Harman Kardon 3490 vs Yamaha A-S500BL - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 36 Old 05-21-2013, 08:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello!

I am looking for a receiver or amplifier to replace my aging Philips FR 968. After a TON of research, I have narrowed my search down to these two pieces of equipment, but I can't make a decision! Both have favorable reviews, but I notice the Yamaha is not that throughly reviewed like the HK is. I would love to go and listen to them, however no stores in my area carry both of them. I listen to Vinyl on my Audio Technica LP-120 and digital audio on my Cowon i10, but I am planning on adding a CD player soon. I currently have some old Bose speakers, and I would like to get rid of those, but that is another story for another time. wink.gif

The number one thing I am looking for is the best sound quality I can get for the price, which I realize is subjective, but descriptions are all I have at this point. Bells and whistles are just a perk, and something I have no issue going without.

Thank you all so much!

-Josh

Links:


Harman Kardon HK 3490:

http://www.harmankardon.com/estore/hk/us/products/HK-3490/HK%203490_HK_US

http://www.amazon.com/Harman-Kardon-HK-3490-Receiver/dp/B00198F89A%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAIAA4MWUJXHBYFRNQ%26tag%3Dsquid940436-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB00198F89A

Yamaha A-S500BL:

http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio-visual/hifi-components/amps/a-s500/

http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-A-S500BL-Integrated-Theater-Amplifier/dp/B0044779HW
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post #2 of 36 Old 05-22-2013, 12:12 AM
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HK has digital inputs so if you need that then it's an easy pick. I used to own the 3490 and wouldnt hesitate to get it again. Get the one that has the feature set you need

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post #3 of 36 Old 05-22-2013, 05:09 AM
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I'd probably go with the HK 3490 as well. It's more powerful and according to audioholics has an amp section very stable for 4 ohm speakers. T'his will somewhat future proof you for potential speaker upgrades in the future. You need to step up to the Yamaha -as1000 to get something spec'ed for 4 ohm speakers.

http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/receivers/hk-3490/hk-3490-introduction
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post #4 of 36 Old 05-22-2013, 06:09 AM
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IMO the amplifiers of the 3490 are much better-designed and will drive almost any speaker well. Good sound quality is what you will get with it.

The majority of speakers (even those that are nominally rated at 8 ohms) actually go down to 4 or 5 ohms at some frequencies.

The Yamaha is not designed to drive speakers that require that kind of drive current, and for decent performance that really limits you to the few speakers that have the highest impedances (and its hard to locate those, since the damn manufacturers don't publish a graph of impedance vs frequency).

The Yamaha amplifier design is very poor IMO. I would never recommend a Yamaha (or Pioneer, or Sony) for that reason.
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post #5 of 36 Old 05-22-2013, 10:51 AM
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^^ Anecdotal at best. Pay close attention to the "IMO". The Yamaha is indeed rated for 4 ohm speakers, yet again your "O" is useless. rolleyes.gif

I looked at both of these and a third, the Onkyo TX-8050. Crutchfield is just down the road from me, auditions (for what they're worth) is easy. I found no difference, all three had similar characteristics (and support for 4 ohm speakers). Crutchfield had no recommendation of one over the other two. I went with the Onkyo, the only reason was that it's a networked receiver with onboard apps for streaming Pandora, Spotify and others, and can be completely remote controlled by my Android mobile devices. The convenience can't be beat. It also has one priority that was important to me - preamp outputs for both sub and second zone. Zone 1 speakers are easy to drive, those that I have in Zone 2 are connected to an external amp.

Honestly, I am looking at going with an AVR with comparable features and selling my Onkyo (Denon ACVR-2113CI is on my radar). The one thing none of these provides for is bass management, everything is output as a full signal. I understand enough about audio now to want the most from my speakers and my room, and there are no 2-channel dedicated receivers that can fully deliver. YMMV, but if you have a subwoofer this is something to consider. Just a thought.
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post #6 of 36 Old 05-22-2013, 02:29 PM
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Bass management is a nice feature to have, but to listen to these guys around here, your system will suck if you have a 2 channel receiver with a sub that doesn't have bass management. However, I have the HK 3490, running it with a sub, and am quite impressed by how it sounds. You can achieve superb results without bass management by properly placing your speakers and setting up your room, and then use your own ears to set your sub. Try the subwoofer crawl for optimal placement and then play with the volume until it's just how you like it.
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post #7 of 36 Old 05-22-2013, 03:13 PM
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Yes, we're aware of your HK 3490, you recommend it all over the place smile.gif

Nobody said your system would suck. I wouldn't listen to mine if that were the case.

Speaker placement and subwoofer crawl have nothing to do with it, and [depending on the range of the speakers in question] it's impossible to achieve "superb results" without some level of bass management. But then again, your perception of superb and mine may deviate somewhat. I spend good money for speakers that play within a specified frequency range, so it makes no sense sending what they can't handle. If you're fine with the way your system sounds then that's just great, I'm happy for you. That's altogether a different argument. People come here for advice, they should get the best.

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post #8 of 36 Old 05-22-2013, 04:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

^^ Anecdotal at best. Pay close attention to the "IMO". The Yamaha is indeed rated for 4 ohm speakers, yet again your "O" is useless. rolleyes.gif

When I went to Yamaha's site to check, they make no mention of 4 ohms on any of that line until you get to the AS-1000. The 500 and 700 they clearly spec at 8 ohms.
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post #9 of 36 Old 05-22-2013, 05:54 PM
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Either the H-K or the Yamaha will be fine. The Onkyo TX 8050 is nice also (more features and available cheap on Amazon right now).

Of those three, buy any of the three based on features and which has looks you like. They should all sound fine and all have competent amp outputs. The H-K might have the most power output capability, but it's not a huge difference.
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post #10 of 36 Old 05-22-2013, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glangford View Post

When I went to Yamaha's site to check, they make no mention of 4 ohms on any of that line until you get to the AS-1000. The 500 and 700 they clearly spec at 8 ohms.

The Yamaha site is rather pitiful. What I'm looking at provides a grand total of 8 lines of technical specs, 7 of them pretty much useless. I usually go to Crutchfield's website, which is consistent in its detailed specs. Where they lack B&H Photo is another good one for thorough specs.

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post #11 of 36 Old 05-22-2013, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

Yes, we're aware of your HK 3490, you recommend it all over the place smile.gif

Nobody said your system would suck. I wouldn't listen to mine if that were the case.

Speaker placement and subwoofer crawl have nothing to do with it, and [depending on the range of the speakers in question] it's impossible to achieve "superb results" without some level of bass management. But then again, your perception of superb and mine may deviate somewhat. I spend good money for speakers that play within a specified frequency range, so it makes no sense sending what they can't handle. If you're fine with the way your system sounds then that's just great, I'm happy for you. That's altogether a different argument. People come here for advice, they should get the best.

I recommend it because I believe in it. I don't have a problem with someone wanting to use an AVR for a 2.1 channel system. I also don't have a problem with someone recommending an AVR for a 2.1 system. What I have a problem with is when someone says "I've narrowed down my search to A and B, which do you think I should get?" and someone says something to the effect of "Well neither A or B have xyz features so you shouldn't even consider them." Now I'm not accusing you of saying any such thing, I am merely explaining my previous response to the OP.
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post #12 of 36 Old 05-23-2013, 09:16 AM
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^^^ Thanks. Your sensitivities are duly noted, and your reluctance to falsely accuse appreciated.

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post #13 of 36 Old 05-23-2013, 09:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone for your replies! biggrin.gif I think I am going to go for the HK as it has all the power I will probably ever need, I love the looks, and to be honest, I just feel more comfortable with it for some reason. I plan on getting an HD 990 for my new CD player, hooking up my parents old equalizer - since the HK has the proper inputs - and then topping it all off with a new pair of Polk TSI100Bs.

Thank you all so much again for your replies!

-Josh
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post #14 of 36 Old 05-25-2013, 03:09 PM
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Isn't that a pretty expensive cd player to use with those Polks and your parents old equalizer? smile.gif Might I suggest a good used OPPO dvd player like a 970 or 980 or even an H/K dvd 47 or 48 (all of which will also play DVD/A/SACD) and a pair of Polk LSi 7's or 9's?

The H/K EQ8 would be a good choice for an EQ. They go for under $100 on ebay/craigslist. I've had a couple and they are whisper quiet. Otherwise, look for an EQ with a S/N ratio of over 100 db. Most consumer level EQ's from the '70's and 80's really aren't that good. Too much distortion.
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post #15 of 36 Old 05-25-2013, 04:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gene c353 View Post

Isn't that a pretty expensive cd player to use with those Polks and your parents old equalizer? smile.gif Might I suggest a good used OPPO dvd player like a 970 or 980 or even an H/K dvd 47 or 48 (all of which will also play DVD/A/SACD) and a pair of Polk LSi 7's or 9's?

The H/K EQ8 would be a good choice for an EQ. They go for under $100 on ebay/craigslist. I've had a couple and they are whisper quiet. Otherwise, look for an EQ with a S/N ratio of over 100 db. Most consumer level EQ's from the '70's and 80's really aren't that good. Too much distortion.

The reason I was going to go for the HD 990 was because I can get it for 300.00 cheaper then the MSRP by going for a refurb from Harman. The two you listed seem to be just as good though, and for a much cheaper price! I have to ask though, would the sound quality be any different in comparison?

The EQ is an old AudioSource EQ 8, and it does have some issues already because of its age. I would LOVE to go for one to match the receiver! As for the speakers, I can get the TSI100Bs at a steep discount because of where I work, but if they won't sound good with my system, I will keep looking for alternatives.

Thanks! biggrin.gif
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post #16 of 36 Old 05-25-2013, 05:24 PM
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The AudioSource EQ8 has a S/N ratio of >85 db so I'd pass on it. The H/K 990 may very well sound a bit better then the other two I listed but I've had both the OPPO 970 and H/K 47 and was impressed with both as cd players. In fact the H/K 47 really surprised me while hooked up with the analog inputs. I'm sure others here have more experience with this then I do but I think the money could be better spent on better speakers then a more expensive cd player. What other speakers can you get a discount on?
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post #17 of 36 Old 05-25-2013, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Good to know, the HK EQ8 is going to be a must have then! Also a good point with the CD player. I will probably end up comparing the CD players you listed and looking into other alternatives as well. I work at h.h. gregg and their selection is sadly limited. The only brands they carry that are worth a damn in the speaker department are Polk and Klipsch, and even then they don't have much to look at!
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post #18 of 36 Old 05-25-2013, 06:17 PM
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Ya, HH Gregg doesn't have much of a speaker selection. I'd almost recommend you use your discount on the Onkyo DX 390 cd changer and use the money you were going to spend on the H/K 990 and look elswhere for better speakers. There are many fine ones in the $300 range (or less) to choose from. Browse the Speaker forum for ideas.

Personally, I buy used speakers most of the time. I've bought some Dynaudio Audience 50's and Revel M12's for $300/pr and even some Infinity Beta 20's for $30 off craigslist.
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post #19 of 36 Old 05-25-2013, 06:37 PM - Thread Starter
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I am thinking that is exactly what I am going to do. I was looking at the Onkyo earlier, I will have to give it a second look and see how much I can get it for. I will look to see if I can get those Polk LSis you mentioned for a good price from eBay or something too... smile.gif

Thanks for bringing all of this up, I think I might have been making a terrible mistake otherwise!
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post #20 of 36 Old 05-25-2013, 06:59 PM
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Check Polks ebay store for refurbished LSi7's and LSi9's. But remember, there are many other fine speakers to consider.
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post #21 of 36 Old 05-25-2013, 11:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Will do, and of course! I am going to be pouring over a ton of reviews and forum posts. biggrin.gif
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post #22 of 36 Old 05-26-2013, 06:07 AM
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Don't confuse anyone with facts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by glangford View Post

When I went to Yamaha's site to check, they make no mention of 4 ohms on any of that line until you get to the AS-1000. The 500 and 700 they clearly spec at 8 ohms.
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post #23 of 36 Old 05-26-2013, 09:29 AM
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^^^ We fully understand why you might feel that way. rolleyes.gif

I'm just guessing, but according to the owner's manual the presence of a 4 ohm selector on the A-S500 just might indicate some level of support.

Polk LSi are very nice speakers, but they're power hungry.

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LSi's are 4 ohm but the 3490 should be O. K. with them. I'm driving 5 LSi's to moderate levels with either a Marantz 6005 or Elite vsx-23 without any issues (so far). 8 ohm RTi's would also be an option or as I said before, any number of other speakers in his price range. I just hope he spends more on the speakers then he does on the cd player. A lot more.
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post #25 of 36 Old 05-26-2013, 04:03 PM - Thread Starter
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I just picked up the 3490 and the EQ 8 last night, I am not even considering the CD player for the moment until I find good speakers first. smile.gif
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post #26 of 36 Old 05-27-2013, 04:51 AM
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Yes, my Onkyo (also 4 ohm compatible) did fine with the LSi 9 but were better when I moved an external amp over to drive them. The HK should have no problems either.

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Do not waist your money on Polk speakers. Especially if you are going to get those really nice components, ie, the 3490 and HD990. Those Polk speakers will not let the benefits of improved sound quality come through with those nice components that you purchased. I mean that you would be better served by going with a used pair of speakers from A-gon or Ebay, or look into some of the internet direct companies such as Ascend Acoustics, HSU, Chase, and you might even think about doing a DIY build.
If you go with a DIY build, you would end up with much better sound quality and spend a lot less money in the process. There are speaker kits that you can purchase from DIYSoundgroup and some others.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martycool007 View Post

Do not waist your money on Polk speakers. Especially if you are going to get those really nice components, ie, the 3490 and HD990. Those Polk speakers will not let the benefits of improved sound quality come through with those nice components that you purchased. I mean that you would be better served by going with a used pair of speakers from A-gon or Ebay, or look into some of the internet direct companies such as Ascend Acoustics, HSU, Chase, and you might even think about doing a DIY build.
If you go with a DIY build, you would end up with much better sound quality and spend a lot less money in the process. There are speaker kits that you can purchase from DIYSoundgroup and some others.

I am open to everything and anything at this point! I like Polk because I have been listening to their speakers for literally all my life. My parents have had nothing but Polk for as long as I can remember, and I know how they sound and I like that. I do know however, that there are much better sounding brands/speakers out there though. I did find a brand that does look promising; MartinLogan. Their Motion 15 and 4s seem like they would be wonderful. I would have to save for a while, but it is doable! biggrin.gif
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post #29 of 36 Old 06-01-2013, 11:03 PM
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Why the HD990 CD player? If you already have a Cowon, I assuming you must have some digital music files already. Why not rip your cds and then use the optical input on the HK 3490 to connect a computer? The HK 3490 is supposed to have a fairly decent DAC. I have not heard it, but I have the 3390. Excellent hooked up with a decent DAC to my computer. If you don't have a computer to hook up, there are streaming devices you could use and/or you could pick up a newer model refurb laptop for Lenovo for about the same price as the 990. But a CD player isn't going to offer any SQ advantage over digital from a computer.

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post #30 of 36 Old 06-15-2013, 09:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry it has taken me sooooo long to respond, I have been terribly busy.

I am actually looking at getting a vintage CD player from a friend instead of the HD990. I have no idea who the manufacturer is yet though... Its a matter of preference for me. I generally only listen to my Cowon when I am on the go, not so much when at home. As such the music files are not the best quality, and are just meant for distracted listening.

Edit: Yay, grammar!
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