Harman Kardon HK 3490
Powerful and stylish stereo receiver.
- Powerful, clean amplification, great looks
- No universal remote
If you need a powerful stereo audio receiver, then look no further than the HK 3490. Teamed up with some capable floor-standing speakers it’s able to reproduce high-quality audio with no flaws whatsoever.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
Harman Kardon is a legendary name in the home theatre business. The products it releases are by and large of exceedingly high quality. The HK 3490 is no different. It’s a stereo receiver that provides fantastically clean and crisp amplification, as well as a host of extra features that make it an attractive prospect.
It’s a great product to look at: a modern yet classy A/V component with a minimalist style. The clear, simple LCD screen is integrated into the fascia of the unit, with a hollow volume control wheel taking pride of place on the right side of the face. There are plenty of buttons — we counted 20 — on the front, but thankfully they are organised into a small row. The labels are difficult to read, but we don’t foresee these buttons being used particularly often — that’s what the complex and comprehensive remote control is for.
The remote control has plenty of buttons, but it isn’t a universal model like we’ve seen with other receivers. Unfortunately, this means it can’t be used with other products in your home cinema; if you’re really serious you’ll have access to a dedicated universal remote like the Harmony One anyway.
As you’d expect, you can switch between a multitude of audio inputs: two digital audio inputs (both coaxial and optical) as well as seven analog stereo inputs, including a phono input for connecting a record player. Only composite video switching is available, but this speaks to the HK 3940’s focused role as an audio receiver rather than a jack of all trades.
There are also several analog outputs and two subwoofer pre-outs, so you’re able to daisy-chain plenty more audio equipment if you have it. There is a connector for Harman Kardon’s Bridge II iPod dock, for easy playback from compatible Apple products like the iPod touch (2nd Generation). Also present is an AM/FM tuner which has exceptionally good reception; even in difficult conditions it was able to resolve a clear signal.
The HK 3490 can handle a continuous output of 120 Watts to two channels simultaneously. This is a great number, and it’s bolstered by the fact that Harman Kardon quotes its ratings with both channels driven — some other manufacturers make quotes with a single channel driven for bogus figures. The amplifier can handle an output from 10 Hertz all the way to a ridiculous ceiling of 110KHz. Human hearing rolls off above 20KHz at the best of times — so there’s a lot of head-room — but it’s generally accepted that higher-order harmonics from these inaudible notes filter down to audible levels. In layman’s terms, it’s never a bad thing to have such a high range of frequency response.
All this translates into perfectly smooth and powerful audio reproduction. Maybe it’s just placebo effect, but we did find higher-range treble notes a little clearer and brighter when played through the HK 3490 as opposed to our benchmark TX-SR805. We used a set of AAD M Series front speakers for our testing and while these are relatively cheap they were still able to uncover a few subtle differences in sound. The HK 3490 has more than enough dynamic range to power even the most demanding floor-standing speakers.
The receiver does get quite warm during its operation, but thankfully not hot enough that it needs to be placed separately from your other home theatre components.
With a very reasonable price of $799 the HK 3490 is a great proposition for anyone wishing to enjoy pure, simple stereo sound.
Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony Xperia Z3 review: The no-frills flagship
- 2 Samsung's Galaxy Alpha review: A peek into the Galaxy S6
- 3 Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review: The busiest, biggest and best Samsung phablet
- 4 Aldi's $279 Bauhn Sphere review: Disappointing
- 5 Nokia Lumia 735 review: Perfectly ordinary
Best Deals on GoodGearGuide
Latest News Articles
- North Korean Internet connection hit by outages
- DirecTV won't show 'The Interview,' others won't say
- Judge nixes HP's settlement of shareholder suit over Autonomy
- Simpler M2M connectivity promised as Sierra Wireless buys Swedish company
- Cybercrime group steals millions from Russian banks, targets US and European retailers
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.