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12-05-2006, 03:11 AM
Hey All!

Looking to upgrade some components of my home theatre, and one of those is my reciever.
I currently have a Sony STR-DE585, and I am looking at a Harmon Kardon AVR-144.

I know the H/K recievers are high current and therefore are much more powerful than other recievers with higher power ratings, however I haven't been able to find much on the AVR-144 specifically. I saw reviews on other H/K recievers with 40-45watts+ per channel and people were talking about how they blew their previous 100-110 watt recievers out of the water.

Is this still the case with the AVR-144 which provides 30 watts per channel? I don't have much experience with the H/K recievers, so I want to make sure that I don't spend money and then have it not even go loud!

I am using Polk Audio R15 speakers for mains, I want the new reciever to be able to play just as loud as my current one can.

Looking forward to the upgrade in sound quality, very excited! I think I'll pick up a new Velodyne sub, too.

Thanks in advance!

12-05-2006, 05:56 AM
Hey All!

I know the H/K recievers are high current and therefore are much more powerful than other recievers with higher power ratings, however I haven't been able to find much on the AVR-144 specifically. I saw reviews on other H/K recievers with 40-45watts+ per channel and people were talking about how they blew their previous 100-110 watt recievers out of the water.
Don't believe everything you read or people tell. H/K's are powerful, but aren't really any more high current than many other receivers. They just take a different approach to marketing and presenting their specs. It's been effective for them, but it can be a bit misleading to the consumer. It's almost reverse-psychology marketing. They are conservative in their power ratings compared to some of their competition, but they don't have a secret patented technology or topology inside that makes them universally better than the competition.

Is this still the case with the AVR-144 which provides 30 watts per channel? I don't have much experience with the H/K recievers, so I want to make sure that I don't spend money and then have it not even go loud!
An H/K receiver at 30 watt/channel will be plenty powerful for a lot of people, and will handle those Polks fine unless you really like your music extremely loud. I'm guessing an 80 watt Denon or something comparable would have as much or more power than the avr-144.. With a/v receivers there's something you can reasonably rely on. Price and weight tend to reflect capability somewhat (though not as much in the past).

Compared to your Sony, I'd expect the H/K to sound better and probably have more power. You can find benchmark tests on a lot of receivers if you search the web. A few 100 watt Sony's I've seen would be rated as 30 watt/channel receivers by H/K's standards. It's not that 1 H/K watt is better than 1 Sony watt, just that Sony is manipulating the conditions under which its receiver hits 100 watts to make it look as powerful as it can. A lot buyers see two receivers for X dollars, one with 80 watts, one with 100 watts, and will buy the receiver with the higher number. We're sort of programmed that way I guess. H/K really plays the "our watts are lower because we have higher current" card well. But its marketing all the same. Watts are equal to Volts X amps (current). The voltage is pretty much equal from one unit to the next in a/v receivers. That leaves the current. If two receivers crap out at the same time when stress tested, chances are the current capabilities are pretty similar.

I would think the H/K you're looking at would be a nice upgrade from your Sony. Can you demo it before buying? That's the best way to tell.

12-05-2006, 08:41 AM
here is my review of an HK system with an AVR 135 which is rated 40W x6:

I was impressed with this system...

12-05-2006, 11:03 AM
Thanks guys.

kexodusc, I do like my music really loud. I don't have it really loud all of the time, but I'd like to be able to power the speakers to their limits, I don't want to have a speaker that I cannot use to its capacity as I can now.

I can't demo this unit. My local store has the recievers on a shelf, not connected to any speakers. There is one model which serves as a speaker demo unit that I can hear, but it is a much bigger H/K model, so that really defeats the purpose because it is more watts.

I'm sure it'll sound way better than the Sony, even if it wasn't as loud maybe I'd still like it more. I'll probably still go for it, I just don't want to end up with junk, I'd rather a little more juice though, even 40 watts per channel. I might just end up saving a few more dollars, but maybe that extra power is not necessary..

Also my Sony now doesn't have an adjustable high-pass filter for the mains. The tiny Polks shouldn't be getting all of the bass that they do, so even that feature in the H/K should clean everything up and save a lot of power.

12-06-2006, 05:16 PM
Their ya go. I also am a proud owner of HK.


12-07-2006, 06:26 PM
I e-mailed Harmon Kardon. Apparantley my 100wpc Sony puts out 12.5 watts to each speaker.. so I guess the H/K will be a lot louder.. right?

12-07-2006, 06:41 PM
Yeah and i PM you about my HK and it is a 135 still under warranty and will send original box, receipt, and Manual if you would like to purchase it from me before going and paying 300 for it at Circuit City or 260-300 on Ebay. And i am running Cerwin Vega 10'' 3 way towers rated at 140 watts RMS and my HK can drive them, and you should know that CW is a party speaker and its products are meant to be played loud!

12-07-2006, 07:20 PM
H/K rates theirs conservatively, of this I have no doubt. They don't use magical numbers or anything, they just don't rate power creatively like mass market units from Kenwood, Sony and the like.

I read a while back an article that went through the all channels driven power output of various receivers and an older model than mine significantly outperformed its specs. It was rated for I think 55 wpc in to 5 channels and they confirmed 80-85 all channels driven with a lower THD than spec. They had other receivers from Onkyo (often optimistic or accurate with power ratings), Denon (usually accurate) and others as well. H/K was one where they said it was consistently rated lower than the actual output.

My receiver is similarly rated at 55 by H/K but I have no idea what the real measureable output would be.

12-08-2006, 05:33 AM
Measured bench tests of 55 watt H/K receivers, with all channels driven have show they usually exceed their rating by a bit. 80 watts per channel probably isn't realistic, but maybe they had a freak model once. It would have made sense for them to market it as an under rated 75 watt x 5 receiver, but whatever.
The H/K AVR 510 for example was a 70 watt X 5 unit that measured 74 watts in S&V's tests. The avr-330 is a 55 watt X 6 unit that could do 66 watts in 5 channels or 55 in 6 channels, as spec'd. That's good. Very good. (all specs push the amps to clipping at 0.3% THD).

By contrast, Denons, and Onkyos put those numbers out into 2-channels, but lose significant power when all channels are driven. The only Denon I've ever seen beat spec was the avr-4800 back 6 years ago. All others have come up short. Again, using S&V's tests - The Denon 2802 was rated at 90 watts X 6, but only could put out 61 watts per channel all channels driven.
The 3801 claimed 105 X 7 but delivered only 85 per channel with 6 channels driven (the 7 channel test wasnt' available, but would have been lower).
Yamaha, Onkyo, Pioneer, etc, all perform about as well as Denon (with some over and under achievers from each brand).
Once you factor in price though, these receivers are pretty similar in real power output.

A Sony receiver for comparison - the STR-DB1070 boasted 110 X 6, but could only throw out 31 watts all channels driven. Quite a difference from H/K and Denon and the boys, huh?
(Joel, I don't believe any Sony 100 watt receiver only put out 12.5 watts per channel - even they're not that bad )

First thing you'll think is "wow, those all channels driven specs prove that H/K under rates their power and the other guys all lie in their specs".

But that's not really the case. Sony and Kenwood are creative sometimes, but even they post the releveant specs. H/K does under rate their power compared to the other guys, but they don't give you a real sense of what the receiver can do by rating their units so low. The other guys actually do.

The problem here is the "all channels driven" spec. That's a nice sounding spec that would measure how well your receiver could behave as a toaster, but not really a good indicator of the work load a receiver does. I repeat - it's a bad spec for comparing receivers. Here's why.

How many movie sound tracks have you heard that consistently, over a sustained period of time (a few seconds or more) demand each channel to produce maximum volume at the same time? Not very many - I can't think of one, and every time I've asked this, nobody's been able to suggest one. There's been a few short bursts, like explosions, etc, but those don't put the "all channels driven" demand of sustained, max wattage over a long period time, on a receiver. They're short, intantaneous bursts, or pulses, that don't zap all the receiver's juice. And even those happen only a few times a movie...

So basically, we've got an all channels driven spec that measures how a receiver performs in a scenario that never occurs in movies or multi-channel audio anyway. What good is that?

Usually in intense scenes, most sound is coming out of only 2 or 3 speakers and the self powered sub, with much less power being sent to the other channels. There was a time when home theater receivers and multi channel amps from even the most expensive brands like Krell and Bryston didn't deliver equal channel to the surround speakers for this very reason. So you don't really need a high "all channels driven" power spec. And the nice thing here is receivers, even Sony sometimes, usually deliver their speced power into 2 and 3 channels. So for all intents and purposes, that wattage is there if you need it.

Watts and THD are easy to manipulate, and different companies use the specs differently to market their brands. If we went to a dB based spec for recievers for X distortion level and X many speakers, we'd solve all of this nonesense. But there's too many conflicting interests, so that's not likely to happen.

12-08-2006, 07:17 AM
Agreed on all of the above, which is why I don't particularly care what the receiver does, it does it's job reliably.

12-08-2006, 09:09 AM
if a receiver has been THX certified, do they ensure the listed power output is accurate?

so if a THX receiver says 120watts x 7 , can we as consumers take that number with confidence?

12-16-2006, 09:03 AM
Hey Guys, I went ahead and got the AVR 144.

WOW! Just for anyone who's wondering, it's INSANE! It's way louder than my Sony, sounds way better!

I'm amazed!!!

So glad I made the purchase, anyone else considering making the switch, go for it!

Thanks for your help!

12-16-2006, 09:33 AM
Real glad you're happy with the purchase Joel. What's up next on the to-do list? Speakers?

12-16-2006, 09:49 AM
I don't know... I just got the Velodyne sub, and the reciever.. paying for a years worth of XM Radio now, maybe that's it for a while.. I'm completely happy with my Polk mains, but yeah I'd say next will be either a new center channel or rear speakers :)