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Hi everyone. My first post here and need some suggestions.

about 10 years ago, I set up my audio system with Harman Kardon HK3490 + JBL L830 bookshelf (bi-wiring) speakers for my music listening in my living space. However, I've rarely used them quite a lot during the past decade due to my heavy load of personal work.

Today, I have enoungh time to spend my audio time again and just wondering "WHAT'S GOING ON DURING MY 10-YEAR LOST IN SPACE" regarding how technologies move on.

Is my system still good today? This question is in my head.

Update: I just added 10" Polk HTS-10 subwoofer hooked in my HK3490 with a very great deal last week and it obviously added my low frequency quite OK.

Now I have HK3490 + L830 on stands + HTS-10 sub. Just test them with my favorite music and I'm quite OK with what they deliver. Just wondering how they perform compare to up-to-date system with same budget.

I'm much more serious about music than movie. Music : Movie = 90 : 10 (and I'm OK about PCM downmixing 5.1 7.1 9.1 or whatever to 2.1 when watching movie)

Let's say, if I have about 800-1000 bucks for upgrading my system (i.e. make my system up-to-date), should I upgrade?

If just 800-1000 bucks don't change my whole system like day and night, I'll keep my money to spend on anything else.

Very thanks in advanced for any suggestions.
 

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$800 - $1000 could buy you new speakers if you're unhappy with your L830's.

If you only listen to stereo you may not need to change out your HK. A more current stereo receiver will give you things like networking, music streaming (Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, etc). How are you playing your music? Vinyl? CD? Other sources?

Some 2 channel receivers actually have HDMI inputs and bass management for subwoofers. Unfortunately Harman Kardon has pulled out of the AVR market. Now if you want a true AVR with all the newest video features such as HDMI 2.1, Dolby Atmos, 4K video, etc yeah a new receiver would get you all of those things but you only want to do 2.1 so how much of that is important?
 

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I still have the HK3480 from circa 2005. It's the previous model but similar to HK3490 without the digital inputs. After owning many other amps thereafter, I found the HK to sound grainy and bright. Adjusting the tone control doesn't improve its sub-par resolution. Moreover, it takes ~10 mins to warm up from cold start. Prior to that, it sounds much more horrible than its normal sound. Recent amps feature instant warm up, sound smoother and have more balanced tone. IME the HK pairs okay with warm speakers but not with neutral to bright speakers.

Upgrading speakers usually has more impact to sound improvement than upgrading amps. I am not familiar with the 830's but in your case I suggest to try a better amp with the current speakers. A good dedicated 2 ch amp rather than mass produced AVRs would be a better choice. There will be an initial resistance to the new sound signature, especially if you've been accustomed to the HK for many years. Pay attention to the improvement in resolution, soundstage and imaging. The better amp would reveal more nuances. Less bright sound signature doesn't mean less details. The HK's exaggerated highs could be perceived as more detailed. Observe the improved mids and tighter mid-bass with the better amp (with better damping factor than the HK).

As far as speakers in general, I've found the recent models to be much improved than the equivalent older models at the same price point within the same brand. If you are open to other brands, there are much more options which I'm sure the experts here at AVS forum will fill you in.
 

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Thanks for all of your comments.

As afrogt mentioned, if up-to-date 2 channel receivers just give me the wide range of input networking, I may not buy-in those features. I'm happy with just 3.5mm converter to RCA with iPod or Bluetooth via nice Bluetooth RCA converter box. CD player is also still one of my favorite input. Last but not least, I plan to get a very nice musical DAC in the market soon. Obviously, I'm an old school guy with low-tech knowledge. Then, the networking or convenience for streaming may not for me at this moment.

As Gyroscopics suggested, I'll probably go to the shop in my city center to test the current model of speakers within my budget whether or not they perform better than my L830. Sadly, I live in the country that choices or variation of systems are very limited since almost all of people here are now moving to AVR 5.1 system + DTS HD + Atmos ++ features things and left the old school 2.0 guy (like me) behind. Choices of brands in my country are also limited. They sell only global popular brandname like JBL HK Bose Onkyo Marantz Denon etc.

PS: Totally agree about warm up the HK about 5-10 minutes to get the best result though.

PS2: Actually, I'm not unhappy with the L830. Just curious about same budget for modern speakers performance compare to my old one. I know now, I must give them a try by myself.
 

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I have a pair of Studio L830's and L880's, as well as many others at the moment including the newer JBL 530's. L830's are excellent speakers regardless of their age. If two channel music is your thing then look for a good used two channel preamplifier and separate amp. Maybe even add a good quality eq. Upgrading the sub would be next on the list. A two channel analog pre-amp would be a nice upgrade over a stereo receiver. Wonder over to the "2 Channel Audio" forum for more advice on a 2.1 system. I should have kept my Emotiva USP-1. Live and learn. Well...live anyway.
 

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Thanks for all of your comments.

As afrogt mentioned, if up-to-date 2 channel receivers just give me the wide range of input networking, I may not buy-in those features. I'm happy with just 3.5mm converter to RCA with iPod or Bluetooth via nice Bluetooth RCA converter box. CD player is also still one of my favorite input. Last but not least, I plan to get a very nice musical DAC in the market soon. Obviously, I'm an old school guy with low-tech knowledge. Then, the networking or convenience for streaming may not for me at this moment.
If all your inputs are digital (optical/coax/USB) or via bluetooth and you already plan to get a DAC, then I suggest to skip the preamp, get a DAC with (digital) volume control and use it as pre-amp for all digital sources, then get a good amp. A good combination which will last you a long time technology-wise:

DAC: Topping D90
AMP: Hypex NCore NC502 based amp
https://vtvamplifier.com/product/vtv-amplifier-stereo-hypex-nc502mp-ncore-amplifier-500wx2/

The above combo is a little over your budget of 800 to 1000 bucks. You can go with below alternate combo which fits your budget and still get good results:

DAC: Topping D50s (no XLR output)
AMP: Hypex NCore NC252 based amp (lower input sensitivity to match the D50s, you need RCA to XLR adapter)
https://vtvamplifier.com/product/vtv-stereo-amplifier-based-on-hypex-ncore-nc252mp/


The D90 use the latest AK 4499 DAC Chip, latest bluetooth codecs and is the TOTL for that brand. It comes with a remote to control the volume and switch between inputs. It betters other DACs 2x or 3x its price. The D50s use ES 9038 DAC chip (also latest for Sabre DACs), has similar features as the D90 but no XLR output.

The Hypex amp modules have been measured to be very accurate and have lots of reserve power. You will never feel the need for more power in the future (with NC502) even if you get planar speakers later. You can go higher level with Purifi based amps which look better on paper, but I doubt the extra cost over Hypex would justify the improvement in sound if at all audible.

Use the XLR output from the D90 DAC to the NC502 amp as that particular amp model has nominal input sensitivity of 2.35Vrms (peak 3.32Vrms) and the D90 features 4Vrms line-level output over XLR. This combination (with XLR) will give you dynamics and resolution you probably haven't heard before. DACs have come a long way from 10 years ago. These new lines of Class-D amps (Hypex NCore/Purifi) have also matched or bettered equivalent Class AB amps. I say this from experience.

You may add a pre-amp later to handle analog sources, but I suggest to try DAC-to-AMP first (make sure the DAC has digital volume control). An inexpensive passive volume attenuator will also do the trick if you want a physical volume control knob.

https://www.amazon.com/Nobsound-Fully-Balanced-Single-Ended-Pre-Amplifier-Controller/dp/B01MXC9HHW/ref=sr_1_28?dchild=1&keywords=nobosound+xlr+volume+control&qid=1595001329&sr=8-28

With the above device, you don't need a separate RCA to XLR converter. That functionality is included.

Below is an alternative if you don't need XLR input/output:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GRLV7XG/?coliid=I3VP4OYA0M59VE&colid=10FI1HGIXFJ5I&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it
 

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Discussion Starter #8
If all your inputs are digital (optical/coax/USB) or via bluetooth and you already plan to get a DAC, then I suggest to skip the preamp, get a DAC with (digital) volume control and use it as pre-amp for all digital sources, then get a good amp. A good combination which will last you a long time technology-wise:

___________


Very thanks again for your superb suggestion.

I'll take a look one by one from your recommendation. Some may be available in my country, some may not though. You'll probably be right. I may just want a great DAC + amp for now (if no new modern speakers make me feel WOW in the shop)

However, Thanks again for your great comment.
 

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If all your inputs are digital (optical/coax/USB) or via bluetooth and you already plan to get a DAC, then I suggest to skip the preamp, get a DAC with (digital) volume control and use it as pre-amp for all digital sources, then get a good amp. A good combination which will last you a long time technology-wise:

___________


Very thanks again for your superb suggestion.

I'll take a look one by one from your recommendation. Some may be available in my country, some may not though. You'll probably be right. I may just want a great DAC + amp for now (if no new modern speakers make me feel WOW in the shop)

However, Thanks again for your great comment.
I didn't know your location, so I assumed you are in continental USA and provided links to Amazon USA and VTV (Ohio USA based). There are other Hypex/Purifi assemblers based in Europe.
 

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I didn't know your location, so I assumed you are in continental USA and provided links to Amazon USA and VTV (Ohio USA based). There are other Hypex/Purifi assemblers based in Europe.
_____________

I live in Asia Pacific. To be more precise, Thailand.

However, most products from links you provided should have no problem to ship to my country.

Thanks.
 
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