Bluetooth, Airplay, DLNA and 'net radio all onboard
Harman Kardon has announced a trio of new entry-level AV receivers – with the most potent, the AVR 171, arriving with a £500 price point to challenge the likes of Pioneer's VSX-923 and Onkyo's TX-NR626.
A 7.2-channel model with DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD support, the AVR-171 also features built-in Bluetooth, Airplay, vTuner 'net radio and DLNA audio streaming – although access to the latter three is dependent upon a wired Ethernet connection. Wi-Fi is not present.
Other expected features include 4K passthrough, smart control via a free iOS/Android app, USB hookup and six-in, two-out HDMI connectivity. One of the rear HDMI inputs is MHL comptatible and 'Roku Ready', meaning a Roku Streaming Stick can be hooked up for direct access to the brand's growing channel store (which includes Netflix, Rdio, BBC iPlayer, etc). Harman Kardon says the AVR 171 will be the first on the market to feature Roku Ready MHL support – however, the Roku Streaming Stick isn't yet on sale in the UK, and our Roku sources say we shouldn't expect it to surface anytime soon...
Another new feature is Harman's NSP Natural Sound Processing mode, which is intended to recreate the original recording ambience of two-channel sources. Setup is aided via EzSet/EQ III calibration.
Although the AVR 171 is clearly targeted at buyers looking for playback convenience from all manner of sources, Harman Kardon says it hasn't overlooked sound quality: 'The amplifier retains the time-tested, high-current-capacity ultrawide-bandwidth Harman Kardon design to ensure the most accurate, dynamic sound with enhanced clarity and realism – even at the highest listening levels'. Meanwhile, a digitally-based power supply enables a slimmer-than-usual design.
Also now available are the £300 AVR 151 and £380 AVR 161. The former is a 375W 5.1-channel networked model (but without Bluetooth); the latter ups the power output and adds Bluetooth and NSP to the feature set.
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