Official Harman Kardon AVR 254 & 354 Owners Thread - Page 34 - AVS Forum
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post #991 of 4528 Old 09-16-2008, 08:21 AM
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Hello all. I've lurked the thread for months now hoping to see improvements in HK's quality or firmware fixes, alas....none.

I own a 445 and am very happy, sound-power wise, with the receiver. Excellent sound quality, just what everyone says to expect from HK. My brother has a Denon 3808 with B&K speakers and doesn't come close to my setup with Speakercraft's, in walls too!!

I've been waiting and waiting for the new "Flagship" receiver and am concerned about what I'm seeing here. It looks like HK sent out an initial batch to work out bugs....fix the bugs internally...then send out updated receivers including the flagship model at year's end. I spoke with the HK reps at CEDIA about the beating they are taking in forums for the poor performance and required firmware updates on the 254 and 354 receivers. They acknowledged the need and told me they are sending out a firmware around October.

Here's the question to the "audiophiles" of the group. Are the Marantz receivers similar to HK in sound quality and dynamics? I hate to jump from the HK train but they haven't even given the 745 the needed firmware updates and I can't spend $2000 on a receiver that will be obsolete in a year or two due to the companies lack of interest in keeping the firmware updated. Thoughts?
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post #992 of 4528 Old 09-16-2008, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianlsu View Post

Hello all. I've lurked the thread for months now hoping to see improvements in HK's quality or firmware fixes, alas....none.

Unfortunately, we have seen continued HK quality problems in the 245 and 345 A/V receivers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianlsu View Post

Here's the question to the "audiophiles" of the group. Are the Marantz receivers similar to HK in sound quality and dynamics? I hate to jump from the HK train but they haven't even given the 745 the needed firmware updates and I can't spend $2000 on a receiver that will be obsolete in a year or two due to the companies lack of interest in keeping the firmware updated. Thoughts?

There are many excellent products, and you have definitely named one. Marantz makes excellent products - especially when you get into the 7002 & 8002 A/V receiver line. Excellent dynamic power and well-made.

Let me recommend, based on your concern of having an obsolete product in a year or two, to take a careful look at a separate 7 channel power amp. You will never have to worry about it being obsolete. The initial cost will be higher, but you will save money when you upgrade to a new pre/pro compared to buying another A/V receiver.

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post #993 of 4528 Old 09-16-2008, 12:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianlsu View Post

Hello all. I've lurked the thread for months now hoping to see improvements in HK's quality or firmware fixes, alas....none.

I own a 445 and am very happy, sound-power wise, with the receiver. Excellent sound quality, just what everyone says to expect from HK. My brother has a Denon 3808 with B&K speakers and doesn't come close to my setup with Speakercraft's, in walls too!!

I've been waiting and waiting for the new "Flagship" receiver and am concerned about what I'm seeing here. It looks like HK sent out an initial batch to work out bugs....fix the bugs internally...then send out updated receivers including the flagship model at year’s end. I spoke with the HK reps at CEDIA about the beating they are taking in forums for the poor performance and required firmware updates on the 254 and 354 receivers. They acknowledged the need and told me they are sending out a firmware around October.

Here's the question to the "audiophiles" of the group. Are the Marantz receivers similar to HK in sound quality and dynamics? I hate to jump from the HK train but they haven't even given the 745 the needed firmware updates and I can't spend $2000 on a receiver that will be obsolete in a year or two due to the companies lack of interest in keeping the firmware updated. Thoughts?

Marantz is good, but just like anything updates don't come any sooner for other brands as well. HDMI and the hand shake issues have been a really big problem for most companies making AVRs. I still have a HK 225 in my office and had a 525, which was awesome, the build quality and sound quality where excellent. I was much worse off with the 805 Onkyo I had which bit the dust after 4 weeks. I agree with you go the receiver that best fits your needs. I went the Pre/Pro route for many years and dropping a fair amount of coin on products that were very limited when it came to upgrades. It seems you get more out of a receiver as far as features go and the ability to upgrade the unit which is nice. Also check out some of the new Pioneer Elite 07/05 with ICE Amps... Very nice sounding and under 2K.....
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post #994 of 4528 Old 09-16-2008, 01:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianlsu View Post

Hello all. I've lurked the thread for months now hoping to see improvements in HK's quality or firmware fixes, alas....none.

I own a 445 and am very happy, sound-power wise, with the receiver. Excellent sound quality, just what everyone says to expect from HK. My brother has a Denon 3808 with B&K speakers and doesn't come close to my setup with Speakercraft's, in walls too!!

I've been waiting and waiting for the new "Flagship" receiver and am concerned about what I'm seeing here. It looks like HK sent out an initial batch to work out bugs....fix the bugs internally...then send out updated receivers including the flagship model at year's end. I spoke with the HK reps at CEDIA about the beating they are taking in forums for the poor performance and required firmware updates on the 254 and 354 receivers. They acknowledged the need and told me they are sending out a firmware around October.

Here's the question to the "audiophiles" of the group. Are the Marantz receivers similar to HK in sound quality and dynamics? I hate to jump from the HK train but they haven't even given the 745 the needed firmware updates and I can't spend $2000 on a receiver that will be obsolete in a year or two due to the companies lack of interest in keeping the firmware updated. Thoughts?

I have owned many different brands of AVR's in my time and I have been, like many here a HK fan for their pure sound. I have owned HK's for some time now. I recently had the need to purchase a new AVR that was Hirez audio enabled. I wanted to go HK again but I had read too many issues with the new line. A friend of mine recently purchased a Marantz sr 7002. I listened to it carefully and I can honestly say the sound rivaled and maybe even bettered that of my HK's. Keep in mind I have always said that I thought HK was best when it came to sound quality. Well all I can say is that I am now the owner of a Marantz and I am eXtremely pleased. No issues at all. I will say that getting a firmware upgrade is a royal pain in the butt as you have to send the unit in but other than that I have been in sonic bliss......just my $0.02.
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post #995 of 4528 Old 09-17-2008, 01:39 AM
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Originally Posted by stash64 View Post

Are you also getting a snapping sound (like static discharge) at the start of each new track ? I've just started to have this issue and it is driving me nuts.

No, I didn't notice anything like that.
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post #996 of 4528 Old 09-17-2008, 04:17 AM
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Originally Posted by stash64 View Post

Are you also getting a snapping sound (like static discharge) at the start of each new track ? I've just started to have this issue and it is driving me nuts.

Mine does it whenever there's an interruption or change of the audio stream. Irritating doesn't begin to describe it.
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post #997 of 4528 Old 09-17-2008, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by BassLake View Post

Mine does it whenever there's an interruption or change of the audio stream. Irritating doesn't begin to describe it.

That's it. It happens when going from no sound to sudden sound, like at the start of each new music track when playing CD's. I've only noticed the same noise a few times when watching movies, probably because there just aren't many instances where the soundtrack drops off completely.

I did contact H/K and their answer was blunt and not too helpful. The H/K rep simply said that I must have gotten a "bad unit" and I need to return it to the place of purchase.

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post #998 of 4528 Old 09-17-2008, 02:40 PM
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Here's the latest reply I've gotten from HK regarding the video corruption experienced when switching between SD and HD channels:

Hi Jon,

Thank you for the inquiry. We've been made aware of intermittent HDMI signal dropouts that our customers are having. From what we understand right now, many receiver manufacturers are wrestling with this same problem. Our engineers are investigating the problem, trying to pinpoint the cause. Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that the problem is in your cable box or is in your receiver. There might be some sort of conflict where the HDMI connections on your AVR and other devices are not doing what is called "authenticate forever". This means that once the devices "introduce themselves" to each other at power-on, they should work together without issue until one of the devices is powered off. We apologize for this inconvenience but are working on a solution. Please feel free to check in with me for updates regarding this from time to time. I hope this is helpful and apologize for the inconvenience.
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post #999 of 4528 Old 09-17-2008, 08:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BassLake View Post

Mine does it whenever there's an interruption or change of the audio stream. Irritating doesn't begin to describe it.

It may not be the receiver. I just contacted Monster Cable on the suspicion that one of my Monster Power surge/line conditioners may be at fault. The Monster rep suggested that I may have power cords and speaker cable running parallel and this could cause the noise I described. I did recently shuffle cords around when I added a new rear panel to my entertainment center, so I think this explanation is plausible. I plan to move the cables around this weekend, making sure the power cords and speaker cable are not parallel and are crossing perpendicular where needed. It may be time to get some cable organizers.

Sean
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post #1000 of 4528 Old 09-18-2008, 02:12 AM
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Originally Posted by stash64 View Post

That's it. It happens when going from no sound to sudden sound, like at the start of each new music track when playing CD's. I've only noticed the same noise a few times when watching movies, probably because there just aren't many instances where the soundtrack drops off completely...

I definitely did not notice anything that sounded like static with my unit. Now that I'm thinking about it some more, when the sound cut in on tracks where there was a lot of stuff going on at the very beginning, there was definitely a sudden burst of noise, almost like a popping sound, but definitely no static.

Maybe we're describing the same thing? Mine's boxed up for return, so I'm just going by memory here.
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post #1001 of 4528 Old 09-18-2008, 05:23 AM
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So which features and/or functionality does the AVR254 have over the Pioneer 1018
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post #1002 of 4528 Old 09-18-2008, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldenbear View Post

I definitely did not notice anything that sounded like static with my unit. Now that I'm thinking about it some more, when the sound cut in on tracks where there was a lot of stuff going on at the very beginning, there was definitely a sudden burst of noise, almost like a popping sound, but definitely no static.

Maybe we're describing the same thing? Mine's boxed up for return, so I'm just going by memory here.

I don't think it is the same, though I do also have the problem of missing the first couple of seconds from the start of each CD track. I believe this contributed to the "level" of the noise I was hearing but it does now appear to be some sort of electrical interference. I have re-shuffled my power cords away from my speaker cable and the problem seems to have disappeared.

Now with losing the beginning of each song (a really odd problem BTW) on top of the fan noise, I am pretty sure I will be exchanging my 354. H/K has been very good in this regard and are still offering a simple exchange for a new unit, though they don't expect to have new 354's until November. I guess I would be happy if the new unit fixed one of these problems and didn't create any others.

Sean
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post #1003 of 4528 Old 09-19-2008, 06:23 AM
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If I push mute repeatedly the popping gradually goes away. It's like it's discharging itself. It never pops when unmutting. Shuffled wires around as per Monster Cables instructions and no change. Hooked up my HK AVR 247 and no pops what so ever. Either I'm chasing the wrong goose or there's something wrong with the receiver. It's a little late to be taking it back to FS. I'll have to wait for the new firmware and if nothing changes back to HK it goes.
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post #1004 of 4528 Old 09-19-2008, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by toslat View Post

So which features and/or functionality does the AVR254 have over the Pioneer 1018

?
so is the pioneer superior?
also considering the denon 1909
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post #1005 of 4528 Old 09-22-2008, 03:04 PM
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?
so is the pioneer superior?
also considering the denon 1909

See the x54 problems and solutions thread, then decide if 254 will work for you.

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post #1006 of 4528 Old 09-22-2008, 03:11 PM
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Just got my 254 set up. I don't have a lot of experience with audio/video, so this is by far the nicest setup I've had.

I did the automatic speaker setup, but then I changed the crossover settings manually because the auto setup had them all over the place. I'm not sure if I did it right though; I set all of the speakers to 80hz (7.1 system), and the sub was set by the receiver to "present," but I switched it to 12". Does this mean that 80hz+ goes to the speakers and <80hz goes to sub, as I want it work? (there's no "small" setting for speakers, only large or specific crossovers)

Thanks!!

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post #1007 of 4528 Old 09-23-2008, 12:46 PM
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When asking HK about being able to matrix my rear surrounds over a DD or True HD signal, I got this response:

"Hi Jon,

I'm sorry but this will not work with the AVR254 and AVR354 receivers. Dolby PLIIX is meant for two channel processing only. The True HD signal will be interpreted as Dolby Digital and automatically processed with DD decoding. Since these receivers are not dual processor receivers as our AVR745 was, these two channel formats cannot be overlaid on the True HD format."

I always thought that PLIIx was made so that a 5.1 signal could be turned into 7.1?
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post #1008 of 4528 Old 09-23-2008, 01:23 PM
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I discovered AVSForum about five months ago when I began my search for a home theater system. In that time I've found the entire site very informative and a great resource for information. So to return the favor I thought that I should share with everyone my recent receiver experiences. I've tried the Onkyo 606, Denon 1909 and Harmon Kardon 354 and wrote up my opinions of all three receiver in a thread. Check it out if you like.
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post #1009 of 4528 Old 09-23-2008, 08:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Day Walker View Post

I always thought that PLIIx was made so that a 5.1 signal could be turned into 7.1?

The table on page 61 of the manual shows that you can use PLIIx on a DD 5.1 signal so the support rep clearly doesn't know what he is talking about. It's pretty disappointing, though, that PLIIx can't be applied to anything else that is multichannel (DTS, DD+, etc.).
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post #1010 of 4528 Old 09-24-2008, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by crbaldwin View Post

The table on page 61 of the manual shows that you can use PLIIx on a DD 5.1 signal so the support rep clearly doesn't know what he is talking about. It's pretty disappointing, though, that PLIIx can't be applied to anything else that is multichannel (DTS, DD+, etc.).

Ok, that's what I thought. PLIIx doesn't touch the fronts, center, or side surrounds right? It just allows you to matrix sound to the rear surrounds if I'm understanding correctly. Thanks for the reply!
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post #1011 of 4528 Old 09-24-2008, 08:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Day Walker View Post

Ok, that's what I thought. PLIIx doesn't touch the fronts, center, or side surrounds right? It just allows you to matrix sound to the rear surrounds if I'm understanding correctly. Thanks for the reply!

It doesn't touch the three fronts, but in steering the two surround channels over four surround speakers it does change what you hear from the side surrounds (but in a good way).
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post #1012 of 4528 Old 09-24-2008, 08:23 AM
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It doesn't touch the three fronts, but in steering the two surround channels over four surround speakers it does change what you hear from the side surrounds (but in a good way).

Thanks. One more question - does it make sense to apply PLIIx over a 5.1 True HD signal? Will I still get lossless sound?

On another note, the 254 is growing on me more and more. The GUI is absolutely outstanding and the sound is great. I really hope a firmware update comes soon for the HDMI problem though.
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post #1013 of 4528 Old 09-24-2008, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Day Walker View Post

Thanks. One more question - does it make sense to apply PLIIx over a 5.1 True HD signal? Will I still get lossless sound?

I think the reason for wanting to expand 5.1 to 7.1 is independant of the reason for preferring a lossless track to a lossy one.

If you take a TrueHD track and apply PLIIx you're starting out with a higher quality signal and so you'll get a higher quality signal out (compared to PLIIx over lossy DD5.1). You still get the benefit of a more immersive surround field with four surround speakers.

I don't buy the argument that a lossless track somehow shouldn't be touched. You still apply your normal bass management, room equalization, etc, and PLIIx shouldn't be any different.
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post #1014 of 4528 Old 09-24-2008, 12:59 PM
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Well I just bought an Harman Kardon AVR 354 from Best Buy yesterday before reading these websites.. great. I am happy overall with it, it is definately better than my AVR 630 (HDMI, better sound for the most part).
The most annoying thing?

Playing music through my appletv seems to go up and down in volume.. its weird, annoying and I don't know what to do. I seem to get it with both HDMI and optical out, does anyone have any suggestions? Plus I have that pause of < 1 sec before music starts when I select a track. I think I may need to take it back. Any suggestions for a better a/v receiver at this price range? I bought the top of the line HK to get something that doesn't even work right.

Thanks
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post #1015 of 4528 Old 09-24-2008, 01:16 PM
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Okay so I called tech support. They have no idea. They were actually kind of rude. I don't think I like Harmon Kardon anymore. I know this isn't proper for me to say, but I think these this is a New York based company? Screw that I'm going with a Japenese made product.. I'll probably go with that yamaha they have at Best buy. And in between my last message, I've had two HDMi signal dropouts.. very annoying.

Mo
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post #1016 of 4528 Old 09-24-2008, 01:17 PM
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Spelled japanese wrong.
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post #1017 of 4528 Old 09-24-2008, 05:26 PM
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Well I went to Circuit City and picked up an Onkyo 806 series THX receiver. This is the first time I have ever had anything Onkyo. It was either that or Denon, and the model Denon I wanted was out of stock. This was about 200 dollars more than the HK receiver too. But, it works.. plane and simple. No stutters, no hdmi issues, picture looks fantastic, and most of all so does the sound. The music was crisp, and sooo clean especially with music. Nice interface and tons of modifications you can do. Just wanted to share my two cents, that I have had this thing for less than 30 mins, and I'm already happy.. so far.

I guess, no more HK for me. Too bad.. they look cool too.
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post #1018 of 4528 Old 09-24-2008, 10:21 PM
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So I just purchased an AVR 254 and I can't get the HDMI video to work, everything seems to be standard but for some reason the freaking thing just likes it for a second and then some static and then the video is gone. My set up is as follows:
- 42" Westinghouse 1080p (TX-42F430S)
- HK AVR 254 (manf. Aug 2008) - Purchased yesterday
- Yamaha Speakers 5.1
- Dishnetwork HD box @HDMI 1
- PS3 @HDMI 2 (vid) Optical 1
- XBOX360 @HDMI 3
- wii thru component1

Needless to say the only thing that works fine is the wii. Sad. Tech support says that they don't know about handshake issues and it might be a problem of the receiver, so I should send it back... pretty crappy response if u ask me.

I am dissapointed and I wish someone here knows what's going on with this issue. I searched the threads but I couldn't find much (too long to read all, sorry). Please helpy?
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post #1019 of 4528 Old 09-24-2008, 11:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mohanman View Post

Well I went to Circuit City and picked up an Onkyo 806 series THX receiver. This is the first time I have ever had anything Onkyo. It was either that or Denon, and the model Denon I wanted was out of stock. This was about 200 dollars more than the HK receiver too. But, it works.. plane and simple. No stutters, no hdmi issues, picture looks fantastic, and most of all so does the sound. The music was crisp, and sooo clean especially with music. Nice interface and tons of modifications you can do. Just wanted to share my two cents, that I have had this thing for less than 30 mins, and I'm already happy.. so far.

I guess, no more HK for me. Too bad.. they look cool too.
Mo

Quote:
Originally Posted by fanito View Post

So I just purchased an AVR 254 and I can't get the HDMI video to work, everything seems to be standard but for some reason the freaking thing just likes it for a second and then some static and then the video is gone. My set up is as follows:
- 42" Westinghouse 1080p (TX-42F430S)
- HK AVR 254 (manf. Aug 2008) - Purchased yesterday
- Yamaha Speakers 5.1
- Dishnetwork HD box @HDMI 1
- PS3 @HDMI 2 (vid) Optical 1
- XBOX360 @HDMI 3
- wii thru component1

Needless to say the only thing that works fine is the wii. Sad. Tech support says that they don't know about handshake issues and it might be a problem of the receiver, so I should send it back... pretty crappy response if u ask me.

I am dissapointed and I wish someone here knows what's going on with this issue. I searched the threads but I couldn't find much (too long to read all, sorry). Please helpy?

Read the first post in this thread. It has a link to the AVR x54 problems thread that's the most current repository of problems with these units.

H/K has completely stone walled customers on a fix for these issues....and has seen unbelievable amounts of returns on these units as a result. My Best Buy's district has told all stores to not sell the 254 or 354 any longer due to the massive amount of problems we are having with HDMI switching......our installers HATE them. Sadly, I think this may be getting to the end of the road for H/K in the receiver business. Their constant bumbling and missteps have finally caught up to them. I think it was T2K who posted in the Problems thread and said that if he were in charge, every leadership position in their receiver groups would be fired. Heads need to roll for the problems that have happened in the last few years, but it seems that H/K would rather stonewall and give all their customers the finger.

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post #1020 of 4528 Old 09-25-2008, 12:04 PM
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I've owned the 254 for about two months now. My observations:

Pros:
-Excellent GUI
-Trademark "HK" sound
-DTS-HD Master and Dolby TrueHD decoding

Cons:
-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.

Regards,
AJW
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