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AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

Old 04-12-09, 07:10 PM
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AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

I don't understand a lot of the power issues surrounding audio equipment despite having a good grasp of the latest codecs and video types. Therefore I have the following question:

I currently have an "old" HK 330 - digital inputs and component, but no HDMI. I had intended to upgrade to something with HDMI sooner than later. My plan was to go with either an Onkyo or Denon ~ $600 MSRP model. Without looking up model numbers at this point I'll assume that's the price point for most of the receivers that are suggested around here.

Now as far as Blu-ray goes I was planning on getting something like that Panasonic BD80. This would allow me to use my current receiver through the analog inputs and still have the functionality of HDMI in the BR player later on when I get a receiver with such capability.

Now comes the (perhaps?) tricky part. A friend ended up giving me his old Pioneer Elite VSX-55TXi. I believe this is rated at 100W a channel, whereas my HK was rated at ~50 (yet most people say they rate low so perhaps 70w?). I assume I'm better off going with the Pioneer than using my HK. The Pioneer is about 8 years old, but I have a feeling - with the exception of HDMI - this type of receiver is why people say audio equipment stays "good" for much longer.

However, how much better off would the Pioneer be than a newer Onkyo or Denon? Does the Pioneer still have better processor per channel than something newer? Will the Pioneer "drive" bigger speakers than any of the other three (I'm currently using a mix of Bose for the rear and Klipsch for the front/sub).

I'd appreciate some feedback, suggestions on the matter. I feel like I'm sitting on extra equipment now that I may not need. Thing is I've always felt my HK was a good receiver and I wasn't in any rush to get something new.
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Old 04-12-09, 09:10 PM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

Well IMO you can at probably double or even triple the H/K rating to compare to other receivers.

You don't mention what speakers you have? Unless you have Maggies or something I can almost assure you the H/K is more then powerful enough. IMO with H/K you can pretty much ignore the power rating. Every one of their units will be fine for 95% of usage. If you are driving unusual speakers or some other issue, then it might be worth consider getting more then the base model.

You mention the upgrade to HDMI, but you don't say why. Are you using a projector where it would be difficult to run multiple video sources? Is your display older and only has one input?

You seem to realize the lossless issue and that you can use analog with any receiver that has analog inputs (assuming your BD player has the analog outs). Soooooo....I guess I'm wonder again why you want HDMI?

The H/K is one of the best sounding units in it's price range. It often doesn't have all the bells and whistles the other makers have (tho many of their newer models have many of them).

Last edited by Sdallnct; 04-12-09 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 04-12-09, 10:50 PM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

There's nothing wrong with the "older" stuff out there if it were "sound" only but that's not the case. With the infussion of "HDMI" in the mix many are actually using AVR's for that; video/audio switching. The "Elites" in their heyday were just that, elite along with the early Marantz and Denon and even HK. In fact I still have a eight year old Denon 1801 that's still kicking.

But that was then and now it's all new stuff. Allot depends on several factors from speakers, to room, to tastes, to primary uses, to other HT stuff connected. If it were "ME" and my budget was at $500 these would be at the top of my list...

Onkyo TX-SR606 - HDMI (4 in & 1 out), 5-way binding posts, 90w, all the major sound formats including DTS-HD and Dobly TrueHD, speaker calibration, video upconversion, 7.1 format and a good two year warranty

Yamaha RX-V665 - HDMI (4 in & 1 out), 90w, sound optimization with microphone, built in video upconversion for non-HD, all major audio formats including DTS-HD and Dobly TrueHD. 7.1 format and a two year warranty.

Denon AVR-1909 - Granted it's closer to $600+ it's fully loaded with 90w, all major sound formats, HDMI (4 in & 1 out), auto setup calibration, video upconversion and includes the highly touted Faroudja DCDi video processing chip. Two year warranty. I have heard these can be found up to $100 off.

All of these offer good power (90w) and don't get wrapped into the mega watts per channel thing. Any of these and the Elite will give you clean power without the THD. In other words take say a Denon rated at 50w would be better than some off brand at 90w. Build, quality and reputation does matter here.


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Old 04-13-09, 06:44 AM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

Reason for HDMI is just to make things cleaner/easier, but really if you have the correct components that's not really an issue.

I'll have to check the model #s on the speakers later - they are two bookshelf Klipsch with the matching center and sub (KSW-10?). The rears are some old Bose indoor/outdoor (yes I know - they were a gift and will be the first to get replaced).

Really - is there any difference advantage to the Pioneer over either my HK or a newer Onkyo 606? If I hooked up my speakers to all 3 is there any reason I should hear a difference?
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Old 04-13-09, 07:17 AM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

Originally Posted by K&AJones View Post
There's nothing wrong with the "older" stuff out there if it were "sound" only but that's not the case. With the infussion of "HDMI" in the mix many are actually using AVR's for that; video/audio switching. The "Elites" in their heyday were just that, elite along with the early Marantz and Denon and even HK. In fact I still have a eight year old Denon 1801 that's still kicking.
Well lossless is not an issue for him. And he's not trying to run audio and video out of one cord (that I can tell)...sooo...again...why?
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Old 04-13-09, 07:21 AM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

Originally Posted by Superman07 View Post
Reason for HDMI is just to make things cleaner/easier, but really if you have the correct components that's not really an issue.

I'll have to check the model #s on the speakers later - they are two bookshelf Klipsch with the matching center and sub (KSW-10?). The rears are some old Bose indoor/outdoor (yes I know - they were a gift and will be the first to get replaced).

Really - is there any difference advantage to the Pioneer over either my HK or a newer Onkyo 606? If I hooked up my speakers to all 3 is there any reason I should hear a difference?
With your current speakers I doubt you would hear any difference. If you got better speakers you might find your older H/K is the best sounding of the bunch. Maybe not, but possible. I still used pre-hdmi (oh the shock) AVR's in both my living room and media room. I toy with the idea of "upgrading" now and again, but not sure there would be an upgrade in sound. So why? In my media room I use a HDMI switcher to run a single HDMI cable to my projector. And with modern remotes they can do the switching for you, the receiver doesn't need to.
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Old 04-13-09, 08:37 AM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

Originally Posted by Superman07 View Post
Now comes the (perhaps?) tricky part. A friend ended up giving me his old Pioneer Elite VSX-55TXi. I believe this is rated at 100W a channel, whereas my HK was rated at ~50 (yet most people say they rate low so perhaps 70w?). I assume I'm better off going with the Pioneer than using my HK. The Pioneer is about 8 years old, but I have a feeling - with the exception of HDMI - this type of receiver is why people say audio equipment stays "good" for much longer.
Reverse your thinking. The bold is backwards. Most companies rate too high. HK often rates closer to an accurate rating, but not always perfect. A proper rating is likely to be much lower than you might expect after looking at the marketing hype.

List the amp specs for any particular receive in full detail or provide a link to them and I can give you some more thoughts. Like how much reality is in the rating vs how much hype. Here's an example of a proper (amazing, actually) rating:
http://emotiva.com/xpa5.shtm
200 watts RMS/channel into 8 ohms, all channels driven

5 channels - 8 ohm= 200 watts per channel

.........

THD+N at rated power output: 0.007%
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Old 04-13-09, 08:56 AM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

Originally Posted by Spiky View Post
Here's an example of a proper (amazing, actually) rating:
http://emotiva.com/xpa5.shtm
Amazing price. Any idea how something like this would compare to a Rotel 1095?
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Old 04-14-09, 12:08 AM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

Haven't heard either but I'd be surprised if either wasn't a great upgrade from any receiver. The Emotiva fans are beyond passionate. I'm hoping I can get enough together for the MPS model before they are gone. They've given up on Class H, it seems. Too late, that was fast, they announced last week it was discontinued.

Last edited by Spiky; 04-14-09 at 12:13 AM.
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Old 04-14-09, 10:25 AM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

Originally Posted by Sdallnct View Post
With your current speakers I doubt you would hear any difference. If you got better speakers you might find your older H/K is the best sounding of the bunch. Maybe not, but possible. I still used pre-hdmi (oh the shock) AVR's in both my living room and media room. I toy with the idea of "upgrading" now and again, but not sure there would be an upgrade in sound. So why? In my media room I use a HDMI switcher to run a single HDMI cable to my projector. And with modern remotes they can do the switching for you, the receiver doesn't need to.
I would have to agree with Sdallnct here. With your current speakers, upgrading your AVR to improve sound would be minimal at best. As far as the video side you can work around it like Sdallnct has (depending on your display) .
My suggestion would be to audition both the HK and the Pioneer with your system you have now and go with the one that sounds good to you. Everyone has their preference of AVR's but your the one listening to it,so use your own ears to make that choice.
If and when you decide to upgrade,all the brands your considering are good. I would get it down to 2 or 3 and go audition them yourself.


Originally Posted by Spiky View Post
Reverse your thinking. The bold is backwards. Most companies rate too high. HK often rates closer to an accurate rating, but not always perfect. A proper rating is likely to be much lower than you might expect after looking at the marketing hype.

List the amp specs for any particular receive in full detail or provide a link to them and I can give you some more thoughts. Like how much reality is in the rating vs how much hype. Here's an example of a proper (amazing, actually) rating:
http://emotiva.com/xpa5.shtm
I have the XPA-3 and I love it! I have heard the Rotel but not on my system so it would not be a fair assessment. I will say that it's a big price difference and I just didn't hear that big of a difference, if there was one.
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Old 04-14-09, 08:31 PM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

I should have pointed out that I have H/K's in both my living room and media room. Both are "very low" power (40 watts per channel I think). I can get very loud "in the movie experience in my media room and I have living room/sitting area/dining room combination so the room is large. I have plenty of power.
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Old 04-14-09, 10:06 PM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

There are all sorts of things we could explain if the right superman comes back. Like how most listening (even at reference) is done with less than 1 watt of power to each channel.
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Old 04-14-09, 10:12 PM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

Originally Posted by Spiky View Post
There are all sorts of things we could explain if the right superman comes back. Like how most listening (even at reference) is done with less than 1 watt of power to each channel.
I think it would difficult to get reference level with 1 watt at a typical listening position. But i get your point.
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Old 04-15-09, 11:59 AM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

Conversation is still under 80db. Explosions, no.
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Old 08-11-09, 09:21 AM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

I have had a HK 225 for many years with 10000 hours or so on time, at one time I left it on for 3 years and it is still sending great sound to my Polks. If I upgraded it would be a HK again. P
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Old 08-19-09, 11:37 AM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

Why would you leave it on for 3 years?
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Old 08-19-09, 11:56 AM
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Re: AVR Question - Harmon Kardon v Pioneer v Onkyo/Denon

I'd guess some of that time in Standby.
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