Harman/Kardon AVR-4550 (325) vs. Denon AVR-3803

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Simon Young, Oct 2, 2003.

  1. Simon Young

    Simon Young Stunt Coordinator

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    I need to make a decision as to which of these two amlifiers to buy. My local A/V store has agreed to do either for £700 (that's £200 off the Denon, or £100 off the H/K, making the former a better deal). I've thoroughly tested them both with music and aggressive 5.1 soundtracks, and the results are impressive. The Denon sounded brighter to my ear, while the H/K came off sounding slightly warmer - possibly more pleasing to the ear. However, there was very little in it, and once I get whichever amp home and calibrated, I'm sure they'll both sound smashing.

    So the decision boils down to features and aesthetics. IMHO the Harman looks more stylish, despite the over-sized plastic silver buttons on the front. The Denon doesn't look bad, just a bit ordinary. Similarly the Harman's remote is funkier, being entirely backlit and more comfortable to hold, while featuring the EzySet auto-calibration microphone. To its credit, the Harman also features Logic7 decoding, as an alternative to DPL-II and DTS-Neo6. I just can't see that the Denon has anything in terms of features that can top the H/K.

    If it sounds like I'm leaning towards the H/K, that's because I am. I just wish I could shake the sensation that the Denon should sound better, with its extra power and higher RRP. The H/K has the definite edge with music, and the Denon with steering in surround-sound modes.

    Can anyone point out a good reason to get the Denon that I may have overlooked? Or have I made up my mind already?!
     
  2. Nick.H

    Nick.H Stunt Coordinator

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    The HK is a great product, I have a AVR5550 myself. And was looking at the Denon 3803, but found it too bright as you said, function wise its funtastic! Excellent setup tools etc, I think that the 4550 doesn't have a backlit remote, maybe goto the next model up, more power, and supports HDCD.


    [​IMG]
     
  3. Mike Allen

    Mike Allen Stunt Coordinator

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    All the reasons you are leaning towards the H/K.....are the reasons I just bought the H/K. The Denon is good, but I just like the sound and features of the H/K much better.

    Sounds to me like you've already made up your mind....Good choice. [​IMG]
    Mike Allen
     
  4. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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  5. Jack Shappa

    Jack Shappa Second Unit

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    I own the 3803. Don't know much about the HK, but some things I like about the Denon are

    Nice power

    upconverting of signals
    I run everything to my 3803 and out the component to my projector

    Several nice "simulated" surround modes for stereo material

    Quiet

    Never seems to get too hot even when I push it

    I never thought it sounded too "bright", but I use Polk speakers which sound quite warm so maybe they're making the difference

    I like the on screen setup menus

    Can't say much for the remote as I use a Pronto for everything

    - Cryo
     
  6. Paul Chalk

    Paul Chalk Stunt Coordinator

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  7. Luke_Lemmings

    Luke_Lemmings Stunt Coordinator

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    Denon's are bright sounding...

    I auditioned Denons vs. HK and went with the HK
     
  8. ChrisLazarko

    ChrisLazarko Supporting Actor

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    I agree, my final decision was the HK AVR-225. I didn't need 7.1 channels so I decided that 5.1 was alright, not to mention for the 5 channels it gave just a little more power. It lacks component video inputs but I connect them directly to my TV. Just my 2 cents.
     
  9. Simon Young

    Simon Young Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, I finally got my Harman/Kardon AVR-4550 (325) today, after many long days of painful waiting. After the 3 hours it took me to install and connect (wires are a pain in the ass, aren't they?), plus a further 2 hours or so reading the manual and trawling the on-screen setup menus, I'm finally in business.

    And I'm loving it! It absolutely wipes the floor with my old Yamaha. The sound is so detailed, so warm, so exciting...and the features are great. I'm looking forward to trying out all those stereo movies with the different surround modes! And it looks funky, despite resembling some kind of gothic jukebox. So far, I'm particularly impressed by the bass management, which my old amp (6-channel input only) lacked completely. For the first time, I'm able to listen to all of my music with all the bass that God intended!

    I only have one or two small complaints. Firstly, the remote is not backlit, which I assumed it would be. The keys look as if they light up, but only the input buttons flash when operated. Secondly, the unit gets very hot. My A/V cabinet gives it 2-3 cms of space above, but this doesn't seem to be ideal. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to let it cool down once in a while! Finally, the on-screen menus, while clear and useful, seem to feature a lot of 'dot crawl', despite me using the s-video connection. However, I'm not using them over the top of my video sources, so the quality doesn't really bother me that much.

    Otherwise, a top amp! Thanks to all who gave their advice - it was incredibly useful in helping me make up my mind!
     
  10. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    Simon, I'm glad it worked out so well for you. To answer to your issues:
     

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