I've done quite a bit of troubleshooting on this problem, and I think I figured out the problem. Now I need some help to determine the solution.
I have a Yamaha RX-V475 receiver. I have 3 sources connected to it: Shaw Direct DSR605, Apple TV, and a Panasonic Blu Ray player. All three are connected via HDMI.
When watching TV on the DSR605, I experience brief audio drop outs on some HD channels. Just for a second, and it comes back. A bit annoying, but I figured because it was only certain channels it was a problem with the channel source and not my setup.
The Apple TV and blu ray player are absolutely flawless with audio playback. I've watched hours of movies with Dolby Digital 5.1 on both, and never a blip in the audio. I assumed the sources were just more reliable than the Shaw Direct signal.
The dropouts on Shaw Direct have been getting on my nerves more and more lately. Last night trying to watch "Kill the Messenger" on Movie Central was almost unbearable. Multiple drop outs every minute. I immediately went to Twitter and the Digital Home forum to try to find others complaining about it, but no one else was. Hmm, weird.
I thought it might be the DSR605, so I swapped it for an older DSR505 that was on light duty in another room. Audio problems persisted. Signal levels on both receivers were terrific. Swapping HDMI cables didn't help. Changing the HDMI input on the Yamaha didn't help either.
At this point I'm fairly confident it's a source issue with Shaw Direct. After all, both my Apple TV and blu ray are fine, which means the Yamaha receiver must be fine too, right? It happens on two different Shaw Direct receivers (two different generations of receivers). I couldn't believe other people weren't seeing the same problem, surely everyone would be in an uproar. I tried one more thing...
I plugged the DSR605 straight into the TV. Eureka! No more drop outs!
I then went to my trusty friend Google and looked up Yamaha receiver dropouts. Sure enough there were plenty of reports. Mostly from the states, and mostly with people using Motorola cable boxes. Shaw Direct uses Motorola boxes...
The general consensus seems to be there is some type of incompatibility with Motorola and Yamaha hardware. This goes back several years. I couldn't find many solutions though. These are the top contenders:
1) HDMI to TV, and then use the optical audio loopback from the TV to the receiver (I think this is called ARC - Audio Return Channel). My TV seems to support it, but it downmixes to stereo. No good.
2) Change audio compression settings in the DSR605 settings. This setting seems to deal with the dynamic range of the audio output. It levels everything out so nothing is too loud and nothing is too quiet. There are three settings in the DSR605: No compression, light, and heavy. None of the three settings fixed the audio dropouts.
3) I saw one single report on this solution, so I'm hoping someone else can chime in. Someone said putting an HDMI splitter between their cable box and Yamaha receiver fixed the problem. No mention if it was a passive or active splitter. In the past I've heard of this fixing other HDMI problems (notably handshake issues or a 'weak' HDMI signal). Any thoughts on this idea? Any recommendations for a splitter? Active or passive?
Any advice would be appreciated. I think I'm very close to finally solving this
Thanks for reading!