Harman-Kardon BDS 2 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 01-09-2012, 05:50 AM - Thread Starter
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I have been looking for something simple, yet decent build, sound and picture quality to use in a small living room. I didn't want to run center and surrounds, just a simple 2.1 setup. I found a HK BDS 2 on sale at one of the local wharehouse clubs for a very good price. Thought I would give it a chance as it was priced right, looked good and I thought would work very well for my application.

I have a 40" Sony LCD, an Apple TV, a cable box and a pair of Martin Logan motion 10 speakers to connect up to this. I am working on adding a pair of Rel T-3 subs as well, just do not have the "Y" connectors and cable for them yet, so cannot comment on sub operation at the present.

This reciever has 2 optical inputs, a coaxial input, one sub out, and 2 pairs of analog inputs for other devices. It also has the Bridge 3 connector for an iPod dock, something I will try at some point. The single HDMI out is for the built-in Blu-ray player, and does not offer any other video switching, which might be a negative for some. I just ran my HDMI for the Apple and cable box directly into my Sony and switch video inputs from the supplied remote from the HK.

The reciever also has a built-in FM only tuner, which is of decent quality, and one I do use every now and then if not streaming radio or other iTunes music from my Apple TV.

Overall, I find the build quality to be very good, the speaker binding posts very nice quality, and the overall looks of the reciever is very nice. Display size is good providing you aren't too far away from it, but my eyes are getting old too! The front panel illumination can be set to 100%, 50%-which also extinguishes the volume knob lamp, or dim after a certain period of time after any command is sent to the reciever. Some of this may not matter, as a lot of the operations you will perform also have some basic on-screen info. Nice touch though overall.

The supplied remote is decent for most of the basic uses, I am still working on some of the programmable portions of it and l am trying to get a better feel for just what it can "learn", especially for the auxillary inputs. I was able to program a few buttons for my Sony TV with no problem. About the only thing I can say is a small negative are the button sizes and nomenclature on the buttons-again, my eyes aren't what they used to be. Also, this remote is not backlit which might be an issue for some.

The sound and picture quality I find to be very good and very hard to fault anything here. From the built-in blu-ray player for video or CD playback, or the FM tuner and any of the inputs, I got very good sound/picture. I am very pleased. The amplifier drove the Martin Logans very well, and at one point, I even temporarily hooked up my Magnepan MMG's, and the HK did a very admirable job. If one has a pair of reasonably sensitive speakers with a fairly easy load(and not too hard on the volume knob), you shouldn't have any problems with the amp section.

All in all, this reciever was a great purchase for me, the price was right, and it does all that I need it to do, and does it very well. The big question is, would I have paid the full retail price for this and be just as happy? Not sure on that one, if you read the Home Theater review of the BDS 5, the question comes up about value. I tend to agree, value is a tough one to place and only the purchaser of anything can answer that for themselves. For me, at list price, I might have looked into other inexpensive AVR's and separate blu-ray player. But I wanted simplicity, one-box solution as well, and this fills the bill quite nicely in my opinion.

For those of you looking for a simple one-box setup, this might work well for you, and I imagine, the BDS 5 with surround also might be a simple solution too for some of you out there. Give it a try, you might like it! Well done HK!

Tim
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post #2 of 10 Old 01-13-2012, 10:14 AM - Thread Starter
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I have had a few more days to play around with this reciever, and I find it is a very nice piece of gear. It has Dolby Virtual Surround which works for a simple 2-channel setup, and with the ability to switch between Wide, Reference Wide, and plain stereo, I find it gives a good little mix for movies and plain 2-chnnel music as well. I was watching the Incredibles the other night and was very happy with the "faux surround" it gave me. While there wasn't any real audio going on behind me, there was plenty of things going on directly to the left and right of me at times. Very interesting and well done for 2 speakers.

I was able to get one of my Rel T-3 subs conected up, and it made a very nice addition to this setup offering a fuller mid-bass and decent bass with some dynamic kick when called for. Will be adding a second sub when my cable arrives.

The biggest hitch for me is the remote, and while it works the HK BDS reciever fine, it isn't the best for integrating the other items such as the cable box and Apple TV to it, but I am still working on that one. In the end, Harmony may come to the rescue there.

I am really liking this little setup a lot, sounds good and is very convenient, and cheaper than a Bose setup that I had looked at a month ago. Not Bose bashing here either, they do some things very well, but I feel this setup is a little more open in choices of speakers to go with it, not just tiny cubes. Bose has the angle on the remote control though, will give them that, and video switching if needed. I hope maybe some folks might take a look at this if you happen to be looking for something simple, and a single box solution as an option to say the Bose systems. Tim
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post #3 of 10 Old 06-13-2012, 12:51 PM
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I think that I'm going to order this amp/DVD player. costco.com sells this as a bundle with JBL Speakers for <$500 and it appears to be a nice value for someone looking for a 2.1 System.
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post #4 of 10 Old 06-15-2012, 04:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Fletch, be aware that Harmon is coming out with some new models that have a few more HDMI inputs and a bit better remote. The only thing that hampers the older BDS2 in my setup is the lack of HDMI inputs, and just the one output for the Blu-ray player only. Also, the remote is a bit of a pain in some respects, again, there is some workaround solutions. If you are only interested in just the Blu-ray/amp part of things and the added FM tuner, then this might not be a big deal to you. I got my BDS reciever by itself new and very cheaply. I may look into the newer models if they bring out just the reciever with no added speakers in the bundle. I already have subs and a pair of speakers, so don't need them. All in all though, a decent sounding setup!

I think the newer models are like the BDS 270/570? They were brought out earlier in the year at the CES, but when I asked HK about them, I was initially told these were for the European market and no plans for US. Now I see them on H/K's US website. Enjoy whatever you get! Tim
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post #5 of 10 Old 06-15-2012, 06:33 AM
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Thanks, Tim . I agree with you as my concern is growing over connectivity -- the unit has not arrived from Costco and I'm considering taking it back. I did not realize that TV did not output 5.1 when receiving signal from HDMI as I planned to run everything through my TV, which has 4+ HDMI connections. I think the Harman would work for me today as I could connect the cable box and PS3 via optical cable, but it would not be future proof. Not really worried about the remote as I will be using Harmony One. Again, thanks for your input as I'm still trying to decide what to do on this.
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post #6 of 10 Old 06-15-2012, 05:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Fletch, yes, sometimes some of the connectivity and options or what you don't get can be confusing at times. My BDS2 was more cut and dried in my situation at the time, and the Costco deal was very good. I still love the little thing for what it does. Had I known H/K was coming out with the newer models and the added HDMI inputs, I probably might have just waited. But again, one can wait forever!

With some fairly efficient, well matched speakers, the sonic quality is very good. I think this matched up very well with my Martin Logan Motion 10's. I ended up using a Y connector and hooked up my REL T-3 subs to it as well. All in all, great sound in a convenient package, and with the newer BDS units coming out with the added inputs, should be a good all a rounder. I do think unless you get them on sale, it is a bit expensive, or can be, but I was looking for simple one-box solution similar to a Bose type setup. I think the H/K is a better deal sonically for sure, especially given the ability to grab what speakers work for you.

I hope whatever you do, you can find a setup that will work very well for you! Tim
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post #7 of 10 Old 06-15-2012, 08:17 PM
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Thanks for mentioning costco, i have been looking around for a 2.1 system and never thought to check there website. They have a pretty good price i think on the BDS 2.1 with a pair of CST55 JBL tower speakers and Pioneer 100 watt 8 inch sub for 499. They also have the BDS 2 with CSB5 JBL self speaker and a 10 inch 150 watt JBL sub for 450.00. which of the 2 did you go with fletch? I was considering a bose system, so this units connectivity is awesome compared to the 321......
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post #8 of 10 Old 06-16-2012, 06:53 PM
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I got the tower speakers with 8" sub. I would have preferred the 10" jbl sub, which Costco has in their store (really nice)' but I really needed tower speakers for my setup. It is scheduled for delivery on Tuesday and I'm looking fwd to trying it out. No risk with Costco as their return policy is great. Bose 321 was ok for what it was as I had for around 10 years, but connectivity is limited. Also, lately it sometimes loses sound and I have to turn off and on to correct. Good luck to you.
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post #9 of 10 Old 06-18-2012, 07:32 PM
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Well i ordered the BDS2 with the jbl towers also.... at the end of the day it came down to a used bose 321 series 2 system or a new system with blu ray and full warranty for 150 more...... now i cant wait to get it... i purchased act of valor on blu ray 2 weeks ago in anticipation of having some kinda system. Please post up your impressions of it when u get it up and running. Also how long did the shipping take and where from? so far im still in the fulfillment stage....
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post #10 of 10 Old 06-19-2012, 05:21 AM
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Bigugly, While I think the BDS2 System will be very good I made a decision to change direction so I will be returning the System to Costco when it arrives today. My only concern with the System is the lack of HDMI inputs and the fact that I like to add lots of components. So in your case I'm sure it will work fine. In my case, I purchased a refurbished Onkyo nr-609 receiver for $238. For my front speakers I purchase a pair of Martin Logan Motion 10 speakers for $119 each. For the subwoofer, I ordered the Chrysalis by Velodyne for $150. Also, I plan to add the Martin Logan Motion 6 center speaker although I can't find a great deal right now so I'm holding off. So at the end of the day I'm over my budget of $500, but I am more comfortable having 6 HDMI inputs for future growth. As an owner of a Bose 321, I think you are much better off with the BDS2 as oppossed to the Bose 321, which I will be listing on ebay.
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