I've developed the following FAQ with a list of "things to check" similar to what they have in most operating manuals, but also based on the experience in this forum.
We know that most people do most of the following, but sometimes even the pros get caught out by the simplest things. So if you think you've tried "everything" look below for a "checklist".
1. First rule of troubleshooting a component is to simplify
the job and eliminate any other items that could be leading to the problem, so remove any splitters, switches, power bars, cables that aren't required for the particular device, receivers, etc.
2. Read the manuals. Don't think: "I know it all". Check the troubleshooting
section of the operating manual. Do a reset
as indicated in the troubleshooting section if none of the "easy" stuff works. Note that this will reset the device to factory defaults and you'll need to redo any setting changes, so you may wish to leave this to last.
3. Is everything plugged in properly? If you're using a power bar, try plugging the component(s) directly into the wall. Also try a different circuit of the home (use an extension cord if necessary). Try unplugging the component for an hour or so, or overnight. Sometimes this will "reboot/reset" it. Plug it back in. Do not run RF-coax for cable or satellite through a power bar.
4. Many problems are due to poor connections
. Don't just check your connections, unplug the cable, clean the ends and the contacts on the components if necessary with "isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol" and if possible "reverse" the ends. Put what was at one end into the other component. Make sure that the "colours match". Red-red, Green-Green, etc. This goes for HDMI/DVI cables too. Many people have resolved issues by unplugging/replugging cables. Try a different (set of) cable(s) if you have it (them). This includes the cable, Sat, OTA cables if you have an issue there. Make sure the cables are well inserted (use a twisting motion for component video cables) and also check for bent pins. Try different inputs or outputs on the affected devices.
Many people jam their equipment back into cabinets that don't have open backs, causing wires to bend/break, ports to be broken, etc. The wires on the back of equipment should always be allowed to go straight out the back of a cabinet, which may require larger holes, etc, which will also be better from a heat standpoint.
5. Speaker issues? Receiver shutdowns?
Check the wires to ensure there is no fraying
at the ends that can cause a short across the terminals.
Ensure that + goes to + and - to -.
Ensure speakers are connected to the proper terminals - RF to RF, LF to LF, C to C, etc.
Do the proper setup in the A/V receiver so that the speakers are properly "balanced" - use the "test tones" and an SPL meter. (Yes it's basic, but this stuff happens all the time.)
Often, people accidentally turn off the main speakers by pressing the speaker button on the remote or the AVR itself. This results in no audio from the LF & RF speakers. Simply reactivate the speakers.
Sometimes people accidentally press the "monitor" or "Multi-channel" buttons on the remote or AVR. These should show on the display. Simply press the button again, or press the appropriate input.
6. When plugging in, double check that you have outputs going to inputs and not outputs to outputs. Also, make sure you have the cable going to the CORRECT input/output
- check to make sure.
7. If 're-using' (old) cables, and having a problem, Swap
with known 'working' cables.
8. DVD player: check that it's enabled for 'DD/DTS' bitstream etc, whatever is appropriate. Verify the video setup is set properly (widescreen-16:9 vs. full screen-4:3). User menus for progressive scan (PS), component, etc. Hard switch on the back for PS.
9. Receiver: verify that the digital input is assigned to the device (STB/TV/DVD)
10. To be safe, unplug the component from the power source before switching cables, or at least turn the equipment off.
11. With 50+ function remotes, or any remote, make sure a switch or button has not been moved or pushed by mistake causing any number of things to happen or not happen. Especially if you've recently had company!
If the TV is unresponsive to the remote, and your front panel also doesn't get a response, you may have a stuck button on the front panel of the TV. By wiggling/cleaning the buttons on the front panel (or remote), you can often resolve the issue.
12. DVI/HDMI Issues:
- Many HDTVs have difficulty with the HDCP "handshake" with various STBs.
- DVI may not be "active" on the STB.
- Check the connection to make sure it's secure, especially if using an adaptor (HDMI). Try not to use adapters, use the correct cable (HDMI to DVI)
- HDMI cables can be especially problematical since there's nothing to lock them in, pins can get bent, etc. Sometimes holding the HDMI cable into the device can make it work, etc.
- Many issues exist, so many cable companies do not officially support DVI or HDMI, even if active - See:
FAQ - HDMI Comments/Issues
is a killer. Many STBs and A/V receivers get really warm. Do not enclose them and make sure they have lots of ventillation, put them "on top".
14. If your problem is a STB, perform a reboot of the STB, by unplugging it for a minute and plugging it back in. Give it an hour after it reboots to allow it to download all the appropriate information, etc. Also ensure that the STB settings are appropriate for the audio and video.
15. Same for a TV, unplug it for a few minutes and replug it to see if it "resets", or see if there's a reset button. NOTE: Do not unplug any of the "bulb/lamp" TVs without first turning it off and letting it cool down for say 1/2 hour. If the TV doesn't reset with a few minutes unplugging, try unplugging it overnight. Try powering it on via the buttons on the TV itself as the remote/sensor may be the issue.
16. If you're having problems recording with a Cable DVR, or if you've got sound problems, check the signal strength. (things like partial recordings, or recordings with little or no programming, etc) Remove any splitters, etc upstream of the unit and see if that helps, or have your service provider measure the signal strength.
17. If your component turns itself on or off, check for "timers" that can be set in the user menu. Some STBs also have a "powersave" mode that comes on in the early morning.
18. Some compact fluorescent lightbulbs have caused problems with some TVs, some STBs and some remotes. If you are having problems and have CFLs, turn them off to see if they are contributing to the issue. Some TVs have also been known to interfere with STBs - turning down the backlight on these TVs sometimes works, place the STB further from the TV, turn off OPC or similar "auto-contrast", or simply wait a few minutes for the TV to be warm. Here's a link on this topic:
Is your LCD (or Plasma, or other stuff) affecting your STB or PVR?
19. Check for any reset switches, or blown fuses.
20. Apparently some newer Radar Detectors operate (internal oscillator) very close to Satellite Frequencies and have been known to interfere with some channels. The issue became known and manufacturers have "changed back". Still lots out there though... Same can hold true for some baby monitors.
21. Some people have mentioned that they have an unresponsive older TV. This can happen if a button on the front panel is stuck. By running your fingers over the buttons from side to side, you can often unstick a stuck button. Same can sometimes happen for remotes.
22. If you have scrolling bars on the screen (or other interference), you likely have a ground loop (cable not properly grounded), or signal ingress to your cables - check the cables for proper connections and any incoming RF-coax cable for proper grounding. Some people use a power bar to compensate for improper grounding. You should solve the grounding problem, not use a band-aid.
23. If a device has been in use for a long time, the connection can degrade with dust, etc. It's a good idea to periodically (every couple of years) remove and clean all the cables and ports to keep the connections working properly. Use Isopropyl (rubbing) Alcohol on a Q-Tip. Label all cables.
Lastly, you may wish to seek professional assistance. If you're near the GTA...
57's Home Theatre Optimization
Please PM me if you've got any comments or suggestions for this FAQ