Help, which reciever to buy: HK 354 vs Yamaha V1800 vs Onkyo 805 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 07-14-2009, 05:06 PM - Thread Starter
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I am upgrading my old HK AVR 510 receiver which worked great for its time. I want a HDMI capable receiver now. After much reading I've narrowed it down to HK AVR354, Yamaha V1800, and Onkyo 805. All appear to be really good but with each having reported issues in some online threads. I think I'm more confused then when I started.

My system:
Polk Rti6 fronts
Polk 202 sub
Polk CSi3 center
Polk RTi38 rear
XBox 360
DVD player
Cox Cable HDTV cable
Samsung LCD

Watch HDTV 45%; stream movies from computer to XBox (via Connect360) 20%; games 15%; stream music from iTunes 15%; DVDs 5%, Blu-Ray (future).

That said, maybe I need a receiver that is better at upgrading video and audio from HDTV and streaming sources. I don't know much about the video upscaling. Although, I've heard bad things about 805 video processing.

For audio, I know that I will be switching often between bitstream and PCM media. Will they switch automatically as I'd like the best surround sound for both bitstream and PCM sources.

Having 3 HDMI inputs in essential, but 4 would be better. Overall sound quality is important, do any of these have superior sound?

Money is a minor issue, If I can get great video/audio performance for less and buy more beer... even better.

Any advice is appreciated.
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post #2 of 19 Old 07-14-2009, 06:23 PM
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You won't find an Onkyo 805 unless you are REALLY lucky. The 806 is the outgoing model and the soon to be released 807 will be the current. None of the choices will be all that good at video. Unless your HDTV is 3+ years old, the TV will do a better job up-converting.

What Samsung HDTV do you have? If it is newer I would spend less on the AVR. For great up-converting look for a Onkyo 876 which has a top notch video chip. I highly recommend checking the shoponkyo.com site and become a member (free). You can get refurbished units for less than half of MSRP.

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post #3 of 19 Old 07-14-2009, 06:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbyrnes View Post

You won't find an Onkyo 805 unless you are REALLY lucky.

I actually found a local used Onkyo 805 for around $600 but didn't know if I wanted it because of the heat issues and video issues.

The Onkyo 875/876 with Reon would be awesome but I can't spend that much.


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Originally Posted by mbyrnes View Post

What Samsung HDTV do you have?

I have a 2 yr old Samsung LN37A530 1080p tv. Do you think that will do a better job upscaling then any of the midpriced recievers?
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post #4 of 19 Old 07-14-2009, 06:48 PM - Thread Starter
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And another technical (maybe Noob) question but how do these receivers handle audio sources changing from bitstream/Dolby Digital to PCM? So for example if I'm watching HDTV with real Dolby Digital audio and I change channels to a PCM (2 channel audio), will the receiver know to automatically change to the best surround mode for that source? Or will it just force 2 channels into 5.1?

If I have it right, the receiver should auto switch from Dolby Digital 5.1 to say Pro Logic 2.
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post #5 of 19 Old 07-14-2009, 07:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustyuser View Post

I actually found a local used Onkyo 805 for around $600 but didn't know if I wanted it because of the heat issues and video issues.

The Onkyo 875/876 with Reon would be awesome but I can't spend that much.

I have a 2 yr old Samsung LN37A530 1080p tv. Do you think that will do a better job upscaling then any of the midpriced recievers?

There are 805's around, I've seen a few myself...even a couple at Accessories4less. I just sold one recently actually myself. This receiver will be a heat issue but not one to worry about if you have it well ventilated or better yet...cooled by a fan of some sort. If you don't have proper room and ventilation then don't bother getting this receiver. It's HUGE, bigger than you think and it does produce alot of heat. I loved every minute of owning one but at the same time....it was a burden of sorts. I've had Denon and Yamaha but now I'm settled into a Harman Kardon AVR-254. For the money, (they actually sell for not much over $200 right now) they just can't be beat really. Sure they have issues...but so does every other receiver.
For me, the HK-254 has been completely problem free.

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Originally Posted by rustyuser View Post

And another technical (maybe Noob) question but how do these receivers handle audio sources changing from bitstream/Dolby Digital to PCM? So for example if I'm watching HDTV with real Dolby Digital audio and I change channels to a PCM (2 channel audio), will the receiver know to automatically change to the best surround mode for that source? Or will it just force 2 channels into 5.1?

If I have it right, the receiver should auto switch from Dolby Digital 5.1 to say Pro Logic 2.

Yes the receiver will change automatically...and most will always change to whatever setting your prefer....it just remembers what you use and goes back to that each time you select that source.


You can buy an HK-354 for what...$500? For that money it's definitely a good buy. You could also look at others...assuming the 805 is not something you'd be interested in. There are good deals on the Pioneer Elite SC-05. I guess it all depends on your needs really. Some people don't want anything without Audyssey features...I don't know your preferences.

One thing I do know is that a $220 HK-254 sounds as good as any receiver I've owned..including the Onkyo TX-SR805. Sure it didn't have the power or all the fancy bells and whistles....but what it does have is an excellent GUI, beautiful esthetics, smooth warm sound and enough power for anyone with a typical setup. I enjoyed my Denon AVR-789 but they are definitely difficult to setup, the manual is written in Klingon so you need an interpreter. The bottom line is that if you choose the one you really love...you'll find the time to set it up and have it perform great for you. Just be aware of the faults each one has....and be able to accept flaws...because they all have them
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post #6 of 19 Old 07-14-2009, 11:11 PM - Thread Starter
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OK, now I'm seriously considering the HK 354 or 254... but I think I'd prefer more power from the 354.

My main goal from this upgrade was to switch up to HDMI on everything and have a better overall sound and video.

It sounds like there's not a real benefit for running video through the receiver (unless you spend $1000+). That said, I think I would run my video sources straight to the TV and then use optical audio for all the audio sources... which is exactly what I'm doing right now with my current HK 510 (running Dolby Digital 5.1), which works and sounds pretty good.

Do you think I'll notice a big shift in sound quality from my older AVR-510 to the new 354? Or are some of the newer Dolby codecs a good improvement?
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post #7 of 19 Old 07-15-2009, 05:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustyuser View Post

It sounds like there's not a real benefit for running video through the receiver (unless you spend $1000+). That said, I think I would run my video sources straight to the TV and then use optical audio for all the audio sources... which is exactly what I'm doing right now with my current HK 510 (running Dolby Digital 5.1), which works and sounds pretty good.

Do you think I'll notice a big shift in sound quality from my older AVR-510 to the new 354? Or are some of the newer Dolby codecs a good improvement?

remeber that you can't take advantage of the new HD codecs unless you using HDMI connections on the receiver (not enough bandwith over optical/coaxial). if you're not going to use the AVR for video, i would probably just save the $$$ and stick with your current HK 510.

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post #8 of 19 Old 07-15-2009, 10:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by G-star View Post

remeber that you can't take advantage of the new HD codecs unless you using HDMI connections on the receiver (not enough bandwith over optical/coaxial). if you're not going to use the AVR for video, i would probably just save the $$$ and stick with your current HK 510.

OK, well it looks like the Yamaha and Onkyo have all the latest HD codecs such as Dolby TrueHD (HK does not) so if I do use it with HDMI can either one just pass-through the video without effecting the video in a bad way?
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post #9 of 19 Old 07-15-2009, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G-star View Post

remeber that you can't take advantage of the new HD codecs unless you using HDMI connections on the receiver (not enough bandwith over optical/coaxial). if you're not going to use the AVR for video, i would probably just save the $$$ and stick with your current HK 510.

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Originally Posted by rustyuser View Post

OK, well it looks like the Yamaha and Onkyo have all the latest HD codecs such as Dolby TrueHD (HK does not) so if I do use it with HDMI can either one just pass-through the video without effecting the video in a bad way?

Harman Kardon also provides the same support for the HD codecs. Also, you CAN take advantage of the new HD codecs without using an HDMI connection...it passes through 7.1 analog just fine. There are plenty of reasons to upgrade your receiver....and none of them need to have anything to do with video. Your receiver can't handle 6.1 or 7.1, there's no video for a second zone, it has a poorly rated tuner, it can't convert the new HD codecs or even pass them through. It also doesn't have a newer room correction system and although it has one...it's not nearly as precise as newer models. I haven't even mentioned what an upgrade it will be for connectivity and also a far nicer GUI and remote.

If you're upgrading your receiver...do it for the audio first, not video. There aren't any mid-priced receivers that will handle video better than most TV's nowadays anyway.

Last but not least, using an HK with your video will not affect it in a bad way whatsoever. It might have some processing going on...but none that you will notice. Even if it's a big enough issue...run your video straight to your TV...but even then you won't notice a difference in video quality.
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post #10 of 19 Old 07-15-2009, 03:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danielson99 View Post

Harman Kardon also provides the same support for the HD codecs. Also, you CAN take advantage of the new HD codecs without using an HDMI connection...it passes through 7.1 analog just fine.

Is this correct: the HK AVR354 supports the latest HD audio codecs from Optical/Coax (sans HDMI)? With ONE exception, Dolby TrueHD since it's Blu-Ray and requires HDMI.

That said, I can run component video or HDMI straight to the TV and all audio via Optical to receiver. Or run HDMI to receiver and use pass-through video to TV. Will both result in same audio and video quality?
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post #11 of 19 Old 07-15-2009, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustyuser View Post

Is this correct: the HK AVR354 supports the latest HD audio codecs from Optical/Coax (sans HDMI)? With ONE exception, Dolby TrueHD since it's Blu-Ray and requires HDMI.

That said, I can run component video or HDMI straight to the TV and all audio via Optical to receiver. Or run HDMI to receiver and use pass-through video to TV. Will both result in same audio and video quality?

The HK-AVR354 supports all the same HD audio codecs that any of the new receivers in it's price range do. You can't get HD audio with optical/coax, only analog or HDMI.

You can run component (but why use component?) or HDMI straight to your TV and run all your audio...such as from your Cable box, DVD player or whatever else...through optical or coaxial to your receiver. Anything from your TV isn't going to be HD audio anyway so using an optical/coax is fine. Only a bluray player is going to need either analog/HDMI.
You can also run HDMI to your receiver, from your Cable box, Dvd player or whatever else and not worry about any other cables for audio. In this case the HK-AVR354 will 'touch' the video...but only enough to allow a GUI such as the volume bar and other settings to pop up on the screen at all times. It will not affect the quality of your picture...not in my case or anyone I know really. Even for the very odd person that felt it does....just run your video straight to your TV and you have no issues with the receiver touching it.

Also...the HK's do run fairly cool as far as receivers go. I haven't found one that looks better or that's easier to operate. I'm not solely an HK fan...I own and have owned lots of other brand names....but I do recommend HK to alot of people.
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post #12 of 19 Old 07-15-2009, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
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I have 3-4 media sources that can use HDMI or component, that is a concern of the 3 HDMIs on HK 354 but I guess I can use the 3 HDMI and 1-2 component inputs to get everything running through the receiver and 1 HDMI and 1 component to my TV.

The HK 354 is definitely a solid choice, my concerns were that it lacked some of the bells and whistles compared to the Onkyos and Yamahas but I think most of that is 'marketing fluff'.

As long as HK 354 supports the latest standard audio codecs I think it may be the best bang for your buck, considering its around $550 (Amazon) compared to the others. Although some of the Yamaha and Onkyo have more HDMI, more power and inputs... not sure it's really worth the extra price.
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post #13 of 19 Old 07-15-2009, 05:09 PM
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If you're in the $550 range you may want to throw the Pioneer Elite VSX-03TXH into the mix also. http://pioneerusa.com/PUSA/Products/...vers/VSX-03TXH

http://www.amazon.com/Pioneer-Elite-.../ref=pd_cp_e_2

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post #14 of 19 Old 07-15-2009, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustyuser View Post

I have 3-4 media sources that can use HDMI or component, that is a concern of the 3 HDMIs on HK 354 but I guess I can use the 3 HDMI and 1-2 component inputs to get everything running through the receiver and 1 HDMI and 1 component to my TV.

The HK 354 is definitely a solid choice, my concerns were that it lacked some of the bells and whistles compared to the Onkyos and Yamahas but I think most of that is 'marketing fluff'.

As long as HK 354 supports the latest standard audio codecs I think it may be the best bang for your buck, considering its around $550 (Amazon) compared to the others. Although some of the Yamaha and Onkyo have more HDMI, more power and inputs... not sure it's really worth the extra price.

If you want more HDMI just buy an inexpensive HDMI switcher and turn 1 HDMI input into 3 or 4 if you like. Look on Monoprice for them...
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post #15 of 19 Old 07-15-2009, 06:14 PM
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The 805 from an audio point is untouchable. It has everything and more feature wise. The only issue is heat but if given 4"-5" of space above it is really a non issue. It has more power (THX Ultra 2, actually does 100w/5 channels driven), better DACs (Burr-Brown PCM-1796, same in Denon 5308), better room correction (Audyssey Multi EQ XT), and I could go on. Problems were fixed with firmware updates. The only problem is heat (which is usually from the 805 being in a tight space).

The H/Ks are still waiting on new firmware to correct many problems. There is a VERY long problems thread for the 254/354. You may or may not have problems in your setup. Read a few pages in there and see what I mean.

None of these AVRs will improve your picture. If you go to the 876 for $900 or so, then you get improved PQ with the Reon chip.

The Pioneer SC-05 is another great option that can be had for much less than MSRP.

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post #16 of 19 Old 07-15-2009, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by mbyrnes View Post

The 805 from an audio point is untouchable. It has everything and more feature wise. The only issue is heat but if given 4"-5" of space above it is really a non issue. It has more power (THX Ultra 2, actually does 100w/5 channels driven), better DACs (Burr-Brown PCM-1796, same in Denon 5308), better room correction (Audyssey Multi EQ XT), and I could go on. Problems were fixed with firmware updates. The only problem is heat (which is usually from the 805 being in a tight space).

The H/Ks are still waiting on new firmware to correct many problems. There is a VERY long problems thread for the 254/354. You may or may not have problems in your setup. Read a few pages in there and see what I mean.

None of these AVRs will improve your picture. If you go to the 876 for $900 or so, then you get improved PQ with the Reon chip.

The Pioneer SC-05 is another great option that can be had for much less than MSRP.

Audio-wise the Onkyo 805 has some good features...but that's if you like them. Is it untouchable? Well no, because that's a matter of preference. Personally I don't like Audyssey dynamic volume, I also didn't care for MultEQ XT, I ended up setting everything to my own liking and it turned out far better. Sure it has more power than anything in it's class...and that's the only thing that sets it apart really. Does it sound better than a $220 HK-254?? No..not to me and I've owned both. Is heat it's only flaw? No, it has a list of flaws also...just like almost any receiver. Actually...the front panel display burns out on a large number of Onkyo 805's....so you'll be stuck trying to fix it yourself...or you could be paying a very large shipping bill to send it back for fixing. Also know that it doesn't matter if you give it 4-5" of space on each side...it will still run very very hot which will make it more prone to failure.

The bottom line is that each receiver you're looking at has it's up sides and down sides. The Harman Kardons list is no longer than any other....and I can tell you from my experience that I haven't even dealt with ONE issue with my HK...and I haven't even upgraded the firmware yet! I doubt I will...why fix something that ain't broken.

I can tell you from experience...you'll love both of those receivers. The 354 or the 805....but each has it's down side....at least hearing from people who have owned them and used them in depth will shed some light on your purchasing decision.
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post #17 of 19 Old 07-15-2009, 08:22 PM
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I'm new to forum. Im upgrading my receiver to one with hdmi. I have
61 panasonic dlp(4yrs old)
bose am-5 cubes
2 kenwood mv-7
2 bose bookshelf
klipsch 10" power sub
xbox360
comcast motorola hd dual tuner dvr dch3416
etech dvd player
I can't decide on hk354, yamaha rxv 765,863 ,1065. plus i keep seeing pioneer vsx 1019 as equivalents to all above. I'm trying to stay $800. I've found 765 for$485, 863 for $550, 1065 for $700, hk354 for $400 and the pioneer for $475. can anyone tell me what is best. also I hear denon has switched to anchor bay chip. I watch a lot of tv and movies so video is more important than music but both would be nice. I am am versatile on any brand.
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post #18 of 19 Old 07-15-2009, 08:23 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm narrowing the list down to the Yamaha V1800 and the HK 354. I think it comes down to what deal I can find on one. I got a PM from a guy selling one here, which could be a good deal.

The heat from an 805 would be an issue in my setup, no matter how good it is.
Honestly, if the HK had 4 HDMIs I would be listening to it now. That's why the V1800 is so attractive plus its got a good reputation but with a bit more cost.

The one thing I know now, these all have their pros and cons. Just which ones do I really want?
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post #19 of 19 Old 07-15-2009, 08:26 PM - Thread Starter
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I've found 765 for$485, 863 for $550, 1065 for $700, hk354 for $400 and the pioneer for $475.

I'm in the same boat as you can tell. Where'd you find the V1065 for $700 and the HK354 for $400?
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