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Cleetus

Terrible music performance from HK AVR 355?

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Seriously dissappointed with the music being produced from a newly acquired HK AVR355.

I'm running what i thought was a fairly accomplished list of equipment with this unit,

  • Paradigm Monitor 11's V.5
  • Emotiva XPA-2 power amp
  • Marantz CDP

After upgrading my amp from an old two channel HK3270 RDS that had served me well for the best part of ten years, i thought it time to step into the 21st century and enjoy all the spoils of the digital age...i needed an amp that was capable of satisfying my music needs but also able to produce 5.1 movie action with some degree of competence.

Picked up a store soiled 355 for $900 and walked away pleased that i had made the right choice after reading many forums and reviews that all praised the musicality of this amp. Power was not an issue as this is more than taken care of by the XPA-2.

As soon as i hooked this thing up i was shattered at how horrible it sounded when playing music, regardless of the mode chosen, or the source it was fed. Movies are a whole other ball game and i can't praise it's abilities highly enough for this purpose, no issues there.

The sound is harsh as hell when playing any sort of distorted guitar or loud vocals, simple elctronic stuff is ok, as is classical but again as soon as you push it the sound is shouty and painful :P

Any assistance that can be offered would be much appreciated, i want my music back.

Cheers

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found the same thing with my old Yammy 661, very thin harsh sound. Got the Denon and no problems. I would have put it down to power but you've got the Emotiva doing more than enough

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Leave it powered on for a couple of weeks to let the caps "form" properly before consigning it to the dumpster.

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Admitting i blew $900 bucks on a rubbish amp is out of the question...i'll leave it powered up for a few weeks and report back.

Fingers crossed, cheers for the replies

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This makes interesting reading. I have had my 355 for over a year now. I bought it at the same time as a new 5.1 speaker package and therefore have not tried it on any other speakers. I also run a seperate 2 ch power amp for front mains. Adding the 200 WPC Luxman didn't significantly alter the sound quality, but sure did give it some more clout and headroom.

I was about to buy the Denon 3809 when the sales guy showed me the HK 355. Foolishly without doing any new research I walked out the store with the 355. As soon as I got home I researched the 355 and was horrified by the numerous reports of bugs / glitches particularly regarding loud pops and HDMI hand shake issues. These problems are meant to be sorted out with new firmware but as yet I haven't done the upgrade. The HDMI issue is not too bad but the pops are quite annoying. Sorry, getting a bit off topic here.

Like you I have noticed that distorted guitar sounds harsh and for some reason I put that down to my speakers. Maybe it's time for an Emotiva UMC-1 !!!!!! Something I have been considering for a while.

The only assistance I can offer if you haven't done already is

1. Turn off your tone control in the audio effects menu. This has a significant effect on analogue sources and to a lesser extent digital/HDMI.

2. Turn off Eziset EQ. After having about 4 goes at this I gave up. About the only thing it seems to get right in my system is the speaker distances.

3. Turn off night mode in audio effects menu. I'm sure you've already done this as any more compression can't be a good thing.

It is a shame, IMHO it is one of if not the sexiest looking AVR's around and like you say movies sound fantastic. I like watching concert DVD's too and find that they sound awesome through my set up.

Perhaps I'm less fussy or my components match better or something else, but on the whole I'm a happy camper. You got me thinking now though, how much better can it be with the Emotiva UMC-1?

I would like to know what firmware you are running and if you are experiencing the dreaded pops when changing / interupting digital streams. I forget how to check the firmware version but will post soon as I can

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Paradigm Monitor 11's are beaut sounding, were on my short list. I havent even been a fan of HK, to bright for my tastes. While i was auditioning gear, i found that yamaha and paradigm are a great match, still a little on the harsh side for music. But marantz sr6004 sound great the monitor 11's in store, with marantz cdp.

Maybe you can get a refund or stored credit.

Edited by metalheadz

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Are u using the Digital-In or Analogue ?

Also make sure sub is 'off' and speakers are set to Large.

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I'd be talking to the shop right away about their refund/exchange policy. You don't want to hold onto it too long if you aren't happy.

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Hmmm thats weird. I have the 255 running into some B&W 602s and am quite happy with the sound. Its not my main music listening rig, but I certainty havnt noticed any harshness. My big gripe with it is how fiddly it is to change input sources. Not able to just turn a knob, you have to click up and down through a menu and then click ok. Bit redundant really. The looks and reviews played a fair part in the purchase.

Hope you get it sorted.

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Hmmm thats weird. I have the 255 running into some B&W 602s and am quite happy with the sound. Its not my main music listening rig, but I certainty havnt noticed any harshness. My big gripe with it is how fiddly it is to change input sources. Not able to just turn a knob, you have to click up and down through a menu and then click ok. Bit redundant really. The looks and reviews played a fair part in the purchase.

Hope you get it sorted.

Huh. Do you not use the remote to change sources? Simple 1 click of the remote does it for me. I'm pretty sure the 255 remote is similar to the 355. Having said that, the remote's performance leaves a bit to be desired. Mine pretty much has to be pointing directly at the reciever to work. Even changing to fresh energizers did didly squat.

Love to hear what firmware version you guys are running and if you have any of the annoying pop sounds. Has any one updated their firmware? Seems to be a bit fussy regarding computers and cables. I've read dozens of pages people having probs updating which has put me off. That and I don't have a serial port on my PC.

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Huh. Do you not use the remote to change sources? Simple 1 click of the remote does it for me. I'm pretty sure the 255 remote is similar to the 355. Having said that, the remote's performance leaves a bit to be desired. Mine pretty much has to be pointing directly at the reciever to work. Even changing to fresh energizers did didly squat.

Love to hear what firmware version you guys are running and if you have any of the annoying pop sounds. Has any one updated their firmware? Seems to be a bit fussy regarding computers and cables. I've read dozens of pages people having probs updating which has put me off. That and I don't have a serial port on my PC.

Yeah I use the remote, but this is for those times when I'm at the unit, the remote is off somewhere where the kids have put it, and I just want to change inputs.

I'm not sure of my firmware. I'll see if I can find out what version.

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Ok so time for an an update, the 355 has been returned to the store to have an annoying hiss (heard throught the speakers) rectified, this was noticible prior to adding the power amp. Not too much of an issue then but after adding the power amp, completely unnacceptable. No issue returning it.

I relayed my concerns regarding poor music quality and was slightly annoyed to be told what i should have purchased was an amp with audio pass thru...ok...thanks guys...this advice would have been handy eight weeks ago when i bought it. But anyway.

I'll give it some more time to prove itself once it's returned after the advice i've had here.

No popping sound that i've notice when changing sources but i've been so distracted by the music quality i may have overlooked it. No idea what firmware it's running either but would imagine it's up to date given it's a recent purchase.

Had a pretty similar experience with the ezset eq, not at all pleasing to my untrained ears. But yes, does a great job of telling me how far away the speakers are...genius!

Mike75, have used both inputs with a similar result, i immediately thought the digital input was to blame, but it wasn't.

The 10 year old HK is back doing what it does best, i can't help but think it may be laughing at me for trying to replace it. It will soon be shelved again tho as i try to get along with the 355 after it's returned. I'll double check the settings when i get it back as advised by 68PREMIERE. I'll update when it's returned.

Cheers again for the advice and input, much appreciated

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Thanks for the update cleetus and good on you for being so patient. I certainly find the world of AV a lot more complicated than 2 channel - especially when i hear things like you should have gotten an amp with audio pass through!

Good luck with it all.

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Ok, to check firmware version. Press 1-2-3-0-OK firmware version will be displayed on front panel.

Mine is 0.95.1.1 quite old I believe.

Went to HK site and there doesn't seem to be any available. This is nothing out of the ordinary I have found grrrrrr. I guess it can mean they are close to bringing out another one or they won't be supporting it any more.

The latest version I have on my PC is 0.98.3.1 If anyone wants it I can probably email it.

Like I said I will get around to doing this. Probably means taking it to work one night as I think we have a PC with serial port and serial cables there. USB to serial converters seem to be very hit and miss with reports of some units being bricked so I will do the serial to serial method I think.

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One other thing to check, pretty obvious but sometimes it's the obvious ones that get overlooked. I vaguely recall when first setting mine up I only had fronts for the first few days and there was a distinct lack of bass. Bit of fumbling around in the menu's and found Sub was set to sub even though none was connected at the time. Turned mains to large and sub off made a world of difference lol.

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Hey again guys, sorry for the delayed update but things happen slowly in Klapp land. Finally got the reciever back (after a month) and as soon as i hooked it up i noticed the same noise coming from the front two channels as before it was sent away. Not happy...to say the least. Got in touch with the store immediately and was palmed off to the repairer.

He mentioned that they too had heard the hiss and had updated the firmware from V.3 to V.8 and sent it on it's way believing this would rectify the problem. They now believe the problem is in the circuit board and have offered to replace that as soon as one becomes available, none in Oz at the mo. My frustration was soon difused by the repairer who was only too happy to work through the problem and suggested bypassing the store for a more hasty turn around.

The miracle of this is that despite the ongoing 'hiss' issue the amp has never sounded better, something good had come of it's visit to the repairer. I also mentioned this to the repairer and he concurred this was a common report after firmware upgrades on this unit

I'm not going to say i've achieved audio nirvana with this setup just yet but we're getting somewhere and this amp has recovered a lot of lost ground.

Auto EQ remians a complete waste of time and is causing some headaches balancing the monitor 11's powered by the XPA-2 and other channels running off the reviever is not really working out. Turning it off and placing the rear speakers about 200mm from my head is helping but it's clearly not ideal.

Appologies for the long post, will update after the heart transplant

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That's great news Cleetus, well regarding the improved sound quality bit anyway. Shame the hiss is still there. Did they not think to test after the f/ware update????? I now have renewed enthusiasm to update mine. Can't beet a free improvement.

I can understand your issues with balancing your speaker levels with a large difference in power between channels. I have a 200 WPC power amp for front main duties. From memory my levels are

Main = -4 (sometimes when having a good 2 ch only blast I wind this up to zero)

Centre = +4 (centre speaker position is poor for the time being, speaker may be inefficient or both)

Rears = -2

Sub = 0 ( I do fine tune this from time to time depending on source, movie etc) There is also a sub trim function in another menu, can't recall where that is set right now.

These values were done with the aid of a elcheapo SPL meter and further 68 premier ears fine tuning.

I was playing around with the AVR the other day switching between Logic7 and Dolby PL II and thought there is a significant difference between the two. The Dolby setting sounded harshest while the Logic7 sounded quite dull. I couldn't help but think that somewhere inbetween would be nicer. Then the conspiracy theorist inside me thought what if HK have artificially brightened up anything but their own Logic7 setting in an attempt to make it more acceptable. Surely not ?

Hope you get the hiss problem sorted pronto.

I will post my findings regarding improved SQ after doing the f/ware update. Fingers crossed.

Edited by 68premier

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I had the 255 for a while, it was paired with elektra t7 and tannoy s8's. I was pleased with the SQ compared to price.

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Auto EQ remians a complete waste of time and is causing some headaches balancing the monitor 11's powered by the XPA-2 and other channels running off the reviever is not really working out. Turning it off and placing the rear speakers about 200mm from my head is helping but it's clearly not ideal.

Try and get hold of an SPL meter and use it to balance your volumes. You can ask around to borrow one for an afternoon, else you can get pretty cheap ones from DSE / Jaycar .

A SPL meter and a tape measure (for working out the distance to the speaker which is used to set the delays) gets you a fair way down the optimizing path.

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Cleetus, can you confirm what firmware you have installed? I'm a bit confused at the V.8. The latest version I have on my PC is 0.98.3.1 To check firmware version. Press 1-2-3-0-OK firmware version will be displayed on front panel.

Last time I looked at the HK site there was no firmware at all!!!!!! Hope I can get the latest version without having to take it to a repairer

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OK, so for anyone that might still be interested in where this story ended up i can report that after being returned to Klapp Dandenong three times i have made no progress whatsoever. As mentioned in earlier posts the SQ was vastly improved after the firmware was upgraded but the annoying hiss could not be rectified.

The amp has now spent more time getting repaired than at my house and it would be fair to say that the novelty has well and truly worn off.

At this point my getting dicked around threshold has been exceeded and i have accepted that Klapp are never going to offer me anything besides visits to repairers. I would hate to think what this has cost HK and it has achieved nothing.

My final rant will be an email to HK, i'm quite sure it will get me nowhere but it might make me feel better about wasting a bucket load of money on an AVR i can't use.

It's a crying shame because when the amp is at a volume that drowns out the hiss it sounds fantastic but gaps in audio output or low listening levels reveal the hiss that is impossible to ignore.

The 355 will go on the market as soon as i can afford to replace it, hopefully to someone who is satisfied with internal amp power only...hiss is much less intrusive in this configuration.

I'm not even angry, just dissapointed....and poorer!

Edited by Cleetus

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Cleetus given that you are going to drop money selling it (don't know how much) another option would be to keep it for HT use only and buy a 2 channel amp with HT bypass for music.

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Pffft forget that for a joke....

Demand a full refund and walk away

Don't be scared to mention your rights and the accc.

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Isn't this amazing? Almost 6 months down the track and the problem hasn't been rectified. There is a thread elsewhere with comments about the dying hi-fi industry. This thread only goes to highlight why buying from a shop (specifically this dealer) does little for customer confidence or satisfaction. Considering that Cleetus' AVR has spent more time in the repair shop, buying from the dealer has afforded him no benefits over buying on-line from an ebay discounter.

If dealers are going to survive they need to offer their customers a better deal (in this case better after sales service) over that offered by an on-line discounter.

Cheers,

Alan R.

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