Harman Kardon makes its long overdue debut on TrustedReviews with the BDS 800, an upper class one-box Blu-ray system that places the emphasis on style and sound quality over flashy features. What you get in the box is a Blu-ray player with an integrated 5.1-channel decoder/amplifier and the HKTS 60 speaker system, which comprises a set of four identical bookshelf satellite speakers (SAT TS60), the CEN TS60 centre speaker and a compact subwoofer. It aims to bring you the best of both worlds – the convenience of an all-in-one system and the performance of separates – but with a hefty price tag, it needs that extra je ne sais quoi in order to win our respect. Let’s dive in…
As we unpacked the component from the Russian doll-like boxes, it became immediately clear we’re dealing with a beautifully made system. All of the components have that heavy, luxurious feel about them, an indescribable air of quality that will prove wonderfully reassuring to anyone who just splashed out over a grand of their hard-earned cash.
The BDS 5 Blu-ray receiver is particularly pleasing, looking like something Marantz might have made. It’s a classy and distinctive piece of kit, boasting curved corners, a gorgeous brushed aluminium top panel embossed with the Harman Kardon logo and a glorious gloss-black fascia with a disc slot buried into it. Placed discreetly at the bottom of the front panel is a USB port for digital media playback and a headphone jack. A couple of buttons can be found along the top and a large volume dial adorns the front, but otherwise it’s a very sleek and minimal unit – plus at 400(w) x 100(h) x 260(d)mm, it’s compact too.
The good news continues on the rear panel with a decent selection of sockets. The first thing to catch your eye is a set of gold-plated speaker binding posts, signalling the system’s audiophile intentions right off the bat. Alongside these is an HDMI v1.3 output that pipes high-definition images to your TV, three digital audio inputs (two optical and one coaxial) and two analogue stereo inputs. Joining these regulars are a port for Harman’s optional iPod or iPhone dock (called The Bridge IIIP), an Ethernet port, subwoofer pre-out and an FM aerial input. On the downside, the lack of HDMI inputs is a shame at this price, given that most people probably have several AV components that they’d like to channel through the system.
Finally, a word about the speakers. Like the main unit, the build quality is fantastic and they look delectable in their gloss-black finish and oval enclosures. Cleverly, the stands are detachable, which allows you to insert the supplied speaker cables into the spring-loaded terminals before sliding the stand into place. The subwoofer measures just 267(w) x 353(h) x 267(d)mm, making it perfect for squeezing into tight spaces, and it looks amazing with curvy corners and a deep, glossy finish to match the rest of the system. On the back are line-level inputs, phase reverse, Bass Boost and Auto Power switches and a volume dial.