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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


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


  • 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 12, 2018 18:26
TechHDS, post: 1268923, member: 84433
Wish I had never sold off my 3490, 120 X 2 @ 8 Ohms, plus pre amp outs, optical, coaxial plus sub outs very nice two channel unit.

Yes agreed this is the best receiver I've ever owned rivaling my NAD separates from the 80s. Also the phono pre amp and tuner section of this receiver sound decent at least. And 150 x 2 @ 4 Ohms with a dynamic power rating over 200 WPC!
TechHDS posts on September 12, 2018 17:48
davidscott, post: 1268916, member: 86172
Purchased my 3490 In 2011 still running strong in 2018 powering some Infinity Primus 363s. Great product!
Wish I had never sold off my 3490, 120 X 2 @ 8 Ohms, plus pre amp outs, optical, coaxial plus sub outs very nice two channel unit.

davidscott posts on September 12, 2018 17:33
Purchased my 3490 In 2011 still running strong in 2018 powering some Infinity Primus 363s. Great product!
Renzokuken posts on April 24, 2018 23:56
The last tribute from Harman to old school. To bulky to heavy. Expensive to build and transport. Farewell
M Code posts on January 17, 2018 17:57
M Code, post: 1154873, member: 43612
They went to an SMPS as to meet the later Euro power consumption standards. Ironic when supporting HK for both AVRs and stereo receivers, we recommended/designed some prototypes of SMPS back 10 years ago.. It took them another 5 years to implement..

Just my $0.02..

Let me clarify this thread about the power supply..
The HK3390 and 3490 both use the standard linear power supply with an EL power transformer. The later HK stereo receivers HK3700 and 3770 utilize an SMPS (switching power supply), easy to tell just check out the unit's weight the 3390 and 3490 are 2X the weight of the 3700 & 3770. Note the ouput stages remain as Class A-B in all versions.

Just my $0.02..
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