DIY Sites Rock! Don’t Buy ONKYO Electronics!

I just have to say that I do try to fix things on my own by replacing circuit boards and certainly try to do home improvements on my own and very much appreciate those DIY sites out there.

Onkyo AV Receivers Plagued by HDMI Board Failures

Granted 2 years ago when I purchased my Onkyo SR-606 7.1 HDMI Switching AV Receiver for my TV room from Circuit City, there was no warning label such as my statement above on the box to stop me from purchasing it.  Surly such as label would stop most people from purchasing the product.  I thought that Onkyo was a good brand based on the fact that my Uncle is quite the audiophile and Pipe Organist / Tuner and recommended an Onkyo Receiver for my brother several years ago when he headed off to college.  After getting enough HDMI devices and a projector mounted in the rear of the room, it seemed logical to replace my Harman Kardon AVR-135 6.1 S-Video / Component Video (Which happened to be a great buy and state of the art supporting a single rear speaker over that of the 5.1 systems of the day) with something that could pass the Video through one cable to the projector since we all know that long good quality cables are pretty expensive.    My Harman Kardon receiver had a dead Coaxial Input, likely since day 1, that I did not discover until I needed to use it and certainly out of warranty so I did not even consider this brand again.  This is when I decided to look at Onkyo.

~ Two Years Later….

I started to see a delay with the loading of video through the HDMI.  I had moved a few times and chalked it up to being a poor antenna signal since once the picture came, there was no issues to report.  Watching Blu-Ray movies and my Apple TV I did not notice any issues.  I upgraded to the new small Apple TV and I noticed that quite often the video would drop.  I was not sure what to think.  I put my old Apple TV on the same connection and there was not a problem.  I blamed it on the Apple TV as I would think most people would considering another device on the same connection worked perfectly well and exchanged it for a new one at the local Apple Store.  I feel bad now because I got home and the same issues occurred.

$250 Upgrade to SR-608

I called up Onkyo and asked if there was a trade-up program since I was unable to locate my receipt since it may have still been under the 2 year warranty.  I received the paper work authorizing my unit for exchange for a  refurbished 608 model for just $250 which is quite a bit cheaper than Amazon.com (My gauge for low pricing) and had 60 days to send in my old unit.

I did some searching online and came across a nice DIY repair forum at AVSForums, which by the way is probably the most complete discussion of any Audio / Video product in existence.

HDMI Boards Hot, and Lack of Ventilation Causes Failure

I don’t keep any thing on top of the receiver and there is a good 6 inches of clearance before the top of the modern open glass media cabinet was reached so I would think I may have more ventilation than most out there.

I decided to check to see if other models have the same issue and I was not that shocked to see that even newer models were experiencing the same issues!  Onkyo had not fixed the issue!!!!  Even though Onkyo tossed in a fan to the SR-608, at that point I decided to buy another receiver.

Best Buy Open Box Denon AVR-791 $225

One terrible stormy night in DC when all employees got let out of work at 3 PM and most did not get home until the following morning, I decided to check out a few different receiver brands at the local Best Buy.  I was looking at a few models by Yamaha, Pioneer, Denon, and Sony.  I had heard good things about Denon, but they are mostly “ugly” and not really discounted.

To my surprise it seemed that Best Buy was getting rid of their Denon Receiver(s).  I only saw one left and it was an open box item listed at half of the retail price.  I did a quick check at Amazon.com and was shocked to see that Amazon had it listed at $499.00, a savings of $.99!  I immediately purchased it and a 4 year warranty.  I have always thought Denon made professional, high end equipment and happy to get such a good deal on one.

DIY Onkyo HDMI Board Soldering

So, after deciding not to exchange my Onkyo and paying $250 for a newer unit which would likely have the same HDMI issues, I decided to order a dozen capacitors, break out my virgin soldering iron kit and attempt to repair my receiver.  There was a lot of talk in the great AVSForum about repairs to the SR-606 and the most helpful was a bulletin posted by an individual that had a receipt from the repair shop for his under warranty Onkyo which detailed the work done.  He also posted the instructions from Oknyo on how to repair the board.  There was some discussion about replacement of the suspect capacitors with a different type, more tolerant of the very hot board and I sat down and started breaking off the old and installing the new capacitors.

It’s Fixed!

I had the most trouble with my Apple TV on the AUX assigned HDMI port on the receiver and while not using the projector to test which would have been ideal since I had the new Denon all connected, connected it to an LCD TV I had and am happy to report that I have not had any issues after about 2 hours of continuous use!  There was a recommendation to leave the cover off the unit to allow better cooling or at least installing a cooling fan to help with the circulation.

$80 Component Cooler or $10 Laptop Cooler?

I thought about a DIY solution and was not sure the best way to make it work.  Would I solder a PC fan to a connector in the receiver, mount it on top and plug a fan into the AC power….buy a specialized cooling device made with receivers in mind?  Basically it all came down to computer fans and it dawned on me…what are those laptop cooler things?   I have heard about them, but never considered one since I did not have any issues with my laptop overheating and really don’t use it for prolonged periods or for gaming which is where I hear the video processor get really warm.

I compared a few different solutions and opted for a laptop cooler which had one large 230 mm fan instead of models with many smaller fans.  No only does it move more air since it is larger, it can do so at a lower RPM which means less noise 🙂  This of course is important during those suspense scenes in movies. LOL.  There were some fans that had a temperature sensor to increase or decrease the speed, but I was not sure how those would work in my application since they did not seem to be adjustable and likely still keep the temp higher than I would like.

So…my laptop cooler is coming tomorrow, and I am going to put my Onkyo back in the living room and put my new Denon in the bedroom to replace my HDMI lacking Harman Kardon and see how things go.  I plan to just flip the laptop cooler upside down and have it pull the hot air out of the case.  The only snag is that I need to have a way to power the fan.  It will take a while to come across the ocean from China, but for $1.50 I ordered a USB to AC adapter.  In the interim I will use the AC USB connector for my iPhone 🙂

Anyone want a Denon AVR-791?

So now that I likely fixed my Onkyo, anyone in the market for a Denon AVR-791?  Just kidding.  If I had not gotten such a good deal I probably would have returned it to Best Buy, but not sure I can do that on open box item.  It was a great deal even though I don’t use the TV in the bedroom often, it will be nice to have an HDMI receiver in there to make it easy to switch between Blu-Ray, Apple TV, and the TV Tuner.  No more changing inputs on the TV.  The TV is not smart enough to automatically select the input, no smart enough to even tell you which ones are connected.  Thankfully I have purchased a couple of Logitech Harmony Remotes which are amazing.  Will need to discuss those in another post!

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