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Anybody ever compared the Eico HF81 to Harman Kardon A220 "The Lute"?
Anybody ever compared the Eico HF81 to Harman Kardon A220 "The Lute"?
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Old 23rd May 2011, 09:41 PM   #1
jazzguitar is offline jazzguitar  Germany
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Join Date: May 2011
Default Anybody ever compared the Eico HF81 to Harman Kardon A220 "The Lute"?

Hi everybody, I recently found all the rave reviews about the Eico HF81.

Kelly Holsten's story on this page


is pretty similar to what I experienced with my Harman Kardon A220 "The Lute" integrated stereo (also turned my head a few times when I first ran teh amp, to see whether there really wasn't a drum set in my living room).

Looking at the schematics, I find the similarities remarkable, down to even some component values.

There are differences, though.
The Eico has better channel separation, separate controls for each channel, and most importantly (to me, anyway) much more input switch selection choices.

The Harman Kardon uses 7408/6V6GT outputs (the reason I originally bought the amp, I was on ebay hunting tubes for my old Fender, not on the lookout for tube stereo) but was thinking, well, I'll bid $100 and see whether I'll like it. I won't get it anyway).
The A220 also has better filtering, solid state rectifier, and a weird but ingenious way to use regulated DC filament supply for the preamp.

After four years of daily use now (I replaced the electrolytics and a few carbon comp resistors) I am still amazed how great this sounds.
But A220's on ebay rarely go for more than $150, project condition ones last week for less than $70.

So I wonder: is the Eico really that much better? Did anybody compare the two?

Thanks for all responses!
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Old 28th May 2011, 05:15 PM   #2
SF1 is offline SF1  United States
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Join Date: Feb 2011
I think the sound difference is more a matter of personal preference. When I was growing up our household had both the EICO HF81 and the HK Lute. The Lute has a more 'refined' sound, a bit smoother and a little 'thinner'.. However, I personally preferred the HF81 because it sounded more alive and had more of a 'pentode distortion bite'.

The Lute is rather hard on the output tubes, and eventually took out an output transformer. Hope that helps.
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Old 30th May 2011, 11:56 PM   #3
wipster is offline wipster  United States
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: East of the Cascades where the mighty Columbia starts heading west

New member here, just joined after seeing this thread. Recently on eBay, I stumbled upon a pair of HK A-120 integrated amps for sale and was amazed at how much they "looked like" both the Eico HF-81 integrated and the HF-85 preamp. I own an HF-85 that feeds a pair of HF-50's powering my Klipsch Fortes and absolutely love that warm sound that playing vinyl creates through this system.

Anyway, the A-120's really look like they could have been made by Eico, they are that close. Inside though, the HK's look like they turned the Eico design 90 degrees...it's kind of weird. The A-120's are mono, not stereo as the Eico's are, but they looked like they were made by the same manufacturer. Go to eBay and search for HARMAN KARDON MELODY II and you'll see what I mean.

Does anyone know if Eico ever made HK equipment or vice versa? I'm really curious after seeing these puppys...

Happy Memorial Day!

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Old 1st June 2011, 02:08 AM   #4
Eli Duttman is offline Eli Duttman  United States
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Monroe Township, NJ

Very little under the sun was new regarding tubed circuitry, back when these units were made, and that remains true today. It should come as no shock, whatsoever, that "identical" topologies were used by several different manufacturers.

The way that DC heating of preamp tubes was accomplished, without a separate supply, was to use the preamp heaters as part of a single bias network shared by all 4 O/P tubes. Any number of companies used that "Cheap Charley" method, which (quite frankly) SUCKS. IMO, an obvious upgrade to amps containing that crap is to install proper, separate, bias networks in each channel and the construction of a regulated 12 VDC supply for the preamp tube heaters.
Eli D.

Last edited by Eli Duttman; 1st June 2011 at 02:09 AM. Reason: grammar
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