Harman Kardon AVR 245
- Easy to use and calibrate, very extensive range of connections, exceptional audio quality and fidelity
- Lacks the latest in Dolby and dts surround sound formats, lacks HDMI 1.3 for 'future-proofing'
By modern standards it may be considered a slightly 'old' unit, lacking the latest in home entertainment technology, but for those looking for a great quality receiver, the AVR 245 is hard to pass up.
Price$ 1,199.00 (AUD)
Harman Kardon's AVR 245 is one of the company's entry-level amplifier/receivers. It's important to note, however, that for a brand like Harman Kardon, 'entry level' is still built to a very high standard. The amp is capable of 50W per channel at 8 ohms, driven through up to 8 channels. A huge range of connections spans the back panel, including HDMI, and of course the audio quality is excellent. The 245 boasts several highly useful features as well as an abundant of customisation options.
We tested the AVR 245 with Harman Kardon's HKTS 11. Both products are sold together as part of the Harman Kardon Cinefun 11 BQ Home Theatre Component System, alongside the DVD37, where they complimented each other excellently. The 245's 50W per channel was more than enough to bring the very best from the speakers, and even approaching the highest volumes the distortion levels were almost unnoticeable. Every part of the audio in our tests was clear and crisp, and faithfully reproduced from the source.
The rear panel of the AVR 245 houses a huge range of connection options, as would be expected for a receiver. Two inputs and one output for each of HDMI, component, coaxial and optical audio are present, alongside half a dozen composite AV inputs, 8 channel analogue audio outputs, 8 channel pre-outs, and 7.1 speaker connections. Support for Harman Kardon's The Bridge (which also comes with the Cinefun 11 BQ) is included, which allows users to quickly and easily play their iPod through the system as well.
All the major surround sound formats are supported, with the exception of the new dts-HD and Dolby TrueHD, which may discourage some users. We tested the unit with several HD-DVD and Blu-ray movies utilising these formats, and found that even with older surround sound formats, the audio was excellent. The lack of HDMI 1.3 (the AVR 245 uses 1.1) may also limit the unit's performance in the future, although at the moment the HDMI 1.1 specification is more than enough to handle the current iteration of multimedia.
A good range of sound fields and customisation/calibration options are present, including a microphone which can be placed in the planned seating position and used to automatically calibrate the speakers for the best performance. Individual speaker volume levels and distances can be tweaked easily to suit users' tastes. The included universal remote, once programmed, provides a relatively simple and efficient way to handle the basic operation of devices connected to the receiver as well.
Overall, we found the AVR 245 receiver to be an excellent product. What it lacks in up-to-the-minute features and technology, it easily makes up for in quality. It's capable of handling anything thrown at it with high levels of fidelity and definition, and generates enough power at very low distortion levels for all but the most gigantic of living rooms. If you don't absolutely need the latest in HDMI and surround sound technology, then the AVR 245 is an excellent value option.
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