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My HK 3490 lacks power

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I recently bought the HK 3490 for my brother. I have an HK 3475 (stereo receiver rated at 110W/channel) and I have been pleased with it, which is why I bought the HK 3490. However, it doesnt seem to have the power it should have.

When the HK 3490 is at -20 dB, it is fairly quiet. My brother's old receiver is a ~15 year old, cheap 5 channel Kenwood that is much louder at -20 dB (for the HK 3490 to match it at -20dB, it has to be roughly at -7dB). For louder music (not deafening), the HK 3490 has to be at close to 0 dB. So I think something is wrong. My HK 3475 has loads more power and much better sound quality at higher volumes than the Kenwood (I tested it quite a few years ago). I can't directly compare the HK 3475 and the HK 3490 because I live a few states away now.

Harman Kardon customer service could not help much regarding the lack of power output, just saying to reset the unit, which didn't change anything. I am not an audiophile, but I know how to hook up speakers and a CD player and MP3 player to the receiver, and use the radio. I also have a direct comparison by hooking up the Left speaker to the old Kenwood and the right speaker to the new HK 3490. I could not find a simple reason for the problem. The speakers are JBL northridge E60, if that makes any difference.

Before I return it, I was wondering if there is anything else to consider. Is it possible to just get a "dud" that is weak? It seems unlikely. Would it even be worth going through the hassle of exchanging it? I like my HK 3475 enough that I don't want to give up on the 3490...

All the reviews I have read, and all the forum posts say that the HK 3490 is powerful with good sound quality

Any help would be appreciated.
post #2 of 22
I found my HK 3490 to be pleasing, especially through digital audio connections. I think there might be a difference in whether the audio is analog or digital, and I found the digital to be better, clearer, and certainly louder. OTOH, if you had that much of a difference, then I would definitely exchange it for another one.
post #3 of 22
Sounds to me like something might be wrong, connections, setup, or maybe you do just have a "dud". I have a 3490 with some Klipsch KG4's(94db sensitivity) and your JBL's are not that much lower at 90dbs. I personally listen to these speakers quite loud, and have NEVER gotten the 3490 over -15db on it. And let me tell you those speakers were screaming, and could be heard outside the house quite easily. I have it hooked up through an optical cable from a cd changer, and the HK ipod dock. Hopefully you get everything worked out. I did have it though nice rca cables at first, but the optical cable played cleaner and louder.
post #4 of 22
It sounds like you're just comparing numbers on the dial. If one goes to 100 and the other goes to 10, is the first one 10x louder than the other?

The 3490 may just have a more graduated volume scale. If it performs well, I wouldn't worry about it.
post #5 of 22
Well we are comparing the same stereo receiver...not different models or brands, if it were different your point would be valid. Im just trying to let him know what kinda output mine has at a certain volume number. And if you read his, it appears he believes his is not performing well, hence the questions.
post #6 of 22
I'm not referring to your 3490 and his. I'm talking about him comparing an old Kenwood receiver to the new 3490.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input.

I have considered that the volume at a given dB may vary from receiver to receiver. The HK 3490 does go to +10 dB, however, the manual says not to exceed 0 dB.

I don't think the receiver is designed to always run between -7 dB and 0 dB...I expected the volume to be much louder than it is at 0 dB.

I especially appreciate the input from another HK 3490 owner who never turns it up to less than -15 dB, as my HK 3490 would always be turned up louder than that. I think I will try an exchange.

If any other HK 3490 owner happens to read this thread, further input about the volume at a given dB would be appreciated. I am not looking for extremely loud music here, just enough for personal listening in an average sized living room.
post #8 of 22
Just another input... HK3490 owner w/96dB speakers here. My preferred listening volume is between -40 and -30 dB volume on the dial, and I sit about 7' away from the speakers in a 12' x 24' room, if that helps at all.

Granted I don't "rock out" so to speak, I prefer my music at comfortable, moderate volumes. But even if I did rock out I most likely wouldn't even get close to 0dB. I tried once and it was painful. -15dB is very loud to me on my system.
post #9 of 22
I very rarely go beyond -30dB on the dial. Anything beyond that is painstakingly loud. I usually listen between -40dB and -50dB - both of which are very comfortable for me.

In terms of speaker sensitivity...
- Left and right channel speakers are rated at 92dB/1 watt/1 meter
- Subwoofer is rated at 96dB/1 watt/1 meter

It's a small office, so I don't need to turn up the volume to compensate for room size.
post #10 of 22
It could be ur CD player. That happend to me. I have two CD players , both cheap, 1 is a Sony and the other is non brand name, although they both appear to be low quality CD players, the Sony one actually played at least 10 db louder.
Maybe try a different cd player.
post #11 of 22
Try a Kenwood,Denon,Onkyo,Pioneer & yeah Sony CD Players are no good. The only good Sony is the ES Series.
post #12 of 22
This sounds like a classic room acoustics issue. You're sitting in a big null spot. Turning the sub up will only make it worse. If you move around the room do you get more bass in some areas than in others?
post #13 of 22
3490 w/ JBL L820s (computer setup/near-field).

average listening range -40 to -30
max i think i've ever gone -19 ... and that was incredibly loud.
post #14 of 22
90db speaker sensitivity

Usually listen between -35-40db

If I go above -30 it gets really loud.
post #15 of 22
I have a 3490 with a pair of Polk Monitor 70's. If i turned it up to zero i would blow my eardrums apart, im not kidding id go deaf and pictures would be falling all the walls.

I usualy listen at -40 to -35. I have it connected via optical to my TV.
post #16 of 22
Wow a lot of people with sensitive ears in here! I had the 3490 set up with 90 db speakers from about 1.5 meters from me and would once in awhile jam a tune at zero. Not for very long, of course, but that was pretty fun when I did.
post #17 of 22
My vote is that the source you are using is putting out too small of a signal. Are you experiencing this low volume issue with a variety of sources, including the built-in tuner?
post #18 of 22
I have the same question, I just purchased the 3490 for use with a pair of Wharfedale 9.4's. Probably due to the 86db rating, I need to crank the receiver upto -15db for moderate movie watching, even connected with Coaxial. I hear no improvement in the audio with The Dolby Virtual Speaker function. For music, this receiver is great, but for the hike in price and brand name I was expecting more. This receiver sounds no better than the 60W Onkyo SR308 it replaced. In comparison to that receiver, its dynamic range is very compressed. Very disappointed. I am returning this and going with a NAD, Onkyo 8555, or Yamaha RX-497
post #19 of 22
Does it have a mute button? If so, make sure it is not pressed.
post #20 of 22
1) How to enter in the menu?
2) How change impedance between 4 and 8 Ohm? does it is stucked to 8 Ohm?
3) Why at -20 dB, bass tone at full, my floorstanding 3 ways biamplified seems goes to the end with cones,, they produces hard knocking and cones are moving too much?

I have 2 IL 140W and i don't understand why they are not able to produce so much bass at so low volume: hk3490 has only 120W :O

4) why dimmer function does not work on Video1-2-3 input?
post #21 of 22
post #22 of 22
georged82, how did you reset your 3490. I have also noticed that I need to be turned up around -20 to -15 to get volume where I want it. And that's sitting only a few feet away. It seems like the receiver has more power to offer but I haven't really pushed it further as I don't want to blow my speakers (bookshelf speakers, 100w rated, 90db sensitivity). I was not aware that HK recommends against turning the thing up past -10. That makes me worry that when/if I get new speaker that can handle more power I will not be able to achieve significantly higher volume. Does a "reset" change things much?
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