Harman Kardon CDR 20

Dual-well CD recorder

  • Harman Kardon CDR 20


  • Harman Kardon CDR 20


  • Harman Kardon CDR 20


Item #: 532CDR20
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Our take on the Harman Kardon CDR 20

by Tom Mathew
Harman Kardon

If you're serious about sound, and demand the highest quality from your CDs, then the CDR 20 is the recorder you've been waiting for! Harman Kardon has included audiophile-grade AKM D/A and A/D converters — your CDs will sound great and recordings made from analog sources will turn out crisp and clear. The CDR 20 makes direct CD dubs at a speed of up to 4X (that's a whole discful of music in under 20 minutes), and adds a wide array of audio inputs for easy digital recording from external sources. There's even a convenient front-panel coaxial digital input!

You can operate this flexible dual-well component as a 2-disc changer. And thanks to the separate jacks for the play and record wells, you can connect a dual-room/dual-source receiver and play different discs in two rooms at the same time!

Note: Component CD recorders let you record on two different types of discs: CD-R discs are write-once, recordable CDs which play back in almost all newer home, car, and portable CD players. CD-RW discs can be erased and re-recorded again and again, but aren't as widely compatible when it comes to playback. Check your specific model of CD player for disc compatibility. Remember, blank computer CDs cannot be recorded using a home CD-R deck, so be sure to use blank audio discs (the logo on the disc's packaging must include the words "Digital Audio").


  • plays CDs and audio CD-Rs & CD-RWs; records to CD-Rs & CD-RWs
  • internal high-speed dubbing (2X or 4X)
  • CD Sync recording from external CD player
  • Dual Play mode
  • Relay Play
  • repeat play and 20-track programming
  • 96kHz/24-bit AKM D/A and A/D converters
  • play well: coaxial and optical digital outputs; analog output
  • record well: 2 coaxial digital inputs (1 front-panel), coaxial digital output, optical digital input, analog input and output
  • headphone jack with volume control
  • sample rate converter
  • SCMS (Serial Copy Management System)
  • remote control
  • 17-3/8"W x 4-7/16"H x 15-5/8"D
  • warranty: 1 year
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Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Features and Specs
Track Programming
CD Text
Direct Track Access
Display Color
Parts Warranty
1 Year
Labor Warranty
1 Year
MP3 Playback
SACD Playback
CD Frequency Response
2-20,050 Hz
Signal to Noise Ratio
105 dB
SACD Frequency Response
Not Compatible
SACD Dynamic Range
High-Speed Dubbing
Analog Record Level Control
Digital Record Level Control
Record Level Meter
Track Title Entry
Disc Title Entry
Recording Signal to Noise Ratio
91 dB
Recording Dynamic Range
91 dB
Digital Optical Output
Digital Coaxial Output
Digital Optical
Digital Coaxial
Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Dual-well CD player/CD-R/RW dubbing deck
  • CDR20RC wireless remote control
  • 2 "AA" batteries
  • Two 57" stereo RCA patchcords
  • One 57" coaxial digital patch cord
  • One 57" system control patch cord (mono minijack on each end)
  • 1 Blank 74 minute Harman/Kardon CD-R
  • Owner's manual
  • Warranty sheet
  • "Important Safety Precautions!" sheet
  • Quick start guide
  • Blank CD manufacturer recommendations
  • 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.

Inputs and Outputs


AKM D/A Converters: Audiophile-grade, 24-bit/96kHz AKM brand Digital to Analog converters are used for high quality playback.

Recording Features: Note that, as with all other such players, you MUST use audio CD-Rs or CD-RWs to make recordings with this unit. The CDR 20 cannot record onto CD-Rs or CD-RWs which are made for computer use. The words Digital Audio will appear on all compatible discs. The following recording features are available:

  • Normal and high speed (2x or 4x) dubbing using the unit's two wells: High speed dubbing is available only for digital recordings, so sound quality will not be compromised by using either of the high speed modes. Since high speed dubbing depends on digital copying, the unit will not dub a SCMS protected at high speed; if you try to dub a SCMS protected disc at high speed, the unit will automatically switch to analog dubbing at normal speed. High speed dubbing can be used for dubbing an entire disc or a programmed sequence of tracks; when dubbing a programmed playback list, the highest dubbing speed available is 2x. Only automatic track marking can be used during high speed dubbing.
  • Dubbing from an external source to the unit's CD-R/RW recorder: You can make digital or analog recordings from an external player, but copy-protected digital source material can only be recorded in analog mode. During digital recording, you can select either auto or manual track marking. During analog recording, you can also select between auto and manual track marking. While using the CD-R/RW deck to record from an external source, the CD Player deck can be used to play a CD.
  • Recording Level Adjustments: Digital recording levels are set automatically. During analog recording, the level must be set manually. The analog recording level is set using a rotary knob on the front panel.
  • Sampling Rate Converter: This unit has a built-in sampling rate converter that will accept digital inputs from 32kHz to 96kHz. This allows you to perform a digital recording from a non-44.1kHz digital source such as a DAT or DBS unit. The sampling rate converter turns on only when a non-44.1kHz source is detected.
  • Serial Copy Management System (SCMS): As with all consumer digital recorders, this unit uses SCMS which prohibits making a digital copy from a digital copy.

CD-R/RW Playback Compatibility: The following assumes that the CD-R and/or CD-RW has been finalized (TOC fixed). Until a CD-R/RW disc has been finalized, it will only play back on a CD-R/RW recorder.

  • CD-Rs: CD-Rs made on this unit will play on almost all newer CD players (home, auto, portables) and on double lens DVD players. They will not play on many single lens DVD players or some older CD players.
  • CD-RWs: CD-RWs will not play on most current CD players (although Philips has announced that some of their future CD players will play back CD-RWs) or on double lens DVD players. They will play back on some single lens DVD players. Note that a finalized CD-RW will play back on this deck's CD Player well.


  • CD-R: No editing of any sort is possible. Recorded time can not be recovered. Tracks cannot be moved, edited, or erased, and cannot be numbered or re-numbered after recording. Since this unit does not have a skip id function, it is not possible to skip over mistakes. Once a CD-R has been finalized, no further editing and/or recording is possible, even if blank space is available on the disc.
  • CD-RW: On a CD-RW disc you can either (1) erase one track at a time from the end only; or (2) erase the entire disc. Note that erasing the entire disc takes about 1 minute. Erasure and finalization is always performed at 4X speed in order to minimize the length of the process.

Single-Play Mode: When only one deck is playing a disc, the unit is in single-play mode. While the single-play mode is active, the audio output is fed to all of the analog and digital output jacks for both decks. When there is a disc in each well and a disc in one deck has played through to the end, the disc in the other deck will automatically begin to play.

Dual-Play Mode: Two discs can be played simultaneously. When two discs are playing, each deck can be independently controlled, and the output of each deck will be sent to the appropriate output jacks. This feature can be used to send signals to audio systems in two different rooms.

Playback Modes: The following playback modes are available.

  • Random: Functions only for one disc (you can not random play between both wells)
  • Repeat: This unit may be set to repeat a track, a disc, a program, or a section of a disc that you select (A-B repeat).
  • Program: You can program up to 20 tracks to play in the order of your choice. Note that a program cannot skip from disc to disc.

Inputs and Outputs

Inputs and Outputs:

Front panel:

  • Standard gold-plated headphone output with variable volume knob
  • Coaxial digital input (gold plated): Note that this input has priority over the rear panel coaxial input

Rear panel:

  • CDP (CD Player) gold-plated stereo RCA analog output
  • CDR (CD Recorder) gold-plated stereo RCA analog input and output
  • CDP gold-plated coaxial digital output
  • CDR gold-plated coaxial digital input and output
  • CDP Toslink optical digital output with a plastic cover
  • CDR Toslink optical digital input with a plastic cover
  • Remote input and output, mono minijack plugs for use with other compatible Harman/Kardon units or with compatible IR remote control based automation systems


  • Recording S/N (using analog inputs): 91dB
  • Recording Dynamic Range (using analog inputs): 91dB
  • Recording S/N (dubbing from CDP well to CDR well): Equal to source
  • Recording Dynamic Range (dubbing from CDP well to CDR well): Equal to source
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