Harman Kardon AVR 247 review: Harman Kardon AVR 247

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The Good Excellent home theatre sound. Strong musical ability. Easy to use and setup. Video upscaling.

The Bad Annoying remote. Lacks Blu-ray decoding. iPod dock not included.

The Bottom Line The Harman Kardon AVR 247 is an authoritative piece of equipment with a smattering of usable features. It's a challenger for best receiver in its price range.

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8.0 Overall

Harman Kardon, while probably better known for its computer speakers, has been making stereo receivers for 50 years. The knowledge the company has gained from this experience has been poured into their latest -- the AVR 247. This receiver is a step up from the company's budget model -- the AVR 147 -- and may be one of their best yet.

The familiar, two-tone Harman Kardon colour scheme returns with the AVR 247. The volume knob -- a carry-on from their Jubilee model several years ago -- also makes a comeback and is less plasticky than before.

Having toted it in and out of taxis, we can attest that this receiver is a weighty beast -- it tips the scales at a hefty 13.4 kgs. There's plenty of copper peering up through the vents at you, and the quality of construction is so high that the overwhelming sense is one of reassurance. This looks, feels, and -- as we'll soon cover -- sounds like a serious piece of kit.

Our first impressions aren't all positive, though. The remote is not one of the better models the company has produced -- it has a mind-boggling 66 buttons with most huddled together in the bottom half. It's simply not very user-friendly.

One annoying remote quirk was that as soon as you press the Source buttons to change from CD to DVD, say, you'll find you can no longer control the volume. You have to change the input back to AVR if you want to change the volume or even mute. Without a display, it's difficult to tell which mode you're in until something doesn't work -- a little maddening.

The receiver is getting quite old now -- it's been available for almost 12 months in some parts of the world -- and so some of the features you'll find in models like the Onkyo TX-SR605 are missing. The main one is support for the next-gen formats Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio which are starting to creep into receivers in this price range.

The HK does, however, offer Faroudja upscaling of analog sources -- though only up to 720p -- but given that many upscale solutions peter out at 1080i anyway, this isn't such a big negative.

Inputs are fairly limited given the price, but audio appears to have been designed to survive cataclysmic floods, with two of everything: two HDMI inputs, two optical inputs and two coaxial inputs.

The AVR 247 boasts a conservative 7 x 50W output with the company's own High Instantaneous Current Capability (HCC) feature. This means that the receiver has a lot of power on tap and can go terribly, terribly loud without failing and sending your neighbourhood into a nuclear winter.