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harman/kardon HK 3490 Design Overview

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3490 topview.jpg

harman/kardon HK 3490 Top View

The HK 3490 power supply is sized like a typical mid to high priced 7.1 receiver yet it's only sporting two channels of amplification!  I couldn't read the ratings of the power supply capacitors but they were quite thick and hefty.  The power transistors were not the typical run of the mill ones found on most A/V receivers.  These babies had some real size to them reminding me of how high end two-channel receivers used to be made when companies cared more about audio quality over cutting corners for profit margins.  What was surprising to find in this two-channel receiver was a pair of AKM PCM DAC's.  That's right, the HK 3490 has digital inputs and internal D/A converters on-board, a critically useful feature I've not been able to find on any other two-channel receivers.

backpanel.jpeg 

harman/kardon HK 3490 Back View

 

The HK 3490 back panel is cleanly laid out.  There are two pairs of speaker outputs utilizing 5-way binding post connections.  They are wired in parallel so no sound degradation will result by running two-pairs of speakers simultaneously.  We do however caution users to stick with 8-ohm speakers if running two sets simultaneously.  Otherwise, feel safe running a pair of 4-ohm speakers for stereo.  As you will see in my measurements, the amp section of the HK 3490 is very stable at 4-ohms.   The HK 3490 provides composite video switching, analog RCA audio connections and two digital inputs (1 coax, 1 toslink).  It also provisions for dual subwoofer output connections but with no bass management provisions, which is typical of two-channel receivers.  There is a Bridge II connector for iPod users and a master on/off power switch on the back, two switched outlets, and a non-detachable power cord

.3490-front.jpg

harman/kardon HK 3490 Front panel View

You can tell at first glance of the HK 3490 front panel, that this product means business. The chassis has a solid feel and heft to it and the layout of the front panel is quite elegant and simple.   I have only a few cosmetic gripes which include the flimsy O-ring volume control, lack of backlighting on the input buttons and the tiny pop out balance and tone controls underneath the removable front panel flaps.  I found it quite difficult to adjust the bass/treble controls but they luckily had a center click detent to make it easier to set to the zero or neutral position.  Honestly if you've got really linear speakers and high quality amplification, you should have very little need to use tone controls which typically only color the sound and make it less accurate. 

Product Features

The harman/kardon HK 3490 has some very unique features not typically found on any of its competitors such as:

  • Digital audio inputs - this allows the user to take an inexpensive DVD player and turn it into a high end CD player by utilizing the internal AKM DAC's to handle the D/A conversion.
  • Dual subwoofer outputs - this provides the end user the ability to line level connect up to two powered subwoofers in stereo, or one in mono using the right output, to extend bass frequencies of the system.
  • Bridge II iPod interface - allows you to interface and operate your iPod device via the HK 3490 remote control while it also charging it during operation.
  • Dolby Virtual Speaker - DSP mode for enhanced surround sound listening with two speakers.
  • Dolby Headphone - provides surround sound effects with standard headphones using a stereo source.
  • XM Radio ready - interfaces with optional XM tuner to receive highly compressed and nasty sounding XM radio broadcasts for those who care more about convenience than sound quality.
  • Phone input support MM-type cartridges. 
  • Preamp Outputs and Main Power Amp Input couplers - allows you to connect external amplification, or an external processor or equalizer.

 
About the only features I found missing on the HK 3490 which are available on some competitor models were:

  • Loudness control - bass & treble boost used at low volume to compensate for human hearing losses
  • Multi zone - ability to connect external amplification to provide sound in other areas of the home using the receiver as the preamp and switcher. 


I rarely find the need to use loudness controls, especially when utilizing a powered subwoofer in the system.  I also don't see much value of the multi-zone feature for most people purchasing two-channel receivers but if that is an important feature for you, you may have to look elsewhere.  It is important to mention however, that although the HK 3490 doesn't have a dedicated Zone2 output, you can in fact use the dual subwoofer outputs (which are full-range signals) in conjunction with an external preamp and power amp to route audio to another room.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

davidscott posts on September 10, 2019 17:05
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 23:25
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 20:33
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 20:25
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 19:32
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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