|Harman Kardon AVR 7300 Receiver|
|Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers|
|Written by Andrew Robinson|
|Saturday, 01 October 2005|
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If you’ve ever visited an audio/video store, chances are you’ve heard of Harman Kardon. HK is one of the oldest and most established brand names in the audio/video industry. Over the years parent company Harmon International has grown to include other brands such as JBL, Infinity, Mark Levinson, Lexicon and Revel, just to name a few. While their product lines run the gamut from entry level to ultra high end, the name Harman Kardon has remained somewhat entrenched in the entry-to-mid-fi markets. However, their new flagship AVR 7300 audio/video receiver is out to challenge that perception in a big way.
Out of the box, the AVR 7300 is a sight to be seen. At a retail price of $1,299, the AVR 7300 makes a real splash with regards to looks, sporting a stylish black Plexiglas and brushed aluminum front. Its controls glow a pale blue and add a pleasing sense of sophistication to a darkened room. In fact, it’s the only receiver I’ve had in my system that I didn’t immediately want to try to hide from view. Measuring 17.3 inches wide by seven-and-a-half inches tall by 20.5 inches deep, its size is a bit imposing. Tipping the scales at 55 pounds, the AVR 7300 can only be classified as a beast. However, its massive size is easily downplayed by its slick industrial design. Focusing my attention on the back of the AVR 7300, I noticed a slew of connection options laid out neatly and arranged in a very well-thought-out albeit intuitive manner. The AVR 7300 has three component video inputs, with a component video monitor out, making for a total of four component video jacks. The AVR 7300 has a total of six inputs and three outputs including monitor, composite and and S-video inputs as well. As far as audio connections are concerned, the AVR 7300 has over a dozen standard RCA connections, as well as four digital coaxial and four digital optical inputs, all of which can be assignable by the user. No high-end receiver is complete without five-channel direct inputs and complete seven-point-one preamp outputs, of which the AVR 7300 has both. Complete the package with above-average five-way binding posts for all of its seven channels and a detachable power cord and you’ve definitely got the makings of a serious receiver. While looks may appease the spouses, all of us are well aware that it’s the performance that counts most.
As for the audio portion, the AVR 7300 boasts seven channels capable of 110 watts of continuous power into eight ohms (all channels driven), jumping up to 125 watts of continuous power in stereo mode. It features all of the latest surround sound decoding options from Dolby and DTS, as well as numerous others, including Logic 7 and Harman’s own VMAx sound technology. VMAx , like Logic 7 and some of Dolby’s own music settings, is geared towards providing a realistic surround sound feel from traditional two-channel stereo sources. In keeping up with the latest trends, the AVR 7300 also offers a bevy of options aimed at the multi-channel music listener, such as full bass management and a quadruple crossover for its DVD-Audio and SACD direct inputs, as well as for its standard inputs. The AVR 7300 will also decode HDCDs and MP3s and includes Dolby’s latest headphone processing. The AVR 7300 also has multi-room or multi-zone capabilities, allowing you to enjoy different movie and music sources in various rooms of your home. Lastly, the AVR 7300 features Harman Kardon’s EzSet technology, which will automatically set and calibrate the 7300’s sound levels for optimal playback for both music and movies via its remote. That will be music to the ears of anyone looking to get 100 percent from their AV setup without having to hire a pro to achieve this.
Switching to the video side of things, the AVR 7300 most notably features Faroudja’s latest DCDi video processing and upscaling. In a nutshell, the Faroudja processing ensures that your video will be void of jagged diagonal lines motion artifacts. The AVR 7300 also comes equipped with complete video switching and up-conversion to the AVR 7300’s component outputs. Lastly, all of the AVR 7300’s component inputs are high bandwidth HD-compatible.
Departing from the AVR 7300’s seemingly flawless design, the remote leaves a lot to be desired. It’s pretty traditional in the sense that it’s rather large, bulky and completely cluttered with countless buttons and controls. Laid out in no real discernable order, it does however feature backlighting and a built-in SPL meter, which is used in conjunction with Harman’s EzSet programming for calibrating speakers. Overall, this remote is very functional but nevertheless awkward.
I found the AVR 7300 pretty darn easy to connect to the rest of my system. True, its size did make it difficult to get onto the top shelf of my rack, but once it was there, making the proper connections was a snap. Harman Kardon earns high marks for not excessively cramming the back panel with all of its inputs. Everything is clearly labeled and, with the help of Harman’s quick-start guide, I had everything connected and ready to go in record time. I connected the AVR 7300 to my recently reviewed Definitive Technology ProCinema 80 speaker system. I connected my Panasonic PT500U HD projector to the AVR 7300 via its component monitor out. As for a source, I opted for the Denon 3910 universal player feeding the AVR 7300 both music and movies. I’d like to point out that the Denon 3910 has both DVI and HDMI capabilities. However, since the AVR 7300 offers neither of those options, I had to go with a standard component connection.
Out of the box, the AVR 7300 is ready to rock, but if you’re buying a top of the line receiver, you’re going to want to tailor it for the best possible playback in your system. Enter the countless menu and set-up options. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, it is often no easy task calibrating a receiver. Harman has stepped up to the plate with their EzSet feature. Anything to expedite the set-up process – I gave it a whirl. It’s easy enough to get started; however, I never got it to work 100 percent and eventually opted for a manual set-up. Make sure you have the manual handy, because the AVR 7300 possibly has more set-up options than the reactor at Los Alamos National Labs. If you’re at all squeamish when you see even a DVD menu, then you should have your dealer calibrate your AVR 7300.