Pioneer AV receiver dropping connections

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veryscreaming

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My AVR continually drops connections with the 2 sources plugged into it, a cable box and an always-on PC. Everything is connected via HDMI.

AVR--Pioneer VSX-921-K
PC--HP Pavilion HPE running W7 (with WMC & HD Homerun Prime)
Cable box--Cisco (Spectrum)
Display--Panasonic 42" plasma

Set this up about 4 years ago and it ran without a hitch--until last year. Then it began to emit a loud pop and the picture and sound would be lost, come back in 20 seconds, and pop out again.

To keep WAF high I just plugged the PC and the cable box directly into the Panasonic's 2 HDMI inputs. It worked, but at the cost of 5.1 audio.

Recently I tried to get things running again but encountered the same old problem. Gotta think PC and cable box and their cables are fine, since they've worked flawlessly when plugged directly into the TV.

Steps I've tried, with no success:
--cleaning the AVR with compressed air
--new HDMI cable from AVR output to display input
--ran PC alone through AVR; ran cable box alone through AVR; switched to different inputs in AVR; checked settings
--changed PC video card from AMD to NVidia (GeForce 8400 GS) after reading claims that AMD doesn't play nice with Pioneer
--Searched for, but could not find, firmware update for AVR
--bought a used Gefen HDMI Detective Plus (not sure I'm implementing correctly)
--5.1 audio tests properly so assuming there's no short in speakers

I could buy a new AVR but betting I'll still have the same problem. Honestly, the Pioneer sounds great until the drop-outs hit.

I've read dozens of forum posts but no joy. Any help would be immensely appreciated!
 

ricdiculus

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1st question: do you have the drop out issue with non hdmi sources (cd player, built in tuner, turntable, cassette deck, etc)?
If those work OK, it's most likely the switching circuitry in the receiver. Does the Panosonic display not have an optical audio output? I let my Samsung TV handle the hdmi selection, and then send audio to my Sunfire Theater Grand Preamp via optical cable. Dolby DTS works as it should using this method, so standard 5.1 audio should also work. Granted, this isn't so much of a fix as it is a work around, but you should still have high quality 5.1 surround sound using this method. I am a certified audiophile nut, and have been very pleased with this set up as it offers a "no compromise" solution.
 

ricdiculus

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1st question: do you have the drop out issue with non hdmi sources (cd player, built in tuner, turntable, cassette deck, etc)?
If those work OK, it's most likely the switching circuitry in the receiver. Does the Panosonic display not have an optical audio output? I let my Samsung TV handle the hdmi selection, and then send audio to my Sunfire Theater Grand Preamp via optical cable. Dolby DTS works as it should using this method, so standard 5.1 audio should also work. Granted, this isn't so much of a fix as it is a work around, but you should still have high quality 5.1 surround sound using this method. I am a certified audiophile nut, and have been very pleased with this set up as it offers a "no compromise" solution.
 

veryscreaming

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Ric, thanks for your reply.

I'll have to get my hands on a non-hdmi source to see if the drop outs continue. Hopefully not because my panny does have optical audio out--never even thought of that!

I'll post back with an update, thanks again.

 
Do try different HDMI cables
It's possible for the receiver to have developed an HDMI switching problem.
You can regain your 5.1 if your TV has a digital audio output and can be set to output in Bitstream. There should be no loss in quality unless you play BD discs or files with lossloss audio codecs like Dolby TrueHD.
 

veryscreaming

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Ric and AA:

Thanks to both of you for your help. Thought I made progress but now considering the possibility that I've gone as far as I can.

I hooked an optical audio cable between my TV and receiver. Now getting signal through the receiver from both my PC and cable box, and no popping/loss of signal. However 1) only getting stereo and 2) there is a reverb effect from both sources.

I'm assuming it's because the sources are still connected via HDMI to the TV and there's no way to selectively shut off that audio portion. Turning off TV speakers in settings didn't help. While the TV does have digital audio output there's no option to set the output to bitstream (maybe that's the default anyway?). Is there a setting I've overlooked which could fix this?

If not it seems the messy final option would be going component video-only for the cable box with optical audio direct to receiver. The PC would have to go DVI to the TV's HDMI and then optical audio to the receiver's second input.

Not sure why I'm resistant to this...guess I'm picturing picture/audio being out of sync, 5.1 not available, etc. Maybe I'm just getting ground down :)

Any thoughts?
 

ricdiculus

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I would try what you just said. There "shouldn't" be sync issues, and an optical cable will definitely support 5.1 audio. Strange that the TV optical is only stereo. Makes me wonder if there isn't some setting on the TV that's not right. At the very lest, when you connect your audio directly to the receiver, if it sounds correct, you'll know that this part of the issue is with the TV, rather then the cable box or PC. You could still use the HDMI cables to the TV, as it would now just be a display, with the digital audio going straight to the receiver. This setup should work.
 

veryscreaming

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Thanks Ric, I've gotten over myself and gotten back to work ;)

I'm 50% of the way there: PC now has DVI out to TV and optical straight to receiver. Sounds and looks great, no popping or loss of signal. I think we can deduce that, as you and AA suggested, the problem was the HDMI switching circuitry or some other aspect of it.

Just awaiting a second optical to arrive in the mail ($6...f/u Best Buy with your $35 offering) and that'll take care of the STP--hopefully! I'll post one more time to let you know if all problems solved.

Thanks so much again for your help and patience, really appreciate it.

 

veryscreaming

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Reversal of fortune.

Streaming video from PC, DVI to TV, optical to receiver, when--POP! Loss of signal. Guess it wasn't just the HDMI switching circuitry, this whole thing's f***ed. New conclusion: Pioneer will never get my business again. Three years' lifespan is a joke. Time to give Yamaha a try. I already have a TSR-7810 is already on the way from Costco.

Thanks to you Ric at least I know I tried everything before pulling the trigger
 

ricdiculus

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Well, sorry to hear that. Although, it's probably time to replace the Pioneer. Once you start having those kinds of problems, it's usually not long before it will become unusable. 3 years is an awfully short lifespan, but, like most things, Pioneer isn't the company it was 15 years ago. Hopefully that Yamaha will stand and deliver! Good luck to ya!
 
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