Marantz Cinema 50 Review: The Ultimate Home Theater System?
This Marantz Cinema 50 review covers its design, build quality, and features, including its 5.1-channel surround sound setup, support for 4K Ultra HD and HDR content, Bluetooth connectivity, and user-friendly remote control. Discover why this home theater system is a perfect blend of form and function.
Table of Contents
Now, the fundamentals: As was said up above, the Cinema 50 is the second model in Marantz's brand new Cinema AVR series. The top of the line Marantz receiver is the Cinema 40 ($3500), which offers a little more power and a few extra inputs (including legacy video), harking back to the company's former model naming convention. The Cinema 60 and 70 are the entry-level options.
The Marantz Cinema 50 is a "9.4-channel" receiver, as the company calls it, because it has nine powered (100-watt) channels and four independent subwoofer outs, both of which I will discuss in greater detail. The 9-channel-power feature is crucial since it allows me to power my 5+4-channel Atmos configuration without using a separate external amplifier for the overheads. Moreover, it has 11.4-channel processing if you decide to add an amplifier.
Design And Build
It appears like Marantz, in contrast to Denon, has gone the extra mile and redesigned both the system and their remote. Some of the opulent retro styling that has come to characterize Marantz products over the years has been preserved in the new version, but the overall effect is decidedly more contemporary and represents a welcome departure from a design that had grown stale.
In respect to size, the new system is more like the Cinema 60 than the SR6015 was. We'll go over the ways in which the units differ, but in general you'll find a lot of similarities. The Cinema 50 is now 17.4 inches (440 millimeters) in height, 14.0 inches (355 millimeters) in width, and 9.3 inches (235 millimeters) in depth. However, as before, the antennas can be rotated horizontally to reduce the device's profile to just 6.5 inches (165 millimeters) without negatively impacting the connection quality. The Cinema 50 is heavier at 29.8 lbs (13.5 kg), indicating it is equipped with more powerful technology than its smaller sibling.
When it comes to the design and aesthetics of this device, Marantz didn't try anything new, opting instead to retain some of the familiar features we've come to expect from the brand. The Cinema 50 is a hybrid of the SR6015 and the brand-new Cinema 60. The front circular porthole has been upgraded to an OLED display, and there are two large circular knobs for selecting inputs and adjusting the volume.
As with the SR6015, the rest of the interior is concealed behind a hatch at the front of the ship. When opened, its nine tiny circular buttons reveal controls for Pure Direct, M-DAX, Zone 2, tuner preset channels, the Dimmer, the Status, and the various Sound modes. Two further ports may be found below these two: one for the microphone and another for the USB Type-A cable used to attach external storage.
It would have been nice if the Cinema 50 had a front HDMI port and front analog audio jacks, but Marantz has eliminated all of these features from all of their recent products, including the Cinema 50. I'm holding out hope that they'll bring this back.
Marantz added a touch of class to the overall presentation by incorporating a gently curved and textured design on the right and left sides of the front face. On the right one, there's a place to plug in headphones, while the left one has a power button in the shape of a little circle.
Many improvements were apparently made to the Marantz Cinema 50's internal hardware. While the current edition still features Marantz's HDAM circuitry, it has been updated thanks to the incorporation of the HDAM-SA2 board. This board is not the same as the HDAM board found in the Cinema 60.
The Marantz device, like the Denon AVR-X3800H, uses TI (Texas Instruments) 32-bit/192kHz digital-to-analog converters and a single 2-core SHARC Griffin Lite XP DSP for its processing. While it is unclear whether or not Sound United will return to AKM, a topic of heated controversy as of late, the reality is that the vast majority of listeners will never even notice the difference when listening to audio from the real world.
Finally, the Hybrid PLL Clock Jitter Reducer is present in the Cinema 50 but not in the Cinema 60. This feature is shared by the SR5015 and the SR6015.
When Marantz wanted to modernize the appearance of its components, the remote control also went through an overhaul. The new remote is not drastically different from previous Denon/Marantz models, but it does appear more modern and suit the newer equipment.
The inputs are on top of the remote, as is customary, while the volume, channels, and navigation controls are in the middle. Thereafter, you'll find three playback buttons and four selecting buttons. The four available audio settings are listed at the bottom of the screen.
The remote, though, isn't simply updated cosmetically; it now has a backlight now. In contrast to motion sensing, the button to enable this feature is situated on the side, rather than on the top. This is the next big thing since pressing one button on the remote's side is far more convenient than searching through all the other buttons. With all the other controls, we've never seen the point of a backlight button.
Similar to the stunning Cinema 60, the Cinema 50 also has a stunning design. Although we understand that many people despise Marantz's porthole, it is a hallmark design that Marantz is not willing to give up, and thus the updated design is quite welcome. As we were just concerned with the total output, we never saw any issues with that. Yet, this depends on the individual more than anything else.
Features And Specs
When it comes to home theater systems, the Marantz Cinema 50 is among the most potent and adaptable options available. The five satellite speakers and deep subwoofer in this system collaborate to create a full, immersive soundfield, making it a 5.1-channel surround sound system. Because of their small size and sleek design, the satellite speakers may be discreetly placed anywhere in your home theater without taking up too much valuable floor or wall real estate. The subwoofer has a 10-inch driver and a high-tech amplifier, allowing it to deliver the deep, strong bass that enhances the enjoyment of both movies and music.
The Marantz Cinema 50 has the ability to produce amazing graphics because it is compatible with 4K Ultra HD resolution and High Dynamic Range (HDR) material. Movies and TV shows will now seem better than ever, with more accurate colors, deeper blacks, and brighter highlights. You can effortlessly connect your Blu-ray player, gaming console, and other devices to the system thanks to the HDMI inputs and outputs.
The Marantz Cinema 50 isn't just a powerful media player; it also has a number of user-friendly, adaptable features. The included remote control makes it easy to change the system's settings and volume without getting up from your couch. Bluetooth support is integrated right in, so you can play your mobile device's music collection without having to physically connect it to the speaker. Finally, the Marantz Cinema 50 requires minimal effort to install and set up, so you can get straight into your home theater experience.
The Cinema 50 also receives the same kind of upgrade treatment in audio format support as the Denon X3800H. The receiver is compatible with object-oriented audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and it also includes up-mixing and virtual technology features to accommodate a wide variety of listening environments.
Up-mixing technologies include the standard fare of Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X. These up-mixing technologies take mono or stereo mixes and expand them to fill the available channels in your audio system. Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization and DTS Virtual:X are two examples of virtual technologies that can simulate the presence of many, spatially dispersed speakers where none are physically installed.
This virtual technology is obviously inferior to those of actual physical speakers and is very dependant on the acoustics of the listening space. Furthermore, the sound is often extremely over-processed, which is something we never liked.
In addition to the SR6015's IMAX Improved compatibility, the Cinema 50 now has a few new additions as well. Since last year, Marantz has added Auro-3D to their lower-end receivers, while it was previously reserved for their top models. Then there's Sony's 360 Reality Audio, which can be played through the receiver with the help of a 360RA streaming device connected over HDMI.
And lastly, the increasingly popular MPEG-H codec is supported. Many streaming providers, including Amazon Music and Tidal, use it to power their 360 Reality Audio music experiences, and it is compatible with ATSC 3.0 in South Korea and DVB in some European nations. From all indications, MPEG-H will continue to grow in popularity over the next few years, making the Cinema 50 a good investment for the future.
The Cinema 50 has 9 channels of built-in amplification, with each channel capable of pumping 110 watts of power (8 ohm, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 0.08% 2ch drive), which is somewhat less than the X3800H and the same as the SR6015. It's important to remember that this is only for 2 driven channels and that when all 9 channels are in use, the total output is significantly lower. To reach 11 channels, though, you'll need an extra amp to power the remaining two speakers.
What's new for Marantz this year is that the Cinema 50, like Denon's new RP-SX7, can power four subwoofers individually. Sound United apparently took note of how popular multi-subwoofer setups are among home theater enthusiasts. As there are four outputs available, you can set up virtually any configuration you can imagine.
There are internal amplifiers that allow for a full 5.4.4 channel sound system with four specialized ceiling speakers, allowing for the fullest possible auditory immersion. But, for the purposes of our evaluation, we opted for a relatively modest 5.1.4 arrangement, consisting of a single subwoofer and four height speakers positioned front and rear.
Contrary to popular belief, the Cinema 50 is not an ultra-high-end audio-video receiver. We really like how it prioritizes a smooth output over the whole frequency spectrum. We acknowledge that some may prefer the Denon units' more "edgy" output, but we found the Cinema 50's sound to be pleasantly sweet, evocative, and exhilarating. There isn't much else to look for if you want a high-quality AV receiver, because the Cinema 50 has it all.
The new Marantz AV receivers are designed to continue the brand's legacy of musical excellence. This receiver is capable of decoding and playing back High Definition Audio formats such as FLAC, ALAC, and WAV files up to 192 kHz / 24-bit quality, in addition to the more common lower quality audio formats like MP3, WMA (up to 192 kbps), and AAC. Both 2.8 and 5.6MHz DSD streaming are accessible.
We will now go on to an overview of the various ports and connections that come standard on this device. Once again, the Cinema 50 appears to be very similar to the Denon X3800H in this regard; nevertheless, there are several crucial differences between the Cinema 50 and the SR6015 that we will discuss.
The first thing you'll notice is that all the ports you'll need—the USB, setup microphone, and headphones—are on the front of the device. We wish Sound United had a front HDMI input and remain hopeful that they will implement one in the near future.
The unit's eleven regular speaker connectors are all lined up in a row at its base, making it easy to run wires to each speaker. Marantz maintains the superb quality we've come to expect from the brand with their terminals, and they differentiate themselves from rivals like Denon by using transparent plastic for their covers instead of the industry norm of black and red. If you want to use all eleven channels, you'll need an extra amplifier, as is usual.
The HDMI ports have moved to the top of the computer, and it looks that we have lost one from the SR6015's total of seven. As this also occurred with the X3800H and the X3700, I wouldn't worry too much about the tiny loss; six cores is still sufficient.
It has the usual WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity options as well as an Ethernet port, two coaxial and two optical digital audio inputs, 11.4 channels of pre-outs, five analogue audio inputs (including one dedicated to phono), an IR flasher input, an RS-232C port for control, a single 12 volts trigger output, and FM/AM antenna inputs.
There are four key advantages of the Cinema 50 over the SR6015. The six HDMI ports are now full 40Gbps HDMI 2.1 ones, and there are now four independent subwoofer ports, however component, composite, and the 7.1 multi-channel analog inputs have been gone. Like other Sound United AV receivers, it's obvious that analog connections are becoming increasingly rare. Even if this is ultimately beneficial, it leaves some customers who still use older technology without a simple means to connect their gadgets.
Note that the fourth subwoofer output can also be used to connect in a tactile transducer, commonly known as a "butt shaker," which is widely used by ardent home theater aficionados. The Marantz is self-contained, so there's no need to look elsewhere for answers.
As for its HDMI ports the Cinema 50 comes with six updated HDMI 2.1 ports that support all the old and new exciting technologies including 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz video passthrough with 40Gbps bandwidth, Deep Color, x.v. Color, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG), Dynamic HDR, 3D, Quick Media Switching (QMS), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Quick Frame Transport (QFT), Fixed Rate Link (FRL), ARC, eARC, Auto Lip Sync and HDMI-CEC.
When certain data, like 4K/120Hz RGB signals from the Xbox series X, was put into the 2020 AV receivers' HDMI 2.1 connections, the ports were inaccessible due to a malfunctioning Panasonic chip. In contrast, it appears that the Cinema 50 employs state-of-the-art HDMI 2.1 hardware, as all of its HDMI ports are capable of transmitting content at up to 4K resolution and 120 frames per second (including the Xbox Series X).
The Cinema 50 receives the same meticulous maintenance as the Denon X3800H. Whilst the six cutting-edge HDMI 2.1 connections are all the rage, we realize that some consumers will be disappointed by the lack of analog connectors. If it meant getting an extra front-facing HDMI connector, we'd happily give up all the analog ports in favor of digital. Other from that, though, the Cinema 50 is a top-notch piece of equipment that has everything even the most advanced setups need.
The updated Marantz Cinema 50 AVR provides 9 channels of power, allowing for a complete Atmos or DTS:X installation. We think you can't go wrong with this product for your home theater installation because of its cutting-edge room-correction features and numerous subwoofer option.
Pros And Cons
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