What's up with Harmon Kardon receiver line?

Let's face it, as big of a corporation as Harmon International is, shouldn't Harmon Kardon be pushing AV receivers a little harder?!
I personally have thought highly of the Harmon sound mostly over years. In fact, I think their receiver line has offered otherwise excellent performance for the money - if making high current, very clean sounding pieces throughout the line!
Actually, of all the mass-marketed AV receivers I've dealt with over the years, I feel the Harmon-sound has been at the top of the heap sonically, dollar per dollar, over the years - especially at the lower price points.
But let's be honest, Denon, Yamaha, Onkyo (especially as of late), and Marantz have always out shined Harmon Kardon in marketing their receiver products - even being more "up to date" on their features and such. SO WHAT GIVES?!!!
I noticed Harmon basically offers some entry level pieces across the board with the latest features and tech (minus the superb Audyssey - boooooooooo!), and no higher end upgraded pieces.
Anyone else's thoughts on Harmon Kardon and their place in the AV receiver world?
HK has always produced unique looking designs generally with pretty good and distinctive sound as well, I'd say.

I think those who go for HK a/v equipment are attracted to the unique appearance and control layout, some but fewer to the distinctive sound, which will not appeal to all as much as the the more common looks and operation of most of the lines HK competes with.

Nothing wrong with that. It is what it is. All products need a niche to survive. HK seems to have one.
"I think those who go for HK a/v equipment are attracted to the unique appearance and control layout, some but fewer to the distinctive sound" (Mapman)

Ok, interesting assumptions. I'm curious though. What then might you think makes Denon, Yamaha, and Onkyo MUCH MORE appealing to customers?! Are they so attractive and well layed out, with such superior sound, that buyers are simply more attracted to those products - and thus have higher sales?
I personally think it all comes down to marketing. Which is a huge reason Bose does as well as it does. Basically, everyone knows about them!
there's gotta be many many times the number ads, articles, reviews, and more press on the other competing products to the HK receivers! I personally think that right there will sell.
So, again, why do you think HK doesn't push their products more? Yes they're in Best Buy. And yes, they're in Fry's on the West Coast. But I still think they'd do better with a stronger marketing and advertising campaign. Besides all of that, I think they've made some excellent, if a little behind in features/tech, products - not to mention they don't push flagship receivers as of late, really
I just think Denon and Yamaha are the best known brands, yes, and they are more similar/interchangeable in appearance and operation perhaps as well. HK has a more distinctive look and operates more differently as I recall. Some will go for it and some will not.

I'm more familiar with the sound of the vintage HK stuff from the 70's which I sold at one point than the modern stuff. Back then, the HK receivers definitely had a unique look and the sound was different from the Pioneers and TEchnics and even Yamahas of the world back then as well, a bit warmer and smoother as I recall. Unfortunately, they also had a tendancy to develop more issues than other more popular brands. Some steered clear of HK for that reason alone. Not sure if that is the case these days or not.

HK is available in the big chains so I'm sure they must be doing pretty good these days even if not the market leader.

Just my opinions...I could easily be wrong.
I agree with the feeling that HK is not aggresive in their
marketing.I am not sure why--I have owned many amps/preamps
etc through the years-I currently have a home theater setup
with merlins-tsm/b&w/velodyne--and a HK avr7200--I tried
a yamaha reciever prior and was somewhat disappointed in the sound. IMHO-the HK has superior sound-I have read many
comments about the problems some have had with HK-I have had none--the 7200 gets very hot--I use a cooling fan-my
daughter uses a avr-85-this unit must be 10 years old--never had a problem and it has that great-warm-sound.
Yeah, fundamentally, I find no other receivers at those price points that can really beat the HK sonically, IMO! I think Denon is next closest in the lower priced receivers, all things considered - as well balanced, good sounding, higher current receivers go. And, of course, Denon offers the superb Audyssey - which I wish HK did.
Although I don't like HK's cheesy volume control knobs on the units. Besides that and the lack of Auydyssey, I like the HK's, myself...
I just bought the HK avr 254 and love it. I researched all the brands mentioned here and dont regret my choice. I heard the Denons were a pain in the ass to set up and their remotes stunk. I just didnt like the look of the Yamaha with all the yellow and orange lights.I have a 5.1 speaker surround system ( Canton) and couldnt be happier with the sound. Movies are awsome! The HK has every feature I need as well as plenty of inputs (3 hdmi)and outputs.I dont care how they market themselves,as long as they make a good product. I read that Bose actually spends more $ on advertising than R& D.
Bose DEFINITELY spends the money on marketing! When you're in Woman's Day magazine and Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and your an audio equip manufacturer, you know your spending big bucks on advertising!
I would give HK serious consideration if I were to buy an A/V receiver. I recall some good things with HK sound in the past.

The H/K speakers in my Toshiba laptop sound really good for built in laptop speaks, for what its worth.
I,m not shure about their receiver line, but their new stereo integrated, model HK 990, caught my attention.2/150W at 8 ohms,2/300 at 4 ohms,100 amps high curent design,balanced inputs and outputs,DIGITAL and USB inputs,DAB radio and phono stage,2 sub-out.Discrete components and audiophile grade preamp section.The quoted weight is 40 lb.(19,6 kg.).Short of Bryston integrated(with optional DAC),there is nothing like that on the market.Good to see HK has not forgotten the 2 ch. crowd.Will be looking forward for audition or reviews.
Niki_69- could not find the HK990 on the HK's US website, but then found it on their European site, plus other stuff not available here yet. Very interesting piece.

The HK 990 sounds very nice.

Anyone know if it is Class D and whether it will be available in the US?

How much does it cost?
Mapman- just received this response from HK

"Good afternoon and thank you for your inquiry. The HK 990 is a European product only. We will not be bringing it to the U.S. We have a similar model, such as the HK 3490".

We'll all have to move to Europe to get the good stuff; I'm sure the 3490 does not live up to the 990.

Niki- thanks for letting us know though.

Sounds like some slippery politicking to me, er something...
OK. Here's what we do. We take over Europe, then it becomes our continent. Then we can have the 990 for ourselves! mmmmmmuaaahahahaha...muuuuaahaahahahahahaha!!!
Yes...not available in the states.HK 3490 is not even close(priced at $299).The price for the HK990 is $2000.To return to the OP question,may be the problem is the marketing strategy for the USA alone.I see HK in the systems/photo on some European forums all the time(together with much more expensive equipment).I also see the top models advertised on web sites in the east,together with valve amps,McIntosh,Classe etc. Harman International allways had special JBL speakers for sale in Japan.You cant even order them via JBL/HI dealer here ...The same is true for the HK990.Bad.
Probably just too limited of a high end market and too much competition in the US for HK, especially with the devalued dollar.

Oh well, at least we know they are capable of making very good stuff when they chose to.
I don't know what's up with HK receiver line either, but the HK990 integrated is now available in US as you might have noticed. You can order it from the factory for I think $2399.00 free shipping. I've got a 3490 and 3485 both of which have excellent sound--much better than the Citation 7.1 which I previously owned. Will be interested in knowing how the 990 compares. Available specs are impressive. Lynne
the hk990 does look interesting, tho i wonder if people will bite at a $2400 hk-branded integrated, esp. since it doesn't look that far removed, feature-wise, from the $400 hk3490, which is a nice product
Hi, Loomis. Thanks for throwing water on my fire. I want to bite. It doubles down. 200amps instantaneous current. Balanced inputs. Coupled with cdplayer eliminates jitter. I got burned with the 7.1. So thanks for slowing me down. Wondered if you've heard it yet.
Been a lurker here in a-gon, but since I recently purchased a HK 990 here in the Philippines, I thought I'd chime in with a short take:

As a backup story, I initially was interested in the amp when I heard the HK 980 that my father in law purchased in one of avshop's stores.  As rated it was 2 x 80, with a high current rating (~80amps according to the data sheet), with MM phono stage to boot.  When we set it up with high B&W 683s, the sound was quite muscular, but not very glaring, as what you may have with some solid state gear.  Not as laid back as NAD, but not unlistenably sharp.

But I also found out that Harman had a top of the line model, the HK 990 that looked like one hell of an amp with it's dual mono setup.

The specs were compelling - 150w x 2 @ 8 ohms, 300 x 2 @ 4 ohms (perfect for my Dynaudios), HCC rating of ~ 200 amps, built in DAC and MM/MC phonostage.

So, I committed one of the mortal sins of someone in the audio hobby: I ordered an HK 990 without the benefit of an audition, based purely on specs and a few reviews on the net. . .

And the damn thing wasn't cheap, so I sold virtually all my stuff just to accomodate it.  I figured it would be a one box solution to the ever-growing tangle of equipment that I had.

So out went the VDAC, the excellent i30 Dared Tube amp, my NAD phonostage, a DIY chip amp and a couple of other stuff. . .

The HK 990 has several modes that you can use for setting up:

1) Analog in --- DSP sampling of analog input to enable tone control & room correction --- translate back to analog

2) Digital in using its built in AD1955 DAC boards - - - same DSP control - - - translate back to analog

3) Analog in - - - Pure Direct mode which means no tone controls etc - - -Analog out

The first taste of the sound of the HK 990 was when I and 2 of the store's stuff unpacked it and connected it using setup mode # 1, using an iPod and a CD as a source. . . with the B&W 683 connected so I could reference it to the HK 980. I was afraid I blew money on a more expensive HK 980. . .

I could not have been more wrong. . . the HK 990 sounds nothing like the HK 980. And nothing like anything else in avshop's shop.  It's rendition of Magnificent 7 Theme song was nothing short of jaw dropping, at least for me.  My initial thought was : "wow, so that's what the B&W 683 should sound like when playing orchestral music."  Very muscular, wider soundstage, but the bass drivers held firmly in control by the HK 990, which means to say no flabby bass.  The shop could probably sell a truckload of B&W speakers if he used this as a demo setup. . .

We also noticed that the amp got quite hot in our short 30 minutes of checking it out.  Must be a Class A stage there somewhere. . .

The shop's guys also noted that the tracks of CDs they played seemed to be presented better, in fact, to a level much higher that what they had heard before.    

Anyways, I paid up the remaining balance and took the amp home.  I broke it in further by playing background music all afternoon, but the serious listening test took place at 11:30pm. . .

Since I play most of my music in digital format (320kbps AAC) via my Apple TV, I used setup mode # 2.

So, what was the sound?  

Suffice to say that, as I flipped through my music collection randomly, some things came to mind:

1) This amp retrieves a lot of detail, almost headphone-like. Not like my Grade SR60i, but at 6 feet from the speakers it comes uncomfortably close.

2) Whoever said that Dynaudios need beefy amps to sound their best. . . was absolutely right.

3) Upfront, detailed sound, but somehow not one glaring nor fatiguing.  

4) No tube lush, but the detail and tight bass I got more than made up for it.  

5) It's as if the amp was continuing a lesson it showed earlier with the 683s - boy, this is how your Dyns should sound like. . .

6) I did not seem to miss my tubes one bit. . . . in fact to paraphrase one of the reviews of the amp, it seems like halfway between a very good SS amp and a very good tube amp.  It has control of the music, brings out details, and yet seems quite warm, literally and figuratively.  The only amp I can think of that sounded quite similar was an Electrocompaniet ECI-3 that I auditioned once.

The phono section seems to have a higher gain vs my NAD-PP3 amp. A bit upfront, but maybe the amp is merely revealing limitations on my cheapo TT setup (Technics P-mount turntable bought for the equivalent of USD60).

Source direct sounds like the DSP processing still on, so I leave it at DSP processing.

Room correction I have mixed feelings. I felt my subwoofer integrated better using connected to the speaker outs and manually set, vs the auto calibration of the HK. YMMV however.

As of now, 2 thumbs up for this amp.  Thinking of a speaker upgrade. . . a Harbeth or a Spendor perhaps?