HK 525 vs 520

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Doug Brewster, Jan 27, 2003.

  1. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    Hopefully this will answer a few questions for other 520 owners.
    Not being an expert, and not having done a "double blind" test I will just share some observations over the next few days (as time allows).

    Opening the box and taking a first glance:

    The two are very different receivers. Looking at the front, all looks quite familiar, but standing above them and looking down, things are not even close. There are 2 circuit boards visible on either side of the 525 (which is divided in two by a metal housing running the entire depth, which contains the infamous fan). Of course, the back would look different because of the extra channels of the 25 and the lack of main "ins". And, what's this??? A power cord! A real power cord that detaches completely (so you spend a zillion dollars on a "good" one, if you want). The cord is made of real power cord stuff, not the glorified Romex-like stuff on the 520.

    Feel:

    The 525 has a fairly even weight distribution. The 520's wt was primarily on the Left side (right side, if picked up from the back). Additionally, the binding posts of the 525 have a more solid feel than the 520.

    Sound: In the brief time I've owned it, I've not had a chance to spend much time here but....

    Detail... It just seems to have a more detailed sound, but remains warm and inviting. I have a very poorly matched set of speakers, but it does wonderful things with both 2 channel and multichannel sound.

    For mains, I use Linn Index+(, Klipsch KSC-C1 center, and Klipsch kg1's for rear. If I ever go to 7.1, I'll use Boston Acoustic HD5's in the rear center). The 2 channel sound coming from the Linn's is what I used to hear in the days before they were moved into my home theater. I loved what I heard from the 520, but the 525 is a full step up.

    Home theater is more detailed and better separated. I watched "Signs" the other day. The knocking on the doors, running through the attic, and other sounds that were centered away from the front channels were very realistic. It came through with a great image... But I never watched this movie using the 520.... Poor test, but I warned you...

    Bass management may account for much of the above. I have played with it some so can't recall exactly where my settings are, but I believe it's like this...
    Mains: 40db
    Center: 80db
    Rear: 60db
    Sub + LFE

    Anyway... While I could live with the 520 and consider it one of the better A/V receivers made (capable of both good music and home theater), I like the 525 even more.
    There seems to be some slight decrease in the available power, but nothing alarming and what is available seems less distorted...music being more musical and theater imaging better. The seemingly slight decrease in power could be less distortion at the same volume.... Again, no A/B testing and memory is a poor reference. I can say, without question, I liked what I heard.

    There also are some things I find annoying:

    1) The binding posts are too darn close together, as are the power outlets. It makes hooking up speakers tedious, and my Terk Pie antenna is covering both outlets.
    2) There is a pause as the receiver auto-switches from one audio mode to the other on a DVD (i.e. DPL II to Dolby Digital, or DTS). This means you miss such important things as the first few seconds of the THX intro........ I know....... but it really is annoying. It doesn't seem to do this if you go back to the menu and then back to the movie; only on the initial startup.
    3) NOT the fan. I haven't heard it and have run the receiver fairly loud for about 4 hours straight. Afterwards, the unit was left on. The stand gives about 1-2 inches space above the unit and the back is completely open around the receiver, which is flush with one side of the cabinet but is several inches from the other side.

    You're gonna think I'm crazy, BUT....
    I like the remote. It feels pretty cheezy, but it can be fully programmed, is back-lit, and is a major improvement over any Denon remote I have ever handled. It is logical, can be set for "punch through" features (so you don't have to go to AVR to control the volume while watching a DVD, the VCR, etc.), has a feature that will search for a code if you can't find the right one (for your other components) in the manual and is easy to set up. It's probably exactly the same as the remote for the 520... Uh... I liked it too.

    If I could not get all my money back for the 520, I'd never consider changing receivers. I am pleased to say that I can and feel it's really worth the extra $100... At least that's how I feel today. Will play with it for another week or so before my final decision.
     
  2. Christopher~O

    Christopher~O Stunt Coordinator

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    Thank you for your post.

    I had a chance to buy a somewhat discounted 520 when the 525 first came out. I did go with the 525 however.....

    Cheers,
    Chris
     
  3. Josey M

    Josey M Agent

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    Very nice down to earth review Doug.
    I have a 520 and will be looking for any feedback on this subject. Again, thanx for taking the time to do this.

    [​IMG] Josey
     
  4. JohnSer

    JohnSer Stunt Coordinator

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    Doug, thanks for the comparison. Since you were running it in 5.1, I would expect the 525 to have a little more reserve in the power supply. Given the 525 is 10 pounds heavier than 520, I assume most of it is in a larger transformer. Could you tell if it is still one transformer, or did they go to two? Either that or they must have relocated it, because that is why the balance is off on the 520.

    The nits I have with the remote, are the 4 columns of numbers vs a standard 3, their small size, and the taper to a point on the bottom where the CD play, forward, etc is. Not going from a Denon remote though, they could be worse. The Onkyo and Pioneer remotes I've owned, were slightly better, IMHO.

    JohnS
     
  5. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    Doug,

    Any chance you could watch Signs on the 520 and compare the diffs? First time I watched Blade 2 I would have sworn I had a new receiver too, just turned out to be a kick butt DVD surround mix [​IMG]
     
  6. altan

    altan Stunt Coordinator

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    Doug,

    I find the "period of silence", where the receiver is apparently trying to figure out what type of signal to decode, annoying also. I'm surprised there has been no comments regarding this "feature" in other threads.

    My old Yamaha 5250 didn't have this behavior -- apparently it picked up the change quicker...

    However, I do want to point out that there is no audio drop during DVD layer changes. My Yamaha would drop a split second of audio at the layer change.

    If I had to pick the worse of two evils, I'd pick the HK behavior.

    ... Altan
     
  7. JohnSer

    JohnSer Stunt Coordinator

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  8. Jaimin

    Jaimin Stunt Coordinator

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    I too just setup a 525, I have never heard a 520 though. I agree with John about the 4 columns of numbers instead of a normal dial pad setup, its really hard to not look at the remote and use the numbers, and even when you use it, its still confusing. However, I rarely use the numbers on the remote so I don't think it should be a reason someone should not get the receiver. I have the receiver setup with an epic 80 axiom system minus the subwoofer (plan on getting a sub later). The m80 towers are 4 ohm, the vp150 center and the two qs8's in the rear are all 6 ohm, and the receiver handles them perfectly. The room with the system in is fairly large too (35X35X15) and even without the sub I felt incredible bass on LOTR. Also channel separation is good too, one scene in LOTR where someone knocks on Bilbo's door I got scared cause I thought someone was bang against my window in the middle of the night. The window is close to the left front speaker. Sorry for rambling, but I basically am just saying that I think the 525 is a great receiver.
     
  9. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    JohnSer:
    "would expect the 525 to have a little more reserve in the power supply. Given the 525 is 10 pounds heavier than 520, I assume most of it is in a larger transformer. Could you tell if it is still one transformer, or did they go to two? Either that or they must have relocated it, because that is why the balance is off on the 520."

    I would expect the same as you, but just don't know. Not wanting to take either receiver apart and not having the specifications of the power supplies available, I'll just have to guess:
    1) there are probably two transformers
    2) there is more power available and it's cleaner so the decrease in distortion yields less noise which I perceive as less volume.


    Joe Szott:
    "Any chance you could watch Signs on the 520 and compare the diffs?"
    No...
    [​IMG]

    "...just turned out to be a kick butt DVD surround mix"

    I have considered the possibility you mentioned... I just don't think it's the most likely explanation. I have heard some really good mixes and the 520 did a good job with these. It just seems to me that the 525 does a better job. This may be due to how I have set up the bass management, less distortion, or better (processor) separation, but I don't have time to go through the tear-down/set-up. Even then, I'd be unable to do an A/B comparison and that would leave me back at about the same spot in trying to determine the difference. As I said, these are simply my impressions and may be alot of nonsense, but they're good enough for me.

    JohnSer & Jaimin:

    "the 4 columns of numbers"

    I agree that the remote is not the best. My primary reason for being happy with it is: I don't have to buy a good one in order to control all the other pieces of equipment and access their various menus. I also don't have to program each individual button, just put in the proper code and then add what I need. Also, it can find the code automatically, then tell me the code I'm working from so that if I write it down, and erase all the codes (probably by accident) it is easily reprogrammed. Maybe many remotes are this way, but this is the only one I've owned that does it. I actually like the shape because it's so distinct my wife can hand me the right one when I ask for it.[​IMG] If I'd ever had a remote as versatile I'd probably not be as impressed. I just can't knock it because it is such a blessing.

    I want to emphasize again, these impressions are in no way scientific and may not even be fair. I'm simply stating "what seems to me" and I appreciate all of your comments and suggestions. I also appreciate a chance to discuss what I feel are 2 pretty impressive pieces of equipment.
     

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