Bookshelf Speakers

Harman Kardon and Definitive Technology

ARTICLE INDEX

Harman/Kardon AVR 3600 AV Surround Sound Receiver

Specifications

  • Design: 7.1-Channel A/V Surround Receiver
  • Codecs: Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD Master, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby ProLogic IIx, DTS HD High Resolution Audio, DTS, DTS-ES, DTS 96/24, DTS Neo:6, Logic 7
  • MFR: 7 x 85W (8 Ω, 20-20kHz, 0.07% THD)
  • High Current: +/-35 Amps
  • The Bridge III iPod Dock Included
  • Room Correction: EzSet/EQ
  • Video Processing: Faroudja DCDi Cinema Processing
  • Inputs: 4 HDMI; 2 Component Video; 3 Composite Video; 4 Optical Digital (1 Front); 3 Coax Digital (1 Front); 7.1-Channel Analog Audio
  • Outputs: 1 HDMI; 1 Component Video; 1 Composite Video; 7.1-Channel Analog Pre-out; 1 Coax Digital; 1 Optical Digital; IR Mini Plug; 12-Volt Trigger; Zone 2: Composite Video, Stereo Analog
  • A-Bus Compatible
  • USB Port for Updates
  • Firmware Update Available for HDMI 1.4a (3D Ready)
  • Dimensions: 17-5/16" (W) x 6-1/2" (H) x 17-1/16" (D)
  • Weight: 44 lbs (net)
  • MSRP: $ 999.99
  • MFR URL: http://www.harmankardon.com

rating criteria

Like the H/K BDP1 player, the H/K AVR 3600 receiver is a new model. The two components match in styling very closely and look very nice sitting near one another in my equipment rack. The lines of both boxes are clean and modern. The AVR 3600's volume knob is its most interesting physical feature. The knob is an inverted cylinder and inside this concavity is a lighted ring. Everybody has to touch it just as soon as they see it. I find myself changing the volume by putting my index finger in the open part and spinning the knob from the inside. It is as if I'm giving this receiver a "wet Willie"! The bottom line here is that this receiver is downright captivating to look at. I really like it. It might be the type of component one could fall in love with.

According to Harman/Kardon, this receiver will be HDMI 1.4a compliant with a firmware update due out September 2010. As a matter of fact, new models shipped starting in September will be equipped with the update. This means the AVR 3600 and many other H/K receivers will be able to handle 3-D signals!

The manual says that the H/K AVR 3600 receiver is rated at 85 watts per channel, seven channels driven from 20 Hz – 20 kHz at less than 0.07% THD into an 8 ohm load. I used this receiver, not only with the Definitive Technology ProCinema 800 System, but also with the JBL LS 80 surround system. This receiver drove both of these 5.1 systems with great ease.

Harman/Kardon claims that the AVR 3600 is a high current receiver. It is rated at 35 Amps! That is a pretty high current rating for an A/V receiver. This means that the receiver probably has a decent power supply, very low output impedance and a high damping factor. It also means that the receiver produces sound with very good drive. Look at it this way: power in a car is an indicator of how fast the car will travel (speed). This is similar to the power rating of an amp in watts – how loud can it go?

On the other hand, a car's torque rating is an indication of how quickly the car can accelerate. This is analogous to current in an amplifier. High current amps control the speakers' drivers very well because they accelerate and decelerate the drivers effectively and also because of the amp's resistance to back EMF caused by a speaker's resonance (damping factor). In practice, the high current quality of the H/K AVR 3600 produces a sound that is full of drive. Leading edges of sounds are very clean and they just float from the speakers. I think high current capability, not just high power, is a very important sign of an amplifier's overall competence.

Setup and Use:

I was seriously impressed with the H/K AVR 3600's menus when I first saw them at CEDIA Expo in Atlanta. They were very colorful and detailed. This was something I looked forward to checking out when the review unit came in. I am generally very happy with the menus. I could usually find each and every setting that I needed.

The very large remote control is handsomely styled. It has a cool blue backlit which is turned on by pressing a glow in the dark light button. Most of the buttons are not backlit. The active input glows red but the other input buttons remain dark which made it a little difficult to select the next input in the dark. Although the remote is large, it doesn't feel clunky because of its ergonomic shape, nice balance and comfortable coating on the back surface. I like this remote very much as well.

You can have up to eight named inputs. Each is directly accessible from the remote control. They can be renamed, but I didn't mess with this because the remote has logical labels for the inputs.

The AVR 3600 features a proprietary automatic speaker set up utility. Harman/Kardon calls their system "EZSet/EQ". It sets the speaker size, crossover and EQ for one seating position only. I liked the EZSet/EQ's EQ capabilities better than some of the systems I have tried. It uses a series of white noise bursts when computing and adjusting the EQ. Each time the tone plays, you can hear that the sound is a little closer to flat. So while the EQ worked nicely, I found that the EZSet/EQ's ability to balance the sub was a little lacking and I wound up balancing the channels manually.

Affordable Systems Reviews; Harman Kardon and Definitive Technology

The H/K AVR 3600 ships complete with an included iPod/iPhone docking station. The docking station is called "The Bridge III". It connects to the AVR 3600 with a rather thick umbilical. The attached iPod can be controlled by the AVR 3600 remote. The on-screen menus provide all the iPod controls but does not display album art. You can also play videos over The Bridge/AVR 3600 combo. I played around with some Digital Copy Blu-Rays on my iPod and found the PQ to be a little better than I expected. The Bridge III comes with a number of plastic inserts to fit the bases of the various iPod models which provides for a more stable connection between the player and the dock.

This receiver has a nicely and logically organized back panel layout. The video connections are across the top. The middle section houses the audio connections. The line and speaker level outputs are along the bottom. This is one of the easiest to install and set up receivers that I have used.