29 Marantz MCR612 aIt was the box it came in that surprised me about the new Marantz MCR612 network CD streamer; it was smaller than a Marantz box should be. For as long as I can remember Marantz equipment has been 44 cm wide, but the 612 is just 28 cm across, and 30 cm deep. Hence the smaller box.

Marantz dates from 1953, a veteran brand of quality hi fi, and the 44 cm width became a standard in hi fi in those days because components could be put in a stack with enough space for a turntable securely on top. Audiophiles still like it because lots of them have racking or cabinetry specifically designed for it. But Marantz isn’t looking at audiophiles with the 612, it’s aiming at people who want a system that will do everything and fit in a tight space. This is not a dumb idea, even in this wide, brown land almost one-third of the population lives in apartments.

Appreciating good reproduction of music and being an audiophile are not always the same thing. If you don’t have the kind of dollars audiophiles spend, if you don’t have the space for all that equipment and all those cables, but you still like your music clean and precise, this is great buying at $1320.

But you’ll also need speakers. There are one-box systems that have speakers built in, the problem being that they give very little, if any, separation of the right and left channels. So the music is essentially mono. Marantz obviously couldn’t come at this; stereo relies on the right and left speaker being separated by at least a couple of metres and if it had put speakers in the 612, well that low rumbling you’d hear would be Saul Marantz turning in his grave.

29 Marantz MCR612 bOther than this it does just about everything you’ll want. You get a tuner with FM and digital radio, it plays CDs and CDs carrying MP3 files and it streams anything you can pull up on your home network. It has AirPlay2 and Bluetooth and you can plug in the television through an optical cable. There are two optical inputs, a USB, RCAs both in and out, an outlet for a subwoofer and there’s a headphone plug. It also connects to your choice of Alexa or Google Assist, Siri as well if it’s an Apple household.

Okay, it doesn’t play super audio CDs or DVD-Audio discs but buyers in this part of the market have probably never heard of those anyway.

So it’s a comprehensive system doing everything the great bulk of people need in a single, compact box, just add speakers. I connected it to a pair of beefy bookshelfs and it drove them very successfully. Marantz claims power of 60 watts per channel, but that’s measured into six-ohm speakers and many, like my test units, are eight, so power to them is likely around 45 watts. Even so the 612 drove mine very loud and they sounded good throughout. A second pair of speakers can also be connected.

The scant instructions supplied with the unit list wireless connection both with your home wifi network and Apple devices, but not Android. To stream music from an android phone or tablet use the Heos app or Bluetooth. Spotify throws to it obediently.

The 612 sounds terrific for the money, it even does a pretty good job with basic Bluetooth. It’s easy to set up and easy to find a place for it. So it’s a great apartment solution and a quality offering for first timers.

First published by www.smh.com.au August 2019.


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