Harman Kardon AVR 1700

I have been thinking about purchasing an audio/video receiver for some time; a recent Best Buy sale influenced me to purchase one. The Harman Kardon AVR 1700 (Amazon affiliate link) receives generally very good reviews. While I am happy with this receiver, there are a couple things I wish I had noticed when examining the description and reviews. So here’s my take on the AVR 1700.

Aesthetics

I am very happy with the appearance of this receiver, especially in comparison to most receivers in this price range on the market today. However, I really would have liked to find a modern receiver with vintage looks, including the lighter metal. Reason being that I have the goal of building a stereo cabinet in that midcentury modern style.

Network Connectivity

Following the trend among most home entertainment devices today, the AVR 1700 is network capable. However, it cannot connect to wi-fi. So, unless you have an ethernet cable right next to your audio/video equipment (as we do not), its network functions including AirPlay, vTuner internet radio, and DLNA-capable devices will not function out of the box. I ended up purchasing a Netgear Universal Wifi Adapter (affiliate link). Why not an AirPort Express? It was twice the cost, I wasn’t completely sure it would serve this purpose, and it would have needed a power outlet, which is in short supply (the Netgear can be powered by the USB port on the AVR 1700).

AirPlay

The AVR 1700 is AirPlay capable, with a caveat. It only receives audio. It will not pass video or pictures through to a connected TV.

Illuminated Volume Knob

As depicted above, the volume knob has a blue ring of light surrounding it. Some people may like this feature, some may not; a number of reviewers state that it makes the device look cheap. I read that the feature can be disabled, but could not find any documentation on how do to so. After fiddling around, I managed to turn the light off, but I am unaware how.

Weight

I am a novice when it comes to audio equipment. A number of online commentators suggest that the AVR 1700 is far too light to be a quality receiver, since it weighs in at less than 13 pounds. I am personally very happy with the sound quality, even though I do not currently have all 5 speakers.

Front Buttons

There are thirteen buttons on the face of the receiver, lined up with the power indicator light. They are not illuminated and their labels are diminutive, which makes it difficult to easily determine what function each carries. 

Remote

The AVR 1700 is packaged with a button-laden universal remote, which I have not tried to program and which is a bit unwieldy.

On-screen Menu

The receiver can display its menu on your television screen. I find this preferable to being limited to the built-in digital display. However, the presentation of the menus is appalling — the typography appears completely unconsidered and there are no helpful graphical cues. The built-in vTuner radio cannot be searched; it can only be browsed in a folder-based system. 

Source Programming

Maybe this is expected, but I was glad to find that all inputs can be programmed as a certain device. For example, our DVD player is connected to input HDMI 1. I can program HDMI 1 as source Disc, so that when I press Disc on the remote, it switches to our DVD player as the source.

Overall, I am happy with this receiver, but do see room for improvement. It is capable of software upgrades over the network, so maybe Harman Kardon will make some improvements?