volume adjustments.
Sound is delivered by seven 100-watt hi-fi amps. Two of these can be set to drive the surround rear channels, the front height channels (for Dolby Pro Logic IIz) and speakers in a second zone, or to bi-amplify the front speakers. It's quality stuff, and for speakers with prices commensurate with this receiver (ie, aside from some of the weirder exotics), the amps proved to have plenty of power.
However, the receiver initially sounded quite poor. That's because by default it switches on something called "Dynamic EQ", which is an Audyssey-created sound processor designed to improve the sound at low volumes, primarily by boosting certain frequencies.
It simply does not sound right.
The problem isn't that it's on offer, but rather that the Marantz receiver just switches it on without saying anything about it. It's up to you to find the menu setting to switch it off (Audio Adjust > Audyssey Settings > Dynamic EQ).
That done, this is a fine-sounding unit. It also defaulted to providing stereo sound from stereo sources, rather than some weird "All Channel Stereo".