The Harman/Kardon HS 300 is a 5.1 channel integrated home theatre system with a progressive-scan DVD wrapped up in a slim AV receiver. It is well priced at AU$1499 for the features it has to offer. All you need to do to get started is install a couple of batteries into the remote, wire up the speakers, sit back and enjoy.
This satellite/sub system features a contemporary design that will blend well with any dÃ©cor. The receiver's black front panel incorporates a DVD player, volume control and an LCD panel, while the rest of the unit's body is a silver grey. The volume control is backlit by a blue light and looks very elegant in dim lighting.
The rear of the receiver is logically laid out with all connections well marked and each of the speaker terminals labelled and colour-coded for easy connection. The matching front, centre and rear effect speakers feature a wrap around micromesh grill which is particularly attractive, as is the beautifully engineered sub-woofer.
Harman Kardon has incorporated two USB ports (called 'USB on the go') at the rear and right hand side of the unit to access content from flash memory cards, portable hard disks and digital cameras.
The video output connections include composite, s-video, component-video out, Scart (for European TVs), and one HDMI video-out port. For digital audio input in there is a choice of an optical input and a coaxial input. We would have liked to also see a couple more digital inputs to cover possible future expansion, but considering that the DVD is an internal unit which does not take up a port of its own, this may not be an issue.
There is an auxiliary input unit for connecting to older analog units such as a cassette player or PC, as well as an auxiliary output port for connecting to analog external recording equipment such as older TV receivers and tape machines.
The Harman Kardon HS 300 receiver is rated at 35 watts per channel with the 10-inch sub woofer having its own separate 100 watt amplifier. In listening tests covering a variety of material, the sub woofer blended seamlessly with the satellite speakers. The speakers handle higher mid-range to high range very well, although there is a lack of mid-range depth. This is, however, common to many satellite sub designs and relates directly to the size of the front and centre speakers used. With this system destined for use in smaller rooms, it will not prove a limitation. The HS 300 manages a very commendable output using the supplied system and it is very sensibly driver-matched to the front speakers and rear surrounds.
While the quality of the audio output is very high, boasting more than enough volume output for any small room, there is always the option of Harmon Kardon's step up model, the AU$1999 HS 500, if you need more a bit more volume.
The HS 300 receiver has all the different video outputs you will ever need, including an HDMI output with video upscaling to 720p and 1080i, which will produce stunning pictures from a DVD on a HD compatible flat panel plasma or LCD display.
The system and its setup wasn't complemented by the remote, which we found awkward to use as the buttons are quite small. A good quality 'learning' universal remote would be a good complement to this system.