the marantz sound...mid-fi avrs...vs Denon....

Never owned a marantz would one describe the sound from their mid-fi (<1k) avrs? Not expecting audio nirvana...but seeking something a tad "mellow" yet other words...somewhat refined over the usual mass-market stuff...possibly Denon?
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If you want audiophile from a Denon receiver, go with the models with the second digit '8' as they are geared to audiophile tastes.
I have a Denon 4806 I like pretty much, Used with a Furman powerfactor conditioner the sound is very good.
As for marntz, I have not auditioned one, but audio oriented stores say they are good too.
I find the Marantz to be more open than Denon which always sound kind of closed in to me in my system. I have owned several from both lines at several price points and I always prefer the Marantz sound FWIW.
I've read many responses from people who site many similarities between Denon and Marantz. Like most things audio these may have been subjective remarks and subject to personal preference.
Other brands that I consider higher end mid-fi that you might want to audition are Integra by Onkyo, Pioneer Elite, and Arcam. Regardless, most solid state linear AVR's use a shared transformer to power multiple amplifiers. Using speaker systems that provide an efficient more stable load could be key to the presentation your looking for.
The Pioneer uses considerably more efficient switching amplifiers and proprietary room correction software. I found the Pioneer to be a huge sonic improvement over my Integra.
I had a Marantz THX certified AVR (forget the number, bought new in late 2000) before it fried the motherboard a bit out of warranty. There were no replacement parts available and seeing as I'd had the Marantz DVD player die shortly before receiver did, I was done w/Marantz.

I replaced it with a Rotel (1056) AVR and could not be happier. The Rotel lacks some of the features that the Marantz had, but I feel that the Rotel has a slightly warmer sound to it (which was what I wanted).

Speakers are B&W LCR6 R, L, and C up front and B&W in-ceiling surrounds. I have two velodyne SPL-10s taking care of the low stuff.
Since 2002, Denon and Marantz have been jointly owned by D&M. According to the company the research and development and production of the two brands are combined, while the brands maintain speparate marketing and distribution. Effectively, it seems like Denon- and Marantz-branded products are built in the same factory to the same spec and ought to be essentially identical.
D&M holdings also own McIntosh....... I would strongly disagree about Marantrz and Denon receivers sounding the same having owned several in the past few years of each, but YMMV.
mcintosh is maintained as a free-standing operation by d&m and, according to it, its products are still made in new york, unlike the asian-made marantz and denon. i haven't compared similarly-positioned denon and marantz avrs, though i can certainly accept that the manufacturer maintains some sonic differences between the two.