Harman Kardon A401
Stereophonic Control Amplifier (1976)
Power output: 20 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo)
Frequency response: 10Hz to 80kHz
Total harmonic distortion: 0.3%
Damping factor: 30
Input sensitivity: 2.5mV (MM), 150mV (line)
Dimensions: 330 x 275 x 134mm
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Reviewed Sep 27th, 2015 by cary2
I bought this, my first stereo amp, in the mid '70's based on the excellent reputation of the HK Citation line of preamp and amplifier. It was also very economical, and I didn't need much power for JBL Horizon speakers.
I was not happy with the sound of the system overall, but I attributed that to the system's low price. By a stroke of luck I acquired a Marantz 7c tube preamp and a Marantz 8b tube power amp (35/35watts). I suddenly understood what was meant buy transistor sound since the tube gear was so much cleaner. I'm sure it did not measure cleaner than the Harmon Kardon a401, but it was a much better sound.
I noticed immediately that the sibilance of singers were gritty and spitty when played through the transistor amp. I thought that was caused by phonograph needle mistracking. Through the tube gear, the same singer's sibilance was clear and pristine. None of the grunge that I was used to. I began to understand what was meant by the glare of transistor amps as I listened and heard other nuances from the Marantz tube gear.
I later sold the Marantz gear because I needed the money, but I learned a valuable lesson. I do not dislike solid state gear now, but I know to choose very carefully. There is some very nice transistor equipment, and there is some poor tube equipment, but I was lucky to get a chance to hear some of the very best.
I think the early and mid 1970's was a difficult time for solid state design. It was still making strides into the future. I had been skeptical of subjective reviewing prior to my experience, but I am much less skeptical now.
Reviewed Sep 14th, 2014 by Rizal