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  1. #1

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    Default Harman kardon 680i verses Pioneer SX980

    Hi, I have a HK 680i that is very impressive sounding as most of the mid 70 to mid 80s HK gear seems to be. I should point out I am running very good AP speaker cables and ICs as well as having the unit set up to take my VH Audio power cord. Things that were not taken into account when it was made back in 1980, cost $650. I base my view of the sound on the fact that I have owned things all the way up to Bel Cato, Exposure, Vincent, NAD Rotel and many others.

    That old I HK stuff is pretty good but I love the look of the Pioneer SX980 and have a chance to get one for a reasonable price. Despite working in the CE biz in the 80s I have not heard a Pioneer SX-50 or SX -80 since 1979. The last one was a SX850. I know people say the 50 series has a richer more full sound then the 80 series.

    The question is how would a SX 850 or an SX 980 compare soundwise to the HK680i twin power?? Has anyone ever had them side by side?? Is this worth even messing with?? Thanks

  2. #2

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    I really don't know what the HK sounds like. But I have heard some Pioneer X50s and they're not as 'warm' as the previous series: SX-838, 939, 1010.

    My suspicion would be that the HK is also warmer and less bright? But maybe someone who's actually heard this will chime in. I know that I prefer the sound of my Pio SX-838. And I suspect I'd also like the HK.

    Having said that, speaker matching is very important here. For example, the X50s sound really nice with Large Advents. And the SX-838 likes a wider range of speakers from Dynacos to Epis, etc.

    cnh
    Last edited by cnh; 09-24-2011 at 11:13 AM.

  3. #3

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    Both are past the zenith of their manufacturers' best hifi efforts; I do believe the SX-980 has thick-film (integrated STK packs) outputs. The hk has what appear to be discrete components (but might be integrated drivers and outputs; I dunno). The hk680i is a very solid and decent sounding piece of hardware. All things being equal, though, I'd expect the SX-980 to better the hk in sonic performance. A fair comparison will really require rehabilitation (at least new electrolytic capacitors) in both contestents; otherwise there's the confounding variable of aged passive components.




    That said, I am not a huge fan of the Pioneers; they are competent but not soul-stirring. For the record, the only "good" Pioneer receiver I have is an SX-1050, though.
    Last edited by mhardy6647; 09-24-2011 at 11:25 AM.
    all the best,
    mrh

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    Hi, Now this is great as I have tried to find a picture of the inside of a 690i and here we have one. The 690i came out in 1983 and the 680i in 1980 The 680i has one transformer but everything else after that is dual mono. It is labeled TWIN POWER right on the front panel. The 670 (1978-80) also has one transformer and is twin power . They went to one larger transformer rather then two as in the (930,730,430) because they felt a channel with heavy demand ( while the other one has less) could draw all that one larger transformer had . Note the difference in design. Interesting

    How big are the 4 main caps??? The 680i has 8 4700uf caps (4 per channel) Total 37,600uf 18,800 uf per channel.
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  5. #5

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    And yes the 80 series from Pioneer used IC while the 50 series and the HK gear was descrete. KG

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    oops, I'm sorry - I thought that was a 680 but it is indeed a 690 :-(

    The single transformer "dual power" hks (like the Kenwood KA-7100) have dual secondary windings - the hk 430/730/630/930 had totally separate power transformers.
    all the best,
    mrh

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    Although your cogent post makes more sense than a few around here, I'm reporting you, radareya01.

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    I found it to be a deep and profound meditation on the hifi of the 1980s. I have dishonorabled my own bonk galore times myself.
    all the best,
    mrh

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    It's been a while since I have heard both but, if memory serves me correctly, the HK was cleaner in overall sound but the pioneer had more bass to it but, it wasnt a natural bass like the HK had. Not as tight.

    I have always loved the looks of the sx pioneers also. The other units I loved the looks on as well as sound were the older sansui G like the g220000 or the g80000.

    If you want to take a look at some of the TOL power war receivers, this guy as one heck of a collection as well as some cool looking speakers from back in the day.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI73qTGsmI4

  10. #10

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    Interesting info above. Again, HKs are about the only '70/'80 receiver I have not heard or owned and now, unfortunately, you've piqued my curiosity. I've been seeing the 430, 730 and 930 bringing some good money for ebay sellers even in this S$%##y economy?

    To be honest, I'm getting tired of chasing the elusive piece from this period...having already gone through Sherwood, Realistic, Sansui, Marantz, Yamaha, Pioneer, Vector Research, Kenwood, Technics, and....?

    Now I have to add the HK (and of course there are the 'early' Sonys?). Suffering from Vintage receiver 'burnout'. I've also found, as I mentioned before, that that second tier as opposed to the TOTL monster receiver war units, sounds very much like the next model up without the power? So this saves a lot of money in the search.

    The bad thing is that there are 'fanboys' of almost every manufacturer above: Pioneer, Sansui, Marantz, Yamaha, HK, and so on. So unless you listen to 'everything' you just don't know. And to make things worse speakers make a difference. For example, my Yamaha sounds good with Polk Monitor 5s--but doesn't give much bass. Put some RSL 40s to it and you have more than 'ample' bass. Dynacos don't like Marantz (so far), but hook up some Boston A100s and yeah! And I could go on. But I'm just derailing Keith's thread at this point.

    The long and the short is to say that I 'do' think that these HKs are probably very very nice pieces, and now I may have to spend the money to find out. lol

    cnh
    Last edited by cnh; 09-29-2011 at 11:10 AM.

  11. #11

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    You really won't know what's what until you've listened to them all - and all in "as new" condition.
    The bottom line, though, is that all receivers are chock-full of compromises and will all fall more or less short of quality separate components. Personally (over four decades of fiddlin' with this stuff) I believe that integrated amplifiers are a sweet spot in terms of price/performance/functionality/practicality.

    I have a handful of Yamaha receivers because I like them aesthetically and sonically; I also have a soft spot in my heart (or head?) for them due to my own past. I don't use any of them for serious listening, though. I do still use my CA-610II integrated amplifier regularly, and even drag out a CA-800 and use it in Class A once in a while. Truth be told, I now have a CA-2010 but I've yet to even fire it up to test. Beautiful hunk of hardware it is, though.

    FWIW: Other than sheer bulk and audacity, I am unimpressed by any of the late-1970s monster receivers.



    The hk 430 and 730 (particularly) are very nice receivers; they sound good and have pretty good tuners in them, too. Their dual-mono power supplies correct one typical shortfall in hifi receivers. They also have (IMO) a timeless styling aesthetic (as do the Yamahas). The "best bet", however, just might be the relatively uncommon hk A402 amplifier, though. It is essentially the hk730 sans the tuner.



    ... finally, if one is really serious about sound reproduction and one is really interested in hk... there can be only one, and its name is Citation II. I, unfortunately, do not have one of those... at least so far.
    all the best,
    mrh

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    I have to agree. And I'm not really looking to these receivers for critical listening....in fact, the other day I hooked up my NAD integrated to a set of LSI-7s and a fairly new Yamaha Tuner and well, more detail, more depth, better imaging and so on. And that on FM which should be a strength of the old 70s receivers.

    Still, there is something about that vintage sound that is just so 'nostalgic' that you can listen to it while you work for hours and hours and hours. Especially on a set of Dynaco A25s, EPI 100Vs or ADS L520s, etc. Oh, and I am having a Tech bring my Pioneer SX-838 and possibly my Yamaha CR-800 up to speed--these are two of the better sounding pieces so far.

    Part of me is stuck back in the '70s. And another part of me is here and now....the one with the NAD and the Tube amp, etc.

    Thanks mhardy! Isn't that Ad. wrong? Doesn't the Monitor 7 have a 10" PR and not an 8" (my Monitor 5A has the 8")?

    [Keith, you have my apologies...this is my last non-HK 680i post!]

    cnh
    Last edited by cnh; 09-29-2011 at 02:54 PM.

  13. #13

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    The very original Monitor Series Model 7 did indeed have an uncoated paper 8" PR; it was quickly supplanted with the 10" PR. One should be able to see that the PRs in the 10 and 7 are different in the linked photo (from a 1976 brochure I have).

    The thing that's for real wrong in that Gordon Miller Music ad is the turntable - the photo is a [EDIT] GA-406 not a GA-312 :-P

    I am sure that the OP is fascinated by the old guys' ruminations! :-)
    Last edited by mhardy6647; 09-29-2011 at 03:19 PM.
    all the best,
    mrh

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