44 Marantz NA6005 bLots of people like streaming music because it makes it easy to have a houseful of music all the time. Others like it because of the new discoveries they make. For me, it makes dinner parties easy.

Once upon a time when people were coming to dinner I’d put a stack of CDs beside the stereo so I could keep the music rolling with only brief absences to change discs. These days I just tune into any number of services – Spotify’s daily mixes are great – and I don’t have to get up. The only wrinkle is when people ask about a particular track and I have to consult the phone or iPad to identify it.

You can stream music even if your beloved amplifier pre-dates all this. I’ve tried a number of ways ranging from dirt cheap and inconvenient right up to Marantz’s $1240 NA6005 network streamer; extremely pleasing if character building.

The most basic method is buying a cable with a 3.5mm minijack on one end and RCAs on the other and running it from the headphone plug of your computer or phone into your amp’s RCAs. Clunky but it works.

44 Marantz NA6005 aThe next step is a Bluetooth receiver that takes the music wirelessly from your computer or phone and sends it to your amp through a cable to RCA inputs. Arcam makes a ripper for less than $400 and OneForAll, better known for its replacement remotes, has good performer for the money at around $130. Both have Bluetooth aptX but note that both sender and receiver must have the aptX codec if you are to get its benefits. If your phone or computer transmits standard SBC Bluetooth then that’s what you’ll get.

If you’re fussy about sound quality – if you record the music on your computer in lossless files and listen to it in detail – you’ll want better. This is when you start looking at dedicated streamers like the Marantz. It taps into the music stored on your phone, computer or attached drive presenting folders and tracks as you’ve catalogued them. Playing them is as easy as pressing ‘enter’. The sound quality is definitely overkill for dinner parties, this is more about settling down with your headphones and a generous glass of red.

The Marantz delivers much but requires patience. Nothing happens fast – it takes 20 seconds to turn off – and switching between inputs can get quite perplexing. Setting it up prepares you for all this because it requires patience too. Unless you are pretty handy at electronic problem solving I’d advise having it done by an installer from the shop, even if you have to pay.

44 Marantz NA6005 cAn example of the vicissitudes you’ll strike; you’ll be asked to download a remote control app to your phone or tablet and there are two Marantz remote control apps, the Remote App and the Hi Fi Remote App. The latter is the one you want, the former only ends in tears. I guess Marantz figures eager new owners read things closely. The NA6005 can also be fiddly about routers and the quick start guide assumes knowledge you may not possess and observations you may not have made.

Persevere and you’ll get there; it took me half a day. It’s worth the journey not just because the sound quality does justice to any stereo system, but also because you’ll have a feel for how this thing works. After a week I was pretty much on top of it but I still needed the owner’s manual, provided on a CD. You’ll also need a patient, perseverant attitude.

Published November 2017

 

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