This is my second Harman Kardon receiver amplified that I just pickup a few days ago from Ebay, my first one was the HK 670, I still use them to drive my Klipsch La belle speakers, I used to have a few Valves amp ( about 10- 12 watts), they were quite nice with the Klipsch La belle speakers, but I like the sound quality of HK 670 on large scale orchestra music, electronic music and movie sound track more than my valves amp, since I like this amp (HK670) so much, I decide to looking for another HK amp, I read a lot of good review of Karman Kardon HK 3270 from the reader of the Audio Review.com website, so I decide to get one from Ebay, So lucky I got one a few days ago, I just can not wait and hook it up immediately with my LS 3/5 A speakers, (I used to drive these speaker with my Nad 3020i ) in a small room), wow, I can hear a big difference in sound quality between the two amp even the amp is still cold, I let the amp connected to the electricity with the standby mode until the next evening, I turn on the amp with some fm music from the radio first, very impress..., if you are not ask for too much, you don't need to have a separate turner...( that is my 2 cents opinion)...I put on some voicing cd in my Marantz PMD 340, I found this amp a little bit on the dark side, it doen't mean good or no good, it is a matter of taste, I found this amp is very smooth, ( Even smoother than my HK 670) very powerful with a deep and beautiful sound stage, it is so matching with my ls 35a, (one of my favorite amp for LS 35a is Macintosh MC 240, but it cost over $ 3000 now and most of them are 110 voltage) the good thing of this amp is, you will not get tire even after a long listening period...they have remold control...very very handy...and this amp made you want to listen music more...and they are so cheap to buy....
* My 2 cents opinion on HK 3270: Base on my experience, a copper speakers cable will be an ideal for this amp, not silver cable, use thicker cable if you drive bookshelf speaker (Like Audioquest midnight blue cable size), for me a good hifi system is not how expensive that you pay for, but is a matter of match and match. if you can find a good speakers to match with is amp, as Frankenstone a Audiophile state, it out performs many receiver at ten time the cost.
I would like to thank you to all the nice review about this amp from Audio Review Website, without you I will not able to made that decision. * Please note: my comment is base on my personal music taste only, but strong recommended to have a listen before you buy.
(please forgive my English, due to English is not my mother language)
This receiver outperforms receivers at ten times the cost. I've had this beast for over ten years, enjoying listening to many concerts (DVD and Bluray). It drives the most demanding speakers, including Electrostatics. It also has a sub output, which can come in very handy.
Finally decided to upgrade to top end gear. What a mistake! My friends always commented on the sound stage. The music from the HK3270 lives! I will have to fiddle with the hundreds of settings on the new gear to see if I can come anywhere near the HK performance. Failing that, I will re-instate old faithful.
To be fair, it IS rather strange to feel compelled to write a review for a discontinued product which i have owned for more than 5 years now... I hope though this might still be useful for someone out there... As some of you may be aware in strict 'audiophile' terms a stereo receiver (tuner+amplifier in the same box) might not be everyone's idea of 'proper hi-fi' - even for the budget sector. I bought this unit on the spur of the moment, and regreted immediately that I hadn't instead looked for one of the higly reviewed amplifiers from NAD, Marantz or Cambridge Audio. I got stuck with it though due to lack of funds (yeah it's been THAT bad...) but have had the chance in the meantime to audition units from the above mentioned brands, plus Sony, Kenwood or others. Thus I have come to realize that the old'n'cheap receiver from HK had not been such a bad deal after all...
Indeed it took some time to come to appreciate this humble machine - not only because I compared with other similar products - but because it needed some time to break in (I don't understand why but 'breaking in' is a real concept after all).
To cut the long story short - this amplifier is no masterpiece; it has its clear weaknesses and it's better perhaps if i start with these.
This is no warm amplifier - its character is quite 'shouty', meaning the midband is slightly forward and aggressive. Conversely the bass is not as strong as with other competitors, nor is the treble very smooth or silky. This gives the amplifier (especially before the breaking-in period) a somewhat rugged, shouty sound. To make things worse this cannot be rectified through the tone controls as the treble control seems to amplify the upper midband sector at the same time.
In any case no one expects a 300 dollar receiver to be smooth and warm - so the above mentioned weaknesses are not all that surprising.
There are pluses however - even unexpected ones. Despite its shouty character, this unit paradoxically has a very refined sophisticated sound. The sound is airy, and the soundstage extends well beyond the speakers. There is space between instruments, and music flows in a 'spacious' atmospheric manner. That 'airy' character on its own made me rate the HK above other more famous amplifiers when auditioning those. Another plus is the very powerful, dynamic sound; that 'high current capability' claim from HK is not a joke. The power reserve brings several benefits to music, like good timing, good transients and the amplifier never sounds out of breath. The midband may be forward but its transparency is very rewarding indeed.
The conclusion is that given a good source and (especially) a good recording (more and more rare to find these days) this unit sound WAY beyond its price tag. It bring an airy, atmospheric, transparent sound sound that has no place in this price range. This paradoxical 'shouty' yet transparent, rugged yet refined sound has been mentioned I think before in another review (on some specialist site) and of course it may make it very frustrating if one thinks that with a little tuning this could have been a perfect amplifier. But it seems that for that extra effort and good-will one has to pay loads in this world... As this unit is however, it may still prove immensely rewarding IN THE RIGHT SYSTEM. Meaning if paired with a good source and with warmer (not bright) speakers this amplifier can generate a very accurate, detailed, precise, dynamic sound. I have it paired with a pair of KEF Cresta2s and, as those are slightly bright speakers, the combination is not that perfect. However even as it is I prefer it to boring 'bass and treble without midband' budget systems; going for the 'safer' sound isn't always a good idea.
I picked up the HK3270 mainly for its low TIM distortion power amp design as well as the bonus of flexibility in operation. With the separate independent A/B speaker switches you can quickly hook up two pairs of speakers for A/B speaker comparison, or you can easily establish a bi-wiring connection without having to use the integrated bi-wire cables.
The pre-out/main-in loop enables users to use the receiver as a power amp. If you have a pre-amp that you like very much you can still use it with HK3270.
The power amplifier section is seriously designed and well built, and it gives very good sound, detailed, balanced, musical, and with excellent sound field definition. It handles and controls both my Mission speakers and Axiom speakers (both are bookshelf type) very well under all sound volume levels. There is no surprise with the FM reception, sensitivity is more than enough for where I live - I got my FM through the TV cable, noise is very low, human voices are true and vivid, and it beats my kenwood receiver in extention at both high end and low end of the sound band.
The unit came with a slight 60Hz transformer hum, common in HK receivers. I heard lots of such complains from HK receiver owners, not only 3270, but 3370 and 3470 also. It's not easily audible in the day, but once your room is quiet or when you listen to classical music, it's noticible and annoying. I had to modify the mounting structure of the transformer by putting in some isolating foam and using rubber gromet on mounting screws to stop it.
When the tuner is tuned to a station, you can hear it even if you switch to CD or tape. The crosstalk isn't perfect, though I don't see it bothering me so far.
The tone control can not be bypassed, though I never use it. I finally spent a weekend modified the pre-amp/tone-control circuit and made it a flat response 14db gain pre-amp.
I noticed during my modifying the unit that all signal coupling caps used within the pre-amp PCB are polar electrolytic style, though the DC voltage across the caps is zero. This is IMHO a design fault, as polar electrolytic caps are supposed work at a bias of certain DC voltage, and on the other hand, it is bi-polar electrolytic caps that should have been used in such zero DC places.
Overall, HK3270 offers a lot of value for its price, and especially a sound quality in the class of a decent integrated