9 Common Home Theater Problems

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Steve Scott

Updated on

So, it’s been a long day at work. You’re tired, and all you want to do is go on a Netflix binge or cuddle up under a blanket and watch your favorite movie. 

Well, not so fast. Something’s not right with your home theater system. You know what the problem is, just not how to fix it.

​It's no secret that home theaters are a complicated piece of equipment. They can leave even ​an experienced owner​ frustrated and confused​.

And if you're a first time owner you might feel so baffled that your first instinct would be to give up.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s a solution to every problem. A simple one in most cases.

Here we’ve compiled a guide on most common home theater problems. Hopefully, by the end of it, you’ll be able to recognize and solve them in a jiffy.

1. There's No Sound

You're getting ready to watch the newest episode of your favorite TV show after you have just spent hours and hours setting up your new home theater, connecting all the wires and reading through a mind-numbingly boring manual.

But not so fast! There's no sound coming out. 

Although you are definitely nervous, it's no time to press the panic button just yet! It is highly unlikely that all of your speakers died at once. 

In most cases the answer is so simple it might leave you speechless. Check your A/V receiver and see if it's connected correctly. All wires need to be inserted correctly into their sockets. 

In any other case, when you are sure everything is connected correctly you should look for a problem in the system software. You will have to go to the settings menu and try different settings.

speaker-setup

​Not every speaker setup is compatible with every source material.

This approach will require some trial and error on your behalf, but it will probably solve the issue at hand.  If you wish to learn more about the best home theater system, check out our guide!


2. There's Sound, But You Can't See Anything

You can also find yourself in the opposite situation when you can hear sounds, but no picture follows it. This is something that can probably be easily fixed by playing around with cables and checking if they are positioned correctly. 

The main culprit, more often than not, is the HDMI cable. An obvious step would be to check whether it is unplugged. 

hdmi-input

As you'll see further in this article, there's no shame in giving the most straightforward approach a try. And there are no issues more simple than an unplugged cable.

Another problem with the HDMI is that it could be on the wrong input, resulting in sound without a picture, and vice versa. So make sure you always know what slot you're using for which device.

See Related - Best Home Theater Projectors

3. You Hear Static Sounds

Even if it sounds scary, static usually doesn't have to be an indicator of a bigger problem so you shouldn't panic. A faulty connection is often the main culprit. 

Your first step would be to determine whether this is the case or not. Go and check if the wire has been loose from its slot and stick it back in. 

Another common issue would be that the speaker's wires got damaged over time. There's an easy fix for that, too! You'll just need to get some more wire and redo the speaker connections.

If these two approaches fail you'll have to get to the bottom of things and determine the source of the static. The best way to do that is to try different sources, like various Blu-Ray players or amplifiers, and start the elimination process. 

Then you'll get closer to determining which part of the whole setup is causing you headaches. You'd be surprised at how many times the problem lies in the faulty amplifier connections.

See Related: Best Blu-Ray Players

4. Surround Speakers Are Not Working

Without trying to sound too condescending or patronizing, you should try increasing the volume on your surround speakers. And there's a good reason for that!

Generally, surround speakers are more restrained and quiet than front speakers.

Also, certain scenes in movies, TV shows, or games can be too low-key and subdued, leaving you with the impression that the system is faulty.

Go to the settings menu and try adjusting the volume for every speaker separately. If you want to learn more about the best bookshelf speakers, take a look at our guide!

surround-speaker-placement

But if that doesn't remedy the situation, you can bet it's the source material. You'll have to check whether the material is at all compatible with the surround system you have. 

For example, most music is mixed for two channels. Playing it on a 5.1 or 7.1 system will never get you the desired result. You'll have more luck with movies or TV shows, but not always.

 As with many other issues with your home theater, fiddle around the settings a bit, and you'll probably find the solution.

5. Universal Remote Doesn't Work

Universal remotes are fantastic! Not having to use a hundred different remotes at the same time is the reason enough to consider using one. 

But, like any other gadget, it will eventually fail you, and leave you scratching your head in ignorance.

So, as we've covered before, the simplest solution is often the answer. Are your batteries dead? Did you select the proper source? Is anything blocking the signal between you and the receiver? 

Don't beat yourself up. It happens to the best of us!

If this is not the case, check whether your remote is compatible with the receiver. Are they both set to Infrared or Radio Frequency? 

If the receiver is set to Infrared, it won't pick up the signal from a remote that uses Radio Frequency, and vice versa. 

Luckily, you can probably change the settings in the receiver. Want to know more about the best A/V receivers? Check out our post.

6. Something's Off With the Front Speakers

Most of the issues described in this guide can be remedied by experimenting with the user menu. When you notice that your front speakers just don't sound the way they were meant to, it almost always means the speaker settings are not set correctly.

 In most cases, you'll have a problem with speaker size. You can go to settings and set them to small or large, leaving you more freedom for better integration with the rest of the setup. 

There's also an option of setting the crossover on your subwoofer. Crossover is the frequency at which your subwoofer will start picking up and playing bass notes. Learn how to set the crossover o​f a subwoofer!

Sometimes your front speakers might be taking too much of that bass, resulting in a dull or muffled sound. So, set the frequency to 80Hz, which should be enough for your subwoofer to work just fine.

7. You're Not Getting The Most Out of Your Height Speakers

Ceiling and height speakers are those elements that give your surround system that depth and richness of sound. That's why you bought them, so you can experience the sound coming from all directions and make the most immersive setting possible. 

But, that comes with a price, since it will take a bit of time to set them up accurately.

Okay, so you've got it by now – first you'll check whether everything is connected properly. After that you should check and see if you need to change the codec settings.

home-theater-placement


But the most common solution would be to find the proper placement for your speakers. This will require some effort on your behalf. 

Move your speakers around and test them from different angles and positions. Just make sure you do that with the same source material, so you can easily compare the sound quality.

8. There's No Bass or It Sounds Awful

A solution to one problem can also help you solve another one. If you've paid attention earlier, you might have noticed that proper crossover settings might help you improve the sound from your front speakers.

But at the same time, it can drastically boost the bass production coming from the subwoofer.

So, set the frequency to 80Hz and see if it changes anything. If it doesn't, then you should – what a surprise - check if the connection is right! 

However, if none of these solutions work, the subwoofer placement is the most likely issue. The best place for a subwoofer is in the corner of your room.

Move them slightly away from the walls, and below and close to the front speakers.

9. The Sound Is a Bit "Off "

Now, there's a problem that can often leave you bewildered. You've taken your time to read all the instructions. 

After that, you've set everything. The right frequency, receiver settings, assigned all the wires to the right slots. 

subwoofer-placement

And still, there's just something missing! You know you can get more out of the system. It's either that the sound is distorted or it is too thin and weak. You didn't pay all that money just to have so-so sound.

It might surprise you just how big part your room plays in such cases. Having too many reflective surfaces and hard materials can have a harmful influence on the overall audio quality. 

A simple change, like adding more soft materials like cushions, drapes, or carpets, can do wonders here!

In Conclusion

There's no denying that home theaters get a bit too complex. All those gadgets, cables, and different settings can sometimes leave even a pro baffled.

Lucky for you, if you have an issue with your home theater chances are someone else had experienced such a problem. 

Finding a solution online shouldn't take up much of your time. However, if the problem runs deeper and you're sure you've done everything the way you're supposed to, then it might be time to call professional help.

  • https://home.howstuffworks.com/universal-remotes.htm
  • https://www.dummies.com/consumer-electronics/home-theater/how-to-set-up-a-surround-sound-speaker-system/
  • https://www.lifewire.com/home-theater-troubleshooting-tips-1846787


My name is Steve Scott. Father of 2 and owner of Outdoor Movie HQ. I’ve been involved in the A/V industry for most of my life and built this blog to help people better understand projector technology. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

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