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Lifewire / Jonno Hill
Packed with features
Features can be overwhelming
App experience needs help
Dated menu systems
The Marantz NR1200 AV Receiver is a slim, feature-packed stereo receiver that aims to please everyone and, with a few exceptions, mostly succeeds.
Marantz set their sights pretty high with the NR1200 studio receiver. Despite a fairly compact design and far from the most buttons than we’ve seen on the face of a receiver, the NR1200 manages to pack an almost obscene amount of features and functionality into its slim frame. This ends up being a blessing and a curse. One problem I never had when testing this receiver was finding a way to get audio into it. HDMI, Analog, Phono, Optical, Coaxial, USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Ethernet—it seems like all A/V roads lead to the Marantz.
Marantz has also positioned the NR1200 in a sensible price tier, where it has no problem competing against the nearby competition. Sure, you can spend a lot less money and get a much simpler receiver, but you’d miss out on a host of functionality and flexibility offered by the NR1200. And yes, you can easily spend more money and get a better sounding receiver, but the prices of receivers jump from the $600 range to the $1,500-$2,500 range in the blink of an eye. And if you were shopping for a approximately $500 receiver to begin with, you probably didn’t spend enough on your current speakers to really justify that price jump.
Is the Marantz NR1200 a complete triumph though? Is it a slam dunk home run touchdown, and other such sports analogies? Not quite, no. There are a lot of minor quibbles here and there, and when you add all of them up it’s enough to make even the most impulsive online shopper pause for a second during checkout. Let’s move on and perhaps you can decide for yourself whether the Marantz NR1200 deserves your attention or not.
I’m quite fond of the design of the Marantz NR1200, first and foremost because it’s slim profile chassis is about half the height of a traditional receiver. This is great for people like me who don’t have a tremendous amount of real estate to work with. While it may be slim, however, it doesn’t appear to have lost any weight in the process. The Marantz NR1200 weighs in at just over 18 pounds, which is a shock when you first remove it from the box. I imagine the interior of the NR1200 looks like an economy basic cabin of an airline, and all those transistors are reminiscing about the old days when they had plenty of legroom.
The face of the Marantz NR1200 has two large knobs flanking the screen in the center. The left acts as the input selector and the right controls the volume. The NR1200 has the ability to power and control two sets of speakers, so below the screen are buttons to toggle zone 2 on and off, and another to change the source. Next to this are tuner controls, a dimmer button, status button, speakers button (to switch outputs), and sound mode button (choose from stereo, direct, and pure direct).
Below this are bass, treble, and balance knobs. The bass and treble knobs allow for up to 6dB of adjustment in either direction. Finally, underneath the left knobs you’ll find a 0.25-inch headphone jack, and underneath the right knob, a USB-A port. There are a thousand and one other ways to control all of these things of course, but if you like knobs and buttons then go to town.
Trying to describe every input and output on the back of the device would be like trying to describe sand on a beach one grain at a time, so I’ll give you the abbreviated version. The main inputs for the Marantz NR1200 are 1x phono, 3x standard stereo ins, coaxial, optical, and 5x HDMI. The main outputs are the 4x pairs of speaker outputs (two zones of stereo speakers or one bi-wired speaker setup) 2x subwoofer outs, and 2x sets of preamp outs (one for each zone). You also have an Ethernet port, and dual antennas for Bluetooth/Wi-Fi.
Strap in, because this one is a doozy. Setting up the Marantz NR1200 can be accomplished either using the remote control and the small screen on the device, or your TV. I highly recommend connecting a TV first, because there are a lot of steps during setup. This is the first thing you’ll be asked when you turn on the receiver for the first time, so don’t miss it (like I did) or you’ll have to reset the whole thing to get it to prompt you again. If you don’t plan on using the NR1200 with a TV or as part of a home theater setup, you will be fine, but some settings will be more cumbersome to access.
Connecting the speakers themselves was a breeze, and surprisingly so was connecting a TV using the HDMI ARC connection. Depending upon your model of TV, you may or may not have the same experience as me. Essentially, it allows your TV and your receiver to talk to each other, so your TV can pass audio to the receiver without additional audio cables, and a lot of other fun stuff, like having your receiver turn on/off in conjunction with the TV, and having your TV remote control the volume of your receiver.
The Marantz NR1200 is capable of delivering 75W per channel to your speakers, which may or may not be enough power depending upon the sensitivity of your speakers and how much tinnitus you’re trying to give yourself.
On a pair of speakers like the Dali Oberon 5, rated at a modest 88dB at 2.83V / 1m, I was more than able to annoy my neighbors with my music and give myself some airtime during the jump scares in The Conjuring. With a pair of high sensitivity floor speakers like the Klipsch RP-5000F (rated at 96dB) on the other hand, the Marantz NR1200 can get very loud with minimal effort. Any less than 85dB sensitivity and you’re probably not going to be throwing any parties with the Marantz NR1200.
I was more than able to annoy my neighbors with my music and give myself some airtime during the jump scares in The Conjuring.
So how does the Marantz NR1200 sound? Very balanced, and perfectly adequate for most listeners and most listening scenarios. There is no huge wow factor with the NR1200. It’s not aggressive, bright and shiny, muddy, punchy, or really any superlative that audiophiles use to describe sound. I don’t think anyone is having any transcendental listening experiences with this receiver, but to be clear, that’s not some biting condemnation of it either. I think it’s a great sounding receiver that largely gets out of its own way and delivers an enjoyable listening experience in a broad range of scenarios.
The Marantz NR1200 gives users a dizzying array of ways to control it and play sound on it. Outside of all the more traditional means of getting sound through the receiver that we’ve already covered, you can also control music using Wi-Fi or Ethernet to connect to your home network, Bluetooth (both as a transmitter and a receiver), internet radio, and HEOS (Home Entertainment Operating System), a platform so complicated that we have an entire separate article dedicated to it.
If you want to control the receiver using your phone, you’re going to be using one of the two (yes, two) apps used to control the device: HEOS or the Marantz AVR Remote. Both of these apps have a frustrating overlap of features that aren’t complete, meaning you’ll need to use both of them at some point should you want to control everything with your phone.
Both of these apps have a frustrating overlap of features that aren’t complete.
These apps are also both a bit finicky, and didn’t always do what I wanted them to. Let’s take something incredibly basic like controlling the power. Pushing the power button on the remote app successfully turns on or off the receiver, but it doesn’t always realize that it succeeded in doing so, and won’t let you control any of the features on it.
One thing I can’t fault HEOS for is how exhaustive its list of supported streaming services is. Choose from Spotify, Amazon Music, Tidal, Rhapsody, Napster, SoundCloud, and many others. You can also change AV inputs from HEOS (but you can’t select Bluetooth, you need the other app for that). There’s also a lot of areas of the app that just lead straight to a blank screen, like the Advanced tab of my receiver’s settings. What are the advanced features? I’ll just have to forever lose sleep wondering.
You can also use the NR1200 as both a Bluetooth receiver and transmitter. So you can, for instance, play music from your phone directly to your receiver over Bluetooth, and you can also pick up your wireless headphones and have the receiver stream your audio to those as well. This is great, but it also caused a hilarious headache when I tried connecting my Amazon Echo Dot to the Marantz. I meant to set up the receiver as a speaker so that I could have Alexa play music through it, but during pairing I guess they got their roles reversed, and unwittingly set up the Echo to be the receiver and the Marantz to be the transmitter.
The Marantz NR1200 AV Receiver is available for an MSRP of $599, which despite not being a small sum, is a reasonable price for the features that it offers. Like I mentioned earlier, you can spend just about as much or as little as you want on a receiver, whether it be $100 or $8,000. While the NR1200 isn’t exactly in the budget category, it’s also far from the high-end. You can find plenty of great receivers for less, but don’t expect them to tick as many boxes as the NR1200.
If you wanted to dramatically reduce your receiver budget, the perfectly capable Sony STR-DH190 will set you back a measly $130 (see on Amazon). You’ll still get the ability to use two sets of speakers, it can still handle phono inputs, and it still has Bluetooth. On paper, it even has more power output at 100W per channel. That’s it though—you’re losing everything else, including the HDMI inputs and HDMI ARC functionality to name a few. Do you want all the bells and whistles though, or are a few inputs good enough for your needs?
I prefer the sound of the Marantz, but the Sony still sounded pretty great with the Klipsch RP-5000F floor speakers that I tested. If it’s in your budget, I think the Marantz is a great purchase, but I can’t deny the stone-cold bargain that the Sony STRDH190 represents for entry-level buyers and those with simpler demands from their AV receiver.
The complete package for a great sounding stereo receiver.
The Marantz NR1200 is a great sounding stereo receiver with just about every feature we could think to add. If you know you’re going to make use of them, it’s hard to argue with what Marantz has put together here. The one caveat here is that more is not always better—the NR1200 can be confusing to use at times due to the breadth of functionality, and not every area received the same degree of polish.