Harman/Kardon DPR 1005 A/V Receiver and Paradigm Monitor v.4 Series Speaker System

Synergistic sounds.

This review brings together two brands that are special to me: Harman/Kardon and Paradigm. When I was a teenager, I bought a Harman receiver with the money I earned running deliveries for the local supermarket. You know how that is: Nothing ever gets close to the thrill of the first one. I wore out several LP copies of Sgt. Pepper and Led Zeppelin II over that 15-watt-per-channel receiver. Much, much later, in the late '90s, I reviewed a set of Paradigm Atoms. Those little speakers sounded surprisingly huge, and, even more importantly, they were a lot of fun. The Atoms lingered in my listening room long after I finished the review, and that's probably the best indication of what separates good speakers from great speakers. For this back-to-the-future review, I paired Harman's DPR 1005 Digital Path Receiver with Paradigm's newly revised Monitor Series v.4 speakers. Looks like a good combination, but let's see.

Harman/Kardon DPR 1005
True to its name, the Digital Path Receiver keeps audio signals in the digital domain from input to output. The concept is cool, but the DPR 1005's seven 70-watt amplifiers generate almost as much heat as a conventional receiver. I traced the source of the warmth to the receiver's two massive power supplies; one drives the left/center/right channels, while the other handles the four surround channels. Maybe that's why the receiver is a whopping 18.8 inches deep. The all-digital diet did manage to help the receiver shed a few pounds, though. The DPR 1005 weighs a svelte 23.1 pounds. Its blue halo volume control, brushed-aluminum and jet-black front panel/display update Harman's always-sharp styling. I don't usually make a big deal about such things, but the ultra-slick, fully backlit remote is a work of art and felt nice and comfy in my hand.

The DPR 1005's surround-processing talents go way beyond the standard Dolby and DTS 5.1/6.1 offerings. It also sports Harman's proprietary Logic 7 and VMAx processors, DTS 96/24, HDCD, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Virtual Speaker, and, my favorite new techno bauble, Dolby Headphone. Few $3,000 pre/pros are as well equipped.

Setting up all of those surround modes would be a royal pain if it weren't for the DPR 1005's aptly named Global Bass Manager. Dial in the speaker sizes, crossover points for all of the speakers, and speaker distance/delays for a surround format, say DTS ES, and the Global Bass Manager will duplicate those settings for every source and surround option—including the 7.1 (SACD/DVD-Audio) inputs. The one snag is that the DPR 1005 digitizes its analog inputs to maintain its all-digital integrity. I wish the DPR 1005 also offered a direct bypass for SACD and DVD-Audio, but the good news is that it's one of the very few receivers (or players) that provides full bass management and speaker delays for high-resolution audio formats. The end result is a more-consistently balanced sound with DVD movies and high-resolution audio formats, especially for subwoofer/satellite-based systems that require carefully tuned bass management to sound their best. If you want to get tweaky, turn off the Global Bass Manager and independently set up each source and surround mode.

Auto set-up and calibration can be a useful feature for home theater newbies, if they don't mind futzing around with a separate microphone. Harman has a better idea. The DPR 1005's mike is integrated into the remote control—so it's easier to use. The catch is, Harman's EzSet auto-calibration system only balances the speaker volume levels. Most other brands (and some of Harman's newer A/V receivers) cover a lot more ground: They determine speaker size, set subwoofer crossover points, set delays, and provide room equalization. On the video connectivity side, I was surprised to note that the DPR 1005 doesn't convert composite and S-video sources to component video.

Multiroom functionality is getting lots of attention in the feature-driven receiver market, so Harman's design engineers endowed the DPR 1005 with a wide variety of options. It's fully compatible with home-automation systems via its RS-232 port. A-BUS capability offers a somewhat simpler multizone approach, and there's a second remote control for the second zone. If you're content with 5.1 surround, you can reassign channels six and seven to deliver stereo sound to another room.

• This 21st-century 7.1-channel A/V receiver advances the all-digital state of the art
• Bass management covers all sources, including SACD and DVD-Audio

Paradigm Monitor v.4 Series
The Monitor Series speakers originally surfaced eight years ago, and Paradigm has revised them a number of times. These fourth-generation models feature upgraded crossover parts and tweeters that Paradigm deployed in their more-expensive Studio Series speakers. The other and more-visible change to the Monitor Series is a snazzy, brushed-platinum finish that complements the styling of current flat-screen TVs. Rosenut, light cherry, and black ash vinyl-wrap finishes are also available. The Monitor Series features four towers, three bookshelf models, a center speaker, and surround speakers. For this review, I went for the elegantly proportioned Monitor 11 towers, the CC-370 center, and the ADP-370 surrounds. Paradigm's PW-2200 expertly dispatched the subwoofing duties.

The Monitor 11 tower, CC-370, and ADP-370 share identical 6.5-inch copolymer drivers and 1-inch titanium dome tweeters. The system's timbre-matching is excellent, as is its coherency; all of the Monitors speak with one voice. The Monitor 11 adds three 6.5-inch carbon-infused woofers to provide low-end muscle.