Harman Kardon AVR 161 review:

Harman Kardon AVR 161

A bigger effect on the sound is whatever EQ the receiver is applying, and this one was nicely balanced, resulting in a rich, full sound. Of course, you can switch it off if you'd prefer the native unadjusted sound of your loudspeakers.

The receiver doesn't do anything with the video: there is no conversion of any kind offered. It does, however, overlay its menus and brief notifications (eg, a volume bar when that's adjusted) over the top of the picture. The receiver supports 3D video and can pass through 4K as well.

Smart stuff

The new media functionality was a mixed bag with this receiver. First, the good. With Bluetooth built in you can readily stream content from most modern portable devices. Second, although the manual denies it ("no other types of media are supported") the unit supports FLAC audio in addition to MP3 and WMA. It worked with my 44.1kHz and 48kHz FLAC music but none of the high-resolution stuff. Third, you get vTuner for perhaps the widest internet radio access available.

Not so good, though, was navigation through lists of media. You can connect to DLNA servers to feed the music, but scrolling through long lists is too trying, for my patience at least. I have about 500 album artists for the music on my server. It took 46 seconds to scroll from the top down to those starting with "C". There is no accelerator key. If your music server can break lists up alphabetically, it might be usable, but otherwise, access is way too slow.

Fortunately, you can avoid that problem with vTuner because once you register the receiver online, you can set up favourite stations using a web browser, resulting in a relatively short list that is fine for navigation.

There are Android and iOS remote control apps. The iOS would not work on my fourth-gen iPod Touch, nor on an iPad mini nor on a first-gen iPad. It would start up and then just crash out back to the "desktop" whenever it started up. The Android one worked but offered only a subset of the controls available on the regular remote so was hardly worth the trouble.


Still, the price of this unit should be borne in mind. For regular home-theatre functionality, and for internet radio and regular AM/FM radio, fine. Likewise, for plugging in a USB stick with some music. What a pity it doesn't have skip keys on the remote so that your network music is also effectively supported. All it would take is a tiny bit of programming. But, gee, the Bluetooth is useful


What you'll pay

    Best AV receivers of 2017 See All

    • Sony STR-DN1070

      Starting at: $1,245.00
      4.5 stars

      Lack of Atmos is more than eclipsed by excellent sound quality, making the Sony STR-DN1070...

    • Denon AVR-S920W

      4 stars

      The Denon AVR-S920W is an excellent mid-priced Atmos-ready receiver, with plenty of home...

    • Yamaha RX-V481

      Starting at: $715.00
      4 stars

      This receiver checks most of the must-have feature boxes, and still delivers excellent...

    • Pioneer VSX-831

      4 stars

      The Pioneer VSX-831 offers a plethora of features, excellent ease-of-use and fine sound...


    Discuss: Harman Kardon AVR 1610

    Conversation powered by Livefyre