Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Harman-Kardon 430 Twin-Powered Receiver

The Harman-Kardon 430 is a stout little receiver, measuring in at 25 watts per channel at 8 ohms per side, and low distortion ratings (less than 0.03, typically). It has the usual controls (tone, function switches, low and high filters) and two tape deck connections.

The looks of the 430 are the first thing that grabs you. The FM dial face wraps up and around the top of the receiver, and the on/off switch is a familiar red lamp that is almost too bright! The controls could use more than indented markers, as in an unlit room it's kind of hard to tell where the knobs are positioned. This is a minor niggle, as the receiver is very attractive for the most part. The knobs area is brushed aluminum, as are the knobs themselves.

On the back are the usual connections (two sets of speakers, two tape inputs/outputs, AM, FM, aux and one phono preamp). The phono stage is particularyly sweet when making CD copies as I did while testing it. No harshness or graininess, it operated smoothly with the AR-XA turntable (previously reviewed here) connected. The table has a grounding issue (no grounding wire!) so that had to be sorted before the system could be operated without hum.

This thing can pull in the FM stations, but as many AM sections from receivers of this age, it takes a bit of fiddling to get the antenna to pull in all but the strongest stations in any given area. That's with KMOX being the strongest AM radio station in the St. Louis area (it's a Clear Channel blowtorch at 50,000 watts). Smaller AM's can be brought in, just not as perfectly as the big guys. Let's face facts, AM is just not what it used to be. I hope, personally, that FM terrestrial radio doesn't go the same route, but that is a different rant for a different day!

I give the Harman-Kardon 430 Twin-Powered receiver a glowing 4 1/2 stars out of a possible five stars. Weak AM reception and no position marker on the knobs make up for the discrepancies. The twin-powered feature refers to the dual power transformers onboard, making the 430 much like two monoblock amps under its vinyl-coated hood. This feature gives the 430 a beefy sound that is obvious. It likes to play with higher eficiency speakers, given the lower power rating. It loves Klipsch offerings, as can be expected. Go to the Klipsch forums online and see how many Klipsch owners are also HK-430 owners.

Tomorrow we go back into the grab bag for yet another goodie, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!

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