Harman Kardon took the wraps off its new flagship receiver, the AVR-7550HD. My photo (at right) is pretty poor, but in fact there's not much to see. This beauty has a completely stealth front panel, with a cool lighted, translucent volume knob. (There are some conventional controls under a flip panel). The minimalist design has soft rounded corners, gloss-black and dark-graphite lower panel, and soft-white illumination.
The flagship is a 7.2-channel model features four HDMI 1.3a inputs with Deep Color support, repeater function allowing longer HDMI cable runs, Faroudja DCDi Cinema video processing with the Torino chipset, upscaled and enhanced 1080p output from all video sources, Logic 7 multichannel audio, XM Radio-ready, automatic room equalization and set-up, dual Texas Instruments Aureus DA710 DSP, 1080p pass-through, and The Bridge II iPod docking station. It's also one of the first receivers with Dolby Volume, to tame volume level disparities between content and commercials. Also onboard is HK's exclusive GUI user interface. Something cool: a USB port, and the receiver's remote can control MP3 and WMA music playback from a memory stick. Power is 7 x 110 watts (8 ohms).
In addition to the AVR-7550HD flagship, HK also showed its new AVR-3550HD 7.1-channel receiver. It also has HDMI 1.3a capability, Faroujda DCDi Cinema processing and upscaling, and Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio capability. Power is 7 x 75 watts (8 ohms).
The Harman Kardon AVR 7550HD 7.2-channel audio/video receiver will be available in January 2009 at a suggested retail price of $2,799. The AVR 3550HD will be available in October 2008 at $1,199 suggested retail. —Ken C. Pohlmann
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