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Harman Kardon AVR 1600, AVR 2600, AVR 3600 A/V Receiver Preview

HK AVR 1600, 2600 and 3600

HK AVR 1600, 2600 and 3600


  • Product Name: AVR 3600, AVR 2600, AVR 1600
  • Manufacturer: Harman Kardon
  • Review Date: September 14, 2009 15:00
  • MSRP: $599 to $1199
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool

Over Half of U.S. Households Have HDTVs; Harman International Provides Them With HD Sound

Harman Kardon introduced three new audio/video receivers at CEDIA., the AVR 1600, AVR 2600 and AVR 3600, respectively.  Each receiver takes advantage of the latest sound and video technologies – such as the high-bit-rate formats, including Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio™ delivered via Blu-ray Disc™ and the HD video content stored on iPod and iPhone products.

The AVR 3600 comes equipped with Harman Kardon’s The Bridge III, a universal dock for the iPod and iPhone that connects with a single cable and lets you navigate music and video collections with the unit’s highresolution on-screen menus. The AVR 3600 is one of the few receivers to play back HD videos from iPod or iPhone products. Non-HD videos from the iPhone are said to automatically optimized by the AVR 3600 to bring the video quality to the HD standard, 1080p.

Given the importance of integration of multiple entertainment devices, both the AVR 3600 and AVR 2600 feature Dolby Volume to maintain consistent and clear sound volume when switching between multiple sources, such as from DVR to TV to music, one TV channel to another or even a TV program to an overly loud commerical. Harman Kardon® receivers have earned worldwide accolades for their uncompromising sound quality.  With a few simple steps, the AVRs adjust sound to exact room setups. With Harman Kardon’s proprietary EzSet/EQ™ system, the user plugs in an included microphone and follows full-color on-screen instructions (text-only in the AVR1600).

Each receiver helps music and movie libraries sound their best by providing power that ranges between 50 and 80 watts for each of the seven channels. Like all Harman Kardon products, the AVR 1600, AVR 2600 and AVR 3600 are designed to match the entire Harman home-theater lineup; they will be available in September 2009 for a suggested retail price ranging from $599.95 for the AVR 1600, $799.95 for the AVR 2600 and $1,199.95 for the AVR 3600.

The entire line is capable of Logic 7®, 5.1 and 7.1 for music and cinema. Below is a breakdown of each model’s features.

The Harman Kardon AVR 3600 (SRP $1,199.95) includes all of the AVR 1600 and AVR 2600 features plus the following:

  • The Bridge III, included for charging, control and audio/HD video playback from compatible iPod and iPhone products
  • Additional Custom Features: Full multiroom audio system with Zone II remote included, preamplifier outputs for all channels and A-BUS/READY™

The Harman Kardon AVR 2600 (SRP $799.95) includes all of the AVR 1600 features plus the following:

  • Audio DSP Section: Dolby Volume
  • Video DSP Section: Faroudja® “Torino” video scaler/enhancer, upconverts to from composite to component video or HDMI™, upconverts to 720P, 1080i through component or up to 1080p through HDMI™. Menu system rendered directly in HD up to 1080p
  • HDMI Inputs/Outputs: Four inputs and one output, assignable component video ports
  • Audio Inputs: iPod charging, control via AVR menus and playback of audio or HD and SD video via The Bridge III (not included), SIRIUS Satellite Radio®-ready
  • Audio Outputs: Configurable back amps for 7.1 or Zone II output
  • General Features: Remote In/Out, MR remote In, one switched AC outlet

The Harman Kardon AVR 1600 (SRP $599.95) includes the following:

  • Amplifier: Output power – 50 watts per channel (65 watts for the AVR 2600 and 80 watts for the AVR 3600), 20Hz–20kHz bandwidth, high current capability and all-discrete amplifier circuitry
  • Audio DSP Section: Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital, Dolby PLIIx, DTS®, DTS-HD™ High Resolution Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-ES® Discrete, DTS NEO:6, DTS 96/24 and DTS 96 kHz/7.1Ch., Logic 7, 5.1 and 7.1 for cinema and music, 2 Ch. Downmix
  • Video DSP Section: Cross-conversion via component to HDMI (all input to HDMI for the AVR 2600 and AVR3600)
  • Audio Inputs: 6/8 channel direct, portable music player via 3.5 mini jack, five analog L/R (rear) and one analog L/R (front) and S/P-DIF inputs
  • Audio Outputs: Three analog out L/R (rear), pre-outs and headphone
  • Video Inputs: Three rear and one front composite video, two rear high-bandwidth component video (configurable)
  • Video Outputs: One composite video output for front and rear, and one for receiver (VID1)
  • HDMI Inputs/Outputs: Three inputs and one output, assignable component video ports
  • Digital Inputs/Outputs: Two coax and optical rear inputs, one coax and optical front input, one coax rear output
  • General Features: USB port for firmware/DSP updates and upgrades, compressed music enhancer and EzSet/EQ

Initial Impressions

The New HK receivers look to be a marked improvement over their predecessors both in feature set and cosmetics.  Though, they still retained the cheesy hollowed out volume knob that just feels cheap and easily breakable.  Its great to see Harman Kardon step up to the plate and offer the latest in high definition audio decoding (ie.TrueHD, DTS-HD), while also supporting more multi zone functionality and iPhone, iPod connectivity.  If the amps sound as meaty as they look, then we've got some great "audiophile" alternatives to the big brands to recommend to our readers.   We will have to acquire a review sample shortly to see if they are competitive both in performance and operation to some of the other large A/V receiver manufacturers.

For more information, visit:  Harman Kardon

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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