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Harman Kardon BDS 580 and 280 Blu-ray Systems Preview

Harman Kardon BDS 580 or 280 - they look the same

Harman Kardon BDS 580 or 280 - they look the same


  • Product Name: BDS 580; BDS 280
  • Manufacturer: Harman Kardon
  • Review Date: January 13, 2014 08:15
  • MSRP: $1099 (BDS 580); $510 (BDS 280
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Buy Now

BDS 580 and BDS 280 (specs are the same except for the number of channels)

  • Continuous average power, stereo mode: 65 Watts per channel, 20Hz – 20kHz, @ <1% THD, two channels driven into 6 ohms
  • Input sensitivity/impedance (line inputs): 250mV/> 10kΩ
  • Signal-to-noise ratio (IHF-A): –90dB
  • Frequency response @ 1W: 20Hz – 20kHz, ±0.5dB
  • Slew rate: 40V/ųsec
  • Supported disc formats: 5-inch (12cm) or 3-inch (8cm)
  • BD-Video (single-layer or double-layer), DVD-Video, DVD+R/+RW, DVD-R/-RW, CDDA (CD audio), CD-R/RW discs
  • Audio formats: Dolby® Digital, Dolby® Digital Plus,
  • Dolby® TrueHD®, DTS Digital®, PCM, WMA (DRM-free version only): WMA9, CBR @192kbps, VBR @355kbps, MP3: 32kbps – 320kbps bitrates, including variable-bitrate encoding
  • Still-image format: JPEG
  • Video signal receiver: NTSC (USA) or PAL (EU)
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz ±0.5dB
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 90dB (A-weighted)
  • Dynamic range: 90dB (16-bit)
  • THD/1kHz: DVD/CD: 0.1%
  • Wow & flutter: Below measurable limits
  • Television format: NTSC or PAL (selectable)
  • HDMI version: With 3-D and 30/36-bit Deep Color
  • Power requirement: 100 – 240V AC, 50/60Hz
  • Power consumption: 110W maximum; <1W standby
  • Dimensions: 400.2mm (L) x 283.8mm (W) x 78.5mm (H)
  • Weight: 3.72kg

What do you do when you want surround sound and Blu-ray playback in a room that has limited space? Get a surround sound bar? Try to convince your spouse that their beloved armoire should be converted into an equipment cabinet? Suggest adding on to the house?

No, you look for something with all the functionality you need in the smallest box available.

Harman Kardon has announced their answer to this problem at this year's CES. The new BDS 580 and BDS 280 are standalone Blu-ray players with all the functionality of a full fledged receiver. It's like a home theater in a box but without the speakers. And better. We hope.

First, let's talk about the differences between the two units. The BDS 280 has only two channels of amplification while the 580 has five. And...that's it. Otherwise they are identical.

The BDS 580 and BDS 280 sport 65 watts per channel, two channels driven, into 6 ohms. While the rating was achieved with a full range signal, the 6 ohm parameter is artificially inflating the wattage rating (which is what most people look at). Likely, the real rating into 8 ohms would be closer to 50 watts per channel.

Power aside, the BDS boxes are chock full of features. They have a Blu-ray drive that can play back CD, DVDs, and rewritable discs, and It is 3D capable. They units can be networked through a wired or wireless connection. They come with MHL support for full HD and 7.1 audio streaming from compatible portable devices. NFC pairing makes connecting via Bluetooth as easy as tapping your phone and pressing a button.

bds 580 back

BDS 580 Rear Panel - taken from the EU website so it may change slightly in the US version

The BDS units from HK have three HDMI inputs and one ARC-enabled output. They have two analog RCA inputs, two optical and one coaxial digital audio inputs, and 12 volt trigger in and out. There are also two USB ports, one on the front and one on the back. The information on Harman's site suggests that the rear USB port is just for power, but the front-mounted USB port for streaming MP3s from portable devices. One of the HDMI inputs supports MHL, so it's perfect for use with the Roku streaming stick or Google's Chromecast. The rear USB port is optimally placed for powering the Chromcast or other devices that require power.

Networking the BDS units will give users access to streaming solutions such as DNLA 1.5 and Apple's AirPlay. Harmon's control app for iOS and Android mirrors what is on the screen to make control easy. Harman has announced support for Picasa and AccuWeather plus "more", but there's no specific mention of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or other popular streaming services. 

HK 280 Back

The BDS 280 - exactly the same except for the number of speaker terminals

Of course, since this is Harman Kardon, sound quality is a key focus. A dedicated subwoofer output is available for either a 5.1 or 2.1 system (depending on the model). The binding posts look a little different to us and we're not sure if they can support banana plugs or not. Dolby TrueHD, DTS Digital Surround, Harman Kardon NSP Natural Surround Processing, and EzSet/EQ III auto-calibration are all on board, as well as the fist implementation of Dolby Volume - a DSP to keep volume constant across time.

In order to be considered a receiver, the BDS 280 and 580 had to include an FM Tuner. Interestingly, the BDS units are PAL and NTSC selectable, which is nice for those that have international tastes and discs. A fully programmable remote is included to supplement the remote app.


The Harman Kardon BDS 580 will run you $1099 while the BDS 280 is $510. Other than one having five amps and the other two, there are no differences between them. They have a Blu-ray drive and support 3D and ARC, one of their HDMI inputs is MHL compatible, they have a decent number of inputs, trigger in and out, subwoofer pre-out, and USB input. You can connect to your network wirelessly or via a wired connect. Basically, the BDS 580 is a full featured HTiB receiver/Blu-ray combo without the speakers. The two channel BDS 280 makes less sense as a home theater solution but it saves a considerable amount for those that don't care about surround sound.

For more information, please visit www.harmankardon.com.

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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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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