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AV Receivers

Harman Kardon ASPIRE 235

High-def buffs may not dig the lack of HDMI, but Harmon Kardon's component-based kit should appeal to audio aficionados.

Built around the AVR 235 receiver, Harman Kardon's ASPIRE 235 home theatre kit adds a DVD 23 DVD player, HKTS 8 speakers and some slim-profile HTFS 2 floor stands to create an affordable component-based 7.1-channel system.

Upside
The hefty AV receiver is suited to those with a bit of home theatre experience, as the array of connections may intimidate first-time buyers. Decoding and processing modes include Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Logic 7 and DTS-ES.

The progressive-scan DVD 23 uses pixel-by-pixel video processing, a process also touted by Panasonic at its recent home theatre showcase. In addition to standard DVDs and CDs, it will play audio files in MP3 or WMA format, CD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW discs and JPEG images, should you wish to have a slideshow of your holiday snaps.

Sheathed in sleek silver, the speaker system features a massive 250mm subwoofer with built in 100-watt amplifier, five compact speakers with 75mm midrange, 12mm high-frequency transducers and a voice matched dual-midrange centre channel speaker with an 18mm-dome tweeter.

The inclusion of wall mount brackets and HTFS 2 floor stands allows for flexibility and means you can easily rearrange your audio accoutrements if you splurge at Ikea and clutter your lounge room.

Downside
The receiver lacks an HDMI output, so those wanting to run their super slick high-def video through a central amplifier should look elsewhere.

The pack is best suited to those with a bit of home theatre know-how, as it is trickier to set up than kits with a combined receiver and DVD player.

Outlook
In reviewing Harman Kardon set-ups, we've tended to describe the sound that spills from the speakers as warm, rich and refined. There's no doubt that the company does surround sound very well. If you're an audio aficionado and not too fussed about next-generation DVD formats, this pack could be an enriching investment.

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