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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, all. I'm looking to upgrade my avr receiver. I currently have an older model Yamaha that has done me well, but does not have hdmi hookups. I will need pre-outs for my main speakers (goes out to a Behringer A500 amp) and 5.1 analog outs for my sacd/dvda player (Pioneer 588).


I've just recently purchased (since first of year) a Sony Blu Ray (350 model?) and a Sony LCD (KDL 52W4100--I think). I have really no interest in Ipod hookup or game playing etc and don't foresee any thing like that, altough I guess that could change).


I've been looking at the HK 254 or 354, the Denon 1910 or possibly a refurbished Marantz 5003 or similar in this price range ($400-600).


The HK, especially 254 firmware problems seem to arise quite a bit. Haven't read too much about the 354 porblems. Do they have these problems? Is the extra money spent on the 354 worth it over the 254? (leaning towards the 354 right now). Everyone talks about the nice audio on the HK and Marantz with the Denon not far behind. I don't know if that is something I will be able to hear in my old (do mean old ears) or not but am willing to try one.


Has to be a pretty quick decision since my banker (wife) is willing to spend on it right now, but don't know how long she will let me look. Possibly another day or two (She can be spur of the moment-like now-would like to take advantage of it).
 

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you can get a refurb'd 254 for ~ $220 shipped right now...hard to beat that deal. the 354 adds a bit more power and ipod bridge,for significantly more $$. not worth it, IMO.


a lot of the bugs have been fixed with the the firmware updates over time. many of the issues were related to the PS3...you didn't mention that you had one.


i just got a 254...no complaints/bugs thus far. awesome GUI, great connectivity (has pre-outs), and tons of clean power and that great H/K sound. highly recommended.
 

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The Village Idiot
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+1


The 254 is the best deal going right now for an AVR. It has the preamp outs you are looking for and has good HDMI switching with 3 inputs. Offer Harman Audio $220 and they will ship you one - free shipping - how can you beat that?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Knucklehead, thx for chiming in. I was hoping you would post as I have read many of yours, and you make a lot of sense. I did go to ebay site and looked it over some. I have never used ebay and am leary of them, but who knows?


What is your thought comparing the 254 with the 354? It can be had from there for under $500. I have seen it new for about $550 or so (authorized dealers). But I don't know how much longer that price will hold? I don't mind paying a little bit more for a better avr. I've only had one and that is my current Yammy (RXV 630), so I have really no experience comparing receivers. I have a decent set of tower main speakers that sound really good to my ear (and my wifes--her opinion counts more than mine
). They are about 3 years old now--made by a private company in Phx, Az, although they have since stopped making their own speakers now. I also have a very good center DIY channel that I built earlier this year (CJD's from htguide rs150's), And a couple of B&W 303's for surrounds (my first set of speakers).


I've always gone "cheap" on what I buy and later usually wish I had spent that extra little bit. I don't won't to spend extra money if I don't have to. But this time, if the 354 is that much better, I will spend the extra not have that regret.


Do you know of any bugs with the 354? Most of what I have read pertains to the 254 and that's making me balk just a little.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by gimpy /forum/post/16853858


Do you know of any bugs with the 354? Most of what I have read pertains to the 254 and that's making me balk just a little.

It appears that they are built on the same platform/architecture, so any bugs with the 254 will probably be true for the 354. as i said before, the 354 only adds a bit more power and the ipod bridge, for more than double the price of the 254. not a wise choice, IMO.


the vast majority of the bugs have been ironed out with several firmware revisions. if you're not using a PS3, or DVI ---> HDMI connections, your chances of problems are evene lower.
 

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The Village Idiot
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gimpy /forum/post/16853858


Knucklehead, thx for chiming in. I was hoping you would post as I have read many of yours, and you make a lot of sense. I did go to ebay site and looked it over some. I have never used ebay and am leary of them, but who knows?


What is your thought comparing the 254 with the 354? It can be had from there for under $500. I have seen it new for about $550 or so (authorized dealers). But I don't know how much longer that price will hold? I don't mind paying a little bit more for a better avr. I've only had one and that is my current Yammy (RXV 630), so I have really no experience comparing receivers. I have a decent set of tower main speakers that sound really good to my ear (and my wifes--her opinion counts more than mine
). They are about 3 years old now--made by a private company in Phx, Az, although they have since stopped making their own speakers now. I also have a very good center DIY channel that I built earlier this year (CJD's from htguide rs150's), And a couple of B&W 303's for surrounds (my first set of speakers).


I've always gone "cheap" on what I buy and later usually wish I had spent that extra little bit. I don't won't to spend extra money if I don't have to. But this time, if the 354 is that much better, I will spend the extra not have that regret.


Do you know of any bugs with the 354? Most of what I have read pertains to the 254 and that's making me balk just a little.

Thanks for the compliment - I appreciate that.


Every line of new AVRs have some bugs - some worse than others. The 254/354 aren't new - having been out for a couple of years now so the bugs are pretty well worked out except for some still having PS3 problems - but I suspect the reports of problems now are due to not having the latest firmware.


As for the differences between the 254 and the 354 - the 354 has more power - but I wouldn't buy the 354 just because of that. Either receiver should be able to push 8 ohm speakers just fine. Spending more money for more power should only be required if you have difficult (read 4 ohm speakers) to drive speakers. Most people don't. I'm not aware of any differences other than the power that would make the 354 so much more valuable.


As for buying from an ebay store such as Harman Kardon - don't worry about that. They have a fantastic feedback rating of 99.5% with a few hundred thousand transactions. I've personally bought around 20 items from them for myself and family members that aren't ebay members and have never had a problem. I did get one bad subwoofer - they promptly sent me a paid for shipping label to send the sub back - then when they had no more of them in stock (refurbished) they sent me a brand new sub! I call that great customer service. I would never hesitate to buy from them should I need to. All of the receivers HK sells on ebay have the latest firmware - from reports of buyers. I currently have a 247 bought from HK ebay and it has the latest firmware. Works great in my bedroom.


As for other ebay sellers - with experience - and I've been buying and selling there for over 11 years now - you get the feel for who is honest and who isn't. With over 240 transactions there I've yet to be burned on an item. I've had 2 auctions that gave me some problems but even those were ironed out to both party's satisfaction. So don't let ebay intimidate you - just be careful - if it sounds too good to be true - well it probably is. Just because its on ebay doesn't mean it isn't some sort of scam.


EDIT:

The biggest difference I know between the two other than amp section - which you won't notice unless you really crank it up is the 354 comes with the IPOD Bridge. That and a little more power will cost you a few hundred - not earth shattering differences unless you have an IPOD.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
OK, thx for all the good replies. I did make a last minute, spur of the moment decision. I decided to not go the e-bay route and buy refurb, mostly to set my wife's mind at ease. I've read enough on these forums to know that with certain manufacturers/dealers you will be treated fairly. Certainly, HK is one of these that I would not have the least bit of hesitation on buying a refurb from. Good customer support, especially via the internet, is very important to me.


So, I decided to go through an authorized non-ebay dealer. And after reading your comments/suggestions, I did decide to go with an HK. I was on the phone talking to the salesman ready to order the 254, when I changed my mind and went with the 354. My reasoning was, what the heck, I always go for the cheapest option, but in this case, I decided not to (my wife doesn't know the difference between the two, anyway
). I know there is not a whole lot of difference in the two, spec wise, etc. and very probably not worth the extra cost, but I did not want to start saying down the road that I wished I had gotten the 354. So, as on old co-worker/boss/friend used to/still does say, "I spit on money, ptui"
. I still stayed within the LOML of 34 wonderful years money-spent requirement.
.


I had almost changed my mind about the HK in favor of the Denon 1910, but thanks to you Knucklehead and G-star, I didn't. Hopefully, I should receive this next Monday or Tuesday (hasn't shipped, yet).


Again, thx for taking the time to reply to my one-of-many which avr to buy threads.
 

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The Village Idiot
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Make sure to come back and give us your impressions of the 354. I think you will like it. They sound great and have plenty of power.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ok, I received the 354 on Tuesday and hooked it up Thursday night. Took me and my son about 2-3 hours to disconnect the old and reconnect the new. Had it done by 10 pm. The only real trouble I had was that when I initially plugged in the power cord into the back, I either left it about a quarter inch too short or it worked loose just a bit, because I had no power to it until I rechecked the cord. Unfortunately, my unit sits in an enclosed-on-5 sides (open to the front) unit and that makes it hard to get to the back of the avr.


After my son, rechecking with me to make sure I had everything connected up and reassuring him that I did, we turned it on again. The avr, tv, satelite dish and both dvd players all came on. Everything worked fine except I got no tv picture/sound. Even after reasuring my son a third time that everything was hooked up right (I thought something was wrong with the avr), I found that I did "not" plug in the hdmi cable coming out of the sat dish
. So, once my son personally plugged it in, everything worked just fine.


I have now listened/watched it for a couple of days and am enjoying it very much. This morning I did the ezset eq set up. The only thing is that when I went into the manual setup to just check the settings, it had my sub turned off. I'm not sure why or if it is supposed to be off (I did turn it on to L/R+lfe). Do you know why it had it off? Should I have left it off?


Even though "May 2009" is on the back of it, it has only the 93.1.1 firmware in it. I don't know why it doesn't have at least the 95 update in it if it was built in May. I have noticed that on a couple of times when I have gone from dvd to the cable/sat setup, that the picture is pink and I get no sound. To fix that, I click on the "guide" button on the sat. receiver and everything goes to normal. I haven't decided to do any updates, yet, being as the serial plug in is in the back and it would be very difficult to get to (don't really want to move it/pull it out) if I don't have to. Also, my computer is on the other side of the house, so I don't know how I could do it. I will leave it alone for now.


The picture quality is very good, I think. There are some times when the picture does get just a little fuzzy, when viewing tv, but I am assuming that it is not an hd signal. Other than that, no problems with the picture at all that I can tell. The sound is very good. I don't know/hear well enough to be able to distinguish large changes compared to my old Yamaha, but I think that there are subtle changes that I detect, but not describe?


Man, I really got to rambling, sorry. But, I do like the unit, and, unless something happens, I do plan on keeping it. It's working well. It does get hotter than the Yamaha, but can't do anything about that unless I get another entertainment center (ain't going to happen). It has about 2-3 inches of clear space on top where all the vents are and 1-2 inches on the sides with an open front.


Thx from a very happy HK 354 owner.
 

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The Village Idiot
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Glad to hear you're liking the HK. A lot of people overlook them based on what they read in the 254/354 threads and the problems owners are having. But read any owners' threads and you'll run into the same things.


You might want to set your video mode to bypass and let your display do the upscaling for you. They do a better job in most cases than the AVR does - and it may help keep the heat down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I will check out the video bypass, although I'm very happy with the picture as it now is. But the heat is a concern. Can I ask you one more question? I have a sony BDP S350 bluray dvd player. I cannot get the avr to show truehd on its readout. It shows "dolby 7 movie" for surround. Just for a second, the readout will say pcm 48 kHz and then go to the dolby 7 movie. I think I have the bluray set up properly but will double check it (I have everything set to "direct" which is supposed to be bitstream I think?).


Is it putting out the truehd stream or not do you think?


Thx,
 
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