The first thing you notice about the SR5006 is that the huge LCD display that seems ever-present on all brands of AV receivers has been replaced by a minimalist round display. It now only shows source and volume level as well as status messages and track titles for streaming music.
When we first connected the SR5006 to the Internet, it immediately detected a firmware update and prompted us to install it. That really just set the mentality of how we experienced the rest of this review. Marantz has a product that is both powerful and easy to use and they do a lot of things right. The SR5006 is a 100W x 7.1-channel AV receiver that can do a second Zone. The only exception is that it has only a single pair of speaker binding posts that can be used for either Surround Back or the second Zone. More advanced systems will give you both connections and then just change modes in the software.
As for connectivity, well, you can hook up 6 HDMI sources, 2 component video and 3 composite video inputs, plus USB and Internet streaming. Basically, Marantz gives you an almost infinitely flexible way to route DVD players, cable boxes, music players and more to your theater and around the home. They even support Apple’s Airplay, which means you can stream music from your laptop, iPhone, or other i-device. And if you don’t use Apple products, you can still connect through the front USB port or even purchase an optional Bluetooth receiver.
We tried out a lot of the Network audio features, including Airplay, Pandora, Rhapsody, and Internet Radio. Speaking of Internet radio, it actually picked up several local stations which was extremely cool – and far better quality than what we get over the air to boot. In fact, all of the streaming functions seemed very high quality – relatively speaking. Airplay, in particular seemed able to stream whatever bitrate we had encoded, including lossless. Going back to the simplicity thing, Marantz just makes it easy to listen to whatever you want. We found ourselves spending more time listening to music, and less worrying about configuration or how we needed to set everything up – it all just worked.