The Harman Kardon HK 340 was a budget oriented receiver that was introduced in late 1978 and was at the lower end of the HK lineup. It’s retail price was under $250 and at 20 watts per channel output it was designed to compete with the likes of the Pioneer SX-580, Yamaha CR-220 and Marantz 1520.
Here is what Harman Kardon said about the HK 340:
The hk340 receiver is one of a new series from Harman Kardon designed, built, and tested with new understandings that go far beyond conventional ideas about distortion and the factors that make one component sound better than others. They are the most musically accurate receivers ever devised.
The HK 340 followed HK’s famous x30 series of receivers by a few years and differed in appearance from the older line quite a bit. Here’s the earlier HK 630.
While the x30 series has a kind of Scandinavian look, the 340/540/560/670 series has a brushed metal, silver face plate and a more conventional tuner dial and meter. The knob design was changed as well and it does seem as though Harman Kardon was looking to reduce production costs somewhat. I don’t believe the HK 340 had an optional wood cabinet available either. I have seen both cabinets and wood side panels on the HK 670 though.
The controls on the HK 340 are minimal as expected from a budget oriented receiver. They include bass, treble, balance, a speaker selector switch, and loudness control. There is also a headphone jack on the front panel.
The HK 340 has a remedial signal strength meter. Higher models in the same lineup used a different looking meter. The one shown below was used on the HK 450 and HK 560.
- 20 watts per channel
- Ultrawideband design
- Excellent phase linearity
- Superb transient response
- Circuit breaker protection
- Low-noise preamplifier
- Loudness compensation switch
- Front panel headphone jack
- Tape output
- Sensitive, selective FM section
- SSM tuning meter (signal strength)
- Constant interchannel noise suppression
- Stereo program indicator
- Parallax-free tuning dial
Harman Kardon compared the HK 340 and it’s competition to David and Goliath:
Would You bet Goliath against David?
Probably. Goliath certainly looked awesome. Like he could handle any competitor. But David (a musician, of course) took the title in just one round.
The average $300 receiver looks as awesome as Goliath. Knobs, buttons, lights, doodads and diddlybops. It may even sound…not bad. But most of the effort and money went into catching your eye and high fidelity is about music. So don’t place your bet on Goliath just yet.
There’s a David around: the Harman Kardon hk340. Don’t be misled by its low
cost – way under $250 – and its modest appearance. The hk340 performs on the same level as its more powerful relatives in the renowned Harman Kardon line.
Visit your Harman Kardon dealer and listen to the hk340 against any Goliath. We won’t suggest that only a Philistine would choose Goliath, but we will say that David is a cinch to win. No contest.
- Tuning range: FM, MW
- Power output: 20 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo)
- Frequency response: 3Hz to 100kHz
- Total harmonic distortion: 0.08%
- Damping factor: 30
- Input sensitivity: 2.5mV (MM), 160mV (line)
- Signal to noise ratio: 85dB (MM), 95dB (line)
- Speaker load impedance: 8Ω to 16Ω
- Dimensions: 404 x 125 x 311mm
- Weight: 8.6kg
Harman Kardon’s receiver lineup at the time included the HK 340, HK 450, HK 560 and HK 670. The top of the line HK 670 produced 60 wpc and cost $569. You can see a comparison of the features of those models in the graphic below.
The HK 340 utilized what Harman Kardon called a Heavy Duty Power Supply, and it does appear that the power supply is oversized for such a small receiver. The HK 450 and HK 560 were a step up with a negative feedback circuit integrated into the design. The HK 670 was an actual twin powered amp design which is another large step up in quality.
Still, the HK 340 was built well for its purpose and is easy to work on. It utilizes discrete components, not IC’s, as well as an ultra wide bandwidth design.
There is a known issue with the tuner on the HK 340. The drive shaft on the AM/FM tuning gang can deteriorate over time resulting in failure of the tuner.
Here’s what owners of the Harman Kardon 340 have to say about it:
It works great…and the richness of sound with low distortion is amazing. Don’t expect to rock the neighborhood with this receiver as it’s not made for that.
It sounds fantastic for an apartment.
I was surprised with how nice it sounds, and the tuner is very nice too.
The sound is warm and amazing.
It has a high-end look to it. Nice clean lines, no clutter.
The back panel on the HK 340 has connections for two speaker systems, a phono (turntable), tape output, and a tape/aux input. With the aux connection it is possible to connect an iPod, CD player, computer or TV to the HK 340. Notice the receiver also has two speaker protection reset buttons on the back as well. If one trips it can be reset by pushing the relevant button in firmly.
The Harman Kardon HK 340 may not be the best looking receiver but it still has a nice vintage look to it. It is clean and uncluttered. The build quality is average and good enough for most applications. For a small area its 20 watts per channel are sufficient and it has the required connections to build a nice vintage audio setup with a turntable or tape deck. Plus, they are very affordable.