Which should I buy ...Harmon Kardon or Onkyo?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by ToddJ, May 24, 2006.

  1. ToddJ

    ToddJ Second Unit

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    I am debating on which receiver to buy....which one is better?
     
  2. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    What models did you have in mind? Do you want a down to earth, basic receiver, or would you prefer one with more features? Are you concerned with silly things such as ergonomics and readable manuals?
    Are you planning on upgrading to hddvd or bluray disc? Do you need hdmi? Come to think of it, are you at all interested in music, or do you just need something to handle dolby digital/dts?

    And, most important of all, what's your budget?
     
  3. Carl Johnson

    Carl Johnson Cinematographer
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    All else being equal I would get the Onkyo. Harman Kardon receivers are notorious for having reliability issues. My first Dolby Digital receiver was an HK that kicked the bucket after a few years. On the other hand Onkyos tend to run for decades at a time. My second Dolby Digital receiver is 8+ years old and it's still as good as new.
     
  4. BillSuneson

    BillSuneson Stunt Coordinator

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    My personal opinions from having heard both with my current set-up:

    Sound quality:

    The Onkyo receivers tend to be a little more suttle where the HK's are a very in your face sound. You could almost say that, in comparison, the Onkyo is a little hushed compared to the HK. This is not saying that the Onkyo is inferior to the HK just a different sound.

    My Choice: Onkyo

    Inputs:

    The Onkyo tends to have a few more inputs and things like hdmi/component up conv. where the HK's don't really focus on that as much as High Current Amplification which is where the majority of their R&D money would go to. (IMO)

    My Choice: Onkyo

    Remote:

    Flat out the Onkyo remotes suck. The HK remotes do a very good job and are very easy to use and understand.

    My Choice: Harmon

    If you are looking to do any type of whole house audio then the harmon may be a better choice due to it's A-Bus system but otherwise i'd go for the onkyo you'll get more at the same price point from any onkyo than you will from an HK.

    I realize there are alot more points to consider when buying a receiver and those will be able to be addressed by the folks here on the forum but we need some more info from you on price/features/listening/watching to be able to give you solid advice and aid you in any way to making the right choice.

    I'm currently using a Onkyo TX-NR 900 and have previously used the HK 7100
     
  5. gene c

    gene c Producer

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    I currently have an H/K 520 and Onkyo's TH-500 and 702. For mostly music I'd go with the H/K, for movies the Onkyo. Above $500 I'd look at the H/K 635 (about $575 on the net) and below $500 the Onkyo 573 ($199 at Fry's). As for which is better, they both have their strong points (which is why I own both) but if the house was on fire, I'd run for the H/K.
     
  6. CurtisC

    CurtisC Second Unit

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    If you listen to a mid priced Onkyo and bring in a mid priced HK you'll hear the difference.
     
  7. Paul Clarke

    Paul Clarke Supporting Actor

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    In the HK's favor.

    I agree with the suggestion for the 635...or perhaps the 435. IMO you will not get a better receiver for that kind of money giving that kind of SQ. The EZSet/EQ alone is worth the price, considering what it can do with room issues affecting frequency response, especially those in the sub range. It can be like night and day toggling the EQ on/off. With the 635 you will get the video transcoding that Onkyo offers on lesser models.
     
  8. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    The Onkyo 703 is pretty affordable these days and offers THX select, video switching and an auto calibrate mode. Its a pretty decent receiver for the money.
     
  9. johnADA

    johnADA Stunt Coordinator

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    Just look at Ebay and a few bigger online electronics stores for the most of either type selling refurbed!!!

    I say go with the refurbed ones, but HK really as new, never from what I've seen being sold!!
     
  10. Billy Posey

    Billy Posey Second Unit

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    I love my 703
     
  11. JimmyL

    JimmyL Auditioning

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    Hey Billy,

    I've been going back and forth between the 703 and a couple of similarly priced Yamaha's. How have you found the two channel audio quality of the 703? Perhaps your answer will be helpful to Todd. I'd appreciate your experience as well, as someone who listens more to music.
     
  12. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    Is it true H/K has quality control/reliability issues? Which makes so many refurbished units available.
     
  13. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    Reginald

    I think you are on to something. HK for the past 5 years or so has released new receivers with bugs. It seems that they do not do enough beta testing before they release their receivers to the public. People waited about a year and a half for a fix on the promising but buggy 635.

    I also don't understand what goes on with HK and new models. Couple months ago, the 635 was going to be replaced with the 640, now their is a 645.

    I also have a big problem with HK's pricing. They list the HK7300 on their web site for $2,400, yet it was available at onecall for $999 last week.

    The strategy with HK is to wait a couple years and pick up their top of the line model for about 60% off.

    That also gives them time to fix the almost inevitable bugs.
     
  14. Serge Breton

    Serge Breton Supporting Actor

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    true on the new HK's but please remember for the 435 and 635 there are firmware updates which solves the issues most members have complained about. I just went with the 635 myself after having an AVR8000 for 3.5 years. It all boils down to sound quality and the HK is highly regarded and bests most receivers out there including the high end ones. I went from seperates down to my 8000 and have not looked back.

    If reliability is a question mark, get the extended warranty. You can get the 635 for under $500 refurbished off Fleabay direct from HK, i elected to go new and i payed $568 shipped. Can't wait.
     
  15. gene c

    gene c Producer

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    I like to compare H/K to a fine Italian sports car or a high maintenance blond (sorry girls). Sometimes a little needy, sometimes a big pain in the *ss. But when you finally get it dialed in right, nothing sounds so sweet (I'm talking about the car, not the blond). Some of us are willing to take a chance in order to get that H/K sound. Of course, others around here think Yamaha, Denon and Marantz sound just as good and with less headaches, and that's O.K. To be honest, if I were a custom installer I'd probably go with Yamaha and Marantz. But I think I'll stick with my 520. No issues after 6 years so I think I got a good one.
     
  16. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    I've had an HK 635 for over a year now. I'd echo the praise for the ez-set/eq feature--far superior to the self-calibration on the Denon, Yamaha, and Pioneer models I've used. I did the software update on mine and it did improve the quirkiness factor quite a bit. If I mess around too much in the setup menu it will start to pop whenever I pause and restart a dvd or when I change channels on my HD DirecTivo, but unplugging it for a few minutes always cures the pop and doesn't erase any settings. Other than that the receiver has been totally trouble free.
     
  17. ToddJ

    ToddJ Second Unit

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    thanks for all the input....Now I am possibly looking at some different brands.... Yamaha, Denon and Pioneer. And how well do the HDMI switchers work?
     
  18. Brian Osborne

    Brian Osborne Stunt Coordinator

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    How much are you looking at spending? If you are looking for HDMI switching my guess is your looking at $800 - $1200. Personally I went with the Onkyo 803. I am very happy with the functionality and agree with someone elses reply about the remote. but, who doesn't use a universal remote now anyways?
    I did some comparison shopping/listening when I was picking out recieves and at the advise of a freind who sells both Onkyo and HK, I got the Onkyo. The 901, 803, and 703 are all very similar models with minor feature differences and small difference in the power.
    Sound quality out of my 803, I couldn't be happier. Most of what I do is movies though. and it is in a dedicated theater. I bought it for HDMI switching, THX select, reliable, and plenty of power at 7.1.
    my 2 cents worth...

    as far as the HDMI switching goes, it is a little buggy. that goes for all models. Thats because its new. and who knows what format of HDMI/HDCP will be widely accepted in a year? If this is a HUGE selling point for ya, buy cheap and replace it once things settle down in a few years with HDMI/HDCP, BluRay, and HDDVD.
     
  19. Serge Breton

    Serge Breton Supporting Actor

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    add Marantz to your list as well.
     
  20. DorianBryant

    DorianBryant Screenwriter

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    HK AVR635 is $550 shipped at JandR right now. Very decent price.
     

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