This receiver I have reviewed before, at the time with only a couple of months of use, and not entirely the proper setup. At this time, The receiver is running Boston Acoustics CR6 as center and rear surround, Bose 501 V for surround, and Bose 4001 for mains, with a Boston PV400 subwoofer. The Bose will be replaced soon, but with the Boston Center, It really does sound good.
This receiver does not have the shortcomings which I believed it to have when I first owned it. Distortion at volumes of -10 was due to the speakers I was using, since that time they have been replaced and the new ones do not distort. This receiver has also never, ever shut down, even at volumes of 0dB. The 6.1 (Dolby Digital EX or DTS ES) is absolutely spectacular. If you can find a good movie that uses this feature, it is definitely worth it. If you haven't heard EX or ES using a rear surround (or two for the new AVR 235) think of it this way. Remember the first time you heard 5.1? You'll experience that "wow" factor again. It really is fantastic.
The receiver performs flawlessly, will operate at volumes that make my ears ring, and with a powered subwoofer it is possible (DVD audio especially) to get sound quality very very close to a live performance, both in tonal qualities and volume! This is a great receiver! 10 years ago this receiver would have costed $1K easily, well worth the price today. If you can get the AVR235, do that. If price is a concern, the discontinued AVR230 will in no way disappoint.
Picked up this receiver on sale from Circuit City and couldn’t be happier. It replaces a 1 ½ year old Denon AVR 1403, and while the Denon is rated at more watts per channel, it simply cannot touch the HK in sound quality. Every consumer review site will have positive reviews for any product you’re looking at, and everyone has their own opinion about what makes a receiver sound good. The tonality of Denon is decent, but they lack dynamic punch. Where HK stands out is instead of just throwing out a bunch of sounds,
every instrument, voice or sound effect is presented with proper weight & timber. Each sound has dimension, is properly placed within the sound stage, and is palpable. I bought this receiver for music as much as home theater use, and it excels in all areas. Comparing to the receivers I have owned, including Sony, JVC, Pioneer, Yamaha & Denon, the HK simply reproduces the sounds being fed to it more accurately than anything I’ve heard before. I am hearing things in songs & soundtracks I’ve never heard before. This can be a bit disconcerting at first, because you’re expecting one thing, and getting more. Then you begin to realize what you’ve been missing.
Some people may be put off by the 50 watts per channel rating (65 stereo). What most people don’t realize is that it’s not watts that make the difference, it’s amperage. It’s kind of like the difference between Horse Power & torque in a car. Torque is the twisting force that turns the wheels, and amps are what deliver the hit of a drum, or the shot from a gun in a movie. This receiver’s ability to deliver the dynamics of all material given to it is not hampered by the watts rating.
Some people have complained that they have to turn up the volume to a point where it distorts before getting loud. This is something I have seen in many home theater receivers. Each speakers level can be set individually, and what I do is set my two front main speakers to their highest level (in the case of the HK +10) and then set the other speakers accordingly. This requires the use of an external SPL meter instead of the built in EZ set feature, but the results are well worth it. In addition, the external meter will allow you to also set up the subwoofer, something the built in EZ set does not do.
The remote? Use it to program a universal learning remote, and then put it away. The receiver does run warm, so give it room to breath.
My only gripe with the unit is that switching between TV channels sometimes causes the surround mode to change (the Logic 7 sounds great BTW). I have set a button on my universal remote to change it to what I want, but still, it would be nice to set & forget.
Overall, a much better choice than the other major brands.
Overall, this is an excellent AV Receiver with just a few shortcomings.
Well, almost excellent…
This piece is veeery cool looking to start with. It furnishes my HT room with its nice looks and cool lights. The volume knob is a little sluggish though and sometimes may not respond if you turn it rapidly.
Digital decoding is amazing. It is connected by optical cable to my Pioneer DV646A and the sound reproduction is amazing.
I have no Surround back speaker, but I have the feeling that if this 7th speaker is attached to the system, the surrounding effect will even be better.
The remote is a non-learning multifunction with many devices pre-defined. I find the shape odd though as it is large at the front and thinning towards the near end in a way that the DVD control buttons become mere spots. The EZ Setup function of the remote is great and makes the tuning a child’s game.
Low frequency production is great. Even without the subwoofer connected, a satisfying bass sound fills the room with ease.
All in all this is a great piece of equipment. It is definitely not a high end device, but it will satisfy the average listener with its mid-fi quality sound reproduction.
That said, I have to add that there is enough reason to return it back to the shop, after 2 months of satisfactory use. Thankfully I purchased the 40USD additional guarantee offered by CompUSA.
Here is the major shortcoming: At volume settings above -15Db, the receiver powers off at the presence of extreme low frequencies. Here is how I found it:
I get the EpisodeII: and place it in the DVD: The first scene -even before the movie starts- is the THX certification animation with the rain effect and then the glass shattering. Great I say, this must sound wonderful at high volume. As my wife and son is out this Sunday, I turn the volume all the up to +1Db (max:+10) and lean back to enjoy. I can hear every single raindrop falling, followed by an amazing thunder that I feel deep in my chest. Great how amazing I think and wait for the rest of the amazing THX show. And then.... my AVR230 shuts off itself. I think to myself: OK some setting problem, I check the speaker settings--> nothing. The fronts are set to "large", that my Definite Technology BP10s are. Surrounds, center, sub, all settings are correct. I try it again and again, and the same thing happens. I lower the volume a little bit, again the same thing. Above volume level of -15Db, this insists. I think may be something unique to the THX animation, after all this is not a THX certified receiver. I put it on to the fabulous arena scene and pump up the volume to -5Db, and here we go again: off goes the receiver.
Sorry HK, great receiver, but when I have the opportunity to kick up the volume for the first time, what this receiver does is to annoy me by shutting itself down continuously.
So... off goes the AVR230, back to the store... What do I replace it with? Well probably an Onkyo 701, even though I'll have to invest another 100 bucks to do so. I do not dare to go for anything less this time...
All said, I still give this a 4 out of 5, as not everybody would watch DVDs at such high levels...
I have needed a receiver for a while now, and after previously owning a fairly high-end system made up of all Rotel seperates, I knew I couldn't settle for a low powered receiver. I wasn't intending on spending much $$, as I planned to purchase seperates again someday to build a really nice home theater setup. So, I checked stores like Circuit City and Best Buy, and I thought I wanted a modestly priced Yamaha Home Theater receiver, probably about $250. When I saw the HK AVR 230, I was first very impressed with the look of the receiver. I then had some time with the receiver in Circuit City's sound room, alone, to see how it sounded. I was very impressed at how clean a receiver with so many features could sound, especially after owning the "award winning" Rotel RB 980bx amplifier. At that point I did not want a lesser receiver. I bought the HK receiver online (nextag.com will show you a great price). I have read many reviews, both on this site and in magazines, and I mostly agree with everything I've read. The sound is spectacular, with ample bass and a very clean overall sound. If you have efficient speakers, I expect this receiver to perform much better than you will even need it to. I have had a Sony Dream system for about 2 years, and I must say the HK reveals details and sound qualities that I did not expect from a receiver. It really does sound great, plus it has all the features you could ask for and will definitely grow with your home theater system. I especially like the fact that it has full component inputs and outputs for HDTV and Progressive Scan capable DVD players and video game consoles, and I also very much like that there are full preamp outputs for every channel, so when I do buy seperates my HK AVR 230 will serve as a very good surround sound processor. But, if the receiver sounds so great, why would I still need seperates? This is the only negative comments I can make about the receiver. Although the receiver does seem to outperform its modest power rating, in the end it still is a receiver, and rated at only 55watts in surround mode (65x2 in stereo). I mentioned earlier the receiver should perform very well if you have efficient speakers, but I unfortunately do not. At high volume levels, which I do enjoy to get full impact of some CD tracks and some movies like Star Wars Eps I and II, and Lord of the Rings, the amp in the receiver does begin to clip at about the -10dB volume setting. I do admit, however, that I am not currently the proud owner of a powered subwoofer, so my main speakers have to pound out all the bass, and this may exaggerate what many people will surely see as a non issue, as most people may not turn the volume that high (my speakers are only about 86dB/1watt sensitive). I would say that those who own speakers with sensitivity of 89dB and above will never experience the clipping that I have. When the amp does clip, the distortion is very audible especially in the tweeters.
Finally, would I recommend this receiver? Absolutely. It has a gorgeous sound, is beautiful to look at, has a wealth of features, and with the great online price I found I seriously doubt a receiver could be found that would match it.
I purchased this receiver along with a set of Athena loudspeakers (AS-B2, AS-B1, AS-C1, AS-PW400) for surround setup. Reason for the buy was to replace an aging (20+ years) and dying NAD/PSB stereo system. This was a better than average system known for its dynamics, clarity and accuracy.
I was looking for a surround system that was at least equivalent in sound quality and was biased for music rather than soundtracks. Lastly, Future Shop had everything on sale and I lucked into a couple of open box deals.
I didn't bother auditioning at the store. I view this as a waste of time because home and store acoustics are completely different. A system might sound great at the store but terrible at home. Of course, the converse can also be true. It's worth ensuring that a store has a reputable return policy such as Future Shop in case the system turns out to be unsuitable at home.
I did, however, do my research on the internet, including this website, and found a multitude of favourable reviews on the receiver and the speakers.
In a store setting, I am more interested in the physical attributes, e.g. size, weight, colour schemes, features, etc.
My home setting is a basement rec room with area of approximately 400 sq ft. Floor is carpeted, ceiling is tiled, walls are a combination of drywall and wood panelling.
Setup of the receiver was a snap. Owner's manual was very detailed and comprehensive. A colour coded summary guide was provided for the first time audio system buyers.
Receiver was set to large for the front, rear and centre speakers. After that, the EZSet feature on the remote was used to calibrate the speakers. It took about a minute. Calibration was required for each sound mode. For fun, I moved to different positions in the room and recalibrated the speakers. It seemed to work everytime.
Speakers can also be adjusted manually.
The setup of the subwoofer must be done manually but I found that to be a minor inconvenience. I set up the crossover and volume controls at the subwoofer and the crossover controls at the receiver. Volume controls in the receiver were left at the default setting.
Delay settings are also manually adjustable but were left on default setting for now.
The receiver has plenty of inputs and outputs. Connected are a 5 disk CD/DVD player, VCR, cassette deck and DSS receiver. Still room for a separate CD player and one or two more accessories. The receiver has composite, S, and component video inputs for everything. For audio, 2 digital optical and 3 digital coax inputs are provided along with the usual analog inputs and outputs. Digital outputs are also provided.
Note to the LP collectors - this receiver does not have a phono input. That deficiency can be overcome with the purchase of a phono pre-amp.
The receiver also does not have multi-room capability but this was not a factor in my purchase.
Being new to the surround sound scene, I am still learning all of the various sound modes provided. Initial impressions are that Dolby Pro Logic II and Logic 7 have the most pleasing sound. After listening to these modes, stereo mode is confining.
I was apprehensive about the modest power rating in that it couldn't deliver the volume and quality of my old system. This turned out to be a non-issue. The HK had no difficulty producing plenty of volume and punch. The receiver might have trouble in larger, open areas. Pre-amp outputs for all channels are provided to connect external amplifiers in case more power is needed.
Overall sound characteristics are very similar to my old system. Clarity, smoothness and bass extension are impressive even though the speakers are not broken in yet.
One very pleasant surprise is that I hear details in music I hadn't noticed before. I foresee having loads of fun for months to come relearning my music collection.
This might be an attribute of the speakers as much as the receiver. It might also mean that the speakers and receiver are well matched.
I am satisfied with the quality of movie soundtracks. Centre channel vocals are crystal clear and realistic. Front and surround tracks are fine. Plenty of bass is delivered although not the kind of bass you can feel (this is likely the subwoofer, not the receiver). But then again, my priority is listening to music.
My biggest complaint, although not a show stopper, is that the display is surprisingly cluttered with unnecessarily detailed information. I say this because the overall design is otherwise clean and uncluttered. The information is useful during setup but not needed for normal operation.