First impression of this unit was excellent. The build quality is out standing. The over all look is well refined and the display is one of the best i've seen. Very classy looking component. Set up was about average for a receiver. The Ez set up function was helpful and the individual bass level management was an unexpected perk for a receiver in this class. Multichannel inputs and outputs for DVD audio or adding an amplifier are great as well. The terminals are accessable and the 325 offers two power supply plug, one of which is swictched.
The 325 will drive most speakes with ease and ceases to loose fidelity at high volume as some do. I have swapped two other receivers into my current configuration of speakers and dvd player and must say that this 325 does very well respectively. Two channel stereo is very detailed even at low volumes. A slighly "warmer" sound than that of onkyo or Rotel.I used 2 channle stereo for most of my lsitening for about 6 months before i purchased an external amplifier.
I now have this receiver paired with Harman's Pa4000 multichannel amplifier for my front speakers. While i drive the center channel and surrounds as well as speakers in another room with the Receiver. This was done not because of lack of power but beacuse i can bridge the H&K pa4000 amp from 8x50 to 4x100. Which i then bi-amplifi my front speakers so I end up having an 8 channel amp drive 2 speakers. Very good results :) The Dual Zone function is out standing and allows for great versatility in home audio applications. The 325 allows you to deticate the 2 back surround channles in 7.1 to be driven by another source or you can have the output to another amplifier. This enables you to watch a movie in 5.1 while someone in another room listens to 2 channel stereo from another source.
The 325 offers a great selection of surround fields which i found useful for tv movies such as logic seven which has 3 variations. I'm not much for these modes but the dolby modes (pro logic, neo) are also nice for back ground music at low levels.
My complaints. Most of the time i listen to audio in 2 channel stereo. But every now and again i'll use 5 channel stereo to get the max dbl. During 5 channel stereo there is a noticable tonal imbalance between the center channel and the other speakers. MY guess is it's intentional to help bring out the vocals in the center channel. Another complaint is the inablity to dim the display easily. It's possible to do but only through the on screen display which is otherwise very usefull. The dimmed display comes in very handy at times and looks great. Other than that i have very little to complain about.
Overall impression is that of a great entry to mid level receiver that has a great power, a solid interface, and allows for expandabilty. Highly recommended comapred to its peers in the same price range.
Harman Kardon AVR 325 Receiver
Harman Kardon PA4000 amplifier
Denon DVD Player
The AVR-325 was purchased recently to replace an old, grad school busget JVC receiver, to upgrade both the sound quality as well as providing additional processing capabilities and move from 5.1 to 7.1
The receiver is everything I had hoped, great sound, HD switching is perfect (main reason 325 was chosen over 330 waqs greater video bandwidth), LOGIC 7 is phenomenal for music (my tastes run towards clean and pure on music, but LOGIC 7 provides great spaciousness without all the artificial reverb and coloration I've experienced with Sony, JVC and Onkyo receivers), bass management is literally capable of doing everything I need, etc.
I can't imagine getting much better capabilities or performance for anywhere near the price, and I've had the opportunity to compare it to both Sony's and Yamaha's flagship receivers.
Picked this one up at a great price since the new AVR330 was replacing it. This was replacing an old Yamaha receiver that was dying. First off, this thing is pretty heavy around 41 pounds considering the amount of watts it's pumping out(50 watts per channel). I was somewhat concerned about the low wattage rating but that quickly went away, once I got it home and fired it up. Setting it up was a breeze since the back was color coded for ez setup. Once everything was hooked up I tested it with Star Wars II and couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was simply the best sound ever emitted from my speakers (All Paradimgs Monitor series). I then put a Jazz cd on and was amazed by how smooth and neutral the sound was. If you're in the market for a new receiver, you'll be hard pressed to find a better one under $500.00.
I've only had this for 2 weeks, so I'll write my first impressions.
Plays louder than I'd ever want, even without a sub. As a matter of fact, I didn't know I hadn't set the system up for a sub until I noticed that the signal light on my sub wasn't on. The sound is great, somewhat mellow, not harsh at all. I've listened to loud rock music for hours & not found it fatiguing. I'm using Audiosphere Research AG-271 towers as my main speakers.
It has plenty of connections, although another optical input would be nice.
The bass management can be set for individual channels, differing for each input, which can be useful.
The EZset function makes setup very easy.
The ability to assign the surround back amps to zone 2 is great, & the a-bus adds the ability to set up a 3rd zone.
Unfortunately, it doesn't do video conversion. I bought 2 s-video signal converters from Radio Shack (pt. #15-1238, $16/ea. CAD) so I wouldn't have to run composite cables to the tv to watch a video tape.
I bought a refurbished “Z” model 325 to use as a pre-amp for my home theater system, primarily because it was a cheap way to try out some of the newer surround formats (DPLII, DTS Neo 6, Logic 7, and 6.1 surround) - $399 compared to $799 for the cheapest pre/pro available on the market (Outlaw 950). So, needless to say, this review will be limited to the 325’s function as a pre-amp/surround processor (I am using the 325’s amps to power the rear surround speaker, however, I don’t think that gives me enough to comment on amp quality)
First, I have to comment on the bass management system – it is by far the most complete, flexible, and accurate system that I have ever dealt with, and I am very particular about this subject. As far as I am concerned, bass management may be the single most important function of any surround processor, in terms of overall effect on final sound quality. I am so pleased with the bass management on this receiver that I wish I had gotten the AVR 525, which applies the same control to the multi-channel inputs as well (after conversion to PCM through the receiver’s hi-res digital converters). Check out H/K’s website for the 325, which contains a detailed explanation of the bass management system, as well as lots of other information and a copy of the Home Theater review: http://www.harmankardon.com/product_support/support_detail.asp?prod=AVR%20325&stype=PRODFAQ&
This unit is certainly not without its quirks, however. I was going to “complain” in detail here about them, until I read the Home Theater review, and received some e-mail responses from H/K (excellent customer service for such a large company), which confirmed that some of the quirks were, in fact, intentional design choices made by H/K in the interests of making the unit more user-friendly. Briefly, these include the Optical digital inputs automatically associating themselves with certain video inputs when a digital signal is sensed (designed to help with certain digital cable and Direct TV systems), and automatic selection of the “EX” and “Neo:6” 7.1 channel extensions for any 5.1 Dolby Digital or DTS source, with no way of forcing it back to regular 5.1 unless you de-select your rear speakers.
Less intentional quirks include tone controls that apply only to the front left and right channels, which throws off the tonality balance between the front speakers and the center speaker, which is very noticeable in any multi-channel use. Odd, I think, in a receiver that was obviously designed to promote use of your full surround system for every source. These controls are also bypassed when using the multi-channel inputs (SACD or DVD-A). It would have been awesome if H/K had made the tone controls apply to all channels and for all sources (with a defeat button, of course, like older H/K receivers). And finally, there is a significant delay when the receiver switches to new digital signals, for instance, when going from a DVD menu to the actual movie, or when first starting CD playback. This can cause startling blasts of sound during some DVD openers (like the THX trailer), and can cut off the first couple bars of music on a CD. H/K plays this up as a side effect to their user-friendly auto detect feature, but I know from experience (Sony ES, Outlaw) that it can be done without the delay.
But don’t get me wrong – I am only mildly disappointed by the quirks mentioned above, and they are far outweighed by the receiver’s bass management. However, they do prevent me from giving a “5 star” rating, except for value. I think Harmon Kardon is on the right track. The basic architecture of the processing system seems to be extremely capable, with superior bass management and input memory. I am continuously keeping my eye out for a true (and affordable) pre/pro to upgrade to, and have come close on many occasions to purchasing one, but I am having major second thoughts primarily because I don’t think I could live without those features. Unfortunately, an e-mail response from H/K revealed that they have no future plans for a pre-amp, as they believe the separates market is no longer worthwhile. Too bad. Maybe they (and every other receiver manufacturer) could at least provide for users of outboard amplification the ability to switch off the amplifier section.
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