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Amplifier Harman Kardon HK6300 review

Just when I thought we’d reviewed every Harman amplifier in existence, it pulls another from the hat. This is the HK6300, a model that looks very similar to the HK6100 and HK6200 but, featurewise, is linked to the more substantial HK6500. Got that?

Like its partner, the Harmna-Kardon HK6300 offers a gaggle of gadgets that include phase-correct loudness, subsonic filtering and mono/stereo mode selection. Then there’s the third tape monitor loop, designed to accommodate an external surround processor or, heaven forbid, a graphic.

A couple of selectors distinguish between the remaining tape, video, CD, tuner and phono inputs but there’s no independent rec-out facility. And, like the HK6500, this amp will also cope with MC in addition to MM phono cartridges.

With all these features, plus tone and balance controls under its wing you’d have thought a ‘source direct’ option was worth having. Evidently, Harman-Kardon does not. Neither has it fitted decent 4mm terminals for the various A and B speaker outlets – a further indiscretion at this price. The internal construction is rather messy too even if, true to the HK tradition, there’s not an IC in sight.

Sound quality

A chorus of disapproval greeted the first track from our CD selection as the panel cried out for mercy and access to the on/off switch! So, in complete contrast to the warm reception earned by the HK6500, the smaller HK6300 was roundly condemned. It is an amplifier, the listeners suggested, that combined the ability to be boring as well as offensive — adjectives such as bright, grating, mechanical, edgy, and rasping are just a selection of what it attracted.

Via MM disc it was similarly coarse, percussion was strained while its midband suffered an oddly ‘cupped’ quality. The bass, meanwhile, was obviously recessed. Asked to elaborate on any favourable quality, a hushed silence descended over the panel. Not a good sign.

Conclusion

Oh dear! So HK’s amplifiers are getting rather long in the tooth, but none of us would have predicted this sort of result. In practical terms the Harman-Kardon HK6300 furnishes an adequate series of measurements, characteristic of all its amps in fact. Yet, subjectively, it would appear to be the weakest of the range and clearly related to the cheaper HK6200.

To quote one unsympathetic listener ‘a good laboratory amplifier but sadly unsuited for audio work’. My sentiments exactly.

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