Harman Kardon AVR147 Home Theater Receiver (Review)

Harman Kardon AVR147 5.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver
Harman Kardon AVR147 5.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Despite a modest 40WPC power output, the Harman Kardon AVR147 5.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver provides excellent sound performance in both stereo and surround sound modes. Also, with useful features, such as HDMI switching, iPod connectivity, XM Radio compatibility, and Automatic Speaker setup, the AVR-147 is a good fit for an entry-level home theater system. In addition, the AVR147 User Manual and Quick Setup Guide are one the best I have seen, with easy-to-view diagrams and easy-to-read text explanations.

After reading this review, also check out my AVR147 Photo Gallery for further illustration and explanation.


  • Sound quality excellent in both stereo and surround modes, despite modest power output
  • Excellent Quick Setup Guide and User Manual with Full-Color Illustrations
  • Incorporation of XM-Satellite Radio, iPod Control, and 1080p Compatible HDMI Inputs.
  • Incorporation of an Automatic Speaker Setup System.
  • Large, easy to see Front Panel LED Display


  • No Multi-Channel Preamp Outputs.
  • No Video Conversion or Upscaling.
  • No access of audio signals via HDMI connections.
  • OSD Menus not accessible via HDMI or Component outs, only via Composite or S-Video Monitor Outs
  • No Dedicated Phono Input.


  • 5.1 channel Home Theater Receiver delivering 40 Watts into each of 5 channels (All Channels Driven, .07% THD ).
  • Surround options: Dolby Prologic II, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, 96/24, Neo:6, and Harman Kardon Logic 7 Processing.
  • 6 additional input jacks for direct multi-channel input. Can be used for accessing SACD, DVD-Audio, or an external decoder.
  • Audio inputs: 6 Stereo Analog, 3 (2Rear/1Front) Digital Optical, 3 ( 2 Rear/1 Front)Digital Coaxial. 2 Digital Audio outputs.
  • Video Inputs: 2 HDMI, 2 Component, 4 S-video, 4 Composite.
  • Video Outputs: 1 HDMI, 1 Component, 1 S-Video (1 Monitor, 1 VCR/DVD Recording), 2 Composite (1 Monitor, 1 VCR/DVD Recording).
  • One 1/4-inch Headphone output - Dolby Headphone Compatible. Headphone out also used as Mic input for Speaker Setup function.
  • Dedicated output for Powred Subwoofer. Bass management function provided via onscreen menu operation.
  • XM-Satellite Radio Connectivity (antenna and subscription required). AM/FM Tuner with 30 presets.
  • iPod Connectivity and Control via option iPod Docking Station (The Bridge). Wireless remote control included. On-screen Menu.

    Guide Review - Harman Kardon AVR147 5.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Short Review

    Spending time setting up and using the Harman Kardon AVR147 was a very easy. In unpacking this unit, I found that Harman Kardon really focused on the user experience.

    First, the instruction manual and quick start guide were both excellent, containing color diagrams and easy-to-use text identifying each button, connection, feature, and setup procedures of the AVR147. The only complaint about setting up this receiver is, when using the "EZSet/EQ" automatic setup system, the test tones were very loud, which may briefly disturb your neighbors if you reside in an apartment or condo.

    On the performance side of things, this receiver delivered excellent audio across the board, and had no problem, despite its modest watts specification, filling my 15x20ft living room with decent sound. The surround sound decoding options worked as advertised. However, I was disappointed in the lack of multi-channel preamp outputs that would enable the AVR147 to be used as a preamp, if paired with a larger multi-channel or series of monoblock power amplifiers.

    However, the AVR147 has does have multi-channel analog inputs for sources, such as SACD, DVD-Audio, or decoded audio from Blu-ray Disc or HD-DVD players.

    On the video side of things, the AVR147 was able to pass video signals with no visible signal loss. However, it must be noted that this receiver has no analog-to-HDMI video upscaling or conversion. This means the HDMI inputs and outputs are pass-through only (up to 1080p), the AVR147 does not have access to the HDMI video or audio signals for further processing. This also means that in order to see the onscreen menus, you must connect either the composite or S-Video monitor output of the AVR147 to your Television.

    Although this receiver lacks some newer video features, its audio performance makes the AVR147 worth considering for a basic home theater.

    Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.