Official Harman Kardon AVR 254 & 354 Owners Thread - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T2k View Post

AVAILABLE IN JULY


Hey! Today is July! I'm getting me one of 'em right now!

Oh wait....
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post #92 of 4528 Old 07-01-2008, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by T2k View Post

You're right, sorry.

Not a problem, just pointing it in case any other poster missed it. Quite easy to skip over all those specs. At first I thought I missed it and had to double check.
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post #93 of 4528 Old 07-02-2008, 05:45 AM
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254 Update
I had a little more time to spend with my frenemy, the 254. I took M Code's advice and updated the firmware on my Toshiba A3 HD-DVD player. And now it seems much more solid. There is an annoyingly slow sync in switching between HDMI sources but it did switch each time and without and loss of video or audio. I also went back into the Blu Ray player and noticed that the menu was setup for Up to 1080P for video. I forgot that I just ran an update and everytime it updates the firmware you have to go back into the setup. So now I don't have to watch the HK and Blu Ray handshake the resolution for 20 seconds.

I ready Outlier2s review of the 354 and would have to agree with most of it for the 254 as well. The only difference for me is that my theater room is pretty small (14x18) and the 254 can drive my sonance cinema ultra 2's without sounding strained. Just like outlier posted, my old Elite rig used to sit at -40 to -30 and the HK is typically in the -15 range. So I don't have a ton of headroom, but there is some.

I haven't had loss of audio, but when I jump ahead on the DVR it takes a second for audio to kick back in.

The speaker setup hasn't changed anymore, I'm now wondering if I somehow got into the menu when I lost the video on my HDDVD player and changed the settings not knowing that I was in the menu? Stranger things have happened.

I completely agree with outlier that the new menu system is great. Much better than the old HK menu system. The easy setup had my crossovers all messed up as well and did the same thing with the LCR levels. The left was +6, center 0, right +2. I set them manually to get a good balance. The easy setup also set my crossovers at 60 for the mains and 80 for the rears, which are Paradigm adps. Not full range at all. I do like how easy it is to change and customize the settings. The sub was set perfectly, I loved how you even tell it the size of the sub.

I have to say that my second impression is much better that my first. I will be keeping the 254 (at least until I come down with upgraditis again!) For the money its a great little receiver (I don't know if I would have paid retail for it though)

I didn't notice the cheapness of the binding posts, but then again I use banana plugs and didn't have any issues.

I look forward to spending some of the holiday weekend putting the 254 through some extended listening tests.
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post #94 of 4528 Old 07-02-2008, 07:25 AM
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Spending some more quality time with my 354 and it is growing on me more all the time. When this thing is tweaked (and there is lots of tweaking to be done with this nice GUI) it can sound really really good. I'm less impressed with anything that is supposed to work automatically- like synching HDMI or locking on to sound signals and actually producing sound. For example, when I set the receiver to choose the "Best Surround" option- it leaves a DVD movie recorded in 5.1 in a 5.1 mode rather than applying a 7.1 solution to it. I have to manually go in and force it to apply dolby IIX or DTS-NEO for DTS sources to go to a 7.1 output. I have set up the receiver to be 7.1 so why is the best solution a 5.1 option. Arghh. But I was playing with DTS NEO Music and was able to widen the soundstage manually and it was amazing! I put on Porcupine Tree, Arriving Somewhere Concert and was blown away (unfortunately no CC in this recording but probably the best sounding concert I own from about 100 DVDs). Totally immersive experience. If HK can work the bugs out of this thing through firmware updates it is going to be a great receiver for the money. Perhaps you guys are lucky to be waiting in the US as we are guinea pigs up here in Canada with this new product.

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post #95 of 4528 Old 07-02-2008, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QZ1 View Post

According to the specs., the AVR354 is 5.5" less.

Okay so I am off by 1.5 inches. I was eyeballing it and normally I do metric not imperial. That and my fiancee would probably agree that I exaggerate any measurements in inches...

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post #96 of 4528 Old 07-02-2008, 11:55 AM
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Does anyone know (M Code?) if this AVR applies bass management to the analog inputs from SACD/DVD-A? I was testing out the 354 again today with various things and it just sounds a bit off. It did not handle my Linkin Park Re-animator DVD-A very well. This is my disk that I put in if I want the neighbours to hate me but it is a good test of surround sound and ability to handle very high output. The 354 was definitely struggling with this disk which is a very demanding one. Also I tried Lawrence Juber Guitar Noir for tone and it just didn't sound as warm and deep and black as my old receiver. My HK 7200 did bass management on the analog inputs which is necessary because my SACD player has horrible bass management (so set the speakers to large on the player to let the AVR do BM). But it doesn't sound right. It makes me think that maybe the 354 can't do this????

Logic 7 sounded decent on CD sources. Tried Sting- Fields of Gold and OK Computer- Radiohead because I know these well and the Sting CD is very well done. Again the 354 did a decent job but it still doesn't live up to my old receiver. Sigh. So far this AVR has been a bit of a roller coaster ride.

Testing bass levels using some DVD's I found that the bass was dramatically different for Dolby and DTS with DTS being a bit over the top and Dolby a touch light on some disks- most pronounced example was Gladiator. The difference is far more dramatic than I've noticed with other receivers in the past.

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post #97 of 4528 Old 07-02-2008, 02:38 PM
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What's the difference between the 354 and the 355?
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post #98 of 4528 Old 07-02-2008, 02:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AVDave View Post

What's the difference between the 354 and the 355?

354 is for use in North America, the 355 for use in Europe. Visually the 355 is regarded as better looking (more rounded look), the 355 is rated for lower power, the 355 doesn't include an ipod dock. Other than that they are pretty much the same. I might have missed a few small things but basically that is it.
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post #99 of 4528 Old 07-02-2008, 03:18 PM
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Oh ok, then 354 it is! Thanks!
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post #100 of 4528 Old 07-02-2008, 08:30 PM
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I was comparing the power consumption for my HK AVR 235 and the brand new 254. My 235- 118 watts idle, 890 maximum. The 254- 65 watt idle and 540 maximum. The ratings per channel are the same, 65 wpc for stereo, 50 x 7. Did they just get that much more efficient with their amp designs? Hm, maybe I can up with a reason to upgrade after all- it's all about efficiency!
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post #101 of 4528 Old 07-02-2008, 09:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by outlier2 View Post

Does anyone know (M Code?) if this AVR applies bass management to the analog inputs from SACD/DVD-A?

No.
That feature is found only on the higher end AVR 754...

Just my $0.02..
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post #102 of 4528 Old 07-02-2008, 09:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flabioh View Post

354 is for use in North America, the 355 for use in Europe. Visually the 355 is regarded as better looking (more rounded look), the 355 is rated for lower power, the 355 doesn't include an ipod dock. Other than that they are pretty much the same. I might have missed a few small things but basically that is it.

The 355 has A-Bus connectivity, and the 354 has XM Ready...
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post #103 of 4528 Old 07-02-2008, 10:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by armaraas View Post

I was comparing the power consumption for my HK AVR 235 and the brand new 254. My 235- 118 watts idle, 890 maximum. The 254- 65 watt idle and 540 maximum. The ratings per channel are the same, 65 wpc for stereo, 50 x 7. Did they just get that much more efficient with their amp designs? Hm, maybe I can up with a reason to upgrade after all- it's all about efficiency!

Technology gets not only more and more powerful but also manufactured lower and lower by every gen - where are we now with CS49700, M Code, 45nm?
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post #104 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 06:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M Code View Post

The 355 has A-Bus connectivity, and the 354 has XM Ready...

I always forget those because I have no use for either. Thanks for the correction!
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post #105 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 08:27 AM
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Ok, I know I'm no expert, but I'm curious if I've missed something.

I just got the 254 for testing, but noticed that you can't turn off the HDMI scaler.

I'm pretty sure this was the case with the 247 also, but why can't I have that option? It lets you set the HDMI output to any resolution you want, but not to simply pass through the signal.

I'm sure plenty of you appreciate the upscaling capabilities of the Faroudja (may have spelt that wrong) chip, but I'm more of a 'don't-touch-the-signal-unless-I-tell-you-to' kind of person. I just haven't been very impressed with upscaled images all that much and rather have the untouched version pass through. Given, I know the TV is technically having to scale anything sent that is not at its Native res, but still, I want the option to turn that capability on or off.

Is this common in all new receivers or only the H/K ones?
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post #106 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by -Axle- View Post

Ok, I know I'm no expert, but I'm curious if I've missed something.

I just got the 254 for testing, but noticed that you can't turn off the HDMI scaler.

I'm pretty sure this was the case with the 247 also, but why can't I have that option? It lets you set the HDMI output to any resolution you want, but not to simply pass through the signal.

I'm sure plenty of you appreciate the upscaling capabilities of the Faroudja (may have spelt that wrong) chip, but I'm more of a 'don't-touch-the-signal-unless-I-tell-you-to' kind of person. I just haven't been very impressed with upscaled images all that much and rather have the untouched version pass through. Given, I know the TV is technically having to scale anything sent that is not at its Native res, but still, I want the option to turn that capability on or off.

Is this common in all new receivers or only the H/K ones?

Aside of this mode being the default one there's the option to turn it off, it's called Processor Off.

Code:
Press the Video Modes Button on the front panel or remote, and the
screen shown in Figure 66 will appear. The menu may also be accessed
from the Setup Source menu by pressing the Info Settings Button and
selecting the Video Modes line.

Video Mode: The default setting of Processor Off passes the video 
signal through to the display without any processing.
RTFM: page 49, under Video Modes - see Figure 66 – Video Modes Menu if you need visual help.
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post #107 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 08:53 AM
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I can't remember when I didn't have an HK AVR as the center of my home theater. I bought the AVR 254 from Fry's a couple weeks back. It worked perfectly the first night while we watched a Bluray and played some PS3 games, but the next morning the HDMI inputs no longer worked. I tried the PS3 in all 3 inputs, but I was unable to get a picture. I bypassed the AVR 254 and everything worked fine so I returned it.

The new receiver has been working great for at least a week. Yesterday I got a Verizon FIOS HD DVR. Whenever I directly access an HD channel through the Verizon STB the AVR 254 loses the video signal. I have to turn it off or change inputs to get the signal back. Everything works fine if I bypass the 254 and go straight to the tv. It seems to work if I just do channel up and down. It is only a problem if I punch in the channel number or go directly to a channel via the guide. I am taking it back later today.

I am sad because my last two HK AVRs worked until I retired them for new technology.
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post #108 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 09:08 AM
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What did H/K said when you called/emailed them?
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post #109 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 09:24 AM
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I did not call or e-mail them. The unit it too new for me to mess with so I am just taking it back. I looked for a firmware update (it has a serial port) but I didn't find one so I am done.
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post #110 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 11:00 AM
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Well, you just sad you wanted to keep H/K - but apparently you didn't even call them despite it wouldn't cancel your in-store exchange warranty...
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post #111 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 11:22 AM
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genghiskhen, are the buttons in front of the receiver still operational?
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post #112 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 05:40 PM
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I did not test the buttons on the front of the unit but I didn't get any sense that the unit was locked up. I could use the remote to change inputs or power it off and it was very responsive. Sound was also uninterrupted. There won't be any more troubleshooting though because now I have an Onkyo TX-SR805. I haven't configured everything but I can change HD channels on the Verizon STB and the Onkyo passes the signal through much quicker and it works perfectly so far. I have only had it for a couple hours so I am withholding any kind of review.

I really like HK but I am not a slave to any brand. I posted in this forum because I read speculation that the AVR 254 may not be ready for prime time. I can't say for sure either way but I certainly was unlucky with the two I had.
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post #113 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 06:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T2k View Post

Aside of this mode being the default one there's the option to turn it off, it's called Processor Off.

Code:
Press the Video Modes Button on the front panel or remote, and the
screen shown in Figure 66 will appear. The menu may also be accessed
from the Setup Source menu by pressing the Info Settings Button and
selecting the Video Modes line.

Video Mode: The default setting of Processor Off passes the video 
signal through to the display without any processing.
RTFM: page 49, under Video Modes - see Figure 66 – Video Modes Menu if you need visual help.

Ok. So when I read your post, I felt like an idiot (not because of you, just the simplicity) because I was pretty sure I had played with all the settings and never came accross the option to turn the video processing (scaling) off.

I have the same verse in the hardcopy manual included in with the unit, BUT, the option does not appear on the AVR.... atleast not exactly as it is presented. I attach the following pics to illustrate:

The only option I get is the presets (Nature, Sports, Game, etc), which simply allow you to change the contrast, brightness, etc, or off....no "Processor Off" option which is what I would like.

In the "Off" setting, you can see it clearly downscaling the 1080i signal to 720p (2nd pic, see 'res from source' vs 'res to display').... so now I don't know what to do. I can confirm that the receiver was indeed sending a 720p signal to my TV as it displays it in the info.

I feel silly for asking about this again but am I really that dumb or did they just mess up on the manual, or worse, on the receiver?
LL
LL
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post #114 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 06:50 PM
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What are you trying to say? It's already OFF.
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post #115 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Megalith View Post

What are you trying to say? It's already OFF.

Correct, and in the "OFF" position, its still processing the signal (ie. the 1080i source is being spit out as 720p rather than passed-through)
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post #116 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 07:30 PM
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I see. ****ing laughable.

Can H/K just sell their technology to another company that actually knows what QA is, and shut down?
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post #117 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 09:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genghiskhen View Post

.......There won't be any more troubleshooting though because now I have an Onkyo TX-SR805. .................I have only had it for a couple hours so I am withholding any kind of review.

....................................

I'm really interested how the SQ is for the 805 compared to the HK.

I have returned the 805 for a couple of reasons, one being the SQ did not impress me. On paper the thing kicks royal *ss. It just didn't seem to live up to my expectations.

It also doesn't seem to be anywhere close to the same class as the 254 (805 being higher).

Please post us your comparisons.
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post #118 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 10:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by -Axle- View Post

Correct, and in the "OFF" position, its still processing the signal (ie. the 1080i source is being spit out as 720p rather than passed-through)

Can't you change that output? What kind of display you have BTW?
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post #119 of 4528 Old 07-03-2008, 10:31 PM
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Arghhh! Now I need a new SACD/DVD-A player. Thanks HK for not implementing technology available in 2003 in your new receivers!

Thanks for the info M Code. I thought it sounded too bad to be doing the BM on the analogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by M Code View Post

No.
That feature is found only on the higher end AVR 754...

Just my $0.02..


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post #120 of 4528 Old 07-04-2008, 05:08 AM
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I have a bit of a dilema. I need to upgrade because my old Sony of around 9 years just bit the dust and I am torn between two different receivers. The 2 are the Harmon Kardon AVR 254 and the Pioneer Elite VSX-91TXH. I have been interested in the Harmon Kardon AVR-254 since it released a few weeks ago but there are no reviews that actually state anything about the soundquality compared to other recievers. I have read that the harmon kardon brand has great sound, and I know the Pioneer Elites have great sound so at this pont it is just a matter of weighing the benifits of each and finding out which will better suit me. The AVR 254 feature-wise is fairly close and the price point is also close. I found the 91txh for 599.88, so they are literaly about $100 apart. Any suggestions? I am posting this here because I know you have hands on experience with the avr-254. I can't test it out cause none of the stores here have it yet. Thanks.
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