Price (RRP): $1,320
When I was a kid, my family’s sound system was what was called an “all in one”. Radio, recording player, cassette: one device for the lot. The Marantz M-CR612 Network CD Receiver could be thought of as the 2019 “all in one”. But oh so much, much better.
Marantz M-CR612 features
To be clear, one way in which it is better is that the Marantz M-CR612 does not come with speakers. There are plenty of devices around with built-in speakers. This unit provides the connectivity and power and audio sources. But it leaves it to you to choose the most personal part of an audio system, the part that most defines the sound. You may already have speakers that you plan to use, or you may want to buy new. Either way, you’re not wasting your money on substandard packaged speakers.
So, what’s this about “all in one”? Well, the Marantz M-CR612 includes a stereo amplifier to drive those speakers, a CD player for the old silver discs, a USB socket for playback of music from USB storage, and advanced networking capabilities. Oh, and it also has a radio. That is a 2019-appropriate radio, with FM and DAB+.
All that’s in a stylish, compact system. The unit has curved left and right edges to its soft gold façade – black is also available. That has been Marantz’s house-style for the last few years. It stands 111mm tall, 280mm wide and 303mm deep. There are various control keys scattered around the front. Volume is adjusted by buttons rather than a knob. A large cyan-on-black display lets you know what’s going on, showing text about the music that’s playing and so on. The CD tray is above that. The CD player also handles CD-Rs and CD-RWs carrying MP3, AAC or WMA tracks, just in case you still have some good old-fashioned compilation discs.
Also on the front is a 3.5mm headphone output. I’ll return to that for something I’m sure will be thrilling to geeks.
The main connections are at the back. There are four pairs of speaker outputs: A and B. That’s fairly old-school, being able to connect two pairs of speakers. Either or both can be played back at a time. But there’s more! The headline power output of the unit is 2 x 60 watts (at a very high 10% distortion). More realistically it’s 2 x 50 watts (0.7%). But it turns out that there are four amplifiers, so it’s 4 x 30 watts or 4 x 25 watts, according to taste. Generally, A+B speaker outputs should only used if both pairs of speakers have an impedance of at least 8 ohms. But since they’re independently amplified, that’s not the case here. You can also use the two sets of output to bi-amplify one set of speakers if you’re into such things.
And there’s even more. A third mode is called Parallel BTL, for Bridge Tied Load. That combines two 30-watt amps into one 60-watt amp, realising the full headline output. But in that case, only one set of speakers can be used.
There’s one set of analogue audio inputs via RCA sockets and two optical digital audio. You could use one of those with your TV. There’s also an Ethernet socket and the USB port for connecting storage.
Finally, both dual band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are built in. A proper F-Type antenna connection is provided to screw-on the included antenna cable. Even in my office, which is swathed in metallic insulation, the unit reported 100% signal quality on DAB+ radio stations.
Installing the Marantz M-CR612
The first time you plug in the unit and switch it on, it fires up a simple wizard to guide you through setup. There’s not too much to it: selecting interface language then network setup. Radio station tuning happens when you go to the tuner the first time.
When I got to the network bit, rather than unfurling one of my longer Ethernet cables, I decided to go Wi-Fi with the Marantz M-CR12. There are three methods for doing this. The third one is to use the WPS key on your router. The second one is to choose an SSID and key in your network password. I chose the first one: use an iOS device. I opened up an iPad, went to Wi-Fi settings, and chose the Marantz M-CR612 which had appeared in the “Airplay Speaker” section. After maybe twenty seconds, with no further interaction from me, the unit was connected to my home network.
At that point it called in home and found that a new firmware was available. I’m pleased to say that it asked, first, before going to get it. The whole update took about five minutes.
As for the rest, it was just a matter of plugging in the speakers and the power. But you’ll definitely want to install the HEOS app on at least one of your smart devices – Android or iOS, it doesn’t much matter. That’s the best way to do all the network stuff. You can navigate through things with the included IR remote, but it is slower.
It seems that the HEOS stuff isn’t incorporated into the core firmware but carried separately. I went to the DAB+ tuner first off, just to make sure that the system was working okay. That’s when it scanned the relevant radio bands and tuned in the 21 available stations. After I confirmed sound was coming out (and finding I didn’t much like what ABC Jazz was playing at that moment) I fired up the HEOS app on an iPad. It pretty much instantly informed me that the HEOS app on the iPad needed to be updated. I told it to go ahead … and the DAB+ music stopped. The front panel display of the Marantz M-CR612 told me that it was updating its HEOS software. When that was done after a minute or so, the app came back and invited me to go to the App Store to update it. Which I did, and then all was ready to go.
HEOS started as a separate company. Indeed, the technology was largely developed in Australia. But it was always closely connected with the parent company of Denon and Marantz, now Sound United. In one sense, HEOS is just another multiroom audio system, except that it has a wider range of products than most. That’s because in addition to HEOS branded speakers and devices, all Denon and Marantz network-capable devices also support it. So, with HEOS your multiroom system may have a compact HEOS speaker in one room and a massive 150-watt-per-channel, eleven-channel Denon home theatre receiver in another and a nifty compact all-in-one Marantz M-CR612 in a third.