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harman/kardon HK 3490 Stereo Receiver Review

by July 12, 2010
  • Product Name: harman/kardon HK 3490 A/V Stereo Receiver
  • Manufacturer: harman/kardon Electronics
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: July 12, 2010 21:00
  • MSRP: $ 499
  • Buy Now
  • 120 watts x 2 (stereo) into 8-ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.07% THD
  • 150 watts x 2 (stereo) into 4-ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.2% THD
  • Dolby® Virtual Speaker mode for enhanced surround sound listening with two speakers
  • Dolby® Headphone provides surround sound effects with any set of headphones using a stereo source
  • XM Satellite Radio Ready (requires XM subscription and optional XM Mini-Tuner package)
  • rotary bass, treble, and balance controls
  • 3 audio (including phono) and 4 A/V (composite video) inputs
  • digital audio inputs (2-channel PCM): 1 coaxial, 1 optical
  • 2 preamp-level subwoofer outputs for connecting up to 2 powered subs
  • preamp-out/main-in loop connections for system expansion
  • full-size headphone jack
  • 2 pairs of binding post speaker connectors
  • 2 switched AC outlets
  • AM/FM tuner with 30 presets
  • front-panel switching for two pairs of main speakers
  • remote control
  • sleep timer
  • dimensions: 17-3/8"W x 6-1/2"H x 15-1/4"D
  • weight: 23 lbs
  • warranty: 2 years

Pros

  • Benchmark audio performance
  • Digital audio inputs
  • Oodles of power reserves

Cons

  • Cheesy tone and balance control knobs
  • Difficult to read frontpanel function buttons
  • Remote not backlit

 

harman kardon HK 3490 Introduction

3490-front.jpgThere comes a time in everyone's lives where one needs to reboot and get back to the basics.  We see this all the time in the movie industry with successful remakes such as Batman Begins, as well as the car industry by revitalizing the classic spirit of models that seemed to lose their way over the new generation of successors (ie. Mustang, Camaro).  Getting back to the basics is usually a good thing and something I often yearn for in the overly complex home theater world laced in HDMI mishaps, and MP3 compression.  Harman/kardon understands this well as their products have traditionally been more audiophile focused than many of their competitors.  Enter the HK 3490 Stereo A/V Receiver.  On paper, the HK 3490 seems to have great performance and features that would please the audiophile and techno-geek alike.  With a nice meaty amplifier section rated at 120 watts per channel and 4 ohm rated to 150 wpc, we are talking some serious speaker drive capability.

When one of my close friends was looking for a two-channel receiver for his bedroom system, I selfishly suggested this model simply because I wanted the chance to test it first hand.  Little did I know, the HK 3490 would dazzle me with a performance and feature set not found on any of its peers.

About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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Recent Forum Posts:

M Code posts on May 16, 2021 15:06
kasik, post: 1483621, member: 95851
Found and bought one of these for 80e in a flea market. The left channel is dead on the preamp, I wonder if this is a common issue..?
Its not such a big deal for me though as I use it as a power amp to drive my elac fs 247s and have RME adi-2 dac as a pre. Seems to handle my fairly demanding speakers just fine.
Silly question but does it matter where I set the 3490s volume at when using it as power amp?
If using the L/R Main -In jacks, the volume, balance & tone controls have no effect….

Just my $0.02…
Gmoney posts on May 16, 2021 07:41
Set it like You want. Don't over think it. If all else fails use Google click click it's real easy.
Jump on H/K website you find All the info you need on that unit. You have access to the Web right.
kasik posts on May 16, 2021 07:14
Found and bought one of these for 80e in a flea market. The left channel is dead on the preamp, I wonder if this is a common issue..?
Its not such a big deal for me though as I use it as a power amp to drive my elac fs 247s and have RME adi-2 dac as a pre. Seems to handle my fairly demanding speakers just fine.
Silly question but does it matter where I set the 3490s volume at when using it as power amp?
davidscott posts on April 12, 2021 16:41
Still happily running my 3490 into a pair of Infinty Primus 363s. The ability to handle 4 ohm speakers is a nice plus.
PENG posts on April 12, 2021 15:29
rifmon, post: 1475247, member: 89964
I have come to really appreciate those jumpers! I needed to send my Nikko Alph II to the shop (over 2 months so far!) So I took the jumpers out and ran my pre amp into the Pre-In of the 3490.
Works like a charm!

I've read several places that an upgraded set of jumpers improves the sound somehow. I always wondered if it would.

They are wonderful, you can use the thing as integrated, preamp only, and power amp only. If someone happens to need a two channel power amp for the surround or Atmos channels, they can try to grab one from eBay and will have a high quality amp, better than those cheap Emo of similar low power 2 channel amps. You can do that with the likes of Marantz, Yamaha etc., integrated amps, not until you get to the higher end models.
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