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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.

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About the author:

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:

davidscott posts on September 10, 2019 16:05
M Code, post: 1338684, member: 43612
The 3700 & 3770 do have MM phono input capability..

Just my $0.02…
Sorry my bad…
Alan Davis posts on September 09, 2019 22:25
I forgot to mention that I play LP's on my 3490 occasionally. Recently replayed my old Woodstock LP after watching the PBS Woodstock program. Excellent sound from the LP's. I would be remiss if I didn't report that the very best sounds come from my Sony CD player connected through the optical input on the 3490. (I also have an excellent subwoofer.) What I miss is over the air classic FM stations. Any help that you can provide on how to access classic stations via the internet onto the 3490 would be appreciated. I am going to keep the 3490.
Alan Davis posts on September 09, 2019 19:33
M Code, post: 1338684, member: 43612
The 3700 & 3770 do have MM phono input capability..

Just my $0.02…
Tha
M Code, post: 1338668, member: 43612
The 3300/3400 stereo receiver series are great proven products…
We know a little about this platform as I was the lead development engineer…
The later, replacement 3700 series has revised features/specs compared such as bluetooth, network, coax & optical digital inputs… Note that the robust, linear power supply has been replaced by a PCM switching power supply, also the pre-out/main jacks have been deleted.

Just my $0.02…
Thank you, M Code. And, thank you for producing a great receiver. I will keep it. But I would like any recommendations on how to integrate internet music. My local FM stations are now low powered and I rarely use them. In addition, Comcast no longer carries local stations over their service.
M Code posts on September 09, 2019 19:25
davidscott, post: 1338672, member: 86172
No phono pre either if you are still playing LPs.
FYI my 3490 is still humming along running some Infinity Primus 363s. Best receiver I have ever owned so Kudos on the development man. I think I'll keep it for now.

davidscott, post: 1338672, member: 86172
No phono pre either if you are still playing LPs.
FYI my 3490 is still humming along running some Infinity Primus 363s. Best receiver I have ever owned so Kudos on the development man. I think I'll keep it for now.

The 3700 & 3770 do have MM phono input capability..

Just my $0.02…
davidscott posts on September 09, 2019 18:32
M Code, post: 1338668, member: 43612
The 3300/3400 stereo receiver series are great proven products…
We know a little about this platform as I was the lead development engineer…
The later, replacement 3700 series has revised features/specs compared such as bluetooth, network, coax & optical digital inputs… Note that the robust, linear power supply has been replaced by a PCM switching power supply, also the pre-out/main jacks have been deleted.

Just my $0.02…
No phono pre either if you are still playing LPs.
FYI my 3490 is still humming along running some Infinity Primus 363s. Best receiver I have ever owned so Kudos on the development man. I think I'll keep it for now.
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