93 of 93 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2010
This Harman Kardon 3390 was part of a larger upgrade to the home sound system, replacing an aging 90 watt per channel Yamaha. Also included were new speakers in the form of Klipsch Reference Series RF-62's, replacing Bose 501's. A similar review will be posted for the speakers.
As we all do, I started this upgrade project with certain assumptions - some accurate, some not. And like many of you reading this, I relied heavily on user and expert reviews from many sources on the web. But those aren't always helpful since the world of audio equipment seems to have its own peculiar lexicon with terms that are not defined and often fully understood only by the writer. Actual auditions of the equipment were somewhat limited by the fact that few dealers carry both brands where I live. This is a real problem since best results are achieved not just by selecting a good receiver and good speakers, but by hearing how they work together. For instance, "bright" speakers don't pair up very well with "bright" receivers - the result can be something too bright and potentially harsh sounding. That said, I nevertheless attempted to gain as much understanding as I could through things I read (reviews, blogs, etc.) and limited auditions of equipment. In the end, I feel rather lucky to have put together something that works very well as a system.
I've always been a believer in going with a lot of watts per channel, not so much to produce high listening volume, but to have plenty of "headroom" in the system so that the sound is better even at modest volume. 100 watts always seemed like a good target. I was therefore a little unsure of the 80 watt rating of the HK, but all the reviews I read seemed to indicate that it would be OK. For those of you who have similar beliefs and concerns, I can tell you that the 80 watt HK is plenty adequate for a medium sized family room, particularly when paired with easy-to-drive speakers like the Klipsch Reference. The sound quality does not seem to be compromised at all by the "modest" 80 watt output. I have not auditioned the HK 3490, so I don't know if the additional power makes a difference in sound quality or not. If you are driving less efficient speakers, it might be worth exploring.
As others have noted, the sound is uncolored, although it seems rather warm sounding compared to the Yamaha. It sounds great - deep and smooth bass, clear and smooth highs - with a high quality sound to it. It is not fatiguing to listen to it for extended periods of time. Some say it sounds similar to a Denon, but I find the sound of many Denon's to be less clear than this receiver. Perhaps I just haven't heard the right Denon yet.
Like a lot of folks my age (58), I have a collection of old vinyl albums that don't see much action. This was not the primary reason I chose a receiver with phono inputs, but it seemed like a nice feature to have for those rare occasions (the old Yamaha had this feature as well). The HK 3390 is said to have an audiophile quality phono pre-amp in it, so I figured I might as well try listening to some of the old vinyl stuff to see what that was all about. The quality of the sound in this mode is spectacular, and I now fully understand why vinyl is making a come-back. The old records will be seeing a lot more action now. They simply sound better than CD's when played through quality equipment like this (aside from the usual clicks and pops, of course).
This receiver is worth its list price. At Amazon's discounted price, it's a bargain. An old fashioned 2 channel receiver may not be for everyone in this high tech world, but for those of us who use a 2 channel set up, it's great to find a product where the money goes into quality rather than features we'll never use.
Now, about that remote..... yes, it is quite large, almost comically so. But it works quite well and controls a lot of different functions. And you won't have any trouble finding it!
130 of 133 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2009
After spending a few years in a disease called audiophilia, I vowed to stop spending money wildly on different audio gear just so I could hear something different. I came to the conclusion after having a H/K theater receiver before that I did enjoy the sound enough to try another one as a two channel set-up. I sold my tube amp and bought the H/K 3390 from Amazon. Short story is the H/K 3390 sounds remarkable for 1/5 the price of the tube amp. The exponential in audio can be frustrating as you have to usually spend a lot more to get a margianally better sound. I'm not saying I will never dabble with more expensive electronics, but someone who buys this amp will be satisfied with the results.
53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2009
I was pleasantly surprised to have found an inexpensive receiver from Harman Kardon. This is an analog stereo receiver. No digital inputs such as HDMI and the like. No fancy equalizer. So do not consider it to connect to your brand new LCD or plasma TV set. I bought the unit to replace an older Integra receiver. I connected the unit to a pair of Monitor Audio A6 and a high-end Toshiba HDCD (high definition CD) player. The system was installed in my 500-sf study room just set up to listen to music while reading. The installation was quite simple. A pair of high quality speaker wires. And a quality RCA cable to connect to the CD player. As expected from what I read in the reviews prior to the purchasing decision, the sound was of high fidelity, and the AM/FM tuner was crystal clear even with a tiny antenna wire. As with any good receiver, the HK reproduces the CDs as it was recorded with no perceptible distortion (if any) . I tried the system with a variety of music types and with a variety of recording quality. The system does justice to all of them. Those that were inadequately recorded showed its flaws. Those that were artistically recorded sounded just wonderfully. Even at low volume. I also like the simplicity of the unit. Just a few buttons on the panel, and a dimmer function to dim the panel light. In sum, simplicity and quality. That all I need. Just pick a good CD from your favorite collection and enjoy.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2010
I own too much audio gear. I have separates (B&K/Carver) plus a vintage Technics Pro Series integrated amp that weighs more than most of the heavier power amps, an old Yamaha receiver, plus two newer Onkyo receivers, the 8222 and the 8255 still sold here at Amazon (and some of this gear is going ot be sold or given to one of my sons). I've been using this new H-K unit for only a few days, so I'm still in the honeymoon stage. Unless the thing just goes dead, which I don't expect, I don't think that this "honeymoon" will end any time soon. If you've done you're homework and you're looking at the product offerings here at Amazon, you may have narrowed it do buying a Yamaha, Onkyo, or this Harman Kardon. Yamaha products are very nice but they are over-priced, just as Denon products, IMHO. Onkyo is priced right and the quality is excellent. I narrowed my choices to this H-K and an Onkyo 8555. What tipped the scale for me was reading that you have to change the Onkyo receiver's setup every time you want to use speakers with a nominal impedance of 4 Ohms to 6 Ohms. If I were the only user of this receiver I would not be concerned. Since I don't know exactly what that setup change does, in regards to the receiver's power supply, I didn't want to have that to be concerned with. I will state that H-K and Onkyo have superior tonal qualities. Amplifiers are supposed to be neutral, like the ideal "straight wire with gain" but the fact is that amplifier manufacturers oftentimes do "voice" their products just like speaker, cartridge or digital disc player manufacturers do. Onkyo units sound about as neutral as you'll find but if not mated with the right speakers they might sound a bit harsh on the top end. This H-K sounds very neutral to me and is not quite as hard sounding on the top end as Onkyo. Depending on your speakers or phono cartridge or other, you might not hear it this way. But I can say that when I substituted this for my trusty B&K preamp and Carver Mt series power amp, I am not missing anything. In fact the noise and hum of that preamp are gone! I believe that this receiver has a better phono preamp than what is in the B&K preamp. Last night I listened and listened to some of my vinyl collection, along with my Denon DP-47F turntable with a Shure 97Xe cartridge and I heard detail in the records I did not hear with the B&K and I bought the B&K at dealer cost and paid more for just that than this H-K receiver. At 80WPC this thing has enough beef to power all but the most inefficient speakers in average sized listening rooms. This receiver has plenty of audio ins and outs, including a preamp-power amp loop. You could put sound enhancing devices in that loop if you chose to and not lose any other inputs or switching. There is one tape loop plus another video loop that could be used the same way if you needed to. The only video connectors are RCA style, so don't be expecting HDMI ports or feed-throughs. The person who buys this is more interested in traditional audio reproduction rather than to use it to produce movie sound effects. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but that's not what this is built for. So far I'd have to say that at the current special price that Amazon has on this unit - apparently not a discontinued receiver as it is still listed at the H-K web site- you'll not find a better performance to cost product anywhere. I really like this receiver and I've owned many of them over the years.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2011
I finally had to retire my 1980 Pioneer SX-3700. I have been using "vintage" receivers for my home office system for years now. I have never been impressed with modern mid-level 2 channel receivers (can't afford the high end). I stuck with the vintage receivers mostly for the phono input since I mostly listen to vinyl. Modern receivers either dropped the phono input or have dismal sound quality. Its all about the surround sound. Which is fine, I have that part covered for the living room. But I wanted a quality 2 channel receiver for my home office. This is where I listen to most of my music (vinyl, CD, DVD, MP3) So after much research with a tight budget, I settled on the HK 3390.
The HK3390 is an excellent good old fashioned 2 channel receiver for its price range. I gave it five stars but in reality, I would have given it 4.5 stars due to some minor gripes.
Lets start with the good stuff first. First off, the amp is excellent. Very clean with excellent detail. The highs are crisp but not brittle or fatiguing. Plenty of power for the low end without getting boomy or muddy. I am hearing detail in music that did not stand out with the 3700. The phono input is on par with the SX-3700 which is saying a lot. The tuner is one of best sounding ones I have heard in awhile. Signal strength in my area is not an issue so I can't comment on the sensitivity.
Plenty of inputs for various devices. Phono, CD, and three "video/audio" inputs. The three video inputs are simple analog line level inputs that can be used with video. Video 1 also has an output with the input. This is perfect for use with any device that can record. Such as tape, CDR, Minidisc, etc. I have my PC hooked up to Video 1 for recording vinyl. There is a tape input/output w/monitor.
The HK also has a preamp out and main amp in. This can be used for an equalizer loop or to use the receiver as a preamp for another stand alone amplifier. Nice addition for this class of receiver.
The receiver also has dual sub preamp outs. I was finally able to clean up a lot of speaking wiring and use a RCA cable to my sub. Very nice feature to have.
I could stop right there. But if I am going to write a review, I am going to include the bad with the good (don't worry, very little bad).
My biggest complaint is the Bass and Treble controls. Could they have been made any smaller? Really? I do like to adjust the bass and treble for different music. HK, you could have made them big enough for everyday use and still kept your styling intact. You could have also made them "fly by wire" like the volume and added buttons to the remote. Oh well, this is not a deal breaker. Considering the price I paid shipped and the quality of the amp, I will most definitely live with it.
Some Minor gripes.
When using the tape monitor, it flashes T-Mon on that nice big display. No need to make if flash, I can see it on that nice big display.
Control buttons on the receiver are hard to see. Not a big deal. Most people will be using the remote anyway. I consider them backup controls in case the remote dies. At least the receiver has all the needed control buttons so it can be operated without the remote. Still, they should have been back-lit.
The remote is larger than life. Not a plus or minus, it is what it is. But you can't help but chuckle when you unpack it. The good news is the buttons are spaced out nicely making them easy to see and press. Rather a remote that is too big than too small.
The styling took a little to get used to. I have always preferred lots of switches, knobs, buttons, lights, and meters. HK's styling is about as far from that as you can get. However I have to say it has grown on me. It has a clean, modern, classy look. The lighted volume knob is a nice touch as well as the ability to dim the display.
This receiver is really an audio unit, not video. It is video capable but in a world of Hi Def, the composite connections are pointless. This receiver is not capable of providing Hi Def video. If that is a concern, you would be better served with a true surround sound system with HDMI connections. However, if you want hi-fidelity stereo with your shows and movies, connect your cable/converter box and DVD player to the receiver and you are good to go.
If you are looking for a 2 (or 2.1, 2.2) channel stereo receiver dedicated for music, this is a very competent unit (for a mid-range receiver). Considering the price Amazon is selling this model for, it is also outstanding value. I am very pleased I found this item (even with the teeny tiny bass and treble controls).
45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2011
It had been many years since I had an audio system in my life. Back in the 80's I was something of a budding low-end audiophile. (Am I dating myself?) Children and career pressures just didn't leave me time for such niceties. I am at a point in my life where I'm trying to bring that back - on a budget. I wasn't looking for a home theater surround system. I just wanted to play music and didn't want the system spread all over the place. There apparently aren't that many choices for low cost (border low-end audiophile) quality 2-channel equipment which narrowed the search. I quickly zeroed in on the HK 3390. I was a little hesitant to jump into the HK because of the comments regarding the missing features, but with the fields of choices so small and the discounted pricing on a factory reconditioned model I felt that the risk was minimal. I am happy with my choice. Following are some comments some of which mirror the other reviews I have read. There were a few surprises to me, but I did my research beforehand. While some items seem to detract, please read on. The detractors are small details for the most part. This is really a nice unit for the price. I'm giving it only 3 stars because it isn't a perfect unit. I wouldn't expect it to be. This is a simple unit at a competitive low price that trades features for price. I haven't had the opportunity to fully wring out the sound on this yet, but I feel confident that the sound output will be high quality.
The remote is somewhat big. Others had mentioned this, but I find it rather nice. The look and feel of the remote is quite nice and the appearance is of a higher quality than most remotes, however, you do have to point it straight at the receiver like a laser pointer to control it. Rather strange. Not a big deal, but it really shouldn't be this directional. There are no tone or balance controls on the remote. Not a big problem since I usually set and forget those controls. (Knew this. The more expensive models have this, but for me it wasn't worth the very big jump in cost.) There's no "Loudness" button. I will probably be using this at low volume most of the time and I am really missing this ability to give it that boost at lower volumes. Because of this I may end up buying a sub-woofer to compensate. (Keep in mind that I knew this from the reviews, but I didn't know I would miss it this much. I had purchased some bookshelf speakers and the combination is just too weak.) There is no digital input (TOSLINK). I'm new to this technology, but my CD changer has this and it would have been nice to use it. (Again, I knew this.) The text on the front panel for the controls are all but unreadable without really good light because of the small font size and the non-contrasting color of the font. (Knew this too.) The volume knob has no scale, no increments and no stops. Instead it has a volume readout that goes from some strange negative decibel number up to zero. (Why? I don't know.)
Now here are a couple of things that I didn't see in other reviews....
The volume knob is slow to raise lower the volume. It seems to have this fly-by-wire connection to the electronics where you can just twist and twist it (there is no stop, so it will go round and round) and it will raise/lower the volume much slower than 98% of other audio products with volume knobs. Not a big deal, but for me its a (small) step backward from technology on so many products over the last century. I'm sure that this came out of the need to be able to control the volume with the remote, but I don't like it very much. Even with this design it would be easy to have the volume control to be more sensitive/quicker. (Small thing.) The controls for bass, treble and balance are tiny afterthoughts on the front and are recessed. A slight push on each knob extends it out of the cabinet enough to grip it so that you can turn it. The only manufacturing defect I found on mine was that the treble knob would not fully extend. I have to grab it and pull it out. I also rather miss a knob for tuning the stations on the front. Tuning is performed on tiny buttons on the front panel. In fact the only control that is nicely sized is the volume knob. All other controls are similarly very tiny. It has several inputs for video. I'm guessing this is for blue ray, TV, cable boxes and the like. Not sure I will use them. This isn't really a theater system. It has an old style magnetic phone pre-amp input which will be good for those vintage vinyl audiophiles. (Some of the newer phono's have pre-amps built in so this input wouldn't help them.) It has a CD input. It has a tape monitoring input too. Strange though, it doesn't have an input labeled as "Auxiliary". I plan to get an internet appliance later to stream internet radio and Pandora into the receiver. I hope to be able to use one of the video inputs for the audio for this. The unit is big. For an 80 watt/channel system I'm thinking, "Why?" I haven't picked furniture yet. This unit might have trouble fitting in some media furniture. In particular it is very tall and deep. The width though seems typical for a receiver. Just remember that you should have enough room for ventilation wherever you put it. (Not really related to this unit, but I'll avoid furniture with doors and little/no ventilation. I see some media centers with glass doors with small internal shelves for the equipment. It makes me wonder how some of the big surround or stereo receivers will fit and if the heat buildup inside such media centers will be harmful to the electronics. Remember, some of these units are high power and generate a lot of heat. Heat shortens the life of electronics.)
On to some nice things....
Price. I was very happy to find a factory reconditioned unit for almost half of the list price. This makes all of the minor issues above go away. With patience and some shopping you can probably get a similar deal (on a reconditioned unit). For the price I paid I couldn't be happier. There are units out there that are going to be better sonically, but at this price you're going to immediately hit the point of seriously diminishing returns. The look of the unit is excellent. It's very handsome and has the appearance of quality. The front panel has inputs for video and the audio associated with a video source. I'm going to try to use this for my iphone. I'll try to post an update when I figure it out. It has sub-woofer outputs on the back. I'll be using those later.
Would I recommend this to others? Oh yes, but with the caveat that you need to do your research and know what you are getting and what you are not getting. Make sure that you have speakers with adequate low-end bass to compensate for the lack of a loudness feature. A powered sub-woofer with controls will help.
Update 16 January 2011
Yep, the connections on the front can be used for an ipod/iphone. In fact it comes with a cable. This will be just fine until I can get a dock. I needed to read the manual to figure out how to turn the front panel "Video 3" connections on as the connections for Video 3 are on both the front and back panels. I also want to say that FM reception is just fine and the fact that it can scan for stations and save them is very nice.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2010
Wow! What a surprise. I originally was looking for an inexpensive stereo receiver to be used in the garage workshop. What I found was a lot of junk and 5.1. 6.1, and 7.1 AV receivers. I wanted a plain jane model to listen to local AM and FM stations and a few CD's while working. Hey I am a tight wad. Well, I ran across what I thought was a good on the HK- 3390 and took a chance and bought the thing sight unseen and unheard.
This baby will definately not be used for the garage. This is not a bottom shelf receiver. Being a teenager in the 70's the stereo sound emmitting from this baby remindes me of the true Stereo receivers of yester year. When hooked up to my vintage refoamed 70's era AR bookshelf speakers the quality and clearity of the receiver really shines. The crisp, clear, powerful, clean audio is impressive for a receiver at the price point of the HK 3390.
If you are looking for a true quality stereo receiver run, do not walk and pick up this gem of a receiver. The only drawback if one could call it a drawback is the size of the remote. The thing is huge but its buttons are laid out nice and very functional. I guess with its size it will be hard to misplace and the large buttons are a plus for us old timers.;-)
Now I have to looking for another receiver for the garage.......
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2011
I own both the HK 3390 and the HK 3490. Check out my review of the HK 3490, and I added some customer images of it there. The 3390 is great for satellite and sub combo's I would say. The HK 3490 is good for larger towers and full range speakers. Ideally, the ultimate setup with this receiver would be pairing this 3390 with a pair or (two pair) of NHT Classic Three or Classic Two's and a small sub like the Sunfire true sub. You will never miss surround sound again for a second when there is such rich sound quality you can pick out specific individual locations of each individual instrument and effects with clarity and ease within an inch. You can close your eyes and point to the trumpet player where they are standing within an inch. I have some hand-built bookshelf Pinnacle speakers on the 3390 with no sub, and there is no lack of sound anywhere in the frequency range. Yes, you won't feel it pulsate through you with bass, but when you listen to them it doesn't sound like something is missing. Superb detail and natural frequency response. These particular bookshelf's sounded OK at best with the old Pioneer stereo receiver. Now with the HK 3390 they have vibrant clarity, detail, depth, and seem to caress the sound instead of push it.
Looks are awesome, connectivity is great. I watched Transformers Dark Moon and it was awesome at details like the scene where Sam fired from his arm a grapple in the eye of the transformer, you could pick out the individual sounds of concrete smashing the ground and the metal cable being flung around your head with definition and clarity. This is with only 2 speakers and no sub! Effects seemed to have more visceral impact, and depth without overloading the bookshelf speakers like the Pioneer did. The speakers never sounded like they were working hard, always clean, clear, detailed and effortless. It seemed like the HK 3390 could play the bookshelf speakers twice as loud without fatigue than the Pioneer. The Pioneer sounded dull, unintelligible, and stressed compared to the HK 3390 and the Pioneer was "rated" at 100 watts per channel. More powerful? I would have to say even if it was; 10 times out of 10 I would choose/listen to the HK first.
Remote is clear, easy to use and the layout works. I wish it was programmable to use all my other devices and I also wish it was back lit. The User's manual is more than a pain, you can't find anything you want to learn, and when you do find it you wish you didn't. Unintuitive wording and organization make it worth more as firewood in your fireplace.
In conclusion, I would purchase this one if you are considering bookshelf or small wall mounted satellites with sub. I would go with the HK 3490 if you are considering full range towers like the Cerwin-Vega XLS215, XLS12 or if you go with 4 speakers or multi-room setup. Either way make sure you get excellent speaker cables like the GLS Audio 12AWG speaker wire, and optical toslink digital cable. You can hear a very noticable audible clarity and definition difference in using those connections.
PS: If you are looking for the best bookshelf speakers to go with this HK 3390, the best out there would be NHT Classic Three's or Classic Two's- do some research no respectable reviewer would argue with me on that. With a good sub like Sunfire True Sub this would be the golden setup. If you can't afford those, go with Cerwin-Vega XLS28 or XLS6. I have the NHT Classic Two's and love them! For towers, forget all that Sony, Bose, Klipch, Polk and such. Go straight to Cerwin-Vega. I did, I have some custom tower Cerwin Vegas. NONE can even come close for the price. The clarity, detail, definition, super tight bass response and natural frequency extension is way out of their price range. The Cerwin-Vega XLS215 in all the reviews says you cannot compare this speaker to anything under $5000.00 as it blows everything else out of the water. No one makes affordable speakers like Cerwin-Vega- they have 5 year warranties on them.
My professional career has went from designing and installing custom studios to installing custom home theaters upwards of $200,000.00 and have not experienced this level of neutral natural definition and detail before! I have heard just about everything on the market, being in the industry; the PSB, Martin Logan, Legacy, Genesis, Jamo, Meridian, Mirage, KEF, B&W, Paradigm, Klipch, Bose, Polk, Krell, Sony, Tannoy, Sunfire, Bang & Olusfen, Definitive Technology, and more than I can remember. These Classic Two's are the most natural, clean, detailed, bookshelf/satellite's in the world next to the Classic Three. I also have NEVER been a fan of Harman Kardon products, but this receiver has made a believer out of me, that is saying something if you knew me. I would highly recommend this receiver with these speakers for any audiophile out there.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2009
The best receiver I have ever owned.
I just got this in the mail today, and was so blown away that I decided to write a review. This is the first time I have ever been compelled to write a review so that is saying something.
First off, this is a music receiver plain and simple. No fancy video components here, just simple raw musical power. You may look at this and think why should I spend $200+ on receiver that is only 80 watts a channel when I can spend the same and get a 1000 watt surround sound system. These ratings are true full bandwith power ratings, and these 80 watts will outpower just about anything. It even rivals my $1000+ 120W a channel denon av receiver.
Enough about power, what really matters is sound quality. Right now I have these hooked up to a pair of old $15 garage sale speakers, and this receiver makes those sound incredible. They are big old speakers, and this thing makes those old speakers sing. Rock and country sounds amazing, and when I turn on the party mix, this puts out bass to rival my 12 inch powered sub.
Needless to say, I am amazed by this receiver. And if you are trying to put together an amazing sounding music set up, look no further.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2009
I've only had this HK 3390 a month, so I can't really speak to longevity and durability. Also, I'm not a card-carrying "audiophile". I am, however, a lifelong guitar player with an ear for sound. I bought some new stuff all at the same time: this receiver, a pair of Klipsch Synergy B-2 bookshelf speakers, and a pair of ASW-8" subs (all to go with a CD player I already had). So, I have a bit of a "mid-fi" 2.2 music system going. Not exactly sure how much credit to give each piece of gear... but I'm hearing things in familiar recordings that I just have never heard before. All is vivid, crisp, and warm. I can wholeheartedly endorse this combination of components!