DVD-Audio sound quality was outstanding. Steely Dan's DVD-Audio disc Everything Must Go [Reprise Records] was crisp and clean, with vocals aided by the mid- and high-frequency emphasis noted earlier. The surroundsound mix created a totally enveloping soundfield with a very natural blend of instrumentals in the rear channels. I believe that sound is the most important element of a home theater. A good sound system draws the viewer into a film, enhancing the movie viewing experience. Here the Harman Kardon didn't disappoint. The CP 35 exhibited clear, intelligible dialogue and a full, 360º soundfield, adding excitement to the The Incredibles [Buena Vista Home Entertainment]. Music and sound effects were outstanding, at moderate and high volume levels.
In addition to Logic7, Harman Kardon features VMAX in its menu of proprietary soundfield modes. Designed to deliver three-dimensional surround sound with two-channel source materials, VMAX has two modes-Near Field and Far Field. Unfortunately, both tended to produce exaggerated sound fields with too much reverberation.
The Components and Speakers
The AVR 335 is a modestly powered receiver with 70 watts x 2 channels or 55 watts x 7 and all channels are measured at full-bandwidth, from 20Hz to 20kHz. Don't let the lower-thansome power specifications deter you— 55 to 70 watts is plenty of power, partly because HK's power rating method is much more conservative than most, and partly because the speakers provided in the CP 35 sytem are sensitive enough to make good use of the power available. Harman Kardon AVRs offer unusually high-current output capability, which is arguably as important a factor as wattage when it comes to driving loudspeakers in the real world—especially in multichannel systems. The company lists the High Instantaneous Current Capability (HCC) for the AVR 335 as +/- 35 amps, which is more than adequate for the CP 35 system. In addition, the receiver has wide bandwidth frequency response from 10Hz to 130kHz, an important specification. Why should we care if amplifiers have bandwidth extending well above the frequencies that humans can hear? The answer is complicated, but the simple explanation is that amplifiers with very wide bandwidth tend do a great job of reproducing audible high frequency musical harmonics with low distortion and without phase shift, yielding clearer and more focused treble response.
With a few exceptions, the receiver has all of the features you'll need to enjoy music and movies in your home theater. It has the essential sound formats including Dolby Headphone, Dolby Virtual Speaker, Dolby Pro- Logic IIx, Dolby Digital EX, DTS Neo:6, DTS ES 6.1, VMAX (as mentioned above), and a proprietary surroundsound mode known as Logic7, which extracts surround channel information from either multichannel or stereo sources. Logic7 works in either 5.1- or 7.1-channel system configurations, and produces wonderful surroundsound fields with two-channel source material. Most of my listening was in Logic7 mode.
The AVR 335 is also a multiroom/ multisource receiver, which means you can use the two surround back channels for stereo audio in a second room while listening to a different source in the main home theater in a 5.1-channel configuration. The multiroom feature will distribute only audio, however. So you need to consider whether multiroom audio and video is important to you.
An important safety feature on the AVR 335 is the TURN ON VOLUME LEVEL control, which allows you to specify a start-up volume level that will be used when the receiver is first turned on. This solves a problem many A/V receivers have, in that they typically power up to the last volume level used, which might be inappropriately loud or potentially damaging to your speakers. The DVD 31 player is a progressive scan DVD-Audio/Video player, and a very sleek-looking component (barely two-inches tall) that complements the appearance of the AVR 335. It plays most disc formats, including DVD-R/+R/-RW/+RW and CD-R/RW as well as MP3 music files and JPEG still pictures on disc. While the DVD 31 plays DVD-Audio discs through its multichannel analog outputs, it is not SACD capable. Although DVD-Audio and SACD discs still make up a relatively small percentage of music disc purchases, universal players that will play both types of discs are common at very low prices. I was disappointed that I couldn't listen to some of my favorite SACD selections with this system. Both components have a rather industrial appearance with a silver and black faceplate.
The six SAT-TS14 satellite speakers and one CEN-TS14 center channel speaker are small silver towers each with dual 3" midrange drivers and a 3/4"dome tweeter and are shielded to prevent magnetic interference when placed close to a TV. Each speaker can be table or shelf-mounted or wallmounted with the included brackets. The SUB-TS14 powered subwoofer, also silver finished, has a 12" driver in a bass-reflex enclosure powered by a 200-watt (RMS) amplifier. The SUBTS14 is a large rectangular shaped subwoofer that might be difficult to conceal behind furniture.