Harman Kardon has announced a new line of AV receivers at CEDIA 2009, ranging from $600 to $1,200. Each of the models features a nearly identical exterior design, with a stylish two-tone front panel and a thin strip of buttons running down the middle. Let's take a look at how the receivers break down in terms of features.
Key features of the Harman Kardon AVR 1600:
- 7.1 AV receiver, 50 watts per channel
- Three HDMI inputs
- Automatic speaker calibration
- Text-based onscreen display
- Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio
- Six digital audio inputs (3 optical, 3 coaxial)
- Available now | $600 list price
Key step-up features of the Harman Kardon AVR 2600:
- 7.1 AV receiver, 65 watts per channel
- Four HDMI inputs
- Analog video upconversion to HDMI using the Faroudja "Torino" video processor
- Graphical user interface
- Second zone functionality
- Dolby volume
- Available now | $800 list price
Key step-up features of the Harman Kardon AVR 3600:
- 7.1 AV receiver, 80 watts per channel
- Includes The Bridge III, HK's iPod/iPhone dock
- Second zone remote
- Available now | $1,200 list price
Just going from the spec sheets, the new HK line looks to be somewhat underfeatured compared to competing AV receivers at similar prices. On the other hand, arguably the most important aspect of an AV receiver isn't on a spec sheet--sound quality--and Harman has a reputation for excellent audio performance. It's also worth pointing out that although Harman's watts-per-channel figure may seem low, that has more to do with other manufacturers than a deficiency of these AV receivers.
On a less objective note, we'd also say (at least from the photos) these are probably the most stylish AV receivers we've seen this year. Most AV receivers treat the exterior design as almost an afterthought, but the new Harman receivers have a sleek and refined look that shows care. We're looking to get one of these new models in for review soon, so we'll let you know if it's worth dishing out more for the HK style and sound.