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Harman/Kardon AVR 225 review:

Harman/Kardon AVR 225

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The Good Above-average sound quality; front-panel bass and treble controls; Super Audio CD/DVD-Audio 5.1 input; six digital inputs; Stereo Direct analog-bypass mode; abundant features list; two-year parts-and-labor warranty.

The Bad Lacks A/B speaker switching; no phono or component-video inputs.

The Bottom Line This is a superb-sounding receiver with plenty of features, but its easy-to-use ergonomics really set it apart.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall

The best A/V components aren't just high-tech marvels--their human interface is also incredibly important. That's why we're so excited about Harman Kardon's AVR 225 receiver, which offers excellent sound and exemplary ergonomics. The best A/V components aren't just high-tech marvels--their human interface is also incredibly important. That's why we're so excited about Harman Kardon's AVR 225 receiver, which offers excellent sound and exemplary ergonomics.

Easy does it
Fact is, if you don't go through the hassle of balancing the levels of your 5.1-speaker system, your home-theater sound will likely be out of whack. But HK's engineers are a smart bunch, so they simplified the setup process with a proprietary system dubbed EzSet. Yes, you still have to input speaker size and time-delay settings, but EzSet will automatically adjust the relative volume level of your left, right, center, and surround speakers. We found EzSet to be reasonably accurate, but you can do a better job if you manually set the levels with a sound-pressure-level meter.

There's a big, bold display to keep you informed about the goings-on of the AVR 225's Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, and DTS 5.1 processing, as well as what's happening with the two proprietary schemes--Logic 7 and VMAx. Those last two options synthesize 5.1 surround sound from stereo sources such as CD and FM radio. The AVR 225 delivers 55 watts to each of its five channels, and yet this 26.9-pound receiver weighs more than many 100-watt-per-channel components that we've seen. Build quality is ahead of the pack.

The AVR 225's uncluttered rear panel eases the hassles of hooking up the necessary cables, and the numerous analog, digital, and video-connectivity options should be more than adequate for most buyers, though we note the lack of a phono input, component-video connections, and A/B speaker switching. Front-panel digital and A/V inputs are ideally situated for gamers and video camera users. When you feel like tweaking the tonal balance, you won't have to fuss with menus or remotes; the front-panel-mounted bass and treble controls make it easy to dial in exactly the sound you want.

Prodigious sound
We started our sonic evaluations in stereo and found that the AVR 225 sounded bright and forward on our older Motown CDs. In addition, the low-down grooves populating Prince's Diamonds and Pearls CD were fat, warm, and luscious. This receiver will deliver all of the good, bad, or ugly sounds of your CDs.

We checked out the limits of the AVR 225's sonic acuity with the assistance of an Onkyo DPS-7.2 DVD-Audio (DVD-A) player. The dynamic energy and vivid quality that we heard from Paul Simon's You're the One DVD-A rendered the CD's sound lifeless by comparison. The AVR 225's innate resolution brought the DVD's heightened sense of realism to the foreground.

The sonic mayhem roaring through the Black Hawk Down DVD was spectacularly presented. The barrage of sound coming out of our speakers--even after we shut down our subwoofer--was remarkably full and punchy, and we never detected any overt power shortfall. Surround effects seemed to have unusual coherence with the front speakers, so the sound was completely enveloping.

Oh, before we forget to mention it, the AVR 225's FM-reception powers were above average, and it pulled in our favorite college stations with aplomb.

The Harman Kardon AVR 225 carries a suggested retail price of just $549, so we considered it an exceptional value even before we learned that it comes with a two-year parts-and-labor warranty. Sound quality is fully comparable to that of Denon's stellar $799 , though the Denon has more power along with the latest Dolby Digital EX and DTS 6.1-channel surround capabilities.

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