Harman Kardon AVR 330 Digital Surround Receiver Page 2

hk avr 330 movie pic
The AVR 330 convincingly delivered all the impact of the effects in the soundtrack of K-19: The Widowmaker.

For example, in the very well-produced DVD soundtrack of the hokey thriller K-19: The Widowmaker, the receiver's surround processing delivered the famous action sequences without a hitch. When the submarine surfaces from under the polar ice and launches a missile, I heard convincing impacts of rumbling, shattering ice and head-snapping blast-off effects as the ICBM comes more or less straight toward you. Of course, finesse is equally important. The 5.1-channel Super Audio CD mix of James Taylor's October Road requires plenty of finesse, and the AVR 330 conveyed the nuance and details evident throughout the disc, especially the lovingly recorded drum kit on the title track.

hk avr 330 remoteIn addition to the now-common Dolby Pro Logic II (DPL II) and DTS Neo:6 processing for enhanced 5.1/6.1-channel playback of two-channel sources like CDs and Dolby Surround-encoded TV broadcasts and older movies, the AVR 330 also incorporates Harman Kardon's proprietary Logic 7 mode for the same purpose. Harman claims that Logic 7 is a quicker-steering and more enveloping process than DPL II, and I'm inclined to agree, at least with some kinds of program material. I often heard a more spacious, coherent surround bubble on TV broadcasts, such as Monday Night Football. In at least one case - the title music to The West Wing, which inherently sounds a bit "pumpy" due to recorded compression - Logic 7's presentation was dynamically a tiny shade smoother than DPL II's. A bit surprisingly, the AVR 330 doesn't offer access to any of DPL II's adjustable parameters, such as Center Width or Panorama.

The AVR 330 was generally easy to use, though in this respect it didn't quite match the high standard of its sonic performance. Menus and controls are logically ordered, and the extensive setup choices allow about as much customization as you could want. However, the remote has no learning capability and is densely packed with micro-labeled, nonbacklit keys. Five of them (including the power button) can be programmed with macros - a string of related commands like: turn on the receiver, DVD player, and TV, switch the receiver to its DVD input, and commence playback.

In every important respect, the Harman Kardon AVR 330 is a very fine receiver. True, if you were content to look only at watts per dollar on spec sheets, the conservatively rated AVR 330 might not make the top of your list. But if you look beyond the easy numbers to sonic refinement, configurability, and overall capabilities - as well as actual measured power - the AVR 330 should climb very high on your list indeed.

PDF: In the Lab

• Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES 6.1-channel decoding • Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS Neo:6, and Logic 7 processing for 5.1/6.1-channel playback from two-channel or matrixed four-channel sources • Hall 1 and 2, Theater ambience-generation surround modes • VMAx two-speaker and headphone virtual surround • 2 HDTV-compatible component-video inputs, 1 output • 5 A/V inputs (1 on front panel), 2 outputs, all with S-video • 3 optical, 3 coaxial digital audio inputs (1 each on front panel); 1 optical and 1 coaxial output • 192-kHz/24-bit D/A converters on all outputs • Bass-management options include 6 crossover-frequency choices individually assignable to front L/R, center, and surround channels • EzSet auto-level calibration using sound-level sensor in remote control • 8-channel analog audio input, preamp out • 2 stereo audio-only inputs; 1 record output • Multiway binding-post speaker terminals for all channels; back surround outputs can be redirected to power remote-room stereo system • 8-component preprogrammed system remote control with 5 (19-step) macros • Multiroom capability with independent source and volume; basic second-room remote control