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Harman Kardon - upgrade or not?


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#1 OFFLINE   lparsons21

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 10:00 AM

I'm in the mood to start considering an upgrade from my Harman Kardon AVR 247. Here's how it all started:

I've complained about the SD on DirecTV for quite some time. But this last week I was fiddling with tech and my AV rack just because I could, and found a combination that makes the SD enjoyable if not quite as good as HD.

I've been using a Sony DN1000 AVR for a couple years or so, but I had a Harman Kardon AVR247 in a closet because I couldn't get a decent price for it when I tried to sell it. So I thought, what the hell... It's time for a switch up. Swapped out the Sony and put the Harman Kardon back in place. Used an HDMI switcher 'cause the HK has only 2 HDMI ports. That worked fine, but I started playing source resolutions. And what I found was that setting both HRs to 720p and Native Off produced a better picture than 1080i does. I figure that's cause the HK has a Farouda video processor in there for massaging the video. And it only goes up to 720p, in case of 1080i/p, the HK just bypasses.

Then I got to thinking, why the heck keep that HDMI switcher in there? It just clutters up the setup, and adds one more thing to glitch, and since I'm not using 1080i, I can use component video out instead with digital audio. Made that switch, put the BluRay and AppleTV (V2) into the two HDMI plugs and all is slick and clean again.

So today I started fiddling around and checked out a couple of SD channels and recordings I had made but didn't watch 'cause they sucked so bad, and found that with the setup the way it is, the SD is very good. No, it doesn't make me want to watch only SD, but it is enjoyable for some shows that just aren't in HD on Direct.

So now I'm wondering if I should consider the upgrade from a video point of view. I'm perfectly happy with the audio on my Harman Kardon, and frankly if I upgrade it will be with another HK unit as nothing in the price range matches that sweet HK SQ imo.

I'm looking at the AVR 2600, which is a model year older than the latest, but it appears to have all I would want, and the price is certainly much better than the newest by a far shot.

The 2600 upscales and massages from practically anything to 1080p and my big question is does it do it better than I'm seeing with the 720p the AVR247 is limited to for upscaling/massaging video?

And please, don't recommend other brands of AVR as it really isn't a part of the consideration.

Lloyd
Receiver : DirecTV Genie HR44-700, Dish Hopper w/Sling & Super Joey
HDTV : Mitsi WD-73742 73" 3D DLP
Surround: Denon AVR-2113ci 7.1 Setup

 


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#2 OFFLINE   lparsons21

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 08:48 AM

At the risk of talking to myself...

I have been researching a new AVR and decided that I should broaden my scope and include other brands. Threw out a few brands as I don't like the SQ they produce compared to the HK. That left Denon, Pioneer and Sherwood-Newcastle in the mix.

Boy what an eye-opener this all was. Yeah, all the newest had nifty features like Airplay and such, and most had network connections so you can upgrade the firmware via the internet. But reading specs showed that this years crop was a bunch of marketing speak for 'upgrades' that really weren't in many respects.

Most of the Denons and Pioneer gear that was a yearly increment showed that this years crop was less than last years crop in many respects. For instance, the Pioneer 1120-k had THX2 certification but this years 1121-k doesn't and you have to go pretty far up the food chain to find a model with it. Not picking on Pioneer, with Denon the same kinds of things are really evident. Basically the better units were last years and prior units but finding them new is not an easy task.

And power ratings! I guess the nice way to describe it is 'optimistic'! :)

When you look at the power supplies, you know that they aren't going to push out anywhere near what they claim. I saw one with I believe a 90w/channel rating, yet the power supply was less than 300w! Even at the best design with an 85% efficient power supply, that means even if all that power got to the power amp and it was 100% efficient, the best they could do would be around 37w/channel all channels driven. Maybe 'optimistic' isn't really the right word!

Even HK has fallen victim to the economics of the AVR consumer market. Smaller power supplies and they don't rate their new gear as all channels driven, which was always the case in the past.

Bottom line is that I would gain little going to a newer box unless I want to climb pretty high in the food chain, with the corresponding much higher price.

This is very disappointing.

Lloyd
Receiver : DirecTV Genie HR44-700, Dish Hopper w/Sling & Super Joey
HDTV : Mitsi WD-73742 73" 3D DLP
Surround: Denon AVR-2113ci 7.1 Setup

 


#3 OFFLINE   wilbur_the_goose

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 12:40 PM

Denon AVR-4311 is your friend. Best I've ever owned.


Wait till you hear what Audyssey XT32 can do. You won't need all that power.

I used to have a Denon AVR-5803A. Lots more power but the 4311 sounds a helluva lot better.

DirecTV customer since 1996


#4 OFFLINE   Cholly

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 01:08 PM

When you look at the power supplies, you know that they aren't going to push out anywhere near what they claim. I saw one with I believe a 90w/channel rating, yet the power supply was less than 300w! Even at the best design with an 85% efficient power supply, that means even if all that power got to the power amp and it was 100% efficient, the best they could do would be around 37w/channel all channels driven. Maybe 'optimistic' isn't really the right word!


Generally speaking, that 90 watts/channel figure means that each channel is capable on its own of providing 90 watts. Unless you see something that says, 90 watts/channel, all channels driven" they are only talking about the max power each channel is capable of providing. :bang

Charlie
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Family Room: Sony KDFE-55A20 55" LCD RPTV; Yamaha RX-V663 AVR. Paradigm speakers - Focus fronts, CC170 center, PDR-8 subwoofer, Atom surrounds, ADP rear center; TiVoRoamio Plus, LG BH200 HD DVD/Blu-ray player via HDMI to AVR
Bedroom: Vizio 42" 3D TV, Pioneer VSX-521-K AVR, Panasonic 3D DVD player, Energy Take Classic 5.1 speakers, Roku 2 XD, TiVo Premiere, Insignia HD radio tuner, Toshiba HD DVD player


#5 OFFLINE   Davenlr

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 01:24 PM

So now I'm wondering if I should consider the upgrade from a video point of view. I'm perfectly happy with the audio on my Harman Kardon, and frankly if I upgrade it will be with another HK unit as nothing in the price range matches that sweet HK SQ imo.


DVDO Edge or iSCAN....

Tivo Premier XL4, Tivo Premier, Tivo HD whole home on Xfinity HD, DirecTv Whole Home with 39" high gain KaKu dish, Roku3,SageTv 8 TB Win8 Server -> DVDO Edge-> Denon AVR, Klipsch KB15's/Panasonic 55ST60 plasma"


#6 OFFLINE   lparsons21

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 01:28 PM

Denon AVR-4311 is your friend. Best I've ever owned.


Wait till you hear what Audyssey XT32 can do. You won't need all that power.

I used to have a Denon AVR-5803A. Lots more power but the 4311 sounds a helluva lot better.


I've heard very good things about that model Denon and Audyssey XT32, but realistically at $1250 for even a refurb it isn't likely to happen for me. I do appreciate the suggestion though.

As to the actual power needed, well my current amp is rated at 50w/channel all 7 channels driven and I seldom raise the volume over -20db. My comments about the power ratings on these current models is more about the fiction they are spreading.

Lloyd
Receiver : DirecTV Genie HR44-700, Dish Hopper w/Sling & Super Joey
HDTV : Mitsi WD-73742 73" 3D DLP
Surround: Denon AVR-2113ci 7.1 Setup

 


#7 OFFLINE   lparsons21

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 01:29 PM

Generally speaking, that 90 watts/channel figure means that each channel is capable on its own of providing 90 watts. Unless you see something that says, 90 watts/channel, all channels driven" they are only talking about the max power each channel is capable of providing. :bang


Yeah I know that, and since the power ratings are as much fiction as fact, I've learned to expect it. I guess since HK used to rate theirs as all channels driven, I got spoiled.

Lloyd
Receiver : DirecTV Genie HR44-700, Dish Hopper w/Sling & Super Joey
HDTV : Mitsi WD-73742 73" 3D DLP
Surround: Denon AVR-2113ci 7.1 Setup

 


#8 OFFLINE   wilbur_the_goose

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 01:36 PM

Personally I think. HP hasn't kept up with the times.


Ps. The 4311 can be had for less. I paid a lot less than the price you quoted. Just be patient and look for sales. (Egghead.com has sales,from time to time)

DirecTV customer since 1996


#9 OFFLINE   lparsons21

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 01:38 PM

DVDO Edge or iSCAN....


Thanks for those recommendations. I need to do some reading and research.

Lloyd
Receiver : DirecTV Genie HR44-700, Dish Hopper w/Sling & Super Joey
HDTV : Mitsi WD-73742 73" 3D DLP
Surround: Denon AVR-2113ci 7.1 Setup

 


#10 OFFLINE   lparsons21

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 01:43 PM

Personally I think. HP hasn't kept up with the times.


I think you mean HK????

In some ways that is very true. Like the various networking things most have been throwing in their boxes recently. But for me, between my BluRay player and AppleTV, none of those things are of much importance at all.

But when it comes to SQ in the midrange AVRs, HK holds its own quite well imo.

If/when I finally upgrade it will be for SQ and PQ with upscaling because all my useage is centered around the TV. I don't play music only on that system, or at least very seldom. So performance with the various video streams, satellite, and BluRay is very high on the list. While 'musicality' isn't.

Lloyd
Receiver : DirecTV Genie HR44-700, Dish Hopper w/Sling & Super Joey
HDTV : Mitsi WD-73742 73" 3D DLP
Surround: Denon AVR-2113ci 7.1 Setup

 


#11 OFFLINE   lparsons21

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 01:45 PM

Personally I think. HP hasn't kept up with the times.


Ps. The 4311 can be had for less. I paid a lot less than the price you quoted. Just be patient and look for sales. (Egghead.com has sales,from time to time)


I'll keep my eye peeled. Right now I'm thinking strongly of the Sherwood-Newcastle R-972. The biggest holdback is that it seems when you get a good one, they are great, but when you get one not so good it is all downhill in a hurry.

Lloyd
Receiver : DirecTV Genie HR44-700, Dish Hopper w/Sling & Super Joey
HDTV : Mitsi WD-73742 73" 3D DLP
Surround: Denon AVR-2113ci 7.1 Setup

 


#12 OFFLINE   John Williams

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 11:39 AM

Let me warn you. I have installed a few Sherwood Newcastle's. The ones made in the last few years are Junk! Capitol J there. Not the same as they were many years ago.

I also will recommend using a DVDO for your video scaling, if you really need it. The scaler built into most AVR's are no better than what's in the TVs. So you usually are not doing yourself any favors. The only exception to this, are the highend AVR's that have high quality scalers (and market the brand name of the scaler chip extensively). But you pay for that as well.
The other problem is: even with the highend models, sometimes the internal scaler isn't done right and causes issues. If it's an important feature to you, wait for many reviews on a model to come out, to make sure there are no issues. Or just get the DVDO if scaling is that important in your system.
Interesting note, since you mentioned THX. THX certified AVRs have a bypass mode for the scalers in them. This is the recommended setting by THX. It has been this way for years, unless THX has changed it recently.

Caution also on the price. Yeah you can get most anything for dealer cost off the internet these days but all AVR's seem to have quarks with them these days as well. If you don't buy from an authorized dealer, you maybe setting yourself up for a heartbreak. (I'm biased as I'm a dealer of course - but the warning is still legitimate).

#13 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 12:18 PM

For less money than similarly appointed HK or Denon gear, Onkyo offers some pretty comprehensive AVRs.

I've gone through a couple of midline HK AVRs in the last ten years and neither of them drives speakers anymore. I use other gear from Harman International (AKG mics and JBL speakers) and have found them to be much more robust than their AVRs.

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. -- JFK


#14 OFFLINE   lparsons21

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 12:19 PM

Thanks John. Good info.

I didn't know that about THX specs as I never think about THX for the video for some reason. In fact, I thought it was all about the audio. Good to know there is more to it than that.

The only thing I really would like for video scaling is for the SD from Direct or Dish as the HD from both is fine with me, even the 720p. My HK247 does a reasonably good job of upscaling the massaging that with its Faroudja Cinema up to 720p. On this model it doesn't massage past 720p.

The audio from my current HK is great. I think my research and discussion are more about new bug-itis than anything else. Yeah the HDMI burps now and then, but reading in many spots tells me that is true of even the best and newest equipment to some degree, and I would like the SD upped to 1080p.

And yeah, I know about the non-authorized dealers issue. For instance, no one can sell you a new Elite series Pioneer online as they are don't authorize that for anyone and then you have no warranty. But if the price from a non-authorized dealer is low enough that buying a 3rd party warranty, it lessens the risk.

in the case of the Sherwood R-972, it is from an authorized dealer, so would have the 3-year warranty. But it is good to get opinions about them from many sources. I appreciate yours.

Now I just have to decide how much is wanting worth? :)

Lloyd
Receiver : DirecTV Genie HR44-700, Dish Hopper w/Sling & Super Joey
HDTV : Mitsi WD-73742 73" 3D DLP
Surround: Denon AVR-2113ci 7.1 Setup

 


#15 OFFLINE   lparsons21

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 12:21 PM

For less money than similarly appointed HK or Denon gear, Onkyo offers some pretty comprehensive AVRs.

I've gone through a couple of midline HK AVRs in the last ten years and neither of them drives speakers anymore. I use other gear from Harman International (AKG mics and JBL speakers) and have found them to be much more robust than their AVRs.


Thanks for the suggestion. Onkyos just have way too many quality issues for me to want to deal with.

And we can agree to disagree about how well HK gear drives speakers. Sound quality and loudness are not even part of the reason I'm looking at new. My HK AVR247 will drive all my speakers and sub to well past volume levels that I will listen at, and will do it in fine fashion imo.

Lloyd
Receiver : DirecTV Genie HR44-700, Dish Hopper w/Sling & Super Joey
HDTV : Mitsi WD-73742 73" 3D DLP
Surround: Denon AVR-2113ci 7.1 Setup

 


#16 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 12:28 PM

My HK247 does a reasonably good job of upscaling the massaging that with its Faroudja Cinema up to 720p. On this model it doesn't massage past 720p.

Many of the mid and upper range AVRs from last year and this year support 4K.

The only stinker seems to be available input types on some of the units (S-VHS and component video as well as some of the digital audio ports) are disappearing from the lower-line AVRs.

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. -- JFK


#17 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 12:47 PM

And we can agree to disagree about how well HK gear drives speakers.

That my HK AVRs no longer produce sound (actually one has a mean 60Hz buzz) is not a matter of opinion. These are the only pieces of audio gear I've ever owned that failed electronically.

When they worked, they worked great. They just didn't last very long (the AVR510 lasted six days past the warranty) and when it was time to decide what to do with them, I found some new feature or input that they lacked and judged them not worth having repaired.

Reputation means bupkis as the marque's change manufacturing operations like most people change bedsheets. Sometimes they get better and other times, worse.

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. -- JFK


#18 OFFLINE   lparsons21

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 12:47 PM

Many of the mid and upper range AVRs from last year and this year support 4K.

The only stinker seems to be available input types on some of the units (S-VHS and component video as well as some of the digital audio ports) are disappearing from the lower-line AVRs.


I noticed the 4K on some units. But of what value is it really? You can't test to see if it even works today, and since the spec will take awhile to come to the consumer and pro-sumer markets, how much will things change? And no source material doesn't help the matter either. Not to mention no 4K displays yet, or affordable ones at any rate. I figure that right now, the 4K upscaling is all about marketing and nothing about practicality.

And yeah, the newest models at the lower and many midlines are lacking in connections. But they are offering a slew of HDMI connections to attract the average buyer. You now, TV, Sat, BluRay - all done via HDMI. I think that there are two reasons for that happening.

#1 - all about the Benjamins! People are being much more selective about how much and what they buy and the mfgs are trying to get more boxes in the price point that sells well.

#2 - at the lower end of the scale, how many audiophiles/videophiles are really shopping there? And the consumer gear is all HDMI these days, well that and USB which they have also added.

My HK AVR247 has a slew of all kinds of connections. (2) HDMI inputs, 7 channel analog ins and outs and many others. If I wanted to I could add a standalone power amp and feed it 7 channel audio just fine.

Or I could get a new AVR and use it as a preamp, IF it had 7 channel outputs.

More and more I'm finding that to get a really decent price and many features of the newer stuff, I might be better off getting a 1 or 2 model year older instead of the latest.

Lloyd
Receiver : DirecTV Genie HR44-700, Dish Hopper w/Sling & Super Joey
HDTV : Mitsi WD-73742 73" 3D DLP
Surround: Denon AVR-2113ci 7.1 Setup

 


#19 OFFLINE   lparsons21

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 12:50 PM

That my HK AVRs no longer produce sound (actually one has a mean 60Hz buzz) is not a matter of opinion. These are the only pieces of audio gear I've ever owned that failed electronically.

When they worked, they worked great. They just didn't last very long (the AVR510 lasted six days past the warranty) and when it was time to decide what to do with them, I found some new feature or input that they lacked and judged them not worth having repaired.

Reputation means bupkis as the marque's change manufacturing operations like most people change bedsheets. Sometimes they get better and other times, worse.


Ah, I missed that you had one with a problem. I thought you were unhappy with a working one. My bad.

In my case, my AVR247 is 5 years old and still working just fine, with only an occasional HDMI hiccup now and then to remind me of what a piss-poor interface HDMI really is.

With HK, these newest models are designed in China, which was not the case until these units. And it shows in the specs. HK today isn't HK of yesterday by far.

Lloyd
Receiver : DirecTV Genie HR44-700, Dish Hopper w/Sling & Super Joey
HDTV : Mitsi WD-73742 73" 3D DLP
Surround: Denon AVR-2113ci 7.1 Setup

 


#20 OFFLINE   TBoneit

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 01:06 PM

Most of the Denons and Pioneer gear that was a yearly increment showed that this years crop was less than last years crop in many respects. For instance, the Pioneer 1120-k had THX2 certification but this years 1121-k doesn't and you have to go pretty far up the food chain to find a model with it. Not picking on Pioneer, with Denon the same kinds of things are really evident. Basically the better units were last years and prior units but finding them new is not an easy task.

And power ratings! I guess the nice way to describe it is 'optimistic'! :)

When you look at the power supplies, you know that they aren't going to push out anywhere near what they claim. I saw one with I believe a 90w/channel rating, yet the power supply was less than 300w! Even at the best design with an 85% efficient power supply, that means even if all that power got to the power amp and it was 100% efficient, the best they could do would be around 37w/channel all channels driven. Maybe 'optimistic' isn't really the right word!

Even HK has fallen victim to the economics of the AVR consumer market. Smaller power supplies and they don't rate their new gear as all channels driven, which was always the case in the past.

Bottom line is that I would gain little going to a newer box unless I want to climb pretty high in the food chain, with the corresponding much higher price.

This is very disappointing.


What you describe is exactly the same as I see when I go to the grocery store. Packages that look at first glance to be the same size but reading the label reveals less content. It looks like the AVR makers have noticed the same thing and decided to emulate it in their new models.
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