Official Harman Kardon AVR 254 & 354 Owners Thread - Page 3 - AVS Forum
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post #61 of 4528 Old 06-30-2008, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by myerss View Post

After spending an entire day with the 254 I'm on the fence if I'm returning it or hoping that a firmware update fixes the quirks. The 254 keeps having sync issues with HDDVD. I lost video for about an hour from HDDVD, although the audio was still coming through. I've given up on the component to HDMI conversion, too much of a headache for me to worry about (I'll just switch inputs on the projector). Blu Ray and Satelite seem rock solid, only HDMI sync problem has been with HDDVD.
One other quirk, I was watching AVP Requiem (only Master Audio disc I have) and I lost the dialog. Effects sounded great but all the voicing was at a whisper. Ended up looking back into the speaker setup and the center channel was down 12 db from my original setup.
I'd box it up and send it back, but when it is synced up the sound is amazing.... I keep wondering if this is an HK problem or possibly my display (Sharp XVZ-12000 MK2 Projector) since its DVI. I'd hate to send this unit back and have the same problems with an Onkyo 606/705?????

You might want to talk to H/K tech support before bailing on it. The HD-DVD HDMI issue is probably the fault of the HD-DVD player, not the H/K, and the center speaker level issue is probably fixable - no reason for it I can think of. If the 254 is like my 520 you may have to set and save speaker levels for each input individually - did you do that?

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post #62 of 4528 Old 06-30-2008, 12:47 PM
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Just bought my 354 today from Futureshop in Canada on sale 20% all receivers so got a good price for Canada (same as US without a sale LOL). Will set it up and let you know how it goes. This receiver is a step down in many ways from my HK 7200. It weighs about half my old receiver. But I'm hoping the electronic upgrade will be worth the loss of those massive amps in the 7200.

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post #63 of 4528 Old 06-30-2008, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsmith901 View Post

You might want to talk to H/K tech support before bailing on it. The HD-DVD HDMI issue is probably the fault of the HD-DVD player, not the H/K, and the center speaker level issue is probably fixable - no reason for it I can think of. If the 254 is like my 520 you may have to set and save speaker levels for each input individually - did you do that?

I'll probably give them a call. I've never had any issues with the HD-DVD player before but who knows. I may end up replacing it with a good upconverting player (Oppo?) anyway. As long as Satelite and Blu Ray stay solid it should be ok. That said, I got this at a good price in order to demo for a installer friend. I had to tell him that I wouldn't sell one on a job right now, if it's like mine the service calls would kill him.

The center channel thing was just odd, but if it doesn't repeat its not a big deal. I did check the level settings per input, and they are all correct as of now. I'm not too worried about it if its just me using the system, the problem comes when the wife wants to watch something and she gets audio with no picture...
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post #64 of 4528 Old 06-30-2008, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsmith901 View Post

You might want to talk to H/K tech support before bailing on it. The HD-DVD HDMI issue is probably the fault of the HD-DVD player, not the H/K, and the center speaker level issue is probably fixable - no reason for it I can think of. If the 254 is like my 520 you may have to set and save speaker levels for each input individually - did you do that?

I know on my current HK, the speaker levels have to be set for each processing mode... it'll use the same settings over each input, but different settings for different processing (Dobly Digital, DTS, Logic 7, etc.)
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post #65 of 4528 Old 06-30-2008, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myerss View Post

After spending an entire day with the 254 I'm on the fence if I'm returning it or hoping that a firmware update fixes the quirks. The 254 keeps having sync issues with HDDVD. I lost video for about an hour from HDDVD, although the audio was still coming through. I've given up on the component to HDMI conversion, too much of a headache for me to worry about (I'll just switch inputs on the projector). Blu Ray and Satelite seem rock solid, only HDMI sync problem has been with HDDVD.
One other quirk, I was watching AVP Requiem (only Master Audio disc I have) and I lost the dialog. Effects sounded great but all the voicing was at a whisper. Ended up looking back into the speaker setup and the center channel was down 12 db from my original setup.
I'd box it up and send it back, but when it is synced up the sound is amazing.... I keep wondering if this is an HK problem or possibly my display (Sharp XVZ-12000 MK2 Projector) since its DVI. I'd hate to send this unit back and have the same problems with an Onkyo 606/705?????

Don't recall seeing what HD DVD player you have..
But HD DVD players mainly from Toshiba had a truckload of media and hardware compatibility issues...
I think many were fixed by firmware updates. So one needs to make sure that the latest updates have been installed and then verify operation with the 254.

Just my $0.02..
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post #66 of 4528 Old 06-30-2008, 01:32 PM
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I just bought an AVR254 from abes of maine (shipped to Canada). Even with outrageous UPS fees, it'll still be about $200 cheaper than buying it from a Future Shop or visions. Can't wait to receive it!
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post #67 of 4528 Old 06-30-2008, 01:33 PM
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myerss, hope that 254 ends up working well for you. Keep us posted.
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post #68 of 4528 Old 06-30-2008, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M Code View Post

Don't recall seeing what HD DVD player you have..
But HD DVD players mainly from Toshiba had a truckload of media and hardware compatibility issues...
I think many were fixed by firmware updates. So one needs to make sure that the latest updates have been installed and then verify operation with the 254.

Just my $0.02..

M Code, its the A3. I'll check the firmware and retest the system. Its been awhile since I did any updates on it. Could very well be the issue. It was rock solid with my Samsung 1400 blu ray. I really do want it to work out, sounds awesome when its all happy.
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post #69 of 4528 Old 06-30-2008, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gaspimp View Post

I just bought an AVR254 from abes of maine (shipped to Canada). Even with outrageous UPS fees, it'll still be about $200 cheaper than buying it from a Future Shop or visions. Can't wait to receive it!


I called Abes of Maine and asked if they actually had the AVR 354 in stock, and the guy said yes! Pretty good price too. I'm going to call them back tonight and probe a little deeper.

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post #70 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 06:46 AM
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was having a search on the internet and found the 255 and 355 have the Cirrus® CS 49700 dsp chip and found a pdf on this chip http://www.cirrus.com/en/pubs/proDat...S497xx_PP5.pdf

it seems the chip in the 255/355 or 254/354 is a duel core chip and the first core takes care of the hd decoding leaving the other core for post processing and allows us to matrix 5.1 into 7.1 etc. Interesting reading although i dont understand most of what the pdf is talking about
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post #71 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by HOOPY View Post

was having a search on the internet and found the 255 and 355 have the Cirrus® CS 49700 dsp chip and found a pdf on this chip http://www.cirrus.com/en/pubs/proDat...S497xx_PP5.pdf

it seems the chip in the 255/355 is a duel core chip and the first core takes care of the hd decoding leaving the other core for post processing and allows us to matrix 5.1 into 7.1 etc. Interesting reading although i dont understand most of what the pdf is talking about

Does this mean the 255/355 has a superior processing chip over the 254/354? Or are they the same? Is the 255/355 to be sold in the USA?

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post #72 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by dsmith901 View Post

Does this mean the 255/355 has a superior processing chip over the 254/354? Or are they the same? Is the 255/355 to be sold in the USA?

How did you end up with this mess, I don't know - both EU and US models have the same dual-core Cirrus Logic DSP, it's been beaten to death in the anticipation thread.
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post #73 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 07:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HOOPY View Post

was having a search on the internet and found the 255 and 355 have the Cirrus® CS 49700 dsp chip and found a pdf on this chip http://www.cirrus.com/en/pubs/proDat...S497xx_PP5.pdf

it seems the chip in the 255/355 is a duel core chip and the first core takes care of the hd decoding leaving the other core for post processing and allows us to matrix 5.1 into 7.1 etc. Interesting reading although i dont understand most of what the pdf is talking about

Look at the anticipation thread - we discussed it already.

OP, can you include the CS49700 in both listing? It seems we're going in circles, let's break out...
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post #74 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 08:03 AM
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The abes of maine website says the 354 will be available in 4-12 days, yet their sales rep says it's available. I think I'll wait and see if someone actually get's one before ordering and then getting an email saying that they are backordered.

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post #75 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 08:37 AM
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Checked with J&R, thay say they don't know. Sigh...
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post #76 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 09:04 AM
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Hi everyone,

I got my 354 yesterday so I've only had limited time to play but thought I would post some initial impressions. The first thing I noticed was how light it was. It is about 30 pounds lighter than my HK 7200 that it is replacing. I know weight is only one indicator of build quality but this was a bit disturbing. It was also about 7 inches less deep than my 7200 so I have a bit more space in my equipment closet.

It looks beautiful. I just love the glowing dial. HK always does a great job on design. If it only had the rounded corners like the 355 I'd be in heaven...but I digress.

Setup:

Hooking up cables was not a problem. Everything is clearly labelled. Some of the posts are close together making cable insertion difficult if you have any of those tight fitting ones (I do). The speaker posts are almost impossibly cheap for a receiver of this calibre. Think Walmart 100 dollar receiver for how it looks from behind. Some of the posts were loose and wiggly which didn't inspire a lot of confidence. Compared to my 7200 the build quality is a joke.

Getting the remote to recognize my sources was not a good experience. I gave up quickly on the remote. It has a layout similar to my 7200 remote only much much cheaper looking and feeling. Very light plastic versus solid metal design with an LCD output. IR pickup is horrible for the HK's. This is consistent with my older model. If you are putting this thing behind glass or out of the way off at an angle you need an IR repeater.

GUI and EZSET- I loved the headphone jack speaker. Very nice. The GUI on this receiver is the best I've seen. Very intuitive, flexible, pretty looking. Just outstanding. The EZSET was easy to do but I'm not sure it works properly. In my 7.1 setup it set the crossovers for my fronts at 60 hz which is where I had done it manually before but it set my CC at 200 HZ which is way way off (I have a massive Paradigm CC that has nearly the same frequency range as my fronts so that was bizzarre). I overrode this cutoff as it is simply wrong. BTW tried the EZSET twice and got the same errors. It also set by back surrounds as large speakers with no cutoff whatsoever. WTF??? I have Paradigm Studio 20's V3's back there and they are a great little speaker but don't have a bigger range than my fronts which are Studio 60's in the same line. Just unthinkable that this thing would set the back surrounds as large. It also set my front left speaker 6db higher than my front right speaker and my CC. I was sitting roughly in the middle of the room for calibration so I have no idea what is going on there. It sounded lopsided so I dialed this in manually as well. BTW I wasted 20 minutes trying to get my sound working after I did the EZSET because I forgot that the mic was in the headphone jack which cuts off all sound. Doh!

Verdict: The EZSET was easy to but woefully flawed. It might work in your setup but I would not take it's recommendations as gospel. Double check to see what it is doing.

Sound:

This receiver has that beautiful HK sound that I love. It does not have the headroom of my 7200 so it sounds like it is trying much harder and at higher volumes is far more compressed and harsh than my old receiver. Then again, the 7200 was a flagship at 4 times the MSRP of the 354 and it sounds like one. This is a midrange receiver and sounds damn good for the price but if you owned a big HK before you might be somewhat disappointed.

I loved the PLIIX movie setting as I can now finally get 7.1 output from 5.1 sources. Unfortunately the HK often lost the sound signal when I was watching HD programs on PVR. For example, when fast forwarding over commercials it would sometimes lose the sound and the only way to get it back was to switch to another source and switch back. This is a huge glitch in my world as I like to skip over commercials. There had better be a firmware update to fix this soon or mine will be going back.

Video worked very good. I saw a noticeable improvement over my 7200 on the video side. SD sources fed at 480i were upscaled properly to 1080p 60 and looked great. I'm not as sure about 1080i sources as these actually looked worse than going straight to my projector but I need some more time to evaluate that. It could be my projector because it needs a firmware update to override an automatic cropping of the picture at 1080p so I'm not getting a 1:1 match and therefore I get two sets of scaling instead of 1 by going through the 354.

HDMI synching was slow and painful to watch. HK's have always had an annoying delay before the sound kicks in and this AVR has the same issue. I'm disappointed that years of customer complaints have not resolved this issue. However, once the sound is up and running it is very pleasing to the ear.

Overall initial verdict:

In my opinion this receiver is a good value for the money. But don't kid yourself that this is anything close to a flagship model. Although it looks elegant from the front, the build is cheap, it is light, and it is a bit underpowered. I'm glad I didn't get the 254 as this would only exacerbate the underpowered issue.

The GUI is amazing. The automatic setup though was completely wrong despite trying multiple times. Ease of use is only functional when the end result is great. Otherwise, do it yourself. The remote is light, flimsy and basically useless. Invest in something better. It's sad that I have to use my 4 year old learning remote from my HK 7200 which is better than this thing.

The sound is very good and has the HK feel that I love. But it is underpowered and sounds like it is trying harder than the bigger HK's like the 7XXX's or the 7XX's. This results in a more compressed sound at higher volumes and not as dark and quiet between notes as you get from the bigger boxes.

I'm still playing with it so these are my initial impressions. But thought I would share.

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post #77 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 09:49 AM
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Great write up outlier2.
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post #78 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 10:03 AM
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Thanks for the first impressions. Do you listen at high volumes? I have two little ones and can't really crank it, so you've got me worried a little about the power. On the remote issue, I'll be using a Harmony remote so that will take care of that. I am also concerned about the unit losing the sound signal! There is no work around for this? Can you post some pics?

Thanks again.

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post #79 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 10:15 AM
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Should I just get an HK 745 and forget about it?

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post #80 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 10:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by IrishLegend View Post

Should I just get an HK 745 and forget about it?

I wouldn't be too sure about that, I just received the 745 and I'm having some issues with mine. Waiting for firmware and also HK email response.
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post #81 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 10:50 AM - Thread Starter
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T2k, it's already listed, a few lines under the bold 75w listing for the 354.

Quote:
Originally Posted by T2k View Post

Look at the anticipation thread -
we discussed it already.

OP, can you include the CS49700 in both listing? It seems we're going in circles, let's break out...

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post #82 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 11:24 AM
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I don't typically listen at high volumes except perhaps for some concert DVD's. My default listening on my 7200 was -24db but often I listened at -35 db and it was still very enjoyable. On the 354 -15 sounds like -24 on my old receiver. Still, I like the option of listening at a loud mode when I feel like it. BTW, the bass setting on the EZSET was fantastic. I've seen other posters complain about too much bass but mine is just perfect and better than I can do by ear (not being able to sit at the listening position while adjusting volume is possibly one explanation). Whatever, I'm not complaining about the bass EQ- it's great.

So far my workaround for the loss of sound is to switch sources and switch back. Not ideal. I'll see what else I can do. The receiver indicates that it is getting a dolby digital signal but it is dead quiet until I switch sources and switch back. So far this has only been an issue on my cable PVR but it is something I had no trouble with on my old receiver. It could be an HDMI thing from my cable box. Unfortunately, for now that is my only HDMI source so I have no way to test it systematically.

I took some pics and will upload them soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IrishLegend View Post

Thanks for the first impressions. Do you listen at high volumes? I have two little ones and can't really crank it, so you've got me worried a little about the power. On the remote issue, I'll be using a Harmony remote so that will take care of that. I am also concerned about the unit losing the sound signal! There is no work around for this? Can you post some pics?

Thanks again.


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post #83 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by outlier2 View Post

I don't typically listen at high volumes except perhaps for some concert DVD's. My default listening on my 7200 was -24db but often I listened at -35 db and it was still very enjoyable. On the 354 -15 sounds like -24 on my old receiver. Still, I like the option of listening at a loud mode when I feel like it. BTW, the bass setting on the EZSET was fantastic. I've seen other posters complain about too much bass but mine is just perfect and better than I can do by ear (not being able to sit at the listening position while adjusting volume is possibly one explanation). Whatever, I'm not complaining about the bass EQ- it's great.

So far my workaround for the loss of sound is to switch sources and switch back. Not ideal. I'll see what else I can do. The receiver indicates that it is getting a dolby digital signal but it is dead quiet until I switch sources and switch back. So far this has only been an issue on my cable PVR but it is something I had no trouble with on my old receiver. It could be an HDMI thing from my cable box. Unfortunately, for now that is my only HDMI source so I have no way to test it systematically.

I took some pics and will upload them soon.

I know my HK avr gets that problem with my cable box over optical and usually switching channels fixes it. Have you tried just switching channels to see if the sudio comes back?
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post #84 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by outlier2 View Post

I don't typically listen at high volumes except perhaps for some concert DVD's. My default listening on my 7200 was -24db but often I listened at -35 db and it was still very enjoyable. On the 354 -15 sounds like -24 on my old receiver. Still, I like the option of listening at a loud mode when I feel like it. BTW, the bass setting on the EZSET was fantastic. I've seen other posters complain about too much bass but mine is just perfect and better than I can do by ear (not being able to sit at the listening position while adjusting volume is possibly one explanation). Whatever, I'm not complaining about the bass EQ- it's great.

So far my workaround for the loss of sound is to switch sources and switch back. Not ideal. I'll see what else I can do. The receiver indicates that it is getting a dolby digital signal but it is dead quiet until I switch sources and switch back. So far this has only been an issue on my cable PVR but it is something I had no trouble with on my old receiver. It could be an HDMI thing from my cable box. Unfortunately, for now that is my only HDMI source so I have no way to test it systematically.

I took some pics and will upload them soon.

My 247 has the same "loss of sound" issue and my workaround is the same. H/K tech wasn't very helpful. I experience the loss on optical from cable box and from HDMI sources. It seems to happen when the source audio goes from 2channel to multi-channel. Doesn't happen very often actually. Just enough to tick me off.
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post #85 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 11:43 AM
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Although it looks elegant from the front, the build is cheap, it is light, and it is a bit underpowered.

I've been an h/k guy for many years, and have always had an h/k receiver, amp or other piece of gear in my collection. I just picked up the 3490 (stereo receiver), and noted in another thread that its build quality is unimpressive. I think it's a notch below the build quality of the 3480, the stereo receiver of the previous generation, and has a "cheapness" to it that I normally do not associate with h/k. It performs well, with plenty of oomph for a stereo receiver, providing a lot of bang for the buck, but it's a step backward in terms of what I perceive as build quality.

Sorry to divert the thread...

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post #86 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by mather View Post

T2k, it's already listed, a few lines under the bold 75w listing for the 354.

You're right, sorry.
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post #87 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by outlier2 View Post

It was also about 7 inches less deep than my 7200 so I have a bit more space in my equipment closet.

According to the specs., the AVR354 is 5.5" less.
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post #88 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by milaz001 View Post

I've been an h/k guy for many years, and have always had an h/k receiver, amp or other piece of gear in my collection. I just picked up the 3490 (stereo receiver), and noted in another thread that its build quality is unimpressive. I think it's a notch below the build quality of the 3480, the stereo receiver of the previous generation, and has a "cheapness" to it that I normally do not associate with h/k. It performs well, with plenty of oomph for a stereo receiver, providing a lot of bang for the buck, but it's a step backward in terms of what I perceive as build quality.

Sorry to divert the thread...

I am diverting it more by saying that this kind of cost cutting is probably affecting all kinds of goods. I bought a super automatic espresso machine made by Saeco called Incanto Sirius at a great price (floor model). Yesterday I took a look at the successor (same MSRP of about $1500) called Talea Ring Plus. It looked and felt very cheap!!
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post #89 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by gluvhand View Post

My 247 has the same "loss of sound" issue and my workaround is the same. H/K tech wasn't very helpful. I experience the loss on optical from cable box and from HDMI sources. It seems to happen when the source audio goes from 2channel to multi-channel. Doesn't happen very often actually. Just enough to tick me off.

My AVR 745 does not have any sound drop outs through optical or through HDMI. I switch channels and skip commercials using my Dish VIP 722 (using HDMI) all the time and never have any sound drop outs. I did have some pops occasionally. Also, unlike people with 254 having sound delays in PS3 XMB, I don't have anything like that.
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post #90 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 12:55 PM
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