Published on August 21st, 2013 | by Greg0
Harman Kardon AVR 1510: Best-in-Class Receiver
If you have a home audio/video receiver, chances are that it’s a bit old- it might have a couple of HDMI inputs, but it’s probably a heavy behemoth that is perhaps even a holdover from an analog age. Most things are digital these days, from our MP3 music sources to our digital streaming movies. If you rely on HDMI connectivity, and are looking for a great, fairly low-cost but capable receiver, look no further.
The Harman Kardon AVR 1510 isn’t the best receiver out there. It lacks some features found in more expensive models, and it won’t support more than 5.1 channels. The remote is nothing special, and if you have a VCR and other components that require analog inputs, then this isn’t your best option. But despite the drawbacks, we don’t hesitate to recommend this model. After all, few families or households need more than the five surround sound speakers supported, and we primarily used a universal remote or the nifty smartphone app to control this one (iOS and Android compatible), all but rendering the included remote unnecessary.
Plus, the AVR-1510 one looks great too- it’s a bit lighter weight than the old beasts, and likely as a consequence, is much less power-hungry. It also produces far less heat than the vast majority of A/V receivers. You still get 75 watts per channel of power, four 3D-ready HDMI inputs, and some computer-friendly pluses like DLNA 1.5 network connectivity, a boon if you’re doing a lot of network streaming. There’s also a front-panel USB port for connecting a portable thumb drive or even your iPhone (it will charge the device as well). Let’s see your classic receiver try that!
The build quality could have used a few tweaks- audiophiles prefer banana plugs or twist connectors rather than spring clips. But you’ll be impressed by the minimal noise of the unit- it’s practically silent- and by it’s compact size. Plus, though it doesn’t offer much in the way of EQ tweaking, we were mightily impressed by the sound- it even beat out our old Onkyo in Blu-ray and video gaming tests with the same speakers. Support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD certainly help.
Harman Kardon offers a wide range of models, including some with AirPlay or Bluetooth built-in, more power, and connections for additional components or future 4K upgrades. This is their entry-level receiver, but it’s nothing to sniff at, offering just about everything most people will want or need. Available online and in stores for around $300, it’s the best receiver in it’s class that we’ve seen, and a fantastic bargain.