Marantz SR6003 7.1 A/V Receiver



Installing the SR6003 was a fairly painless process. I put the unit into my equipment rack in my basement media room and began connecting my source components. My Samsung BD-P5000 HD-DVD/Blu-Ray player occupied the first HDMI input, with my Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai universal player, Xbox 360 (launch console – hence no HDMI), and Nintendo Wii occupying the three component video inputs. For audio, the Pioneer was connected to a coaxial digital input as well as the analog 7.1 inputs to facilitate DVD-Audio and SACD. The Xbox 360 used up one optical digital input, with the digital audio feed from my Fujitsu plasma (getting HD via Cable Card) taking up a second optical digital port. The Wii made due with a standard analog stereo input. Due to the SR6003’s ability to upconvert all analog video inputs to HDMI, I only had to run one HDMI cable to my 50” Fujitsu plasma’s input panel to be able to view all of my sources. You have the option of selecting Passthrough, 480P, 720P, 1080i, or 1080P upscaling/conversion for analog sources.

My only minor concern with this implementation is that the SR6003 does not allow any kind of video adjustment to be made to the input sources. Onkyo/Integra and Denon are doing this on some of their latest receivers and pre-processors and it is a great way to ensure that each display device sends the optimal image to your display when using the receiver’s video switching. Without individual source level adjustment, you will be forced to calibrate your display for only one of your video sources (I chose my BD/HD-DVD player) and simply deal with the differences in color, brightness, contrast, and sharpness for your other sources. A few devices (like my DV-47Ai) offer some degree of calibration on their own, but they are few and far between.

That left me with two spare HDMI inputs for future expansion. This brings me to one of my biggest concerns with the SR6003. While three HDMI inputs are adequate for my current setup, there is a good chance that they won’t be adequate for many of you. I currently use a cable card in my Fujitsu plasma for cable tuning. Many of you will be using an HD cable box from your service provider with an HDMI or DVI output. Scratch one HDMI input. Then tack on your Blu-Ray player. There’s input 2 taken up. What if you have an HD-DVD player from your format war days or an up-scaling DVD player that you wish to hook up? There goes the third and final HDMI port. If you have a Playstation 3 or newer Xbox 360 with HDMI, you would be forced to make some tough choices. Bottom line, I don’t think three HDMI inputs are enough for a modern receiver, particularly one at this price point. Yes, you can buy one of those new HDMI switchers (Marantz makes one of their own, the VS-3002), but they add unnecessary complexity to a system, not to mention added cost.

Much of the SR6003’s competition is offering 4 or 5 HDMI inputs, including in-house competitor Denon’s AVR-2309CI, recently reviewed by Gabriel Lowe. However, Marantz decided to add a second HDMI output to the SR6003. While there may be a few people running two video displays, i.e. a flat panel for casual TV watching or gaming and a front projector for “movie night,” at this price point I think that a fourth HDMI input in place of the second output would have been the wiser decision, at least for the largest percentage of potential purchasers.

After quickly hooking up my 7 speakers to the amplifier binding posts (thank heavens for banana plugs) and connecting my Hsu subwoofer to the “sub” pre-out, I was ready to enter the on-screen setup menus. Quick setup note: if you are running a 7.1 setup, don’t forget to set the back panel “Speaker C” switch on the SR6003’s back panel to “Off.” Otherwise, the receiver will treat your back surrounds as Zone A speakers or as bi-amp channels for your main speakers, not as part of your surround setup. The ability to bi-amp your main speakers is a nice feature if you don’t run a 7.1 setup. I would also recommend using banana plugs for your speakers with the SR6003, as there is very little space between the binding posts, which makes it very difficult to connect bare wire or spades.