Harman/Kardon AVR 7000 A/V Receiver Page 2
Music kicked off the performance demo, with the Sony DVP-C650D DVD player supplying the signals and Atlantic Technology's System 370 supplying the sound. Straight two-channel was the most pleasing presentation to me (as it usually is), displaying a nice open soundstage and a quick attack. The hypnotic drums of Babatunde Olatunji's "Mother Give Me Love" (from the Chesky Super Audio Collection) were punchy and well-defined spatially, as was Rebecca Pidgeon's hauntingly beautiful voice in "MacDougall's Men." The Logic 7 music mode naturally added depth to the field but altered the tonal balance of some cuts by holding back a bit in the lower frequencies. This mode cuts the sub's contribution considerably, which I never mind with music, but it doesn't seem to give quite as much bass back to the front two channels as it takes away from the sub—even with "large" selected under speaker configuration and the 7000's crossover set at 80 hertz. Logic 7 music sounded good, but I liked the dynamics and overall punch of two-channel more for music.
This was especially true with HDCD software (which can only be used in the stereo mode). The difference between HDCD and non-HDCD material was subtle; however, with the 7000 already being proficient in dynamics and detail, the higher-definition cuts were that much tastier. Had I used more-revealing speakers, the difference would have been greater, but the Atlantics were a good match to the Harman price-wise and are a more-realistic representation of what would be used with this receiver in most systems. DTS and DD music tracks were also rich and nicely layered when played through the 7000, but I still found myself drifting back to two-channel most of the time.
The 7000's quick attack and big stage also paid dividends with Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks. I've run the opening meteor barrage of Armageddon through more processors than I can remember, and the Harman handled this scene as well as any receiver I've tried. Efficiency is the word that quickly comes to mind: Timing was highly accurate, attack and decay were clean and relatively natural, and power was only an issue briefly in one or two spots where most amplifiers short of 250 watts per channel wince a bit (at least the ones I've tried). Otherwise, the 7000 showed few signs of fatigue throughout the rest of the demo. The infamous Diva scene from The Fifth Element (infamous in that it has been used in every trade-show demo for the last three years) runs the full gamut of essential soundtrack elements—music, a dramatic female voice, explosions, gunshots, dialogue under adverse conditions—and the 7000 was up to the challenge. It hammered its way through this action with an appropriate balance of power and finesse, keeping the crucial center-channel information clear and intelligible. As goofy as the dialogue may be in this movie, a processor's and center channel's ability to deliver it well through all of the surrounding sonic clutter is a major selling point to me… and one that the 7000 can add to its list of attributes.