Official Harman/Kardon AVR x54: Problems and Solutions Thread - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 2876 Old 07-27-2008, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys,

Since the Owner's Thread is getting swamped with problems regarding the AVR 254 and 354 , I decided to open a new thread dedicated specifically to the problems and the possible solutions. If anyone can find other issues, PM or post in here and I'll try keep the first post updated. This is my first time doing a thread like this, but I'll do my best to stay on top of things in here.

Have a more general question? Post it in here:

Official Harman/Kardon AVR 254 and 354 Owner's Thread


Before reporting a Playstation 3 issue in this thread, make sure your Playstation 3 is up to date. Sony regularly updates the console's firmware. You can find the most current version here:

Playstation 3 System Update

OR go to your PS3's XMB and selecting "Settings", then "System Update".


CURRENT AVR FIRMWARE: Version 95.1.1

KNOWN ISSUES

1) PCM Lock Issue: The AVR 254 and 354's lock on a PCM stream times out extremely quickly. That is, if there is no PCM signal coming through the HDMI cable, the AVR's processor unlocks and starts searching. The easiest example of this is when the PS3 is idling on the XMB, or a game is paused, the AVR 254/354 seems to lose its lock on the PCM audio information the PS3 is sending it. This results in the "clicks" of the XMB scrolling not being heard, and certain games (notably Metal Gear Solid 4 and GTA IV) losing audio at first when the pause menu is closed. Also, the Playstation 3 startup sound appears to get cut off.
Solution:Fixed in 06-10-08 (That's October 6th, not June 10th) Firmware Update. PCM lock will still time out, but takes significantly longer to do so. 2) Audio dropout on Blu-Ray movies:

A) "There Will Be Blood": Chapter 3 between the 35:00 and 36:23 minute mark.

B) "The Lookout": Chapter 9 between 51:12 and 52:28.

C) "Shine A Light": Multiple dropouts in first ten minutes.

Solution: Appears to be fixed in 06-10-2008 firmware update. 3) Audio dropout on PS3 Games:

A) Metal Gear Solid 4

1) Absent dialogue and very muted background noise during cut scene. Cycling through surround modes does seem to fix this issue temporarily.

2) When getting a call, center channel (dialogue) is inaudible. Surround effects/background noise remains audible, though.

B) Grand Theft Auto IV

1) Receiver appears to default to Logic 7 surround mode. Should read out as MPCM

2) While in a vehicle, all audio from cell phone conversations is inaudible. When outside the car, only the Niko (the main character) can be heard.

C) NCAA Football 09

1) Voice from Play by Play analysts is missing. Cycling through surround modes appears to fix issue.

D)Lego Indiana Jones, Madden 09, Top Spin 3

1) Various audio dropouts, when/if audio does return it can sound "hollow"...almost like in a cave.

Solutions: All issues appear to be fixed in 06-10-2008 Firmware Update. 4) HDMI Syncing issues: The AVR 254 and 354 have trouble syncing to a new HDMI device when switching between sources. E.g.- when switching between a PS3 and cable box, or Xbox 360. Screen tends to flash green and/or pink.
Solutions: Significantly corrected in new firmware. Remaining problems appear to be combination of AVR and source fault. 5) "Processor: Off" functionality: When selecting "Processor: Off", the AVR 254/354 does not actually stop processing the signal. It continues de-interlacing and working on the signal. Users are completely unable to bypass the processor. Also directly affects BTB/WTW (Blacker Than Black/Whiter Than White) pass through.
Solutions: Fixed in 06-10-2008 Firmware Update.
6) 1080p/24: The AVR 254 and 354 appears to blocking the transfer of 1080p/24 material in certain cases. The option remains grayed out and unselectable. The receiver indicates getting a 1080p/24 signal from the source (Blu Ray) but then passes the signal along as 1080p/60 to the display.
Solutions: Fixed in 06-10-2008 Firmware Update 7) The Bridge II:

A) Navigation through iPod menus can be laggy and at times completely unresponsive.

B) Disabling Bridge charging does not actually disable charging...the iPod still charges in the dock.

C) There appears to be a glitch related to The Bridge II and the standby light color on the AVR.

Solutions: Navigation speed has been improved, though still laggy with new firmware. iPod still charges even when charging is disabled. Standby light glitch still remains.
8) PCM LFE signal: When receiving a PCM signal, the LFE track is much higher than a standard Dolby Digital or DTS signal, to the point of drowning out dialogue when left unadjusted. This results in users having to tweak settings back and forth between different sources.
Solutions: None
9) HDMI to DVI Connections: Some users have reported issues hooking up their AVR 254/354 to a display using HDMI to DVI connections. Harman/Kardon has acknowledged these problems and is working on another firmware update.
Solutions: Possibly fixed in Firmware version 95.1.1
10) Motorola Cable Boxes: Users with Motorola Cable Boxes (eg-Cox Cable users) are having severe issues with HDMI syncing when switching between HD and SD programming. Picture flashes green and/or pink, and immediately becomes scrambled.
Solutions: None. Has been present since firmware 46.3.1, has gotten more severe since 93.1.1 update If anybody knows of other issues (my brain is fried right now, so these are all I can think of) let me know and I'll update the first post.


****UPDATE****

With the new firmware (apparently) approaching quickly, I thought it would be a good idea to post the AVR-254/354 firmware check sequence.

Firmware Check Sequence


From HK's Support page:

"With the AVR turned on, push the "AVR" button at the bottom of the remote, press the 1, 2, 3 and 4 buttons on the remote in that order; then press the OK button.
After a short pause, the software version number will appear on the AVR's front-panel display."

If that doesn't work, try pushing "1, 2, 3, 0" then "OK".

Here's a picture of the AVR's screen when displaying firmware:


***MAJOR UPDATE***

New firmware has been posted on Harman/Kardon's website. Link here: Harman/Kardon AVR 254 & AVR 354 Firmware Update

This update addressed the issue with DVI to HDMI connections. Let's see what's fixed and what (hopefully isn't) now broken.

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post #2 of 2876 Old 07-27-2008, 07:11 PM
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Excellent work, jayhawk!
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post #3 of 2876 Old 07-27-2008, 07:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T2k View Post

Excellent work, jayhawk!

Thanks. Like I said, I've never tried to do a thread like this before, so if I miss something don't hesitate to PM me with the info and I'll update the first post.

Also...do you think I oughta change this to a more general problems and solutions thread or just keep it problems with the PS3 specifically?

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post #4 of 2876 Old 07-27-2008, 07:17 PM
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I'd say since it seems 90% or more 254/354 issues are with PS3 let's keep it this way for now... who knows maybe later we find out more about 360 issues as well then you can rename it to "console" issues topic...
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post #5 of 2876 Old 07-27-2008, 08:26 PM
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Make sure that you have the latest firmware downloaded for the PS3.
If you remember back many peolple had Toshiba HD DVD players with certain issues, once they downloaded the latest firmware things worked much better..

Just my $0.045..
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post #6 of 2876 Old 07-27-2008, 09:26 PM
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I've provided a link to this thread within the 254/354 HK Owners thread so others can find this more easily.
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post #7 of 2876 Old 07-27-2008, 10:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M Code View Post

Make sure that you have the latest firmware downloaded for the PS3.
If you remember back many peolple had Toshiba HD DVD players with certain issues, once they downloaded the latest firmware things worked much better..

Just my $0.045..

Good point. I'll update the first post to provide a link to Sony's firmware download page. And I swear...your opinions' cent value is increasing twice as fast as our gas prices

Quote:
Originally Posted by mather View Post

I've provided a link to this thread within the 254/354 HK Owners thread so others can find this more easily.

Thanks. Hopefully this cuts down on the PS3 spam in the Owner's Thread. Let me know if you have suggestions for improving this thread. I value your guys' opinions.

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post #8 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 12:04 AM
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Great initiative Jayhawk!

Here is another easy test for PS3 owners: set the audio to HDMI out, linear PCM on the PS3.

In the GTA IV game (Grand Theft Auto IV), at any time, call Roman and offer him to go bowling.

On my PS3, you can hear what Niko says, but you can't hear anything that Roman says. If you have the subtitles on, you will be able to read what he says, but his voice is missing. The weird thing is that you can still hear the ambient noises (music from the radio, people chattering in the street, engine from the cars, etc...). And when Niko says something back to Roman, you can hear Niko.

Anyway, this is a very easy test for anybody who owns GTA IV. Please report your results.

Note: if audio is bitstreamed through optical out, the problem is gone.
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post #9 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 12:08 AM
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Troubleshooting step I took today: I purchased a Pioneer 1018 to compare it to the AVR 254...

Results: the Pioneer has no problem whatsoever with the PS3 in HDMI out. You can hear all the clicks from the XMB, the GTA IV test I mentioned above showed no problem, and there is no sound loss in There Will Be Blood. So, it looks like my cables are good, and so is my PS3. The problem is definitely on the receiver's end.

However, I will return the Pioneer ASAP. The interface is very clunky, the setup is non intuitive, and most importantly, the sound lacks the 'oomph' that the HK has. It sounds flat, lacks punch, doesn't have that little something that the HK has and that makes such a difference. I'd rather live with the HK flaws until they fix them, than put up with the Pioneer sound (now that I've heard the HK).
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post #10 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 03:39 AM
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Can anyone confirm the video processor problem? By that I mean does the HK pass BTB/WTW. Also can the HK processing be disabled so the PS3 can process blu-ray?
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post #11 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 03:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AV HAZE View Post

Can anyone confirm the video processor problem? By that I mean does the HK pass BTB/WTW.

Not yet. HK is working on the fix, slated for late Summer release.

Quote:


Also can the HK processing be disabled so the PS3 can process blu-ray?

Ehh...?What has HK processing to do with PS3 "processing" Blu-Ray?
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post #12 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 06:46 AM
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Can these problems be avoided by setting the PS3 to outputting bitstream?
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post #13 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 06:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trondah View Post

Can these problems be avoided by setting the PS3 to outputting bitstream?

COuld be but unfortunately PS3 is incapable to do that - this is why I suspect it's probably more of a PS3 issue than an H/K issue (still has to be fixed by H/K, of course.)
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post #14 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by piki-iki Could somebody, who would happen to have either 'there will be blood' or 'the lookout' on bluray, a PS3 and the AVR 254 try the following and report back?

PS3 setup: HDMI audio out, all auto, Linear PCM
AVR setup: on one of the 3 HDMI inputs, for both video and audio

movie: there will be blood - bluray
chapter 3, between 35:00 and 36:23

movie: the lookout on bluray
chapter 9, from 51:12 to 52:28

On my setup, the sound just drops out completely, and the display on the receiver switches from Multi-Channel PCM to Logic 7 Movie. The sound then resumes at the beginning of the next chapter.

If anybody, by any chance, happened to be able to reproduce this setup, I would very much like to hear about your results.

Thanks!


Just had the same thing happen on There Will Be Blood last night, similar setup (354 instead of a 254), same timing. I am on hold with HK right now...to me this is unacceptable and until they prove it can be fixed this series of receiver should not be purchased. I have owned HK for 10 years now and been very happy...but this is a deal breaker for me.

Update:
Just talked to tech support they had no idea what I was talking about and suggested I bring it back to Best Buy and exchange it. Mentioned that others on the forum were having similar issues and he said he would talk to the engineers and get back to me. Frustrating that this is not a huge issue at the support desk.
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post #15 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 07:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trondah View Post

Can these problems be avoided by setting the PS3 to outputting bitstream?

PS3 can't bitstream the lossless codec, so while it will work, you'll only be getting lossy Dolby Digital and DTS.

I think one thing we should list are what audio modes are checked in the ps3's audio setup.

Try checking only one surround lpcm mode and trying it, and then switching and repeating. My dad had a problem with certain voices dropping out on his, and this solved it, so it's worth a shot.

Anyone know what LPCM bitrates the HK is capable of?

P.S. This thread is a brilliant idea.
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post #16 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 07:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Typhus View Post

Originally Posted by piki-iki Could somebody, who would happen to have either 'there will be blood' or 'the lookout' on bluray, a PS3 and the AVR 254 try the following and report back?

PS3 setup: HDMI audio out, all auto, Linear PCM
AVR setup: on one of the 3 HDMI inputs, for both video and audio

movie: there will be blood - bluray
chapter 3, between 35:00 and 36:23

movie: the lookout on bluray
chapter 9, from 51:12 to 52:28

On my setup, the sound just drops out completely, and the display on the receiver switches from Multi-Channel PCM to Logic 7 Movie. The sound then resumes at the beginning of the next chapter.

If anybody, by any chance, happened to be able to reproduce this setup, I would very much like to hear about your results.

Thanks!


Just had the same thing happen on There Will Be Blood last night, similar setup (354 instead of a 254), same timing. I am on hold with HK right now...to me this is unacceptable and until they prove it can be fixed this series of receiver should not be purchased. I have owned HK for 10 years now and been very happy...but this is a deal breaker for me.

Update:
Just talked to tech support they had no idea what I was talking about and suggested I bring it back to Best Buy and exchange it. Mentioned that others on the forum were having similar issues and he said he would talk to the engineers and get back to me. Frustrating that this is not a huge issue at the support desk.

I'm not a fan of the ps3's auto setup... try it manual, uncheck everything you can, and only check the lowest bitrate LPCM 5.1 and see if it works (you can add the LPCM 7.1 later, just doing some testing).

See if the problem still exists then.
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post #17 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Damn this thread is active. I don't want it falling any further back, so bump

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post #18 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metalheadisme View Post

PS3 can't bitstream the lossless codec, so while it will work, you'll only be getting lossy Dolby Digital and DTS.

Well, there's only some blu-ray movies that have lossless codecs right? So games and everything else will work fine when bitstreamed?
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post #19 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trondah View Post

Well, there's only some blu-ray movies that have lossless codecs right? So games and everything else will work fine when bitstreamed?

That's right. I don't know - personally - of any PS3 game capable of making use of the HD audio codecs. I set up my 254 so that, when I want to play a game, I use the optical out with bitstream. With that setting, I have no problem whatsoever (besides the lack of click on the XMB bar, but who cares).

However this does require going into the PS3 sound settings and change the audio output from HDMI to optical.

What's more, I am pretty sure that even if you choose bitstream, but with HDMI out, there are still some issues in games, but I will have to double-check that.
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post #20 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 12:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trondah View Post

Well, there's only some blu-ray movies that have lossless codecs right? So games and everything else will work fine when bitstreamed?

No. Almost every Blu Ray movie(it might be every movie now) has lossless audio on it. Be it TrueHD, uncompressed PCM, or DTS HD:Master Audio..they have some variation of it. There are no games that are encoded in the HD codecs.

But to answer your question, if the game is encoded in Dolby Digital then yeah you can set it bitstream. I don't have a PS3 at home, though, so I can't say for sure how the games are encoded.

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post #21 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 01:01 PM
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It may be a good idea to refer to these threads (and send the links) when contacting HK tech support, so that they can grasp how big and widespread of a concern these problems are.
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post #22 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayhawk11 View Post

No. Almost every Blu Ray movie(it might be every movie now) has lossless audio on it. Be it TrueHD, uncompressed PCM, or DTS HD:Master Audio..they have some variation of it. There are no games that are encoded in the HD codecs.

But to answer your question, if the game is encoded in Dolby Digital then yeah you can set it bitstream. I don't have a PS3 at home, though, so I can't say for sure how the games are encoded.

Jay, could YOU try the 'there will be blood' test, at work? I remember you saying that you had no issues whatsoever with your setup, but I'm really curious to see the results from you. FWIW, the manufacture date posted on the back of the receiver says "2008 APR" for me. What does yours say?
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post #23 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 01:38 PM
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I have an old HK 110 that has sounded and worked great for the last 7+ years with optical connections including recently the PS3. I'm hopng for the same result from a new 254 but reading all these threads makes me wonder if I should buy one??? If it's a matter of switching between optical to HDMI when playing games to playing blu ray movies then I'd still buy the 254.

Will the switching solve the audio problems??? Also I've read that the 254 has audio level drops on the center channel. Is this a PS3 thing also?? Has anyone found this to happen???

Please, I need some resolution ...
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post #24 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 01:48 PM
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So would a way around these problems be to use the optical out over the hdmi?
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post #25 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 02:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by obsid1an View Post

So would a way around these problems be to use the optical out over the hdmi?

That seems to be fixing the issue, but at the cost of losing HD audio from Blu Ray. At this point it seems to be an HDMI only problem.

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post #26 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T2k View Post

Not yet. HK is working on the fix, slated for late Summer release.



Ehh...?What has HK processing to do with PS3 "processing" Blu-Ray?

Sorry for the confusion. What I meant was will the HK allow a pure "pass-thru" via HDMI of 1080p video from the PS3 ie) faruja chip off to my TV. I guess not, considering it won't pass BTB/WTW which is required for proper colors from the PS3 on my display from BR movies. Now I am rambling.
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post #27 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 04:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AV HAZE View Post

Sorry for the confusion. What I meant was will the HK allow a pure "pass-thru" via HDMI of 1080p video from the PS3 ie) faruja chip off to my TV. I guess not, considering it won't pass BTB/WTW which is required for proper colors from the PS3 on my display from BR movies. Now I am rambling.

Its Faroudja

There is a "Processor Off" option, but right now it isn't disabling the processor. That should be fixed in the firmware update.

As for the BTB/WTW issue...you don't really need to worry about that unless you're running an HTPC. Blu Ray discs aren't encoded in 0-255.

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post #28 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 04:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayhawk11 View Post

As for the BTB/WTW issue...you don't really need to worry about that unless you're running an HTPC.


I'll pretend I didn't see it...
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post #29 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 05:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T2k View Post


I'll pretend I didn't see it...

Everything I've read, seen with my own eyes, and been told by others is that you should set the PS3 to RGB=Limited and Super White:On. 16-235 is what BD's are mastered in, so sending 0-255 doesn't help the image any. I'm sure there are other circumstances where BTB/WTW are beneficial than using an HTPC...but HTPC's are the main situation where one needs that color range.


Or did I just read way too much into your comment and make myself look like an ass?

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post #30 of 2876 Old 07-28-2008, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayhawk11 View Post

Everything I've read, seen with my own eyes, and been told by others is that you should set the PS3 to RGB=Limited and Super White:On. 16-235 is what BD's are mastered in, so sending 0-255 doesn't help the image any. I'm sure there are other circumstances where BTB/WTW are beneficial than using an HTPC...but HTPC's are the main situation where one needs that color range.


Or did I just read way too much into your comment and make myself look like an ass?

RGB: Full has a benefit for PS3 games- the setting shouldn't really make a difference for blu-ray movies, but it can also be beneficial in calibration.
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