This is going to be long. I apologize.
In August 2009 I moved to a new home in Indianapolis, IN and took my entire home theater setup with me. Until this point, my 65" Samsung plasma display was unmounted and connected via HDMI to my Denon 3808ci AVR. Also connected to the Denon via HDMI were a Dish Network receiver, XBOX 360 Elite and PS3. Sound for my system was provided by a Klipsch Reference 5.1 System, using the 7.1 Denon's extra posts to bi-amp the front loudspeakers as instructed by the Denon owner's manual.
This had been the case for several months until I moved to the new home. Knowing that I wanted to enhance my home theater experience I interviewed several local home theater installers and settled on one to install my system by mounting the display over the fireplace and providing in-wall wire installations to all the speakers - all wired back to the media closet where the Denon AVR, Xbox, PS3 and Comcast cable box were located. It took the theater installer 14 hours to finish the job but when completed it was a beautiful installation. Everything looked amazing and sounded perfect.
One day, in mid-October, I came home form work to find that when I turned on the system everything powered on just fine, but no video/audio were being passed by the AVR. No component would work and the Denon AVI GUI would not display on the screen. After doing a few hours of troubleshooting (re-handshaking the HDMI components, swapping HDMI cables on the components, etc) I was able to verify that the Denon AVR passed no audio/video from any component but by moving the HDMI cable attached to the display directly to each individual component, audio/video passed to the TV just fine. Obviously something had gone wrong with the Denon 3808ci.
The next day I took the Denon to the only authorized repair facility in Indianapolis where they were able to verify that the issue was a blown HDMI controller board. After waiting for the board to be replaced I was able to once again schedule my home theater installation folks to come and install the repaired AVR. Before attempting to attach the speaker wire we first attached all the HDMI cables to run preliminary video checks. The XBOX came up, passed video/audio to the TV with no issues while playing games, watching downloaded content and streaming video/movies. The PS3 came up, passed video/audio with no issues playing games, playing downloaded video/movies BUT when playing BluRay discs, static/artifacts flickered all over the screen on all BluRay discs that we checked. Lastly, the AVR DID NOT pass video/audio from the Comcast cable box to the TV. While attached to the AVR, the cable box repeatedly flashed an error code that indicated an unrecognizable cable connection and the AVR front LCD display indicated that the HDMI stream was going in and out every 1-2 seconds. As a test, we connected the Comcast cable box to the AVR using component cables and - viola - all video/audio passed successfully. HOWEVER, approx. 5 min after this step a loud pop came from inside the AVR and a small stream of smoke came out of the top of the AVR. At this point, the AVR front LCD was still working properly, but switching between components we found that the AVR no longer passed video/audio at all. It was now in the same state that I had found it weeks earlier when returning home work - it appeared to be on and working normally but could not see anything coming in. Moving the HDMI cable connected to the display back to each individual component once again revealed that each component was still working properly and sending video/audio to the display.
At this point, fearing that perhaps I had received a bad HDMI controller board replacement, I decided to eliminate a possible point of failure and buy a brand new Denon 3808ci. The new unit arrived at my home on Friday, November 27 at 8 a.m.
Knowing that a new AVR was on its way, I had been calling my home theater installers since the previous Monday to attempt to get on the schedule for a re-install of the new unit. In a pre-emptive move, I decided to once again attach each component without wiring the speakers. I again attached the Xbox, PS3, cable box and the display. I powered everything on - and guess what? EXACT SAME ISSUE!!! Perfect passage of all media from the Xbox to the display; perfect passage of audio/video from PS3 UNTIL playing a BluRay movie - repeated issue of static/artifacts all over screen; and repeated issue of no audio/video from Comcast cable box via HDMI. And again, after approx 15 min of being connected to the components, there was a loud pop and small stream of smoke comes out of the top of the AVR.
Lastly - knowing that now I have a serious issue somewhere in this system, I connect the display's HDMI cable back to my Xbox to let off some steam on a round of Modern Warefare 2 only to get the red ring of death.
At this point I now have killed virtually 3 Denon 3808ci AVRs and 1 Xbox 360 Elite. Where could this possibly be coming from? Could, perhaps, the new 40' HDMI cable connecting out to my display be causing all of this? I have never in my life (nor anyone I have talked with) heard of an HDMI cable being even capable of wreaking such havoc. During this entire ordeal, I have kept the HDMI cable plugged into the Comcast cable box so that I can at least watch TV while I wait to get my system back and this has not generated any issues. I have now decided I am going to replace my AVR once again but this time with a brand that I can purchase locally at a commercial retail outlet...the shipping back and forth during all of this is killing me. Sad, really...because I love Denon.
Oh yeahand those professional home theater installers that put in this system and had been working with me throughout all of this? They finally called on Friday night and left me a voicemail to say that because of the economy they are now out of business and can no longer help but wish me luck for the future.