Troubleshooting A/V Receivers

By Michael Riggs

Below are suggestions on how to solve simple problems. Do not open the receiver in an attempt to diagnose or fix it. Doing so may invalidate the warranty or pose an electrical hazard. If the basic remedies listed here fail, call customer service or take the receiver to an authorized service center.

No power
Check power on/off button.
See if receiver is plugged in.
Check AC outlet or power strip slot by plugging in a lamp.

No picture
See if the TV is on.
See if the receiver is set to correct source.
See if TV is set to the appropriate video input.
Check video connection from source to receiver.
Check video connection from receiver to TV.
Check video setting in input menu.
Match video connections from source to receiver and receiver to TV.

No sound or sound in wrong channels
Check receiver volume control and mute settings.
See if receiver is set to desired source.
Check audio connection from source to receiver.
Check audio connection from receiver to speakers.
Check audio setting in input menu.
When playing DVD, select appropriate audio setting from output menu.
When playing any surround format, make sure your equipment handles it.
Protection circuit may be activated. Stop playback, lower volume, and switch off. Turn power back on so the unit resets itself.

No sound in front left/right speakers
Select speaker set A or B.

No sound in center and surround speakers
Calibrate surround processor for center and surround (rear) levels.

A loud hum is audible
If using a turntable, attach ground wire to ground terminal on receiver.
Check that audio cables are not run alongside AC cables.
Unplug other components one by one; isolate source of hum on separate outlet.
If the AC plug is two-prong and unpolarized, try reversing it in the wall outlet.
If the receiver or anything attached to it is connected to a cable- or satellite-TV feed,
try disconnecting that feed. If that cures the hum, you need a ground isolator in that line, available from many audio dealers and electronic parts stores, such as Radio Shack.

Howling noise audible at high volume
Turntable/speaker feedback–move or isolate turntable.

Distorted or weak sound on LPs
Clean record and stylus.
Use correct cartridge (most receivers can’t handle moving-coil pickups).
Make sure stylus pressure is set correctly.
Match settings of stylus pressure and antiskating.

Distorted or weak sound, receiver runs hot on all sources
Strands of speaker wire touching both positive and negative terminals, creating short.
Speaker impedance too low for receiver.

Sound is hollow, disembodied, or lacking bass
Phase reversed–match speaker connections red to red, black to black.
One channel weak or intermittent.
Check audio cables for damage.
Clean cassette-deck heads.

FM reception noisy
Reorient or move the antenna.
If the antenna has collapsible elements, such as on rabbit ears, try lengthening them
for stations at the lower end of the dial and shortening them for stations at the upper end.
Switch to mono to reduce noise.

No response to remote
Aim remote directly at receiver.
Aim remote at a less extreme angle.
Test for interference from fluorescent lights (try remote with lights on and off).
Inspect battery installation for correct polarity (+/-).
Replace dead batteries.