Harman Kardon AVR 7300 Digital Surround Receiver

At first glance, Harman Kardon's AVR 7300, the latest flagship receiver from the venerable American brand, looks little different from its predecessors. And in a lot of ways, it is the same. After all, big power, extensive signal-routing, powerful setup flexibility, and an attractively restrained, black-and-silver aesthetic were hallmarks of several previous Harman Kardon flagships, and the AVR 7300 has them, too. But a bit of digging quickly revealed some significant changes.

Fast Facts

RATED POWER 110 W x 7 into 8 ohms with maximum 0.05% THD (channels driven individually) DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 17 3/8 x 7 5/8 x 20 1/2 inches WEIGHT 55 pounds PRICE $2,399 MANUFACTURER Harman Kardon, harmankardon.com, 516-255-4545

First, the AVR 7300 piles on Dolby Pro Logic IIx (DPL IIx), Dolby's latest, 6.1/7.1-channel version of its surround processing for two- and four-channel sources. (DPL IIx derives back surround channels from both Dolby Surround-encoded and plain stereo sources, with impressive results.) Second, the receiver incorporates not just ample video switching (including three component-video inputs), but video processing as well by an onboard Faroudja DCDi engine. Otherwise, the AVR 7300 is everything I'd expect in a flagship receiver, and that's a lot.

SETUP The "key features" list on the next page hits the high spots, but a few demand more attention, like EZSet, which uses a test microphone in the remote control to balance channel levels automatically. It worked smoothly, with very accurate results, as long as the receiver and the remote were more or less in line - the remote needs to "see" the receiver to communicate via infrared throughout the process.