Harman Kardon Power


It's my understanding that power is a valuable feature on receivers. I'm interested on the Harman Kardon AVR 330 or AVR 430. However, they both don't seem to have much power (7x55W and 7x65W). Should I be concerned? How do I compare with other receivers? My other option is the Onkyo TX-SR601 which has 6x85W. They would be connected to an Energy Encore speaker system. Can anyone give me a hand to decide?

I have an AVR 325 (7x50W) & it's really loud. HK amps are rated conservatively & all channels driven at the same time, 20hz to 20,000hz. Other manufacturers may rate theirs at 100W per channel, but that's 1 channel driven, usually at 1khz. They usually put out about 60-70W per channel, all channels driven at once.
There's another post about power levels that has a link to a website where someone compiled the test results from Sound & Vision magazine. Do a search if you're interested.


You are correct that power is an important factor in a receiver; however, have been mislead by the Japanese mass marketing machine. Very few receivers are capable of making anything close to their rated power and H/K are among the few.

While you correctly quote the so-called power ratings when expressed in watts, please understand that true power is not expressed that way. The rating in watts was created by a bunch of lawyers at the Federal Trade Commission 35 years ago when 12 watts per channel was a lot of power and most equipment used tubes rather than transistors. It is questionable whether these lawyers even knew what they were doing, but even if they had it right then, technological changes have made their rules obsolete and even misleading.

Today, the real question is how much current is sent to the speakers. Current is expressed in amps, not watts. The H/Ks are capable of 40 amps of dynamic power, about double of the typical japanese mass market receiver rated at 100 watts per channel. I think what you would find is that the AVR 430 has much more real power than does an Onkyo, Denon or Yamaha, for example.

The second thing you need to know is that most receiver makers lie about their receiver's power. Here is a link to a spreadsheet showing the results of many equipment tests done on receivers by Sound & Vision magazine. Please note that very few receivers are actually capable of even coming close to their power rating, some missing by as much as 50% or more:


H/Ks are conservatively rated and in most cases, they may be rated at only 65 wpc, but they have more real power than does most 100 wpc receivers.

Thanks Hawk. Your comments are true value for this discussion board and for newbies like myself. I like more the Harman Kardon, but the only issue I had was the power. Now that's been clarified, I may likely go for the HK.

Martin B
I just got my new AVR 430 last Friday and am running it with Mission M73i fronts, M7C2 centre and M71 surround speakers. I put on the Concert for George Harrison DVD and had it turned way up (but not all the way) and it was very loud and clear while driving all 5 channels with no clipping. I don't know why anyone would want anything louder in a home environment.

Martin, I've heard the HK receiver overheat a little. Have you had that problem? Is the fan noise a problem?

Martin B
Pixel, I haven't heard the fan on yet. I had also heard about HK fan noise/overheating so have been monitoring the temperature a bit.
I have the receiver in a cabinet with about 1.5" clearance on each side and about 5" above. There is about 5" behind the receiver to the wall. I've only had it for 5 days (but it's had a lot of use in those 5 days) and most of the time I've kept the front glass door open. I haven't had it working overly hard with the glass door closed and as I say, no problems so far.

I'm just chiming in to agree with what others have posted. You really can't trust the power ratings of most company's receivers, but for HK you can. They always list the power ratings with all channels driven which is a much more rigorous test of a receiver's power capabilities in my mind. I think Home Theater Mag tested the 325 to put out over 70 wpc w/ 5 channels driven. Compare this with a Denon 2803 which only puts out 30-40 wpc w/ 5 channels driven, even though Denon lists its power rating at 90 w x 7! Plus HK's weigh over 10 lbs. more than other comparable receivers. I guess the old saying buy by the weight is true. Hope this helps.

Martin, I too am looking at buying a HK (330) and was wondering about the fan noise, but nobody seems to have an answer. Can you try to push your 430 so that it heats up and let us know how the fan acts? My entertainment center is all wood and has plenty of room. However, the receiver would sit directly above a drawer cabinet and I'm afraid the fan noise will resonate down through the cabinet to make even more noise. Any help is appreciated.

Martin B
J. Moore, From what I understand the 430 and the 330 have different power supplies (note the weight difference)and therefore may not behave in the same way. If you look at the rear panel displays on the HK website you'll also see that the fans are in different places so I'm not sure that comments on 430 fan noise would reflect what could be expected from the 330.
That being said, I'll certainly post anything I can about fan noise.

Al Holland
Hawk, nice chart. How do you get rid of that friggin pop up?

It seems as more power does not necessarily relate to better sound. As an example: I have owned HK, Kenwood 6070 and Denon 4802 (to list a few).

The Kenwood put them to shame with 5 channel (movies).

I have the H/K AVR 525. I drive some pretty power hungry speakers (Paradigm Reference Eclipse/BP-- bipolars, Paradigm CC-450 Center, and Miarge 390is Surrounds). The fan comes on often and I don't hear it! Even when I stand next to the unit and the fan is on... my ReplayTV box's fan makes MORE noise than the AVR 525.

I think that earlier builds may have had some fan issues... mine doesn't. Mine also runs warm but never hot. I only buy "open" racks. The last time I bought an enclosed rack was in 1996 and I immediately got rid of it when my Kenwood KR-V990D started having heat problems. I know have a Salamandar Systems Archtype-5 rack. My AVR-525 is on the top shelf.


You said "I think Home Theater Mag tested the 325 to put out over 70 wpc w/ 5 channels driven. Compare this with a Denon 2803 which only puts out 30-40 wpc w/ 5 channels driven, even though Denon lists its power rating at 90 w x 7!"

Where did you get the test data on the Denon? I'd be intereseted in reading it if possible. Interesting enough, I saw a rather positive review of the Denon 2803 in Home Theater Mag (http://www.hometheatermag.com/receivers/903denon/index.html).


Michael, it's in the exact review that you listed. Just go to the bottom of the last page of the review and click on the test results. I thought it was also strange that the reviewer said that the Denon had plenty of power, but the tests show the opposite. When I first saw the test results I thought it was a typo, but there it is. Maybe the tests were off. But if you can't trust Home Theater Mag, who can you trust? Let me know what you think. I've since crossed the Denon off my list and have been looking at the Marantz 5300 or the H/K 325.


I actually saw the last page, which I missed the first time around, after my posting here. But, even if I had, my understanding of the results is rather limited and I wouldn't have realized that once 1% distortion is reached, it's all over.

So yeah, why did the author give the Denon 2803 such a rave review???

Anyway, thanks for the education.

By the way, for the past week I've been trying out the H/K 525 and I've been very impressed. And, at lest with my Infinity Intermezzo's, it's sounding much better than the Pioneer Elite 53TX I'm comparing it to.


Quick Question: what is your price point for the Marantz 5300?

I ask becuase the best price I could find for it is $500 at cambridgesoundworks.com. For about the same price, you can also purchase the H/K 525 from Harmon Audio on Ebay. They have one with a buy it now price of $580 and many others up for bid, including one currently at $411 ending Dec-07-03 11:40:18 PST

My price point is about 500 bucks. Yeah I saw the HK 525 on eBay, but aren't those refurbished? Rumors (on this board at least) that the HK refurbished units aren't the most reliable. But you are right the HK 525 is an awesome receiver. As a matter of fact you can buy them on outpost.com for $500 as well if they still have them in stock.

As for the Denon test, I don't think it's all over when you reach 1% distortion, but if you look at the tests for the HK 325, it can reach 70 watts driving all five channels up to 1% distortion. (Go to the Harman website and click on news and reviews) I'm sure the 525 has even greater power reserves. I'm sure alot of people are happy with the 2803, but strictly from a numbers perspective, it doesn't look too good.
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