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Receivers/Amplifiers from Pioneer and Harmon Kardon can Enhance any Surround Sound System

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Discrimination can be good or bad. For example, discriminating against people or things is a BAD thing, but having a so-called "discriminating ear" can be beneficial, especially when choosing a receiver/amplifier for your surround sound system.

With that in mind, we put our ears to the test as we played with new receivers from Pioneer and Harmon Kardon. The differences between the two -- other than price -- were subtle, at best, with both performing flawlessly.

The Pioneer Elite SC-71 ($1,000) is rated at 150 watts per channel for a 7.2 surround sound system (at six ohms) or 120 watts (at eight ohms). Truthfully this blows away my older $1,800 Yamaha receiver, which is rated at 75 watts per channel.

Weighing in at a hefty 30 pounds (similar to the old Yamaha), the SC-71 boasts connections for every type of component including component and composite audio/video cables, HDMI cables and optical sound cables.

Its most notable features include:

  • Eight HDMI input and two HDMI output connections.
  • Speaker terminals for eight speakers including two subwoofers plus two networked speakers.
  • An USB port for digital audio or to connect an Apple or Android device.
  • Apple AirPlay compatibility.
  • Internet radio compatibility.
  • Several Dolby enhanced audio presets, ranging from "concert hall" to "rock."
  • Dolby True HD/Dolby Pro Logic IIz/Dolby Digital Plus audio for movies and TV.
  • 63 AM/FM presets.
  • Compatible with Windows 8.

The Harmon Kardon AVR 1710 ($600) lacks the bevy of inputs found on the SC-71, but still boasts five HDMI inputs and one output and one composite and two analog connections.

This doesn't mean it sacrifices on pure, beautiful sound. The AV 1710 is a 7.2 channel surround sound amplifier rated at 100 watts per channel, which (again) is better than my older, more expensive receiver. It's also a lot lighter, weighing less than 10 pounds. It also features:

  • An MHL/HDMI port to handle streaming HD video devices.
  • Speaker terminals for seven speakers including two subwoofers plus two networked speakers.
  • An USB port for digital audio or to connect an Apple or Android device.
  • Dolby True HD/Dolby Pro Logic IIz/Dolby Digital Plus audio for movies and TV.
  • Several Dolby enhanced audio presets, ranging from "concert hall" to "rock."
  • Apple AirPlay and Bluetooth compatibility.
  • Speaker terminals for eight speakers including two subwoofers.

Basically the choice boils down to the types of connections you need and the clarity of the sound (although there's very little difference between what the "discriminating ear" can hear at 150 watts per channel or 100 watts).

Attention Facebook users: Check out Michael Berman's Jocgeek fan page at www.facebook.com/jocgeek. You can also contact him via email at jocgeek@earthlink.net or through his website at www.jocgeek.com.

The author has no financial ties to either of the companies discussed above.

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