Denon & Marantz - an open appeal to the guys at Sound United, a possible warning to others

alkax

Active Member
Hi all,

You’ll know me from starting the pinned thread on killed network connections on Denon and Marantz receivers, to which I guess have fixed many an issue for a lot of members on this forum but I have to say, there‘s a fundamental issue that seems to be tied to their firmware that hasn’t been addressed and pretty much been ignored. Since January, I’ve had to send my AVCX4700H back to my dealer 3 times for repeated issues. Dealing directly with Sound United and indirectly through my dealer is a pain and it’s come to a point where I do have to make a public complaint in the hope that someone from the company lurks these forums or that someone can put me in touch with someone high-up with Sound United so I can resolve this issue. I mean, I got a backlog of stuff to watch and haven’t had a receiver for 5 months to enjoy any of it with. First-world problems, I know, but paying over £1,300 for a receiver, you’d expect something robust but I’ve had nothing but trouble.

Sorry if it seems like airing dirty laundry here but i’m hoping someone here might suggest a course of action or put me in touch. Instead of me dancing around events, i’ve decided to make my private complaint to Sound United public, as neither have my dealer nor I have had any response. Any help or advice is appreciated. My original complaint letter is as follows:

From: *alkax
Sent: 27 May 2021 14:25
To: [email protected]
Cc: Peter Tyson Customer Service Department <[email protected]>
Subject: SNN: 300XXXXXX - Complaint


To Whom It May Concern,

I would like to file a complaint around the handling of the repair of my Denon AVCX4700HB and my sense of a general culture in your company of not taking, to use your nomenclature, “end-user’s” issues seriously. This is confounded by the fact that I cannot speak to someone responsible in person on the number listed below in the email history I’ve provided, and there’s a general reluctance to speak to “end users” in general if it’s not related to simple technical support queries. Instead I have been offered a generic customer service email and have been advised to escalate this with my dealer. I have copied in XXXX from Peter Tyson, who in all honesty has been patient with me and my concerns and I totally recognise his role as a facilitator of service requests. Though i expect a response from Sound United regarding my complaint, I would also like XXXX to take this as a request to escalate the issue.

Since before January this year, I have had nothing but issues with this receiver, and they are numerous and documented. This particular generation of receiver is not without controversy given the issues around the HDMI 2.1 chipset and the fact that Denon has to provide a hardware solution to this problem though I concede this is an industry wide problem. My issues extend beyond this though, even to my previous receiver, a Marantz 7012, to which I will use as an example to compare and contrast issues with my Denon X4700, because some of the issues appear to be firmware related.

1. The introduction of HEOS v1.544.240
Over a year ago, a major update to HEOS that introduced support for the next generation of HEOS speakers was released. I had no issues with HEOS in my current setup previous to this as I do run a media server which holds my entire music collection in FLAC. As HEOS supports music servers with the DLNA protocol, I chose to use Serviio, a free local DLNA server that works like Plex but unlike most DLNA servers has an extended feature to generate a random 100 track playlist which is useful to have if you have an extensive collection. Before the major update, my Marantz 7012 would happily play from the random tracklist through the HEOS app. After the update, I had experienced that my Marantz would crash out and kill the network functions completely. I contacted Marantz customer support about this issue (Question reference #200401-000142 on 31/03/2020) and had no reply. Upon further advice from XXXX, I contacted Sound United technical support and was absolutely shocked at the dismissiveness I received when I spoke to your rep and shared my findings. The general gist was that it wasn’t considered a problem because no one else had complained about it and it couldn’t be a firmware issue because it could be a hardware issue and that there was no way for me to revert the firmware to stock and so I had to send the unit in. It was sent back three times for the same issue and is the primary reason why I have the Denon which I paid extra money for as I had foolishly thought this could be an anomaly. I had the exact same problem with the Denon and emailed [email protected] about this on 28/07/2020. No response.


Of course later on, my anomaly turned out to be an actual issue as evidenced here
No network functionality anymore
and here
No network functionality anymore and it was particularly frustrating to find that a method to revert firmware existed when I was told there wasn’t. What was even more frustrating that it wasn’t easy to discover; someone on Avforums.com had pointed this out to me and so an admin made the thread a sticky. Even more frustrating still was the fact that network failure also caused the USB port to be disabled, so settings could not be loaded nor saved in this state. Every firmware restoration took 2 hours as even though I had saved settings, loading settings did not seem to work. What was also gruelling was calibration after every restore. I had to purchase the £20 Audyssey app to at least speed up restorations.

It was only through extensive testing on my part that I discovered one surefire cause for permanent network failure, the random playlist issue mentioned earlier, but this doesn’t solve anything for me or others who have similar problems whose only solution is to disable the function they’ve happily enjoyed without incident before the major update.

2. HDMI ARC dropouts
This again was not an issue I had with the Marantz before the major HEOS revision. I had enjoyed consistent audio from my LG C8 with an appropriate 5m copper HDMI cable. Of course after major firmware updates, I suffered dropout issues on the Marantz, but when I got the Denon, these issues were a continuance. Dropouts with sound would occur for 2 to 5 minutes at a time and made watching Netflix and Amazon Prime impossible, especially negating the main feature of having multichannel sound. Before Xmas, I again contacted your technical support and explained the problem. I was particularly puzzled at the suggestion that any HDMI cable longer than 3ft would need to be a fibre optic HDMI cable and that my copper cable could be the culprit. I suggested that this was not an issue before a particular firmware release and that I had not experienced dropouts with this cable before. Your rep repeated the “party line” and so I looked at fibre optic HDMI cables. I spent around £100 on a 5m HDMI 2.1 cable, a painful purchase for sure but was assured this would solve my issue. What was more painful was that it did not solve the dropout issue. Around this time i was experiencing other issues as well which I’ll detail next, but a faulty HDMI input that was not only dropping audio, but video as well caused me to raise a repair request with a laundry list of problems. Of course, during the time my amp spent sitting inside your service centre for 4 months, two firmware updates were released to attempt to resolve this issue. Which leads me to the next issue.

3. Audio corruption with Dolby TrueHD tracks and lossless Atmos tracks.
When i had contacted your technical support rep about the ARC dropouts I also mentioned my issue with audio corruption. To be more descriptive, playing content, either from a homemade rip, a Blu-Ray disc or a UHD disc that contains a lossless Dolby Atmos or TrueHD track from either a media STB or disc player on any input would result in corruption of audio. This corruption always sounds like a metallic clanging I tested this extensively after my receiver came back after 4 months of Brexit and lockdown and found that lossy formats and lossless DTS tracks are not affected and that this phenomena almost always occurs at approximately two-thirds into the content. It ambushes you when you watch a movie, it’s unpleasant and it’s consistent and independent of source or input. I have uploaded three example clips to demonstrate the phenomena. I had previously sent these in April when I had to send my receiver back again but no one downloaded the clips, which was very disappointing as i spent a lot of time replicating the problem. I have reuploaded them here: VID_20210420_112828.mp4 and 2 more files
I get confirmation when a download has occurred and the upload lasts one week.

Please watch the clips.

4. General care surrounding the packaging and delivery.
Given that across two receivers and 6 separate occasions that I’ve had to send a Denon/Marantz product in for repair, which I’m sure is some kind of record, I generally find that care around the integrity of the box and support inserts is a low point for either the repair staff or the delivery company. When my receiver is returned to me, the box is in tatters and the styrofoam, which to me is the most important part of the box, is in pieces. This happened with the Marantz, and most fatally happened with the Denon as when I opened the box, not only was the foam obliterated, so too was the exterior of the amp.

This leads me to the crux of my complaint. Your decision to have me wait for another undisclosed period of time where brexit and lockdown will again have some impact on when I will get back my receiver, I dread the day it comes back because I fear it will still have unresolved issues because it seems you ignore my concerns and just feel as though a firmware update will solve issues. To remind you of the service history:

24/07/20 - The Marantz is traded in for the Denon after three faults.
28/07/20 - I contact XXXX about the same issue but let him know i’ve discovered the recovery option.
November 2020 - I start experiencing dropouts from ARC and DVD input and other issues. I contact Marantz technical support and purchase recommended cables. I note sound corruption.
8/1/21 - the dropouts and corruption is too much. I contact XXXX and give him an extensive list of faults that i’ve experienced, most of which I’ve already covered here. I am emailing every week for updates. I’m told brexit and lockdown delays are hampering timescales.
01/04/21 - Almost 3 months go by and I get a notification that my receiver is going to be returned to me.
20/04/21 - I contact XXXX again to say that faults are still unresolved, particularly with dropouts and audio corruption. I upload videos and ask Paul to forward them onto the service team. No one downloads them.
04/05/21 - i get another notification that my receiver is going to be returned to me. I ask what has been done, XXXX is unsure but when i receive it, I see that a firmware update was applied. I wasn’t too happy but then I opened the box to find my receiver to have sustained heavy exterior damage and the foam obliterated inside the box.
07/05/21 - The receiver goes back to Peter Tyson and i’m advised that it will either be a repair or a credit/replacement.
18/05/21 - i enquire about the progress. I was dismayed to see that the decision was made to repair the amp, just because it would mean another extended period for me to wait, and that parts are ordered.
26/05/21 - i email for an update and find out that you’re still waiting for parts!

8th June will mark 5 months without a receiver. 4.5 months is still an untenable period of time to resolve issues and I find it disappointing you feel that given the length of time and the poor customer experience warrants an extended period of time for me to wait for yet another repair.

I’m not a dummy in regards to AV and HiFi. I’ve been into this for about 20 years now so I’m pretty experienced with this equipment especially in regards to setups and i’ve demonstrated a methodical approach to try and resolve issues and provide as much information when I can’t. I’m not asking for more, i’m asking for a working receiver, the heart of every AV setup, that I paid good money for. It would have been great to have this during lockdown and now that the country is moving away from it and getting back to work, so will I.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to ask for a working receiver in the same physical condition by early next week given the extraordinary experience with Denon, not as an "end user" but as a customer.

I hope to hear from you before the week is out.

Kind Regards,
*alkax

Again, sorry if this is inappropriate but I’m chomping at the bit here. And no, the videos remain undownloaded and the link has lapsed. If anyone is interested, i will upload them again.
 
Last edited:

mjcairney

Distinguished Member
Hi, what a story, Denon personnel should be ashamed of themselves, letting something like this go on for so long with no end in sight is quite unbelievable. Don't they understand the meaning of customer service? I sold electronic weighing and grading systems into the food industry for many years and, as soon as I knew one of my customers had a problem, I was on to it to make sure he received the service I would expect myself. So, I'd suggest you speak with XXXX and ask for the name and contact details of the Denon rep who deals with them and enlist his help. If he is worthy of his job, he'll be all over your case like a rash as this could cost him a lot of sales if it becomes common knowledge.
Good luck.
 

alkax

Active Member
The situation has been resolved, albeit not in the manner in which I would have wanted for all parties. I essentially had to write a letter before claim giving everyone the opportunity to resolve my issues before I formally apply to small claims court, but in the end, a refund was given.

I wish things were as simple as finding someone at Sound United or Denon (or Marantz) to talk to. Today, the dealer has to be the buffer between you and the manufacturer. I can only see it as a way to remove themselves from answering any hard questions because the dealer does not hold any real power themselves, they seem to be beholden to manufacturers and the best they can do is give assurances. They can’t or won’t go beyond what is already being done.

To a company like Sound United, you are an “end user”, implying you are at the end of a supply chain. An “end user” cannot communicate with the manufacturer, that’s the job of the dealer. If you have a fault, the dealer makes arrangements with the manufacturer to repair the fault. Depending on their terms, if they can’t fix the fault they should offer a replacement or a refund. Fair enough.

But if you’re sending this unit back for the same issues, some of which I am convinced that is baked into firmware, the dealer cannot go beyond their remit and take larger issues to them. You try other channels such as talking to their tech support or emailing an app support team but you are gaslit into thinking that either these are unrelated issues or these issues do not exist. This even extends to some of the responses on this forum, but I understand that mileage may vary depending on use. What we are seeing is not customer service, but corporate service in action.

It’s a shame really. Denon and Marantz with two different sound signatures can belt out great sound for the money, I can’t fault in terms of sound what they provide in terms of value, but that value disappears when the final product is riddled with technical faults that they do not easily acknowledge.

I don’t exactly want to spend an extra grand on another receiver, but I now have to because Marantz and Denon are unreliable. I now have to wait for Yamaha to release the rest of their range as it’s now a toss-up between a Yamaha A6A and a NAD.

😤
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
The retailer sold the goods to you. The issue you had was with the retailer and not the manufacturer. You didn't buy anything from Denon or Sound United. If you'd gone to a small claims court suggesting that Sound United or DEnon owed you a refund then the case would simply not have been heard vecause you never bought anything from Sound United or DEnon. It would need to be the retailer you'd be making the claim against. The retailer could then do likewise with whoever they sourced the goods they sold you from.

Yamaha would give you the same advise and suggest you talk to the retailer who sold you the goods.
 

alkax

Active Member
I already know all of this and I think you either miss my overall point or seek to misconstrue it. This is about companies not listening to you when you are trying to tell them there’s a problem.

If you know there’s an issue that has been replicated across multiple receivers and have tried to inform the companies involved about said problem and they do not respond or acknowledge said problem, that’s an issue that will have such an impact, it becomes untenable.

Yes, I would have to take the retailer through small claims, I didn’t have to because it’s clear that the letter before claim was enough, but having to even escalate all of this was just plain unnecessary. It was sent back three times, I didn’t have a receiver at all for 5 months and the dealer is beholden to the manufacturer as they decide whether to credit you or tell you to wait. I am loathe to blame the dealer, they have a relationship to protect with the manufacturer and to their credit, they responded each time I asked. They bear the brunt if anyone decides to take action.

The fact is, I tried to reach out to Sound United not with the intention of seeking a refund but to resolve something specific that I had evidence affected at least two receivers in their lineup. I could reproduce the same problem that I had with the Marantz 7012 on the Denon X4700H but they were not interested in what I had to say. I documented problems, shared my experience and I even took time to help others who experienced similar issues.

Whether Yamaha would do the same thing is another matter, however I don’t hear much about reliability issues when it comes to them so they get my money when they release the A6A.
 

alkax

Active Member
If only they would tell you their e-mail and stop gaslighting you about “company restructuring”… 🤔
 

p3yot3

Member
Never again will I purchase Denon/Marantz equipment. Never.

I advise anyone reading this thread to do the same.

I'm disgusted with them.
 

QuestShield

Distinguished Member
I'm looking at new receivers and have had the same Yamaha receiver since 2007 with zero issues (RX-V661). The only reason I'm looking at all is I want Atmos and the rest of the wonderful decoding abilities.
I have been looking at Denon and Marantz and despite some superb reviews I've been put off by threads like this and talk of overheating. For me I think consistency is important. Maybe that's why the Yamaha's cost that bit more art the mo, you might not get every single thing you'd like for the moolah but at least the receiver will always perform!
 

p3yot3

Member
Exactly. I'd upgrade your system to another Yamaha if I were you. Reliability is key for an AV & Denon/Marantz have demonstrated that they don't care if they break their own systems with an update. It might cost a little more as you say, but worth it in my opinion.
 

QuestShield

Distinguished Member
Exactly. I'd upgrade your system to another Yamaha if I were you. Reliability is key for an AV & Denon/Marantz have demonstrated that they don't care if they break their own systems with an update. It might cost a little more as you say, but worth it in my opinion.

That's why it's so tricky! The reviews of say the Denon AVR-X3700H are superb but apart from a great performance, reliability is a major factor and the Yamaha's are built to last. I hear the Onkyo can run hot too?
 

p3yot3

Member
Yes, the Onkyo I had ran hot but it ran OK, I just added a couple of fans on top to help suck out the heat. My X4500H was superb for the money before they updated it, now it's lost 50% of it's functionality & from what I've read on here so has every other model that they pushed this update to.

Stay away from them.
 

QuestShield

Distinguished Member
Right.. might get the Yamaha Aventage RX-A4A then! :smoke:
Just waiting for reviews and let the early adaptors give it a decent run in, as the last thing I be want is the kind of nightmare the OP experienced, though I doubt anything like that would happen with the Yammy. :cool:o_O
 

moominter

Active Member
Just had a shocking experience with Marantz customer support that had taken so much of my time chasing them , i got a refund from the dealer after a month of emails and phone calls to the dealer and Marantz , im pretty sure that a thread i posted on here also contributed to me getting a refund, after owning three new Marantz AVRs in a row i now have a NAD T778 and love it , i wont be going back to Mararntz.
 

hifidanne

Novice Member
Same for me..went from AVR-X3300, to STR-DN1080, to SR5014 which had a lot of center ch bleeding to L&R in DolbySurround mode, knowned bug but never fixed by Sound United.. so I went to NADT758V3 and I love it. Especially Dirac!! Now I can’t live without Dirac!!
 

mandlebrot

Active Member
So it seems we have issues industry wide at the moment. I have had 3 faulty Yamaha A2A's in a row 2 of which were faulty straight out the box and 1 which only lasted a month. I'm hoping my Marantz SR6015 works as it should whenever they get it in stock to ship to me but after reading this I'm now worried again.
 

60percentsound

Standard Member
So what brand should we all buy then........Arcam, Anthem, Emotiva, all so reliable !!
I have had 3 Home Theatres, numerous Tv rooms and used nearly all the brands. 5 years with Marantz now and 100% reliability. So what they run hot, never used cooling fans and never had a problem. Cant comment on customer service as never needed it.
 

alkax

Active Member
So what brand should we all buy then........Arcam, Anthem, Emotiva, all so reliable !!
I have had 3 Home Theatres, numerous Tv rooms and used nearly all the brands. 5 years with Marantz now and 100% reliability. So what they run hot, never used cooling fans and never had a problem. Cant comment on customer service as never needed it.
Then count yourself lucky. If you don’t have a problem just pray you don’t develop one. The only thing we can do is wait for a holy grail receiver and the closest we can get to one seems to be a Yamaha A6A…
 

oniiz86

Active Member
Then count yourself lucky. If you don’t have a problem just pray you don’t develop one. The only thing we can do is wait for a holy grail receiver and the closest we can get to one seems to be a Yamaha A6A…
I'm not too sure one should trust the Yamaha 2021 Aventage lineup, Gene from Audioholics is disappointed currently with the A6A, "This thing is a hot mess RN in how it handles digital fullscale and also the amp distortion." Yamaha AVENTAGE 2021 AV Receivers Bulk Up on Power and 8K Features
 

alkax

Active Member
I tend to wait until all the reviews are in. I find that a lot of the time there’s a discrepancy between measured results and real-world perception on performance. For instance, Gene and Audioholics in general do not tend to believe in aftermarket cables as performance boosters. I disagree with this somewhat. I don’t know how his electrics is set up, but buying a £40 mains cable kit totally opened up the soundstage and tightened up the mids and bass on the x4700h when I used one, to the extent that even others had noticed. I’m not even one to buy into the snake oil that are expensive cables but Tarun on A British Audiophile YouTube channel convinced me to try out one of his recommendations on a mains cable and I haven’t regretted it since. I thought his reasoning here was interesting

At the moment, Denon and Marantz have too many reliability issues, moreso than Yamaha and any other brand and I fully expect the Yamaha not to hold a candle sonically to Denon or Marantz, however the A6A has one main advantage in that it uses a FPGA as a HDMI controller. This is ingenius on Yamaha’s part, and I can’t wait to see if the implementation can hold up against many revisions of the HDMI standard that is bound to shift over the next 5 years.

Also, given we’re in a global energy crisis and that energy bills are set to soar in 2022, buying a receiver at this time may not be the smartest thing to do.
 

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