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harman kardon amps any good?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Linds, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. Linds

    Linds pfm Member

    I've had many an amp in my time: Linn, borrowed 112/150 Naims once, Myryad, Arcam, pre/power mixtures of the aforementioned, and acquired a Harman Kardon AVR20 or AV20, basically a 15-yr old AV amp, 20W/channel, but it sounds surprisingly 'good' compared to many others. Fast, clear, musical, melodic. Anyone else found a harman kardon amp they rate?
  2. Rick E

    Rick E pfm Member

    my very first amp was a well used hk 430 receiver.
    built like a tank. dual transformers.
    that was 30 years back and i loved it!
    ive got an itch to buy 1 or maybe 2 of the citation 24 power amps that pop up on ebay very cheap lately too.
  3. dtd

    dtd pfm Member

    The HK990 is worthy of a listen.
  4. 0rangutan

    0rangutan pfm Member

    The HK amp in my BMW1 is very good for a car stereo!
  5. shlibber35

    shlibber35 pfm Member

    I had a HK1400 years ago and it was a bloody good little amp. Well built and sounds great for the money. kept it for a while and missed it when it went.
  6. Zombie

    Zombie pfm Member

    Yeah, they go from DC to several hundred kHz and do perfect square waves, that'll make your feet tap
  7. Mignun

    Mignun pfm Member

    H/K amps were usually rather good. Back in the '70s they always sounded a good step above anything else. The 930 and 430 receivers are fabulous things. And of course the Citation kit was always well thought of and sounded good. However, probably the best sounding H/K amp of the '70s (which just about made it into 1980) was the HK505, designed by Matti Otala. The pre-amp section was probably the weakest part - the power amp section was superb - as good as anything at the time. It was fairly expensive at over £300 when new and only just starting to be rediscovered these days so s/h bargains still exist. There was a matching tuner too - the HK500 - which was similarly superb. Add an ST-7 turntable and HK3500 cassette deck and you had one of the finest real-world systems around for 1979, with perhaps only the turntable being the weakest part.
  8. Vouk

    Vouk Member

    Not the last thing in refinement, smoothness or detail retrieval but usually very entertaining (especially for rock-pop) and built to last. Their receivers were/are always good value for money.
  9. finesensations

    finesensations pfm Member

    Can you please name the Amps you have compared, at a similar price, to arrive at the above conclusions?
  10. Vouk

    Vouk Member

    It's been some time now but I listened to their HK 630 and 670 amps along with the matching HD 710 CD-player as well as the 3250 receiver. Certainly entertaining but I settled on the equivalent offerings from Rega.
  11. finesensations

    finesensations pfm Member

    Thanks for your reply.

    I suppose it's mainly down personal preferences.

    If you haven't tried the current HK990 or HK980 amps already, I suggest you give them a listen.
  12. raynor73

    raynor73 pfm Member

    Im needing to get a new Amp and the HK990 is quite interesting, especially with the in-built DAC. Has anybody got one of these who can offer a brief description of its signature sound, or what it compares to that they've also heard / owned?

  13. dtd

    dtd pfm Member

    There's a ton of reviews on the HK990 as of late. Google 'harman hk990 review' and the first 3 links should give you an idea of how it sounds.

    The in-built DAC is certainly decent enough (upto Dacmagic level, without the high frequency sibilance).

    The review by home theater hifi goes into some real depth (pages upon pages of dissection), as well as a more non-technical review available.

    FWIW, the HK990 sounds so much more smoother, sweeter, refined, very musical and practically unflappable than the Cambridge audio 840a that it replaced.
  14. alanbeeb

    alanbeeb pfm Member

    I've got a HK990 in the living room where it replaced an AV system. It mainly gets used for TV, DVD & Blu-ray & streaming via a PS3 so digital inputs are in use all the time. Its very very good.

    I tried it out 2 weeks ago in my main hifi system.... DCS Puccini on the front end using the analogue balanced inputs and Neat MF7s on the back end.... it was in no-way overwhelmed or shamed in their company and sounded nearly as good as some of the hugely more expensive integrated amps I've been demoing recently (Perreaux eloquence 150 and T+A V10).

    If you want to use the bass & treble controls, they act in the digital domain - so anything on the analogue inputs is A to D converted if switched to the DSP mode. I honestly could not really say I heard any difference in the sound using it in pure analogue vs. digital mode so I reckon the A-D and D-A conversion must be very transparent.

    It does room and speaker correction, with a supplied microphone and automated setup routine -again this uses A-D conversion. I've tried it in both rooms in both setups and I don't think it made much difference for me. So I just run it with no correction.

    The automated setup can also cater for one or two attached subwoofers if you so wish.

    Its very big and heavy - as big as most AV amps. And it gets very hot, despite massive heatsinks and (silent) fans. Not sure why it should get so hot with 100W into 8 ohms output as I don't think it operates in class A.

    All in all, for less than £1k it is a stunning piece of kit.
  15. dtd

    dtd pfm Member

    Worth trying the power amp's processor inputs - its very clear that the power amp section is the strongest aspect of the HK990, improved noticeably when bypassing the pre-amp. Pretty good with standard pre-amp, but processor input takes it into real jaw dropping/not going to bother box switching territory.

    The heat is due to the first x watts being produced in a heavy class A bias. Consumes 150-180w idle (yes, you read that correctly), and measured at 650w sustained when running 2 channels at 150w load. Think of it as a good sounding space heater!
  16. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Hawkwind and Fire

    I had a PM645vxi back in the early 90's which I replaced with an Inca Tech Claymore 2. Pretty standard decent jap amp. Cut above the Pioneer A400, great phono section. Probably on par with an 8000a.
  17. Vouk

    Vouk Member

    Personal preferences certainly apply and without doubt. My tastes and subsequently my audio systems have always been on the warmer, smoother side of neutral - hence the decision to go for Rega (back then at least).
    Perfectly happy with my current set-up so not really contemplating any changes. I do hear a lot of good things about the latest HK offerings so I am sure they are as good as they say.
  18. Teddy Ray

    Teddy Ray pfm Member

    very well built pieces of kit.

    Flat, wide frequency response. rugged.

  19. RustyB

    RustyB Registered Ginga

    Older HK amps are one of the great bargains of the audio world.
  20. finesensations

    finesensations pfm Member

    Should have mentioned I use an Audiolab M-DAC to HK980 Amp with Yamaha NS1000M speakers and I'm delighted with the SQ.

    I did consider the HK990 but for me it offered more power and facilitates than I needed/wanted and I prefer to have a separate DAC although the total cost of HK980 plus M-DAC is about the same as an HK990.

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