|Harman Kardon AVR 630 Receiver|
|Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers|
|Written by Matthew Evert|
|Saturday, 01 May 2004|
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Mostly small tweaks are needed to improve this product to the perfect category. The unit unfortunately uses a little too much plastic on the front panel and I felt like I was going to break the flip-down panel every time I wished to open or close it. Since there is much useful functionality underneath this panel, I would have used metal or a more sturdy plastic design to be more resistant to breakage and/or wear. When I picked the unit up out of the box, I accidentally flipped down the access panel and I felt like I might have broken it. Also, I did not like how all the buttons look the same under the panel. The left/right arrows and the select button should be arrows and not round buttons to make them easier to spot and use.
The back of the unit is not ideally laid out, in my opinion. The audio and video connectors are on opposite sides of the back panel. This means that if you use plastic ties to group your audio/video signals for each component together, it will be harder to do so on this product. Lastly, the main remote is very functional, but a little counterintuitive my opinion. Harman Kardon uses a different scheme for the DVD/CD controls that I have seen before, so it took me a while to get used to it. Of course, if you’re the type who reads the manual immediately, this probably will not bother you at all. Again, I am being picky, since I hope that one day receivers are so easy to set up that I can stop going over to my friends’ houses and doing it for them. Some of the products that are competitive with the AVR 630 are Sony STR-DA4ES, Denon AVR-3805 and Onkyo TX-NR901. The major differences are in the power department, THX certification and Internet radio. The Sony is 110 watts per channel rather than the AVR 630’s 75 watts and is $300 less expensive. Sony makes some good equipment in its ES family of receivers. The Denon AVR-3805 also sports more power (120 watts per channel) and uses the acclaimed Burr-Brown DACs for higher-quality digital conversion to analog. Lastly the Onkyo sports 110 watts per channel, THX certification, and a built-in Internet radio -in. However, I have yet to perform detailed auditions on any of the aforementioned products and specs tell little about overall performance.
The Harman Karmon AVR 630 is a lot of receiver for the money. There are few receivers in this price range with the amount of creative and useful features that this unit possesses. The clever graphical front panel display, the remote with built-in sound meter, the advanced DSPs (especially the ones for the headphones) and the extra multi-room remote all are unique to this receiver. Harman Kardon gets it when it comes to providing a product with features that a user will likely appreciate. The amplifier is rather small on paper at 75 watts per channel; however, the high current design provided more power than most people will need for their home theater demands. My 12-foot by 18-foot listening room was adequately filled with roaring bass and sweet midrange throughout my movie selections. The extra power and the THX certification never felt like it was noticeably missing in my experience. This is a unit that must be among your short list of receivers in this price range.