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Harman Kardon AVR 520

A/V receiver with Dolby Digital, DTS-ES, and Dolby Pro Logic II

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  • Harman Kardon AVR 520

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  • Harman Kardon AVR 520

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  • Harman Kardon AVR 520

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Item #: 532AVR520
 
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Our take on the Harman Kardon AVR 520

by Barry Montgomery
Harman Kardon

Receivers: Your ticket to sensational sound

Your receiver powers your speakers and lets you connect and select your entertainment sources. But a great receiver does a lot more — it ignites your emotions. From the passion of a favorite musical artist, to the crossfire of a super-charged movie soundtrack, to the intensity and immersion of a fast-paced video game, your receiver is the key to experiencing and enjoying it in full.

Harman Kardon has equipped the AVR 520 with all the high-current power and surround processing savvy you need to enjoy truly riveting home theater excitement. Switch to music, and you'll enjoy equally superlative performance.

This receiver can handle almost any surround format that DVD, DBS, and VHS can dish out, thanks to built-in Dolby® Digital, DTS-ES™, and Dolby Pro Logic™ II decoding. You also get H/K's exclusive Logic 7® modes, which let you transform any stereo or surround source into cinematic 5.1- or 7.1-channel sound. And thanks to the AVR 520's high-current, ultrawide-bandwidth amp design, 75 watts x 5 channels (85 x 2 stereo) of clean H/K power, and high-resolution 192kHz/24-bit D/A converters, you'll always enjoy powerful, precise sound.

Read more

Talk about convenience features! The AVR 520's EzSet™ remote features a built-in SPL sensor that lets it automatically balance the levels of your home theater speakers — it's even backlit for easy use in the dark. An on-screen display makes operation a breeze. Dual-room/dual-source audio capability lets you enjoy surround sound in your main listening room while a housemate listens to a different stereo source in another room (receiver or powered speakers required for second room). There's even a separate remote for second room use.

H/K has also made sure you'll never suffer a hookup shortage with the AVR 520 — it's got tons of ins and outs, component video switching for 2 sources, and even front-panel jacks (coaxial digital, plus A/V with S-video) that are switchable for use as inputs or outputs! You also get 7.1-channel direct inputs for adding high-resolution audio sources like SACD or DVD-Audio, and 7.1-channel pre-out/main-in jacks for adding external amps or processors down the road. The AVR 520 even features built-in MP3 decoding. If you've got a computer with a sound card that can send and MP3 bitstream through and optical or coaxial digital connection, you'll be able to enjoy PC audio through your main A/V system!

Details:

  • Dolby Digital, DTS-ES, and Pro Logic II
  • 85 watts x 2 (stereo) into 8 ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.07% THD — or 75 x 5 into 8 ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.07% THD (surround mode)
  • component video switching: 2 in, 1 out (30MHz bandwidth)
  • HDCD decoding
  • MP3 decoding
  • 192kHz/24-bit DACs
  • 5.1- and 7.1-channel Logic 7 Cinema and Music surround modes
  • backlit learning/multibrand EzSet remote
  • dual-room/dual-source audio (stereo preamp outs for second room)
  • separate remote for 2nd room
  • on-screen display (requires TV with direct video input)
  • front-panel digital jacks: 1 optical in, 1 coaxial in/out (switchable)
  • 7.1-channel preamp out/5-channel main-in
  • 7.1-channel input
  • front-panel A/V in/out (switchable)
  • back-panel digital ins: 2 optical, 2 coaxial
  • back-panel digital outs: 1 optical, 1 coaxial
  • 2 audio, 5 A/V (including 5 S-video & 1 front-panel) inputs
  • no phono input
  • preamp-level subwoofer output
  • one set of main speaker outs
  • 30 AM/FM presets
  • 17-5/16"W x 6-1/2"H x 17-1/8"D
  • warranty: 2 years

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Features and Specs
General
Number Of Channels N/A
Stereo RMS Power (watts) ---
THD in Stereo ---
Frequency Bandwidth (stereo) ---
FM Sensitivity 13.2 dBf
HD Radio Tuner No
On-Screen Display
Auto Speaker Calibration ---
HDMI Standby Pass-through ---
Composite Video Conversion ---
S-Video Conversion ---
Component Video Conversion ---
HDMI to HDMI Upconversion ---
Internet-ready ---
Apple AirPlay ---
App Remote Control No
Bluetooth-compatible ---
USB port for iPod/iPhone No
DLNA Certified ---
MHL-compatible ---
Multibrand Remote Control ---
Learning Remote Yes
LCD Remote No
Width (inches) 17-5/16
Height (inches) 6-11/16
Depth (inches) 17-3/4
Weight (pounds) ---
Parts Warranty 2 YEARS
Labor Warranty 2 YEARS
Multi-room Audio--Video
Powered Multi-room Audio Output No
Preamp Multi-room Audio Output No
Multi-room Video No
Multi-room HDMI Output No
Surround Processing
Dolby Digital Yes
DTS Yes
Inputs & Outputs
Phono Input No
Audio-Video Inputs 5
Audio-only Inputs 2
S-Video Inputs ---
S-Video Outputs ---
S-Video Monitor Outputs ---
Component Video Inputs 2
Component Video Monitor Outputs 1
Optical Digital Inputs 3
Coaxial Digital Inputs 3
Optical Digital Outputs 1
Coaxial Digital Outputs 2
HDMI Inputs ---
HDMI Monitor Outputs ---
Subwoofer Outputs 1
Multi-Channel Analog Input No
Multi-channel Preamp Output No
Main Speaker Output Pairs 1
Main Speaker Terminals Binding Posts
Ethernet Port ---
USB Connections None
Removable Power Cord ---
Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • AM/FM/Dolby Digital/DTS-ES/DTS NEO:6/Dolby ProLogic II/HDCD/MP3 receiver
  • AVR 520 Wireless remote
  • Zone II wireless remote
  • 5 "AAA" batteries
  • FM dipole antenna
  • AM loop antenna
  • Owner's Manual
  • Warranty sheet
  • "Important Safety Precautions" sheet
  • Survey/registration card

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features
Remote Control
Inputs and Outputs

Features

High Instantaneous Current Capability (HCC) Amplifier(+/-45 amps): The built-in amplifier has high-current capability to handle demanding loads. The AVR 520's powerful amplifier uses traditional Harman Kardon high-current design technologies to meet the wide dynamic range of any program selection, allowing it to effortlessly power the most dynamic digital sources.

MP3 Audio Playback: By offering MP3 decoding, the AVR 520 is able to deliver precise conversion of the digital signals to an analog output in addition to the obvious the benefits of listening to the MP3 audio through the AVR 520's high-current amplifier and the speakers from your surround system, rather than the smaller speakers and low-powered amplifiers typically used with computers. When an MP3 digital bitstream is received, playback automatically reverts to 2-channel stereo.

192kHz/24-bit Digital-to-Analog Converters: The 192kHz sampling rate and 24-bit word length capabilities of the DACs allow you to play high-resolution recordings and hear the increased clarity, detail and dynamic range of those recordings.

HDCD (High Definition Compatible Digital) Decoding: The AVR 520 is equipped with an HDCD decoder to ensure that you get the full benefit of CDs recorded using HDCD encoding. Although HDCD encoded CDs can be played on any CD player, the high definition benefits of the HDCD encoding process can only be heard when an HDCD encoded CD is played through a unit equipped with an HDCD decoder.

6/8 Channel Input: Although this unit features built-in Dolby Digital and DTS processing, it also has an 8-channel RCA input for use with external multi-channel decoders.

Preamp output/amp input loops: The left, right, center, left rear and right rear channels have preamp out/main amp in loops with jumper pins shorting them together. This loop could be used to add an outboard processor to any of those channels (ex: Bose 901's with active equalizer).

On-Screen Display (OSD): An OSD can be displayed on your television for easy system setup. The OSD also displays whenever the volume, input, surround mode, or tuner frequency is changed. The OSD is output by the composite video and S-video monitor outputs only; the component video monitor connections do not output the OSD.

Component Video Input/Output: The two component video inputs and one component video output offer wideband (HDTV ready) switching.

Assignable Digital Inputs: Each of the input sources can have any of the six digital inputs (2 coax and 2 optical on the rear, 1 coax and 1 optical on the front) or its analog input assigned to it in the set up menu.

Front Panel Input/Output: The Video 4 inputs and the optical 3 and coaxial 3 digital inputs are on the front of the unit. Of these, the Video 4 and the coaxial 3 jacks can be changed to outputs if needed.

Surround Modes:

  • Dolby Digital
  • DTS 5.1
  • DTS-ES 6.1 Matrix: creates a sixth channel of surround information (matrix, not discrete) from the existing rear left and rear right channels
  • DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete: provides six discrete, full bandwidth channels plus the subwoofer when a DTS-ES discrete DVD is played
  • Dolby Pro Logic II: Dolby Pro Logic II is the latest version of Dolby Laboratory's benchmark surround technology that decodes full-range, discrete left, center, right, right surround and left surround channels from either matrix surround encoded programs or conventional stereo sources. There are 3 modes:
    • Movie: optimized for movie soundtracks
    • Music: optimized for musical selections
    • Emulation: creates compelling five-channel surround sound from conventional stereo recordings
  • Logic 7 Cinema: used with any source that contains Dolby Surround or similar matrix encoding, delivers increased center-channel intelligibility and more accurate placement of sounds with fades and pans that are much smoother and more realistic than with other decoding techniques
  • Logic 7 Music: used with analog or PCM stereo sources, enhances the listening experience by presenting a wider front soundstage and greater rear ambience
  • Logic 7 Enhance: an extension of Logic 7 used primarily with music, adds bass enhancement that circulates low frequencies in the 40-120Hz range to the front and surround speakers to deliver a less localized soundstage that appears broader and wider when the subwoofer is the sole source of bass energy
  • DTS Neo6 Cinema: used with any source that contains Dolby Surround or similar matrix encoding to create a 6 channel surround presentation
  • DTS Neo6 Music: used with analog or PCM stereo sources to create a 6 channel surround presentation
  • Dolby 3 Stereo: Dolby 3 Stereo uses the information contained in a surround-encoded or two-channel stereo program to create center-channel information. The information that is normally sent to the rear-channel surround speakers is carefully mixed in with the front left and front right channels for increased realism. Use this mode when you have a center-channel speaker but no surround speakers.
  • Theater: surround processing uses matrix surround decoding to simulate a standard movie or stage theater
  • Hall 1: simulates a small-sized concert hall
  • Hall 2: simulates a medium-sized concert hall
  • VMAx Near: when only the two front-channel loudspeakers are used, VMAx mode delivers a three-dimensional sound space with the illusion of "phantom speakers" at the center and surround positions. VMAx N, or Near Field mode should be selected when your listening position is less than five feet from the speakers.
  • VMAx Far: when only the two front-channel loudspeakers are used, VMAx mode delivers a three-dimensional sound space with the illusion of "phantom speakers" at the center and surround positions. VMAx F, or Far Field mode should be selected when your listening position is greater than five feet from the speakers.
  • 5 or 7 Channel Stereo: takes advantage of multiple speakers to place a stereo signal at both the front and back of a room. Ideal for playing music in situations such as a party, it places the same signal at the front left and surround left, and front right and surround right speakers. The center channel is fed a summed mono mix of the in-phase material of the left and right channels.

Night Mode Setting: The Night mode is a feature of Dolby Digital that uses special processing to preserve the full intelligibility of a movie sound track while reducing the peak level. This prevents abruptly loud transitions from disturbing others, without reducing the sonic impact of a digital source. Note that the Night mode is only available when specially encoded Dolby Digital signals are played.

Bass Management and Speaker Setup: Various speaker size settings are available to ensure that small speakers do not receive full-range signals and to tell the receiver where to send signals.

  • Front Speakers: speaker size may be set to Large or Small
  • Center Speaker: speaker size may be set to Large, Small or None
  • Surround Speakers: speaker size may be set to Large or Small or None
  • Surround Back Speakers: speaker size may be set to Large or Small or None, this setting affects the line level surround back outputs
  • Subwoofer: set to LFE (only the surround Low Frequency Effects channel is passed to the sub), LFE+L/R (LFE channel and bass information from the left and right channels is passed to the sub), or None. If the front speakers are set to small, the subwoofer output is automatically turned on.
  • Subwoofer Crossover Frequency: when the front speakers have been set to Large, the crossover choices are 40Hz or 60Hz to match the typical crossover points of full range speakers. When the front speakers have been set to Small, the crossover choices are 80Hz or 100Hz to match the typical crossover points of the smaller speakers used in satellite speaker systems.

EzSet: Harman Kardon's exclusive EzSet remote makes it possible to quickly and accurately set the AVR 520's output levels without the use of a sound pressure meter. Manual adjustment is also available. Using the sensor microphone at the top of the remote, EzSet will adjust the output level of each channel so that when the process is complete all levels will be equal and at the set reference point.

System Configuration Memory: The AVR 520 features an advanced memory system that enables you to establish different configurations for the speaker settings, digital input, surround mode, delay times, crossover frequency, and output levels for each input source. This flexibility enables you to custom-tailor the way in which you listen to each source and have the AVR 520 memorize those settings. Once these settings are made, they will automatically be recalled whenever you select that input.

Multi-Room Operation: This unit is equipped with stereo RCA jacks to send a signal to a TV, receiver and/or amplifier in another room. The same or different sources may be played in the main room and the 2nd room. The signal sent to the 2nd room is 2 channel. When a remote infrared sensor (sold separately) is connected to the Multi-room IR input on the back of the receiver,  the included Zone II remote may be used to control the receiver from the 2nd room.

Remote IR input/output: An optional IR sensor can be connected to the remote IR input if the front panel IR sensor is blocked. Other compatible Harman Kardon equipment can be daisy chained using the remote IR output.

Turn-On Volume Level: As is the case with most audio/video receivers, when the AVR 520 is turned on, it will always return to the volume setting in effect when the unit was turned off. However, you may prefer to always have the AVR 520 turn on at a specific setting, regardless of the volume when the unit was turned off. This feature allows you to change the default condition so that the same volume level is always used at turn-on.

Display Dimmer: The display brightness may be set to full intensity, half intensity or off.

Memory Backup: This unit is equipped with a memory backup system that preserves the system configuration information and tuner presets if the unit is accidentally unplugged or subjected to a power outage. This memory will last for approximately two weeks, after which time all information must be reentered.

Sleep Timer: The sleep timer is adjustable in 10 minute increments up to 90 minutes.

Remote Control

EzSet Multibrand A/V Remote: The AVR 520 comes with a powerful remote control that will control not only the receiver's functions, but also most popular brands of audio and video equipment, including CD players, DVD players, TV sets, cable boxes, VCRs, satellite receivers, and other home-theater equipment. The remote has a light button at the bottom, when pressed all the buttons on the remote are backlit. Using the sensor microphone at the top of the remote, the EzSet feature, discussed above in the "Features" section, allows you to quickly and accurately set the AVR 520's output levels without the use of a sound pressure meter.

Macros: Five macros can be programmed into this remote. With the press of a single button, each macro will perform a series of up to 19 button operations in sequence.

Zone II Remote: The AVR 520 includes a second remote control for use with the multi room output. When a remote infrared sensor (sold separately) is connected to the Multi-room IR input on the back of the receiver,  the Zone II remote may be used to control the receiver's multi room outputs from the second room.

Inputs and Outputs

Front Panel:

  • Phones: standard 1/4" headphone output jack (gold-plated)
  • Video 4 Input: gold-plated stereo RCA jacks, gold-plated RCA composite video jack and S-video jack, can be switched between input and output
  • Digital Optical 3 Input: standard Toslink digital input with a plastic protective plug
  • Digital Coax 3 Input/Output: standard gold-plated coaxial digital jack, can be switched between input and output

Back Panel:

  • AM Loop Antenna Input: two thumb screw connections
  • FM 75-ohm Antenna input: threaded "F" type connector
  • Tape Input/Output: stereo RCA jacks
  • Video 3 Input: stereo RCA jacks, RCA composite video jack and S-video jack
  • Video 2 Input/Output: stereo RCA jacks, RCA composite video jacks and S-video jacks for input and output
  • Video 1 Input/Output: stereo RCA jacks, RCA composite video jacks and S-video jacks for input and output
  • DVD Input: stereo RCA jacks, RCA composite video jack, and S-video jack
  • CD Input: stereo RCA jacks
  • Monitor Output: RCA composite video jack and S-video jack
  • 8 Channel Direct Input: 8 RCA jacks (front left, front right, surround left, surround right, center, subwoofer, surround back left, and surround back right) allowing you to connect an external decoder (6 or 8 channel)
  • Preamp Outputs: 8 RCA jacks (front left, front right, surround left, surround right, center, subwoofer, surround back left, and surround back right)
  • Main Amp Inputs: beside the preamp outputs for the front left, front right, surround left, surround right, and center are corresponding main amp inputs with jumper pins shorting the two together
  • Multi Out: stereo RCA jacks, can be connected to a separate amplifier in a second room
  • Digital Optical 1 Input: standard Toslink digital input with a plastic protective plug
  • Digital Optical 2 Input: standard Toslink digital input with a plastic protective plug
  • Digital Coax 1 Input: standard coaxial digital jack
  • Digital Coax 2 Input: standard coaxial digital jack
  • Digital Optical Output: standard Toslink digital output with a plastic protective plug
  • Digital Coax Output: standard coaxial digital jack
  • Component Video DVD: component video input (3 RCA jacks labeled Pr, Pb, and Y)
  • Component Video 2: component video input (3 RCA jacks labeled Pr, Pb, and Y)
  • Component Video MON: component video output (3 RCA jacks labeled Pr, Pb, and Y)
  • Remote Control In/Out Jacks: one mini-jack input and one mini-jack output, input can be used with an optional IR sensor
  • Multi-Room IR Input: mini-jack input for use with an optional IR sensor to control the Multi-room Outputs
  • Speaker Outputs: binding post outputs for front left, front right, surround left, surround right, and center speakers that are color-coded (posts are not 5-way binding posts, because each post has a plastic collar that prevents used with spade lugs and the posts are too far apart to use dual banana plugs)
  • AC Outlets: one unswitched AC outlet and one switched AC outlet
 
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