I've owned the 254 for about two months now. My observations:
-Trademark "HK" sound
-DTS-HD Master and Dolby TrueHD decoding
-Sound cut-off at the beginning of audio tracks
-Noisy fan, which I've somewhat rectified by removing and oiling fan (see earlier post in this thread)
-Lack of HDMI video pass through.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the unit. I don't know why, but I'm not all that annoyed by the sound cut-off at the beginning of audio tracks. I've yet to experience a single instance where the sound cut off mid-way through a movie. As for the noisy fan, I've somewhat fixed that up in an earlier post. Perhaps the one thing that really annoys me is the lack of HDMI video pass-through, as I find that there is a perceptible, albeit slight, degradation in video quality from my upscaled movies (via OPPO 980H) when they are switched through the 254 vs. going direct from the OPPO to my TV. I remain hopeful that there will be a fix for this.
As indicated in my earlier post, I did open up the unit, removed the fan and serviced it. I don't know what you guys think, but from my observations, the fan is almost completely useless. For one, the volume of air that it moves is insignificant compared to the total volume of air passively moving from under and through the unit, with respect to the number of ventilation holes, especially after the unit has warmed up. Secondly, the piddly amount of air the fan does move is directed onto the SIDE of ONE cooling fin, not THROUGH the fins like, say, a computer CPU heatsink/fan or a car fan/radiator. Don't believe me? Take a flashlight and have a good look through the top of the unit towards the on/off switch. You'll see a small fan mounted up on its side directing air towards the SIDE of one fin. As a comparison, you don't see too many cars with the radiator fan mounted beside the radiator, do you? It would have been more efficient for the fan to have been installed such that hot air is being exhausted through the top of the unit.
I sincerely hope that Harman Kardon is taking note of what's going on with this forum. I've noticed a steady decline in the daily rate of postings in this thread. This may indicate an overall declining interest in the 254/354. This should concern HK greatly as we are the AV "fanboys" that spread by word-of-mouth how good or bad a product is to the general public.
The silence that HK is showing in light of the issues here is truely deafening.