HK AVR-330 vs Onkyo TX-SR601


Anyone care to chime in on this subject. I'm sure it's been beaten to death, but I really would like to settle on on a receiver here soon. I was looking at the 601 vs the AVR-230 due to their similar retail price, however B&H has some really great prices on HK stuff right now making the 330 and affordable sub $500 receiver. To my understanding, both of these receivers (601 and 330) have multi-zone capabilites, however the 330 has a cooling fan where the 601 does not. Does anyone have any experience with the fan's noise level? Moreover, has anyone compared these two for sound quality ( 601 vs 230/330)? I'm into the receiver for both music and home theater, but more likely for home theater use. Any help is appreciated. Speakers are not an issue at this point.

What is B&H. Please share their URL. Thanks.

B&H Photo
search for "harman kardon"
look for AVR 330

Unless there is a mistake or something. B&H is the most respected electronics online dealer, and I've ordered from them on numerous occasions. They're more geared toward photo and video, but they also sell audio equipment too.

What advantages does the HK 330 have over the 230 in addition to more power and multizone?


I may be wrong, but I believe the reason the H/K has a fan and the Onkyo does not is that the H/K uses bi-polar output transistors and the Onkyo uses cheaper IC outputs, which run cooler, but have poor sound charecteristics by comparison. I believe you have to get to the TX-SR701 to get transistor outputs in the onkyo line.

Additionally, the Onkyos are developing a reuptation for very poor power regulation. If you check the June issue of Sound & Vision magazine, their equipment test report on the Onkyo 900, rated at 125 wpc, tested out at only 52 wpc when all channels were driven. For an $1800 receiver, I view this as inexcuseable. However, it confirms similar equipment test reports on other Onkyos and my own empirical observations.

Hawk - what would you recommend for a receiver in the $350-$400 range? I was looking at either the HK AVR230 or the Onkyo 601. Which would you recommend or neither?

My current system has some 15 year old Mirage 460 speakers. I plan on matching them with Mirage center channel and rear plus a subwoofer.


Telling me what speakers you have really simplifies things. Mirage speakers are known for their somewhat bright charecteristics (an emphasis in the 2-4Khz range), so you need a receiver that will tame this brightness and let the speakers express their excellent detail without making the sound excessively bright and unlistenable.

$400 or less is a tough price point because you are right at the point where the quality is just beginning to creep into the products. Below $400, you typically get IC outputs (gross!), single amplifier for all channels, crummy DACs and a DSP of questionable origin, and often don't even give you channel pre-outs for adding an outboard amplifier at a later date.

I think the H/K 230 is an axcellent choice at or under $400. However, I haven't seen it that cheaply (congrats if you have!). If you can go a little bit higher, I would strongly consider the recently discontinued H/K 325, which has more power for $442 at One Call. See it here:

I also love the NAD 742, available from Saturday Audio Exchange ( for $449. It's MSRP is $649, so the savings are substantial and it has a wonderful sound unmatched below $500.

Wayne, B&H photo has the HK 230 at $349 plus shipping.

Fans are cheaper ways of cooling than effective heat sinks. It is more a statement on the companies preference on where to spend money.

Audioholics just had a review on the Onkyo. Read it.
Other than some remote complaints they gave it very strong reviews for a receiver in this price range. And they were blasting Axiom 80ti's (4 ohm speakers) at 100 db's and other Axiom 6 ohms in surround and seemed to have a joyous time.

So i would say Onkyo didn't skrimp on this amp section. Maybe on the remote and a few extra sound effect modes. But they gave it an excellent review.

Not to say the HK isn't as effective. Haven't read or heard about it.

Yes, B&H seems to really have some nice prices for the new line of the HK's. The 330 is below $500 which is what I was going to pay for either the 601 or the 230 at Circuit City. Now with this, I'm considering the 330 instead of the Onkyo 601. I like the fact that the 330 (as well as the 230) has 3 optical and 3 coaxial digital inputs with one of each on the front panel. To me that's just down right convenient. It also has a coaxial digital out. The 601 only has 1 coaxial digital input and no coaxial output. I know I could always get a converter for those components, but I figure the less things in the signal path the better. Does anyone know of any fan noise issues with the 330 series?

If I read the HK catalogue correctly, the HK 230 has exactly the same inputs/outputs as the HK 330.

The 330 has more power and mulitzone features. What other advantages does the 330 have over the 230?

None, the multi-zone and power are it. However, I'm looking for multi-zone (at least a pair of B speaker jacks) and the 230 doesn't even have that. The 601 has Zone II, but I learned today that it can only do 2 sets of stereo whereas the 330 can do 5.1 in one room and stereo in another.

J.Moore you might want to double check that last point. I was told 601 can do 5.1 in one room and stereo in another.

any opionions on marantz 5300 vrs onkyo sr601 vrs denon 2803 vrs harmon 230

they are all in the 400-500 range and seem pretty equal.

Anyone know of better speakers for $400 or less than Axiom m22ti's?

David, where did you find the Marantz for under $500?

david r

I use a HK 520 as a preamp and love it. The remote features are great and it is easy to use. The x20 was the last series that was fan-free, and in my stinky opinion, I would stay away from fan-loaded equipment. I worked for a company that made both passive and fan cooled amps, and the ones that were fan cooled would burn up within a couple of minutes and the protection circuit would kick in when the fan was removed, even when not being taxed very hard. So if the fan ever dies, beware. Fans typically are used to allow companies to use cheaper transistors and smaller heatsinks. I know HK started using fans when they went from 5 to 7 channels of amplification. Even companies like Crown use fans on their lesser amps, but not on their better ones, even with the same power rating. That aside, while I am not familiar with Onkyo, the HK is a nice unit. I like the HDCD D-A convertor built in, it is a nice improvement over the standard D-As, but I think it's only available in 500s and higher models. I also like the preamp outputs that are offered even on the 300s models, which is not on some other brands' receivers in that price range.

david r
Just listened to the new marantz 5400 today at Harveys. Funny thing is they are seliing the 5300 and 5400 at the same price $700 (cambridge soundworks has the 5300 for $499 but yet to get the 5400.)

For my taste found the Marantz to be a substantially better product verses HK 330 at same price. HK was nice lots of features but not as clean as Marantz I found. Any doubters? Anyone prefer Onkyo sr601 over Marantz 5300?

david r
I heard a new Marantz 5400 and was impressed today. Anyone hear a 5300 against a 5400? What is the difference? I also thought it was a much more polished receiver than HK 225 or 330.
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