Harman Kardon announces three new AV receivers

Harman Kardon has announced three new AV receivers, adding features such as high resolution audio decoding, high-definition menus and video upconversion to the company's product line.

Harman Kardon AVR 354

While most audio manufacturers trot out a new line of AV receivers every year, Harman Kardon generally sits out of the "feature war" and lets its models stay in the product line longer. That's why it's a big deal that the company has announced three new receivers, bringing many cutting-edge features that were previously missing from the company's lineup. As always, these new receivers have Harman's typically refined look, and now that some of the models include updated features--like high-resolution audio decoding, a high-def graphical user interface, and video upconversion--you won't have to settle for beauty without brains. Let's take an in-depth look at the new line.

Harman Kardon 154

Harman Kardon

Key features of the Harman Kardon 154:

  • 5.1 channels, 30 watts per channel
  • Three HDMI 1.3a inputs
  • Standard Dolby Digital and DTS decoding
  • Two component video inputs
  • Five digital audio inputs (two optical, three coaxial)
  • Source input renaming
  • No onscreen display with HDMI, standard-def menus
  • $400 list price, available in July
  • Read the full user manual (PDF)

Harman Kardon 254

Harman Kardon

Step-up features on the Harman Kardon 254:

  • 7.1 channels, 50 watts per channel
  • Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding
  • Faroudja DCDi Cinema video processing, with upconversion to 1080p
  • High-definition user interace
  • Automatic speaker calibration
  • XM-ready
  • $600 list price, available now
  • Read the full user manual (PDF)

Harman Kardon 354

Harman Kardon

Step-up features on the Harman Kardon 354:

  • 7.1 channels, 75 watts per channel
  • Three component video inputs
  • Six digital audio inputs (three optical, three coaxial)
  • Includes The Bridge II docking station for iPod
  • $800 list price, available now
  • Read the full user manual (PDF)

Don't get spooked that the watts-per-channel specs on these receivers seem low. While other manufacturers tend to inflate their power ratings , Harman Kardon sticks to real-world numbers--in other words, Harman Kardon's 30-watt receiver may sound just as loud as another company's "100-watt" receiver.

Overall, these receivers are a big improvement over the existing models, but they'll face an uphill battle versus the competition. Onkyo's TX-SR606 has most of the same features as the Harmon Kardon 254--plus it has four HDMI inputs--and it's currently selling online for about $440. Sony is also offering four HDMI inputs in the midrange level, and the STR-DG820 only costs $400.

Of course, Harman Kardon fans have always trumpeted the brand's excellent sound, but we'll have to wait until we get our hands on a review sample to do a comparison. Harman Kardon also puts a big emphasis on making products easy to use, and we have to admit that the company's manuals are a cut above the competition.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Find Your Tech Type

Take our tech personality quiz and enter for a chance to win* high-tech specs!