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Harman/Kardon AVR 130 review: Harman/Kardon AVR 130

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On the other hand, the AVR 130's connectivity suite is barely adequate, starting with just three A/V inputs with S-Video and one out. Component-video switching is entirely absent, so don't plan on using this receiver to change between a DVD player and an HDTV receiver.

Digital-audio hookups are more plentiful, with a total of four inputs (two coaxial, two optical) and two outputs (one coaxial, one optical). But stereo analog audio connections are skimpy, as you'll find just two ins and one out. Also, A/B-speaker switching is nowhere to be found. At least the designers didn't forget 5.1-channel inputs for DVD-Audio and SACD players. The front panel sports an unusually complete set of A/V ins: two more digital inputs (one coaxial and one optical) along with stereo analog audio, composite, and S-Video jacks.

Harman backs up the AVR 130 with a two-year warranty.

Any lingering doubts about the AVR 130's skimpy wattage rating vanished when we cranked the volume on the Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines DVD. Whew, the nuclear blast that follows the opening credits instantly demonstrated the AVR 130's heavyweight sonics; bass power, definition, and dynamic punch were all excellent.

Next we tried the new John Lennon video compilation DVD, Legend, and were moved by "Jealous Guy." Obviously, the DVD contains decades-old recordings, but the tasteful Dolby Digital surround mix and Lennon's wistful vocal were beyond reproach.

Full-blown holographic surround effects sounded even better when we took advantage of the AVR 130's direct multichannel inputs to listen to some SACDs and DVD-Audio discs. Beck's remarkable SACD, Sea Change, unfurled a massive soundstage over our speakers. Its swirling orchestral strings, especially on "Lonesome Tears" evoked the Beatles' trippy vibes on "A Day in the Life" from Sgt. Pepper. The purity and naturalness of Beck's sound swept us away. Regardless of its status as Harman's most affordable model, the AVR 130 really rocks.

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