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harman kardon avr firmware update

About 7 years ago, I wrote this post and at the very end I said:

I’ll hold of on the firmware update, if I dont encounter an issue, I’ll leave it alone.

Well I have finally found an issue! How exciting yes?

I recently purchased a (used) PS4, for the “soul” purpose of playing Bloodborne. But Mike, isn’t that really weird to get a PS4 for one game?

No, and maybe that could be a completely different article if I ever decide to update on a regular basis. I really like the “Soulsborne” games. A good friend of mine introduced me to Dark Souls a while ago, and I have not stopped enjoying this series since.

So yeah, it was worth it.

Here was the issue: HDMI audio would drop off if the receiver felt there wasn’t any incoming input.

However, there was incoming input. During gameplay, I would sit there quietly waiting for a good opportunity to attack. All of a sudden, the speakers would shut off and I would be “deaf” in game. This was creating a serious immersion issue, so I found the thread on avs-forums.com that discussed this issue, and where to get the firmware.

Before I go into the steps required, lets think back on a time when our home consumer electronics were not part of the internet. The great IoT has some pros and cons. The con’s are vendors like Samsung injecting Ads after a new TV software update. Or, when Sony’s smart tv traffic was routing through their servers instead of directly to Netflix or Amazon. Lets not forget the large scale DDoS to DynaDNS due to insecure IoT security cameras.

The pro is, they update as long as the vendor wants to support them.

This great receiver was made 7 whole years ago, when your receiver was not part of the internet. This system has a good ol RS-232 port for maintenance. It even has a maintenance mode button on the back you have to press and de-press 10 times during an update.

It also, and please brace yourselves, required a SPECIFIC USB to RS-232 adapter and Windows 2000 or XP.

The USB to Serial I get, because updating firmware should be carefully controller, and they only have so much they can support from 3rd parties.

The difficult part was getting a hold of XP. 7 years ago that might not have been so hard, but XP is EOL. I had to ask my buddies at Bay Photo (because the photo software industry lags behind as much as this firmware update does) for an ISO or even a VM Image.

So, the first task was creating an XP VM in virtualbox. I had access to an ISO, and thankfully I could perform this task with a 30 day trail and no updates.

Creating an XP VM is pretty trivial. I was almost a walk down memory lane when I say those classic “you’re almost ready!” installation messages:

What is funny about this stay up to date message, is you no longer can update XP

After the VM was finished with its first boot, and I had the correct adapter ordered from Amazon, I configured the VM to pass the usb device through to the VM.

device passthrough is a great VM feature

Then, I installed the drivers for the usb adapter, and ran the check utility

This came through as COM3, you could test each one

I had to enlist the help of Caralyn while I sat behind the entertainment center. The USB to Serial cable was short, and the instructions cycle between two steps:

  1. Placing the receicver in Maintenance Mode, which is a toggle push button on the back, next to the serial port, and pushing the standby button on the front.
  2. Click next on the software to upload the firmware
  3. After the upload is complete, you have to take the receiver out of standby, pressing the power button on the front again.

We did this about 10 times I think. So, I would wait for the update utility to finish the upload and then I would ask Caralyne to turn the receiver back on and then off when it was done.

I took a few screen shots, and Caralyne took pictures with her phone. I wanted to know what was going on, so I would ask her to take a photo when the state had changed.

Flash erase

Flash writing

one of the prompts after the firmware was uploaded

Flash write complete

Finished!

Here are the screenshots I remebered to take. Please note how many steps there are, after you select the firmware files, and which serial device to use, its about 8 additional steps. Each one will have you upload new firmware and power-cycle. It is tedious, and there are stories out there of it failing mid way.

I had no issues, everything worked as expected, so I hope others can use the same resources I have listed below in the event this still is a thing.

Here are the screenshots up the update utility:

Results

Did it solve my issue?

YES! I am able to play the PS4 without any audio disruptions.

Have I noticed any other issues?

YES… The volume button on the remote does not work. Other fucntions and buttons on the remote work just fine, like getting into the menu and switching inputs, but the volume is a no go. Really funny, I have to walk over and adjust it manually.

Since this device is EoL, and I got the last firmware update ever, I won’t see a fix for my volume button.

That was my biggest concern with updating firmware unless you know you have a problem. There is no telling what you might introduce :)

Resources