Pros Gorgeous sound quality. Very good built-in video processor. Good remote.
Cons Can't use the USB port with iPods, but must buy the HK Bridge III thing for iPods.
Summary The main reason to buy a Harman Kardon is for the sound quality. Many people don't realize how dull other amplifiers sound (like Pioneer, Denon, and Onkyo) until they hear an amplifier like the HK. This receiver sounds like a musical instrument designed with purpose. It is packed with every home theater bell and whistle typical for this market and has no drawbacks in that area. The video processor is very good (I have seen bad like on the Pioneers.) Great movie sound with punchy sub output. This receiver is why 6-channel SACD was invented.
Pros Switches very nicely between cable types, HDMI upconversion works well, great sound quality, on-screen display is very functional.
Cons Remote looks nice but hard to program devices
Summary I am by far an audioholic but recently decided to indulge in something a bit more pleasurable than my TV speakers. I was also looking for a way to reign in all of the devices that i now have connected into my TV.
I started out with the AVR 1600 (HK's lower end of this series) because it was cheaper of course and the sales rep couldn't convince me that the extras in the 2600 were worth it. Well, after spending a solid day trying to get it working, i phoned HK support and discovered that everything i was trying to do doesn't work on the 1600. My main objective was to pipe all my units - cable box, Wii, media streamer, DVD into the AVR and then have 1 cable only going out to my TV. The 1600 however does 'switching' but it doesn't switch between cable types. Eg. my Wii goes in on Composite, the DVD on Component, the Media streamer on HDMI, etc. With only one cable going out to my TV (Component), it would not display picture for the other devices. In addition, my TV indicated that it did not support the HDMI input from the AVR when i tried it (granted it's an older DLP TV). Finally, i couldn't get the on-screen display working and was told that it only goes through Composite to the TV, not through Component or HDMI - a tad annoying as well.
So, the HK Tech told me that the 2600 model would solve all those problems and sure enough, i swapped out the 1600 for a 2600 plugged it in and in 20 minutes everything was working ! It switches between cable types no problem, my TV recognizes the HDMI, I get on-screen display through HDMI (and the onscreen menu is massively improved) and even the remote is much more stylish.
The units look the exact same but don't let that fool you ! They are miles apart in functionality.
The 2600 has been working great for me so far. I have yet to program my remote to the devices though, that is one part that seems a bit limiting.
Also be warned that the 1600 doesn't work with HK's Bridge III Ipod docking station in case you wanted that item as well.
Pros Awesome sound, very easy to use, good features, terrific and sophisticated look. Sirius ready. Now includes Bridge III for free from several dealers.
Cons HK took away the pre-outs featured on AVR-254; only Sub Woofer pre-out was left. That could be bad if you'd want to add an amplifier in the future. Remote controller could seem bulky to most people.
Summary Big upgrade over my HK AVR-154. The on-screen GUI is great and makes operation even easier. Read about several issues with this model but mine is working flawlessly.After comparing to AVR-154 it seems HK is becoming cheap in materials because the front panel looks of better quality at 154, it reflects like a mirror, unlike 2600, which reflects distorsioned images. However, I am very happy with this new unit, very superior even to former AVR-254.
Updated on Dec 28, 2010
Also, I was experiencing several sound drop outs but after troubleshooting it was clear that the problem was with cable box. After reporting it to provider not a single drop out has happened.
Pros The best looking receiver with good sound quality when it works. A big step up from my five year old JVC with no HDMI ports.
Cons Beeping noises from speakers and two HDMI ports broken.
Summary The front right speaker channel sounds like it's trying to push all five channels sound through it. It crackles and kills audio quality. I've tried every change in settings to no avail. troubleshooting, I found that it was my HDMI two and three ports which were broken with one being even worse off than the other. Also, my right rear and right surround channels make beeping noises randomly while pushing audio. I can't recommend this receiver to anyone now.
Pros High Current ultrawide-bandwidth amplifier sections, which generate 65 watts for each of the receiver's seven channels. 7.1 with Dolby Volume, Dolby Laboratories' latest sound-processing technology which I think is exclusive to Harmon Kardon.
Cons I have not found any yet but even though I am only using 2 HDMI, SAT PVR and PS3 I would have liked to future proof with 5 or 6 imputs.
Summary Before you get sucked in, like people who buy GM products, and buy a pioneer or yamaha or sony go to Harmon Kardon and discover the difference between high current and high watts. Its what audiophiles know that the average consumer does not. And Dolby Volume wow, its technology that I accidently stumbled on and am I glad I did, crazy cool. Even though styling is a bonus its a great bonus when one has a small fortune invested in a media room.