View Full Version : Thoughts on Harman Future/present electronics

Mr Peabody
May 6, 2021, 01:04 PM
I really had a tough time thinking of a title. It is just my thought or caution.
I have noticed that since Harman has acquired Arcam that technology has been implemented into every electronics brand under their umbrella.. JBL now has the Class G amps and I believe their processors are Arcam except for the top model which may still be Trinnov, Lexicon came out with HT receivers that use the Arcam Class G and I'd bet no more than just a rebadged Arcam. Levinson is using th Arcam streaming App and probably THE entire streaming platform. And, Arcam is still a full line with new models.

This leaves me to wonder about Harman's R&D, is it active still and to what extent. I've noticed that in Levinson they are so slow that some products are a bit dated when released. For example, the DAC capability of my 526 is really behind in what it can do. I believe the highest bit rate is 192k. I don't buy that higher isn't necessary and snob appeal.

Levinson should have their own amplifier technology, but one wonders how far the bleeding into other brands will go. A rebadged JBL amp at $2500.00 is one thing but passing an entry Levinson for $9k or whatever is another. Not saying that has happened with ML, just saying.

As a ML user I have reservations about future purchases. This may just be my paranoia but I remember the Lexicon rebadged Oppo incident.

I guess it makes sense if you don't have a streaming platform to use another in the family and to fill in other lines with options for those wanting all one brand, Istill can't help my suspicions. I think Harman should have dropped the Lexicn name a longtime ago. It would be very interesting to do a direct comparison of a Lexicon HT receiver to an Arcam. Also, a comparison of the new ML 5k serie separates to Arcam.

Arcam was top notch in the area of digital and some other good tech, I just don't like the shell game as a consumer.

May 6, 2021, 02:46 PM
Very good observations and valid concerns.
There are many audio brands under the Harman umbrella. As you have noted, several of the technologies developed by one of those brands have been incorporated into products by sister brands. That is to be expected (I am thinking of car companies using same parts on vehicle from sister brands) and can be good for the company (saves R&D money) and for the consumer if he gets a better price and better technology.

Harman is now owned by Samsung (they bought it about 5 years ago). One would think that they donít want to lose their $8 billion investment in Harman. I would expect them not to be foolish and destroy the value of what they bought.

May 7, 2021, 07:39 AM
Having owned Salon 2's on 2 different occasions , I'm obviously a fan of Harman. I too wonder where they're headed. I've noticed they are doing more audio for the automotive market. I waited for a long time hoping that they could improve upon the very good Salons, to no avail. And their R&D used to be among the best, but we no longer hear anything about that either.

I'm still hoping they wake up.

May 7, 2021, 10:55 AM
I too share these concerns ... as an owner of No536 mono blocks for the past 4 years which are really pretty good by the way especially at their price point ... I do have concerns about their future direction. Is there going to be a new reference line that hopefully erases the disappointment of the No53's? The No52 was pretty good and got a few really good reviews but was very quickly beaten by several other top preamps. The 5000 series probably makes a lot of sense for the business as a whole as I'm hearing rumors that Magnolia will soon start selling Mark Levinson (heck its been at Nebraska furniture mart for several years now) ... they still need to compete at the top of the market for the brand to mean anything. Let's face it ... Mark Levinson became well known for playing at the very top of the market at least for the first part of their history but after what I believe to be their crowning achievement the No33 Reference amps ... they just haven't had a product that would compete at that end of the market any longer. The 5XX series was a good new entry in the mid range hi end 5 years ago but if that's where it ends then they will fade into irrelevance ... Would love to see a massive pair of Class A Mono's maybe a No63 Reference that would give a pair of Boulder 2150's or Gyphon Mephisto's a run for their money ... I would think that Harman has the resources to make that happen ... I'm not convinced that Samsung sees any value in that which I think is their problem ... They can live off the name for a while longer but not forever! When I upgrade amps in a few years I'm hoping they will have something for me to consider ... just not holding my breath


Mr Peabody
May 7, 2021, 01:33 PM
To my knowledge Levinson is only OEM in the auto sound but it's their bread & butter.

George the 536 & 534 are really good, IMO.

If you look at used listings you cantell Levinson may be losing ground, the vintage amps sell for more than the newer models, holding their value better may be a better way to say it.