Pioneer DVR-520 tuner problem - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 3 Old 03-20-2014, 06:23 PM - Thread Starter
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I have an old Pioneer DVR-520 which I use every now and then. Lately I can see that the picture quality from the internal tuner has deteriorate over the years. The quality overall is not as sharp as it used to be and there isn't any option to change or tune the contrast or quality.

The TV signal is normal analogue, and passes through the DVR into the TV. I have tested the connection on other DVD Recorders, and have also switched places connecting it to another TV, to conclude the issue is not with the cables or TV connection.

Can anyone suggest anything? Any advice or help will be greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 3 Old 03-20-2014, 08:46 PM
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Can you give more details on what country you live in, and what the signal source is for the tuner? That will help narrow down what might be causing this deteriorated appearance. The 520 has an analog-only tuner for broadcast and (in North America) cable service signals. Analog broadcasts ceased in USA some years ago and are winding down in Canada: as the stations move to digital, the analog signal is cut off or degraded. A new TV or recorder with modern analog/digital tuner automatically switches over to receive the digital signal, which is usually much clearer and sharper. When you compare the Pioneer to these newer devices, they can make it seem as if the Pioneer "degraded" when in fact it is working fine: the analog reception signal just isn't as good as it used to be.

The same issue applies with North American cable tv service: most providers have switched over to digital HD signals. In order to make room for more digital channels and better HD, the companies degrade the analog signal that piggybacks on the same cable (which is what old recorders like the 520 and old analog CRT TVs use for their tuners). Here again, if you have other more modern TVs and recorders in the house, they will automatically pull in the superior digital signal while your 520 is limited to the steadily eroding analog signal. If you live in a part of Europe or other region that still relies exclusively on analog broadcasts, then the problem may indeed be the aging electronics of your 520 tuner.

The DVR-520 was Pioneer's most popular recorder, but it was a 2004 model with a few flawed electronic parts that began to fail in most units by 2009. Usually this involves the power module and results in the 520 not working at all, but I have seen cases where the failing power supply leaves the 520 operational with symptoms in the tuner, timer, and/or HDD. It would be impossible to diagnose this unless you had another "known-perfect" 520 to compare yours with in your home. A Pioneer authorized repair center could test your 520 for stability, but the machine is not worth the investment at this late date. After 10 years, if the power module hasn't failed, the DVD or HDD is likely to before long, and replacement drives are no longer available from Pioneer.

You CAN make some picture adjustments to the tuner which should improve things to some degree. The process just isn't intuitive. Be sure you have your favorite channel tuned in, preferably when a show is on that you are very familiar with. Press the Home Menu button on the remote, when it displays on screen arrow over to highlight "Video/Audio Adjust" and press Enter button. A small box with the word "Tuner" will appear, but the "Detailed Settings" option will be greyed out. Many users stop here, believing this means the tuner can't be adjusted, but that isn't true. When you're in the Video/Audio Adjust system, "Tuner" doesn't really mean the tuner itself per se: "Tuner" is merely a fixed preset of default adjustments that you can select (you can actually choose "Tuner" for one of the line inputs if you like- very confusing).

If you press the left or right arrow key while the "Tuner" is on screen, it will cycle thru other preset options like DTV/LDP, VCR, Memory 1, Memory 2, and Memory 3. Only the Memory 1, 2, 3 presets can be adjusted: the rest are fixed defaults. So if you want to play with brightness, contrast, color, and sharpness of the tuner, make Memory 1 visible, then arrow below it to Detailed Settings and press Enter. This will open a screen full of adjustment sliders for various picture aspects: as you adjust them, you should see the changes on the broadcast visible behind the settings window. If you press the Enter button, the display will shrink to show only one adjustment at a time, so you can more clearly see the effect. Use the arrow up/down keys to move to different settings. When finished, press the Return or Home Menu key to exit the adjustment system.

As an alternative, you might consider getting a newer external tuner or cable/satellite decoder box, and connecting it to one of the DVR-520 line inputs. This would bypass the 520 internal tuner altogether, which is what many of us with older recorders do to tap into digital broadcasts.
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post #3 of 3 Old 09-18-2014, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi again, sorry for the slight absence...

I live in Singapore and the 520 i have is made in Asia. I don't use this set as frequent as I used to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post
When you compare the Pioneer to these newer devices, they can make it seem as if the Pioneer "degraded" when in fact it is working fine: the analog reception signal just isn't as good as it used to be.
Mentioning this, i got me thinking that in the recent years when everything is getting better, pictures getting clearer, maybe i didn't realise the same set was (constantly) fine all the while.

Since I was suspecting it was the signals through the analog tuner signals deteriorating, I tried plugging in RGB cables from the cable box into the input of the 520 just to see if there's difference. The result was somewhat similar. I attached a small picture below to view the difference.

Quote:
It would be impossible to diagnose this unless you had another "known-perfect" 520 to compare yours with in your home.
That was what I did to test to compare, except it wasn't another 520....

Thanks for the advice about the (fine) tuning of the Video/Audio Adjust system. I tried but I couldn't see much of a difference. It's fine with me though. Glad that the 520 set is still able to serve its purpose, although it could be better with a clearer picture.
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