Sugg. Retail: $1999.00 (CAN)
Harman-Kardon is a longtime audio brand, largely associated with higher end products, and, like everybody else in the audio/video business, has ventured into home theatre. This receiver, in their Digital Path group, is an elegant device with lots of inputs, and component, SVideo, and composite RCA outputs. Its analog audio inputs include CD, DVD, Video 1, 2, 3, and 4, with a Tape output in addition to the main output pair. These are mirrored on the video side with 3 sets of component inputs, and S and composite inputs to match every audio input. There are also 8 RCA analog audio inputs for DVD-A or SACD sources. All this makes for a very full rear panel. Digital inputs include a pair of Toslinks and another pair of coaxial inputs, with additional optical and RCA digital outs.
The front panel is very handsome, with a lower panel that is recessed behind a silver door, and a black glass panel along the top with displays behind it. The Volume control at right has a blue glow inside its circumference that some owners may enjoy in the dark of the home theatre room.
It’s rated at 70 watts rms X 7, with, apparently, no provision to increase front power if you don’t need the extra amplification in a 5.1 system. However, I suppose one could configure the extra amp channels to drive a bi-amp speakers or a system in another room, though line-level output would be preferable over such speaker cable distances. It’s rated at 70 watts rms X 7. Of course, we tested it in 5-channel mode.
There are a bewildering number of surround options: on top of the various Dolby and DTS modes, there are H/K’s own ones, described on page 32 of the owner’s manual, and taking the whole page to do so. We’ve got Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, DTS in its ES variations, Dolby Pro Logic II, and so on. Then there are the H/K proprietary modes, Logic 7 Cinema, Music, and Enhance, Theater, Hall 1, and Hall 2.
But we’re not finished yet. VMAx: “When only the front-channel speakers are used, VMAx delivers a three dimensional sound space with the illusion of ‘phantom’ at the center and surround positions.” There are two settings, one for close listening (5 feet or less), and the other for more normal distances. Dolby Virtual Speaker: “uses advanced technology to simulate the sonic signature of a speaker location even when there is no speaker physically present in that location.” Dolby Headphone (D1, D2, D3): “enables ordinary stereo headphones to portray the sound of a five-speaker surround playback system.” The DH variations simulate a small well damped room, a bigger, more live one, and a much larger room, respectively.
I have to ask, do we really need all this stuff? And even if we did, where is the question of accurate reproduction left hanging? Well, if you get totally confused by it all, you can set the DPR 1005 to 5-channel stereo to simplify things.
Speaking of simplification, the remote control could use more than a little, with 54 buttons, not counting the larger 4-way ones, which operate with both the round centre section and the surrounding 4 corners in each case; I didn’t expect to have to do a PhD in remote controls, and almost 4 pages of the manual still do not demystify this remote. I spent most of my time using the few front panel buttons to deal with basic functions. A much simpler remote is provided for second zone use.
The DPR 1005 had a very sensitive and selective FM tuner, which brought in 50 stations on our outdoor omni Lindsay bowtie antenna. The tuner’s sound was very clean, and once it got a station it usually sounded fine; in other words, there are few weak, noisy signals to be heard.
I checked the video passthrough capabilities of this H/K receiver, and it looked excellent, even with HD signals off satellite. Audio can be calibrated using a feature called EzSet, which calibrates all speakers (5 or 7) to a 68 dB reference level. This allows you to save your energy to deal with the bewildering array of surround options. I would be inclined to set it to bypass all the options, and let it automatically select the appropriate Dolby or DTS mode. Adventurous owners can play with the numerous sound modes and have fun with them, if they choose.
The Harman/Kardon DPR 1005 is a very good sounding receiver with a great deal of versatility, and if this is what you seek, have a listen to it.
Related Reviews:AIG Back Issues: Fall 2005
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AIG Back Issues: Winter 1992
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