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Harman Kardon HK 3490 receiver. Unlimited power for your phones and a nice DAC to boot?

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 

I was wondering why my ah-d7000's sounded so good from the headphone out of my hk3490 so I emailed HK to ask what kind of amp it has.  The response was....

 

"Thank you for your inquiry.  For this model, the headphone jack is powered off the main amps, but has a 270 ohm resistor in between the speaker outputs and headphone output. The power amplifier in this model is discrete circuitry and the preamp is op-amp based.

Best Regards,

 

Vu Le
Technical Support Specialist II
"

 

 

 

Unless I'm not understanding right the headphone jack has direct access to 120 watts rms per channel with a 270 ohm resistor in between putting it somewhere between 10-15 watts available for 32 ohm phones according to a sloppy math equation.  The processor seems to do a fine job as well with a toslink straight from my motherboard.  I'm still making up my mind but I think my essence stx just lost it's purpose in life.   Let me know if I'm full of crap please.

post #2 of 54

Nah, a lot of speaker amps actually have really great headphone outs.  The most famous on these forums is probably the Leben CS300X, which a prominent review named Skylab named the absolute best sounding tube headphone amp he's heard, and he's heard a LOT of high priced ones.  Granted, a lot of people seem to hate the CS300X as well, but it does have a decent following, and sets a precedent that speaker amp headphone outs are definitely competitive.  There's many other speaker amp headphone outs that have been reviewed to sound great too, like the Manley Stingray and some Cary amps I believe.  You shouldn't believe that a speaker amp headphone out like yours is better than any headphone amp due to power reserves or whatever, but they are DEFINITELY on equal playing fields sound quality wise.

post #3 of 54
Thread Starter 

Well, it's nice to know that I'm good to go with any phones I buy no matter how hungry they are.  This thing is a bargain for $300.  Plenty of juice for my speakers AND phones and no need for another dac as far as I can tell.  Admittedly I haven't heard a newer external dedicated DAC but I don't FEEL like I'm missing anything.  I think they make anything new these days to be basically transparent though, from what I understand.  Also, would I be right in assuming that there's no way for computer noise to get to the receiver through an optical cable?

post #4 of 54

Some people here think that amplifiers with high impedance output can't drive properly low impedance phones like yours. However, not everybody share this point of view. To me, if it sounds better than your STX, then your a happy guy.

post #5 of 54
Thread Starter 

I don't know if it sounds better but the stx drivers are causing stability problems with my pc and asus hasn't made a new one in a year which makes me wonder if they even plan on supporting it anymore.  If they're not then I can't really use it and may as well get some money for it before it gets too old, especially if the receiver can do the same thing just as well or close enough that I can't tell.
 

post #6 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brando View Post

I don't know if it sounds better but the STX drivers are causing stability problems with my PC and Asus hasn't made a new one in a year which makes me wonder if they even plan on supporting it anymore.  If they're not then I can't really use it and may as well get some money for it before it gets too old, especially if the receiver can do the same thing just as well or close enough that I can't tell.
 

Try using S/PDIF coaxial from the Essence STX to the HK 3490.

I'm assuming you have your motherboard's on-board audio is enable while the STX is also installed?

Try disabling your motherboard's on-board audio (in bios) and use use the STX's S/PDIF (coaxial/optical) output.

Try running RCAs from the STX's line-out to the line-input on the HK3490 (the STX might have a better DAC then the HK 3490).

Go to the Brainbit website and download the "Unified Xonar Driver", install on the PC.

For $60 you can upgrade the STX's op-amps (operational amplifiers), should improve the sound quality for the STX's headphone output and RCA output.

post #7 of 54
Thread Starter 

I'll give it a shot but the description didn't say anything about direct x stability or compatibility fixes in the driver.

post #8 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brando View Post

I'll give it a shot but the description didn't say anything about direct x stability or compatibility fixes in the driver.

Just trying to throw out as many ideas as I can that "might" help.

The "Unified Xonar Driviers" are Xonar drivers modified by the guy at Brainbit, so they are newer then Asus's stock drivers.

Also have you installed the latest chipset and video card drivers?

post #9 of 54
Thread Starter 

Yeah I have the newest drivers.  It looks like I may have a second set of bad ram from gskill.  I already replaced it once and assumed it was fine but tested it again and it won't run stable at rated speed like it did when I bought it a month ago.  Asus might be innocent after all or maybe asus and gskill both suck.  I'm corresponding with gskill atm.

post #10 of 54

Regarding the HK3490, you can try driving your Denon directly from the preamp out.

I've done that with my NAD and it sounds good !

post #11 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brando View Post

Yeah I have the newest drivers.  It looks like I may have a second set of bad ram from gskill.  I already replaced it once and assumed it was fine but tested it again and it won't run stable at rated speed like it did when I bought it a month ago.  Asus might be innocent after all or maybe asus and gskill both suck.  I'm corresponding with gskill atm.

Have you tried updating your motherboard's bios?

post #12 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Headdie View Post

Regarding the HK3490, you can try driving your Denon directly from the preamp out.

I've done that with my NAD and it sounds good !

This is interesting.  How do you do that, with a RCA to 1/4" adaptor?  Is the advantage that you bypass the resistor?  

post #13 of 54

Yes, an adapter to try it. If you like it, you may prefer a swith box or a second 1/4 male adaptor for the main in.

 

I've tried it because other guys reported good sound this way. If you believe the ouptput impedance is a significant factor, you may want to check the oi of your preamp first...

 

Have fun,

post #14 of 54
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Have you tried updating your motherboard's bios?


I have it on the second newest bios.  A new one came out 2 days ago but it won't update.  It keeps saying "file is not an efi bios".  I have to ask asus about it.  The other bios just worked without having to mess with it.  It doesn't say anything about enhanced memory compatibility but it does say improved system stability.  I think it's mainly a fix for gtx 680 video cards.  It's bios 1406 on the asus p8z77-v pro.

post #15 of 54
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Headdie View Post

Regarding the HK3490, you can try driving your Denon directly from the preamp out.

I've done that with my NAD and it sounds good !


Never thought of that.   Interesting....

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