Old Reliable: Harman Kardon 3380 Receiver


I love the look of vintage receivers. I love their sound too, most of the time. There’s a lot of character there and a richness of detail that is often lacking in modern gear.

But vintage receivers are finicky. They have old components that need cleaning and replacing. They don’t fit in with all decor. They don’t have remotes. Sometimes they don’t have a high Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF, dependent on model and wife).

What do you do when you want the best of that full vintage sound but don’t want to let go of modern conveniences?

Well, if you’re like me, you can’t afford new high-end 2-channel gear, and it seems like all the middle-of-the-road stuff nowadays is 5.1 or HT-optimized.

I found a listing for this Harman Kardon 3380 on CL and took a chance. It’s an honest 2-channel stereo receiver, pushing out 80 watts per channel. This is more than most of the vintage gear I have running through here.

It doesn’t have Dolby, or video upcoding, or multi-channel playback. It does have video pass-through and a line out for subwoofers, however, so you can use it for basic stereo home theater duty, which I did.

The best part about it for me was the honest sound – It has a great and flat frequency range and good separation. It’s clean. But it has some bass thump too – not as much as some of the older Pioneer and Sansuis, but it’s there. With the remote it’s great for A/B speaker testing – you can go sit in the sweet spot in your room and switch back and forth between speakers without getting up.

It’s got the classy and understated H-K look too – black over silver. I like it. My wife loves it.

It’s got plenty of power and pretty much everything you need. I have it set up in my living room now, powering my Klipsch KG4s. It doesn’t really do audiophile-grade playback duty there- most of the time it’s set to classical radio, some CDs, or Pandora for when we’re entertaining or eating. The Harman-Klipsch pairing is probably the best so far. With the Klipsches about 8″ from the back wall, they produce honest and musical bass very low down.



~ by silverfacestereo on December 27, 2012.

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