I gave up on my Pioneer 1018 today and returned it at BB and walked out with the H/K 254. I started the Anticipation Thread... so it only makes sense that I would end up with one eventually.
Thought I would put down my comments of the 254 in comparison to the Pioneer 1018 in case anyone is debating between the two.Setup.
There is no comparison. The 254 wins hands down. I was able to setup the H/K in like 30 minutes compared to the Pio 1018 which took like 3 hours. The GUI is absolutely fantastic. It is very simplistic and beautiful. The Pioneer definitely has much more "professional" audio tweaking, but it is also stupidly complicated and is the ugliest "GUI" I've seen since the 80's. It was a joy to setup the 254. An overlayed color menu with changed applied on the fly. The audio setup for the 254 was faster than the 1018 and more accurate.Audio Quality
Holy crap! I know people have sung the praises of H/K sound quality but I thought they were just fan boys or something. Seriously, simply exquisite sound quality. The 1018 sounded good, but the 254 is amazing. My speakers have never sounded this realistic. I was watching LOTR (just the DD DVD) and there were times that my 2 year old son kept looking over to the empty space between the left front and left surround speakers because he kept hearing sounds "coming" from over there. Excellent imaging that I've never heard from these speakers before. I have some more tweaking that I need to do on the multi-channel analog inputs for my HTPC but the difference between 254 and 1018 is the greatest here (the main reason why I returned the 1018). I could hardly make out dialog on the 1018 but the 254 "lifts" the dialog so I can clearly hear what is going on.Video Quality
- I'm torn on this one. In my subjective view I think the 1018 does the video better. I will need to take some screen shots to compare with the 1018 that I already took to be sure, but the H/K is definitely applying processing to the image even when I don't want it to. On my HTPC it looks a little "muddy" even on the 1920x1080/60 desktop. It isn't as crisp and clear as going straight to the TV. I can't quite place my finger on it but the image isn't "right." If I apply any video processing on either a standard DVD player or my HTPC on any 480i/p sources the image goes to pot. For example, with the LOTR DVD above I applied the "movie" processing. All the edges of everything gets enhanced and the detail has more contrast applied to it and it practically screams "Look at me! I'm low-def!" If I turn "off" the processing then the image softens and looks a TON better (possibly at the expense of some detail). At 720p content and higher, however, the processing does seem to add a little "extra" something to it, but I basically turn it all off for every input because it seems to look the best to me.Remote
- Ouch! From the pictures I saw I thought the remote looked pretty cool. However, ones I "unsheathed" it I was unpleasantly surprised. The thing is freakin' huge and awkward especially for the number of buttons on there. You have to kind of mash on the buttons to get them to respond. It has a huge fat handle at the bottom and then thins out at the top. I've started calling it The Machete instead of the remote. "Hey boy! Get me my machete!" I still think it "looks" cool, but functionally it is going to take a while to get used to it.Bugs
- Like IrishLegend, I noticed that there is a bug in the menu to adjust how long the volume stays onscreen. If I go to it I can't adjust any of the settings and I can't back out of the menu. I have to turn off the AVR and then turn it back on. Annoying because the volume overlay doesn't stay on long enough for me. It basically shows up and then disappears every half second (not the 3 second default like it is supposed to).
That's my broad stroke impression for now. I'm going back to actually enjoy using it now and watch a movie or tv show. "Hey Wife! Get me my Machete!"