Harman Kardon AVR 7300 Digital Surround Receiver Page 4

Harmon Kardon AVR 7300 remote OPERATION The slim, silvery remote control is elegant to look at and sensibly laid out, but its small keys and tiny lettering made it difficult to use even with the backlighting on. (And you need two hands to push the Light key way down in one corner.) The pair of big, four-way keypads - one for volume and channel selection, and the other for cursor directions - look enough alike to be confusing, though telling them apart by touch is easy.

On the plus side, a single key on the remote (and the front panel) is dedicated to each major "family" of surround modes - like Dolby, DTS, and Logic7 - and you step through the variants in each family by pressing the same button again. Unfortunately, the remote's library of preprogrammed control codes didn't include either my cable box or my DVD recorder, neither of which is particularly exotic.

PLUSFlagship performance. Faroudja DCDi video processing. Composite/S-video inputs upconverted to component-video. Bass management and synthesized back surround channel for SACDs and DVD-Audio discs.

MINUSComplex remote control. Audible cooling fan.

To my surprise, once the receiver had been on for 30 minutes or so, its automatic internal cooling fan ran much of the time regardless of the volume setting or actual power demands. Though the fan was by no means obnoxiously loud, I could hear it from my listening position during pauses and even over very soft musical passages. For serious listening I usually power down both my TiVo and my computer for just this reason, so maybe I'm overly sensitive. But powering down the receiver to quiet its fan isn't an option!

BOTTOM LINE Putting my relatively inconsequential gripes aside, the Harman Kardon AVR 7300 is one helluva digital surround receiver. If you want tremendous setup flexibility, top-drawer performance, truly superb surround options, and unusually customizable video outputs, it's one you really should check out.

PDF: In the Lab