Official Harman Kardon AVR 254 & 354 Owners Thread - Page 11 - AVS Forum
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post #301 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 12:11 PM
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Setup: not too bad, I really need to get banana plugs, but other than the usual thick fingers in small area conundrum, everything set up readily. The renaming of source names is easy as is (so long as you write it down as you are doing it) the gui based source input designations. All legacy devices, Wii and Samsung UP5000 played on the first try with sound.

Speaker setup - I don't run with a subwoofer so the EZ_EQ will not work for me. The manual setup raises a number of questions such as what crossover frequency do I input, etc. I just winged it and it sounds good, but requires -25db plus on the volume for me to listen at the usual volume. This means that once the volume goes less than -50 db, I cannot hear it at all. This may be related to my "winging it". I have common JBL 160s speakers running a 5.0 setup, however I have a 7.1 set of Anthems in my game room, so I might scavenge two speakers from there for a 7.0 setup.

Anyone have any ideas on the volume issue/crossover settings?

Video Upconversion - works flawlessly but for a 2-3 second delay when switching sources with a split-second green screen. One HDMI cord to LCD.

Video upscaling - Jury is still out on this one. I need to spend more time viewing Encore which is highly artificated coming in from the Cable Box usually. Blu-Ray (Pirates Carib.) looked a little grainy in the dark areas and my Blu_ray player is Reon equipped and usually looks great so if there is a problem, it is with the H/K. But the HD channels coming in from cable box look a little better as they come in at 720p/1080i. Legacy sources are improved somewhat, but garbage in/garbage out.

The Bridge II - Plays music with menus. Response time is very slow to scroll through menus on a 80GB Ipod. Sound is very nice, but I downloaded everything to the Ipod at lossless. I have photos, but when I attempt to view, the system hangs, and I have to hold the menu button for 3 seconds to reset. Works as advertised for music, very slow response to button smashing but I haven't figure out whether you hit play or OK to start your playlists, and photos aren't available and attempts kick it into manual ipod mode. Maybe more time with the Manual, unless someone wants to share their solution.

Setup your playlists ahead of time, as searching by artist when you have 3000 songs or so is just near impossible.

Also, the Bridge II comes with plastic inserts to give your Ipod a sung fit into the Bridge. They say that there is one for the 80/160G classics, but I couldn't find it from the 5 or 6 provided.

Looks: The give you caps for the front input jacks which is nice. Clean look.

FM Radio - couldn't figure out how to set a double digit preset, so limited to 9. Any help?

Heat issues: It has been running for two hours plus and I can still place my hand on the top of it. However, it has virtually unlimited clearance to the top and only very minor restrictions to the sides

Overall, I still have some bugs on my end, possibly a bug on its end, and some potential disappointment on upscaling, but it is certainly better than my previous JVC 702.
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post #302 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Escrotumus View Post

. Honestly I felt lucky to even get one at a retailer at this point so I didn't argue the point. .

This is exactly what the big box stores want you to think.

Pay more, and feel lucky for the privilidge of doing so.
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post #303 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 02:05 PM
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I have a Harmony 880 and it appears that Harmony does not have the codes in their system for full functionability. I can turn the Receiver on with the Harmony, but the 354 does not change sources when prompted by the Harmony. This is a Harmony problem. Anyone have any luck with this?
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post #304 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 03:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeonx View Post

I have a Harmony 880 and it appears that Harmony does not have the codes in their system for full functionability. I can turn the Receiver on with the Harmony, but the 354 does not change sources when prompted by the Harmony. This is a Harmony problem. Anyone have any luck with this?

I have a Harmony XBOX 360 Remote and I haven't had any problems. I added a few tweaks such as adding the "Menu" command, but that's it.

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post #305 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeonx View Post

I have a Harmony 880 and it appears that Harmony does not have the codes in their system for full functionability. I can turn the Receiver on with the Harmony, but the 354 does not change sources when prompted by the Harmony. This is a Harmony problem. Anyone have any luck with this?

The harmony database is not correct for the 254. I had to manually learn all but 1 of the input frequencies into the harmony and then map them to custom input names that I created. Most of the programmed buttons also do not do anything so I deleted them and created ones for the video and audio modes and the OSD. I called harmony afterwards to see if I could delete all of those blank pages on the device advanced buttons menu and they can only do it on their end. The tech looked up all of the other people that use this device and said that he found 124 users with this device and they all had to create custom buttons and map them just like I did. He flagged the device for the database guys to fix because obviously they messed it up. Their support was top notch. Logitech has their act together with their harmony remotes. Very impressive.
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post #306 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 04:50 PM
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Why is the power cord such a flimsy joke? I accidentally set my receiver on top of the cord and it made a massive crease mark on it---the jacket must be made of tin foil.

Of course you can't disconnect the cord from the receiver end, either.
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post #307 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 05:43 PM
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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!"
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post #308 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flabioh View Post

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!"

Exactly. I would like the 3 seconds maybe the 5. I also noticed that my HD channels look a little bit grainy through the 354 than straight to my TV.
Hopefully they will fix the MENU problems, I doubt they can do anything with the grainy video though. I also can't get the AVR remote to find the code to my Samsung LED DLP or my XBOX 360. I'm glad I have my Harmony. Hopefully Logitech will upgrade the 354 (and 254) in their database to fix the problems the Harmony's are having. IMHO it's due to them being so new.

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post #309 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 06:53 PM
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Numberoneson just called me from a BB in the St. Louis area, and they have the 154, 254, AND the 354 in stock , but the lowly 257 is the only one hooked up.

He couldn't find the Pio 1018 though......

The 354 is $799. OUCH
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post #310 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flabioh View Post


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.

This is disappointing because the Torino chip is supposed to be one of Faroudja's top chips. Did you try any of the custom settings described in the manual?
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post #311 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by simon_templar_32 View Post

This is disappointing because the Torino chip is supposed to be one of Faroudja's top chips. Did you try any of the custom settings described in the manual?

I actually just tried some of the custom video settings and got the picture a lot better! I suggest you guys try this. Flabioh give it a try and let us know your results.

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post #312 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 08:11 PM
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I played around a little with the "Custom" settings but not long enough. My wife wanted to watch some shows. Just for a point of reference what custom settings did you use?
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post #313 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 08:26 PM
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Color, contrast, brightness, sharpness etc.

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post #314 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 08:47 PM
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I just remembered that I am also not getting HDMI sound through my Scientific Atlanta 8300 cable box, I have to put it through optical. Any Ideas? Do I need to mess with the cable box options? Should I try unplugging the optical cable from the cable box (does the cable box detect the optical is plugged in and override the HDMI sound?) ?

My XBOX 360 is hooked up the same as my cable box (HDMI and optical cable) but it is passing HDMI sound just fine. I also have the HD-DVD add on going through the XBOX, so am I hearing Dolby HD (on some HD-DVD's) but the AVR isn't showing it as such?

EDIT: I got the HDMI working by unplugging the HDMI cable from the back of the AVR and then replugging it in and it started working immediately.

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post #315 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 09:37 PM
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How is the audio delay when watching TV and going from a 5.1 channel to a 2.0 channel? Is it instantaneous or does it take a couple seconds? I think Pioneer is good with this.
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post #316 of 4528 Old 07-19-2008, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by blackmax2k1 View Post

How is the audio delay when watching TV and going from a 5.1 channel to a 2.0 channel? Is it instantaneous or does it take a couple seconds? I think Pioneer is good with this.

I have not noticed any delay at all.

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post #317 of 4528 Old 07-20-2008, 06:39 AM
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I haven't noticed any real delay switching cable channels either. Maybe a half second from Standard Definition to High Definition, but that was present with the cable box alone.
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post #318 of 4528 Old 07-20-2008, 06:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flabioh View Post

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).

I had this same issue with my 254 out of the box. It was freaking annoying! After setting up everything I decided to do a system reset-- and that fixed it! I just had to set up everything else again.
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post #319 of 4528 Old 07-20-2008, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Curmudgeonx View Post

Of course, once BB puts CC out of business, then BB will have only small retailers to compete with and the small guys can't match the discounts that BB can place on an item. BB may worry about Walmart, but Walmart will probably never carry H/K, Denon, etc.

Fortunately, Fry's keeps Best Buy honest west of the Mississippi. However, those on the East Coast (outside of Atlanta) can't know the fun of spending less than $5 on a HDMI cable at retail.

The discontinued HK AVR247 was available for a sweet discount at the Austin store.

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Setup: not too bad, I really need to get banana plugs, but other than the usual thick fingers in small area conundrum, everything set up readily. The renaming of source names is easy as is (so long as you write it down as you are doing it) the gui based source input designations. All legacy devices, Wii and Samsung UP5000 played on the first try with sound.

Speaker setup - I don't run with a subwoofer so the EZ_EQ will not work for me. The manual setup raises a number of questions such as what crossover frequency do I input, etc. I just winged it and it sounds good, but requires -25db plus on the volume for me to listen at the usual volume. This means that once the volume goes less than -50 db, I cannot hear it at all. This may be related to my "winging it". I have common JBL 160s speakers running a 5.0 setup, however I have a 7.1 set of Anthems in my game room, so I might scavenge two speakers from there for a 7.0 setup.

Anyone have any ideas on the volume issue/crossover settings?

How low do your JBL's go? My Infinity P362's go down to 37Hz. I set my crossover at 40Hz. I'm still running in stereo sans a sub for now. I put it that way to avoid sending unplayable frequencies to my towers per the advice of many. My guess is that you can use Avia and a SPL meter to set-up the volume levels for level matching. Honestly, I would do that anyway after the EZ EQ to verify it.

Get some banana plugs and thick gauge wire (if you don't already have some) from Monoprice!

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Originally Posted by DerrikW View Post

Just a heads up. I was at my local best buy today to buy a 663 to give it a test drive and they had 254's and 354's sitting on the shelf. None were set up on display yet but they did have 2 of each sitting there in the boxes. I almost brought a 254 home to try out instead of the 663. I figured if I don't like the 663 the 254 is coming home next.

A lot of people really like the Yammy. However, Ultimate A/V panned it pretty badly. Harman seems to be a little better about providing updates than Yamaha. Most people on the forums say the HK's do a better job of providing power.

http://ultimateavmag.com/avreceivers/608yam663
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post #320 of 4528 Old 07-20-2008, 07:33 AM
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Yeah, wasn't the 247 going for 208?

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post #321 of 4528 Old 07-20-2008, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by IrishLegend View Post

Yeah, wasn't the 247 going for 208?

I snagged mine for $158+tax out the door. (It was an open box. I ignored the sale for weeks since Fry's had it labeled as HDMI switching. I thought it was just pass-through. Then, my gf called me and told me about it. I did research and slapped my head. Whatever. Everything works. The package was just missing the AM loop. )
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post #322 of 4528 Old 07-20-2008, 09:24 AM
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I just purchased a refurb 247 for $217 shipped, but i'm tempted to sell it on craigslist and buy a 254 from ebay while there is the 25% cashback/10% paypal coupon.

decisions decisions!
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post #323 of 4528 Old 07-20-2008, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcusb84 View Post

I had this same issue with my 254 out of the box. It was freaking annoying! After setting up everything I decided to do a system reset-- and that fixed it! I just had to set up everything else again.

Good tip, it worked for me! Thanks. I think I have everything setup the way I want it now.

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post #324 of 4528 Old 07-20-2008, 10:47 AM
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I have a question pertaining to the surround modes. The user manual says it is possible to turn on Dolby EX mode even when an EX signal is not present. Does anyone know how to do this?
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post #325 of 4528 Old 07-20-2008, 11:26 AM
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I did this in the Pioneer 1018 Thread, so I figured I might as well do the same in this one for the 254's scaling/video processing capabilities.

I took a JVC Standard DVD player and ouputted at 480i via component cables. I took a shot straight to the TV, then through the 254 with processing off, then with the movie mode processing and then with a custom setting where I tried to eye ball the image and make it look the best I could. Flash is turned off on all pictures (the light in the top right area is from a reflected window). Here are the results:

Before - Straight to TV:


After - Processing Off:


After - Movie Mode Processing:


After - Custom Mode:


For comparison here is the Pio 1018 processing:



To be perfectly fair I took the "before" picture on a different day (which is why the lighting is a bit different). I also wish I had a tripod so the pictures would be the same in each but I think this gives you an idea. In retrospect, I think I was a bit harsh about the video quality of the 254. Looking at the pictures more subjectively after taking the pictures I think the "Processing Off" picture looks the best out of them all. The coloring is way better and the image more defined (ie look at how solid the border around the sign in the background is). The absolutely worst quality picture is the "Movie Mode" processing. EVERYTHING looks like crap in that mode if the source is a 480i video. Playing with the custom mode this is all due to the "Sharpness" setting cranked all the way up. Instead of "sharpening" the image it turns everything into big squares (Trinities eyes look more like an octagon than a circle). Dreadful.

Anyhow, I'm much more pleased with the quality of image coming from the 254 than I originally though. 480i is never going to look HD (and like I said before the video processing for HD sources actually does make it look better). So, looking good!
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post #326 of 4528 Old 07-20-2008, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by IrishLegend View Post

Good tip, it worked for me! Thanks. I think I have everything setup the way I want it now.

Ah man! I'm going to have to redo all this again! There goes another 30 minutes of my life. I'm sure it will work for me too... just can't go through the Ezset while the family is sleeping.

Thanks man!
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post #327 of 4528 Old 07-20-2008, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by flabioh View Post

Ah man! I'm going to have to redo all this again! There goes another 30 minutes of my life. I'm sure it will work for me too... just can't go through the Ezset while the family is sleeping.

Thanks man!

i don't think you even need to go through the Ezset again, if you write down all the specs prior to doing the reset?

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post #328 of 4528 Old 07-20-2008, 02:55 PM
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Yeah, probably not. Although, I've moved my front speakers since I last ran it, so I need to run it again anyway... plus the 2 year old spontaneously screaming didn't help the settings too much either.
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post #329 of 4528 Old 07-20-2008, 05:37 PM
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Looking at a few recievers to replace my B&K to get the new codecs and TrueHD. Was all set between the Pioneer 1018 and the Denon 1909. Heard the Harman Kardon had good SQ but saw the specs 350 watts total power: 50W x 7, 20Hz - 20kHz?? How on earth can this high end of a an AVR has such little power? Most have 90 watts X7 min Pioneer has 130 X7 and this has 50? How could this even push higher end speakers my Energy Speakers recomend 100 watts. Would this even be able to run with my speakers let alone produce any punch? Not meaning to bash have not heard one just was floored by seeing 50 watts per channel...
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post #330 of 4528 Old 07-20-2008, 05:38 PM
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Yeah, probably not. Although, I've moved my front speakers since I last ran it, so I need to run it again anyway... plus the 2 year old spontaneously screaming didn't help the settings too much either.

Yeah I had to wait until the 2 and 4 year olds were gone to run it too.

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