Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Harman Kardon BDS 270

Summary

Our Score

9/10

Review Price £649.99

Performance and Verdict

The BDS 270’s opulent build quality lays the foundation for an accomplished performance. With The Dark Knight Blu-ray in the slot, the movie’s aggressive Dolby True HD track sounds remarkably polished, communicating set pieces like the opening bank robbery or the vehicle chase through Gotham with a smooth, even-handed tone. That means when the Joker’s bazooka blows stuff to smithereens, the explosions don’t assault your ears with excessive harshness or distortion. But it’s not at the expense of excitement or drive – this is as dynamic a performance as we’ve heard from a 2.1 system.

Harman Kardon BDS 270

Cohesion between sats and sub is superb, although it took a bit of trial and error to find a sympathetic balance, even after running the auto calibration system. We started with the sub level dial up halfway, but was more powerful than expected and as a result swallowed up the sound from the front pair, so we had to turn it down. But when we did, it lent satisfyingly solid bottom end punch to the above action scenes.

The speakers also achieve a wide frequency range, simultaneously drawing out the subtlest high-frequency detail and low-end frequencies, making the latter sound deep and robust even without the sub’s support. They’re also well versed with dialogue, nailing the menacing texture of Batman and the Joker’s growly voices without making either one sound muffled.

This excellent articulation and detail retrieval also make the system well suited to music playback, which sounds smooth and open. In fact the only major criticism sound-wise is that Dolby Virtual Speaker doesn’t spread the sound as much as we hoped, but we’ve learned not to expect miracles from virtual surround modes.

We can’t fault the system’s pictures either. The Dark Knight’s IMAX-shot scenes are mesmerizingly sharp, while the colour balance and black depth are spot-on. And with its poised 3D pictures and smooth DVD upscaling, this system delivers the goods no matter what disc you throw at it.

We couldn’t even catch it out on the disc loading front. It fires up Terminator Salvation in 35 seconds, a good 10 seconds faster than the majority of dedicated Blu-ray players we’ve tested recently. And the only issue with the Silicon Optix HQV disc was some gentle flickering on the Film Resolution test pattern – everything else was processed flawlessly.

Verdict
The BDS 270 may not boast an abundance of features but its gorgeous, luxurious design, silky sound quality and razor-sharp Blu-ray pictures justify its high price tag. The lack of network media streaming (to a lesser extent, web content) might be too much for some to swallow – particularly when it’s found on so many cheaper 2.1 systems – but if that’s not important then the BDS 270 will be money well spent.

Scores In Detail

Design
10/10
Features
7/10
Performance
9/10
Sound Quality
9/10
Value
8/10

Our Score

9/10
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