Annoying DirecTV Audio Issue - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 65 Old 05-11-2010, 06:52 AM - Thread Starter
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I posted this on the DirecTV forum, but someone suggested I check here as well....

Ok, I've tried DirecTV phone support a couple of times, but cannot get anyone who even seems to have a clue what they're doing, so I am going to give this a shot. Here's the situation...

When watching programs (on our HR22-100 HD-DVR receiver) the sound will intermittently cut out for a second or two. This happens when we watch "live" or watch pre-recorded programs. If watching "live" or pre-recorded programs, we can re-wind and the sound will cut out at the exact same point. This suggests to me that there is either an issue with the input from the dish (either in the dish itself or in the cabling between receiver and dish) or there is an issue with the DVR (since the glitch is being captured in the recordings). This does not occur with my other peripherals (DVD player, VCR, etc). We had the same issue with our previous DVR receiver. It was replaced a little over a month ago (not specifically for this problem, it actually just stopped working completely). The problem is still happening with the "new" (which is actually refurbished of course) receiver. On average I would say that this sound cut out happens once or twice per hour.

My setup is thus...

Cables go into DVR (satellite 1&2). HDMI out goes from DVR to Home Theater receiver. Audio plays from 7.1 Home Theater system, video is passed through to TV via HDMI. DVD player, VCR, etc also feed into Home Theater receiver (they do not exhibit this problem).
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post #2 of 65 Old 05-11-2010, 07:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weathertom View Post

I posted this on the DirecTV forum, but someone suggested I check here as well....

Ok, I've tried DirecTV phone support a couple of times, but cannot get anyone who even seems to have a clue what they're doing, so I am going to give this a shot. Here's the situation...

When watching programs (on our HR22-100 HD-DVR receiver) the sound will intermittently cut out for a second or two. This happens when we watch "live" or watch pre-recorded programs. If watching "live" or pre-recorded programs, we can re-wind and the sound will cut out at the exact same point. This suggests to me that there is either an issue with the input from the dish (either in the dish itself or in the cabling between receiver and dish) or there is an issue with the DVR (since the glitch is being captured in the recordings). This does not occur with my other peripherals (DVD player, VCR, etc). We had the same issue with our previous DVR receiver. It was replaced a little over a month ago (not specifically for this problem, it actually just stopped working completely). The problem is still happening with the "new" (which is actually refurbished of course) receiver. On average I would say that this sound cut out happens once or twice per hour.

My setup is thus...

Cables go into DVR (satellite 1&2). HDMI out goes from DVR to Home Theater receiver. Audio plays from 7.1 Home Theater system, video is passed through to TV via HDMI. DVD player, VCR, etc also feed into Home Theater receiver (they do not exhibit this problem).

Yep. Your right. It does happen every hour or so for a second or so. I know a dozen people with similar setups, including me. We all have it. Nobody stresses over it for, as you say, a second or two every hour or two? Not worth the aggravation to try to fix. I suspect it's the signal lock on the satellite. A stray cloud. A sunspot flareup. A flock of birds flies by the dish. Etc. It is a line of sight signal after all.
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post #3 of 65 Old 05-11-2010, 07:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, I hear you, but it's still annoying :-)
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post #4 of 65 Old 05-11-2010, 07:49 PM
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Perhaps I am blessed by not having HDMI switching in my pre pro. Have been cruising the forums - especially the Emotiva forums on the new UMC-1. Lots and lots of gripes about Directv DVRs and audio flake outs. Something I would find very annoying.

Have 2 DTV DVRS - HR20 and HR21 - have had them for years. Audio out is through Optical. Never a dropout of audio -ever- on either receiver.

If it were me, and I had the opportunity - I would try optical audio out and see if it goes away.
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post #5 of 65 Old 05-14-2010, 09:23 AM
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This is noted on many forums. DBSTalk

According to the support threads on DirecTV I have read (can't find it because it's buried b/c people keep posting their exact same issue there as if it is new), this has nothing to do with line of sight.

I think that by FAR the best evidence for indicating that this is not a line-of-sight issue is that my brother (and many others) has this issue on the mpeg4 channels on U-Verse. His TV accepts DD (he has no speakers) - and even his TV audio would cut out. He reported to me that some channels would cut out every 10 seconds - making them unwatchable.

When I tested this with my OTA locals, I can record both the OTA uncorrupted signal and the DirecTV mpeg4 version. The OTA version has no dropouts. To me, this points pretty clearly to the encoding that occurs to transfer the signal to mpeg4 - vs. the mpeg2 currently being used locally for OTA broadcasts.

Also, as DirecTV has moved more channels over to mpeg4, I have noticed more dropouts.

The explanation I am inclined to believe right now is that this is an issue with mpeg4-encoded material that uses the AC3 audio codec. The audio codec "skips", and the sound drops out.

You can switch from Dolby Digital to "Off" on your DirecTV receiver - and you will find that these dropouts practically disappear (they are still there but drastically reduced so as to be almost inaudible - I doubt I would have noticed them at all had I not known where to look). My brother is using this solution on his U-Verse - and his dropouts have practically disappeared when I last talked to him. Of course, his setting is not "Off" - I think it was "Stereo" on his STB. I just talked him through it last week. At first he thought it was the new TV and was talking about returning it!!

As you stated, you can easily rewind a program to the spot of the audio codec hiccup and reproduce it. When you find a dropout, try turning off Dolby Digital on your DirecTV box and then rewind and see if you can still tell the dropout is there. If I watch and listen very, very closely, I can still detect the slight blip even with DD turned off.

If you prefer to use this "solution", you can use Dolby PLIIx (or whatever) to recreate the surround sound. I have chosen not to do this and suffer the intermittent dropouts, because I find the fake version to be lacking compared to the actual Dolby Digital, and my dropouts are usually very intermittent (although some shows/channels are better than others).

My guess is that these minute audio signal dropouts are exaggerated on most modern HDMI receivers due to the decoding that is required in Dolby Digital setups, and so most people with these receivers are using Dolby Digital and a real sound system. That might explain why many people tend to point to certain "brands" of receivers as the culprit for these issues - and then proceed to list nearly every popular consumer brand AVR (Denon, Onkyo, Kenwood, Pioneer, etc) as if the AVR is the cause. I suspect that people who buy these AVRs are more likely to have surround sound setups (vs stereo or using TV speakers), and therefore are more likely to want to use Dolby Digital - at which point they encounter the issue with this encoding or re-encoding to mpeg4.

It was crystal clear to my that my AVR was not the cause because my Xbox360, Blu-Ray player and PC connected through HDMI do not suffer these issues on any material, and this issue does not happen on my OTA sources (which also go through my HR20 DirecTV box!) - unless I am watching the mpeg4 encoded DirecTV re-broadcast.
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post #6 of 65 Old 05-17-2010, 07:52 AM
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are you all using hdmi? i have this exact same issue and it's annoying, i seem to have noticed it when i upgraded my a/v receiver to one with hdmi switching... i dont notice any audio drop outs with my hd dvr upstairs just connected to the tv with hdmi.
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post #7 of 65 Old 05-17-2010, 11:51 AM
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I have been having the audio drop out issue as well. At first I thought it was only on recorded DVR material, therefore a hard drive seemed to be at fault. After connecting an external SATA harddrive to my H20 Directv DVR I thought the problem was fixed. I was wrong. However the problem only seems to happen on the locals derived from satellite. I have it connected via optical now and the problem is so bad that while watching the Sunday Fox lineup: Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, etc, etc....I had to switch to the OTA antenae to even continue watching.

This is BS.
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post #8 of 65 Old 06-03-2010, 11:17 PM
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I too experience the audio dropping, and yes I use HDMI to get 1080p, and yes my Dolby Digital is "on", I love the quality, when it works! After 1 year of complaining to DTV about the audio, they sent me a replacement (newer model) DVR which I installed 5/29. 15 minutes after installing it, guess what, same issue! (not a DVR issue).
I contacted DTV and they set me w/a case manager who scheduled a technician to come out 6/7. Now I also happen to be a Nielson ratings viewer and suspected their equipment. 6 attempts in 3 days (3 to the office, 3 to the installer) to have them contact me for a de-install were fruitless. Today (6/3) I de-installed most of the equipment, and unplugged the rest (take that!). Problem persists! (not a Nielson equipment issue).
Tonight 6/3 while watching NBA finals game 1 on ABC (local) the audio would drop every 10 secs!!! I'm hoping the DTV technician can isolate/resolve this issue, otherwise I'm (sadly) going back to DISH.

I will advise what happens on 6/7...to be continued!
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post #9 of 65 Old 06-04-2010, 08:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prometheis_78063 View Post

I too experience the audio dropping, and yes I use HDMI to get 1080p, and yes my Dolby Digital is "on", I love the quality, when it works! After 1 year of complaining to DTV about the audio, they sent me a replacement (newer model) DVR which I installed 5/29. 15 minutes after installing it, guess what, same issue! (not a DVR issue).
I contacted DTV and they set me w/a case manager who scheduled a technician to come out 6/7. Now I also happen to be a Nielson ratings viewer and suspected their equipment. 6 attempts in 3 days (3 to the office, 3 to the installer) to have them contact me for a de-install were fruitless. Today (6/3) I de-installed most of the equipment, and unplugged the rest (take that!). Problem persists! (not a Nielson equipment issue).
Tonight 6/3 while watching NBA finals game 1 on ABC (local) the audio would drop every 10 secs!!! I'm hoping the DTV technician can isolate/resolve this issue, otherwise I'm (sadly) going back to DISH.

I will advise what happens on 6/7...to be continued!

I was also watching the game. Although I don't have dropouts, I did hear a lot popping, static noise while watching the game.
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post #10 of 65 Old 06-04-2010, 11:11 AM
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I believe this is an HDMI handshake issue. It's not isolated solely to DirecTV either. I have D* and this happens to my HR20 connected via HDMI downstairs, but not on my HR20 upstairs that's hooked up via optical. Kind of annoying, but nothing I would change providers over. It's not DirecTV's fault.
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post #11 of 65 Old 06-07-2010, 01:01 AM
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Wouldn't a A/V receiver with auto lip-sync correction fix that issue with DirecTV?
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post #12 of 65 Old 06-07-2010, 01:21 AM
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I have the exact same audio drop out problem. It's not a lip-sync issue. The audio is gone. Sometimes once an hour, sometimes two to three times an hour. It gets rather annoying.

Growing Older But Not Up
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post #13 of 65 Old 06-07-2010, 02:26 AM
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Seems like this is an issue only when using A/V receivers. I have DirecTV using Dolby with HR24-500 DVR and TV speakers with no sound dropouts via HDMI cable.
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post #14 of 65 Old 06-07-2010, 08:29 PM
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Wow, I guess I am not the only one! Mine cuts out on some stations constantly, while others are fine. It also seems like some stations are ok with certain shows while others cut out. TBS seems to be ok, then not ok.
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post #15 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 04:44 AM
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Last night "The Good Guys" on FX experienced a lot of drop-outs. The weather was clear outside and other channels (CNN, TNT,) were fine at the time.

It seems to be a totally random issue as far as with me.
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post #16 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 07:38 AM
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I wonder why this sound dropout only occurs when using receivers?
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post #17 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ambizytl View Post

I wonder why this sound dropout only occurs when using receivers?

It doesn't. It happens when I'm just watching with the TV speakers as well. I'm using optical to the AVR and stereo RCAs to the TV.
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post #18 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Easyaspie View Post

It doesn't. It happens when I'm just watching with the TV speakers as well. I'm using optical to the AVR and stereo RCAs to the TV.

But it only happens using AVR to TV--not when using just DirecTV box to TV and TV speakers.
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post #19 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 11:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ambizytl View Post

But it only happens using AVR to TV--not when using just DirecTV box to TV and TV speakers.

No. It happens both ways: Direct STB to TV with AVR off AND Direct STB to AVR.

For instance last night we watched The Good Guys via the TV's speakers, the AVR wasn't in the loop or even on.
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post #20 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 11:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Easyaspie View Post

No. It happens both ways: Direct STB to TV with AVR off AND Direct STB to AVR.

For instance last night we watched The Good Guys via the TV's speakers, the AVR wasn't in the loop or even on.

But you still have the AVR going to TV. I have DirecTV and no sound dropouts--on any of the 3 TVs. I have 2 HR24 and 1 H24 and no dropouts! I am going straight from STB to TV. You are connecting from STB to AVR to TV.
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post #21 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ambizytl View Post

But you still have the AVR going to TV. I have DirecTV and no sound dropouts--on any of the 3 TVs. I have 2 HR24 and 1 H24 and no dropouts! I am going straight from STB to TV. You are connecting from STB to AVR to TV.

No I don't have the AVR going to the TV. In my system I only have the AVR process audio from the STB. My video from satellite goes directly to the TV via component video.

The Direct box is connected directly to the TV. I have both an optical connection to the AVR and a set of standard interconnects connected to the TV for the times when I don't want to use the full HT system.

The audio drops out regardless of whether I use optical to the AVR or RCA to the TV.

edit: I typed TV instead of AVR. It reads correct now.
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post #22 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ambizytl View Post

But you still have the AVR going to TV. I have DirecTV and no sound dropouts--on any of the 3 TVs. I have 2 HR24 and 1 H24 and no dropouts! I am going straight from STB to TV. You are connecting from STB to AVR to TV.

It is likely that your TV doesn't support DD5.1 audio via HDMI so it negotiates a stereo signal with the sat box. The dropouts are virtually inaudible in the stereo signal, if they exist at all. If you add an AVR in the mix, it will request DD5.1 audio from the sat box and the dropouts become noticeable.
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post #23 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by jgyenese View Post

It is likely that your TV doesn't support DD5.1 audio via HDMI so it negotiates a stereo signal with the sat box. The dropouts are virtually inaudible in the stereo signal, if they exist at all. If you add an AVR in the mix, it will request DD5.1 audio from the sat box and the dropouts become noticeable.

My TV does support Dolby, however, I am using the TV speakers. I have not read here of someone going straight from DirecTV receiver to TV and having those dropouts.
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post #24 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 12:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Easyaspie View Post

No I don't have the AVR going to the TV. In my system I only have the AVR process audio from the STB. My video from satellite goes directly to the TV via component video.

The Direct box is connected directly to the TV. I have both an optical connection to the AVR and a set of standard interconnects connected to the TV for the times when I don't want to use the full HT system.

The audio drops out regardless of whether I use optical to the AVR or RCA to the TV.

edit: I typed TV instead of AVR. It reads correct now.

But, you are not going straight to TV for both video and sound. The issue appears to be only when using AVR, not when using HDMI or component cables (video & sound) from STB to TV.
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post #25 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 12:06 PM
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Here is an experiment for you guys, hook up straight from STB to TV for video and sound without the use of AVR for any reason and use TV speakers for sound and see if you still get dropouts.
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post #26 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zchrisz View Post

are you all using hdmi? i have this exact same issue and it's annoying, i seem to have noticed it when i upgraded my a/v receiver to one with hdmi switching... i dont notice any audio drop outs with my hd dvr upstairs just connected to the tv with hdmi.

Here is one guy who went as I suggested and no dropouts reported.
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post #27 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 12:13 PM
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I'm having this issue as well. It only happens if run HDMI through my Onkyo AVR. If I run the HDMI cable from the DTV receiver to the TV I do not have this problem. It happens more often through the premium channels.
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post #28 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by MitchB84 View Post

I'm having this issue as well. It only happens if run HDMI through my Onkyo AVR. If I run the HDMI cable from the DTV receiver to the TV I do not have this problem. It happens more often through the premium channels.

That is what I've been saying! The problem is only when not going straight from STB to TV for video and sound.

I don't know if this is a DTV issue using an AVR and doesn't happen with Dish satellite or cable companies. If it only happens with DTV, then it is a bummer. Maybe there is another way that would work, such as going HDMI to AVR and digital coax for sound to AVR and disabling TV speakers? That way you would have to use speakers connected to AVR for sound all the time. There might even be another way you guys haven't tried or some other thing that would indicate the problem is not with DTV?
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post #29 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ambizytl View Post

My TV does support Dolby, however, I am using the TV speakers. I have not read here of someone going straight from DirecTV receiver to TV and having those dropouts.

A lot of TVs that support Dolby Digital only do so through the tuner. Since the TV only has two speakers and cannot produce DD5.1 sound, many of them do not accept it via HDMI.

DBSTalk is full of posts discussing the issue and the concensus seems to be that it occurs in the DD5.1 signal. If you turn DD5.1 off in the DTV menu it sounds the same as when connected straight to a stereo TV.
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post #30 of 65 Old 06-08-2010, 05:41 PM
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As someone who works for a certain (unnamed) very large telecommunications company, I confirm that this also happens with U-verse. It is actually on the list of known issues. I believe it is an issue with the software on the U-verse receivers doing the decoding of the audio codec (though I cannot 100% confirm this). The U-verse receivers in my area are Cisco (Scientific Atlanta); I do not know if this is also an issue with the areas that use Motorola boxes.

I suspect the issue has the same root cause on the DirecTV boxes.

The only known solution, currently, is to turn off the surround sound via the receiver options and keep it on stereo. However, with my U-verse receiver and surround sound setup, the audio skips happen infrequently enough that I rarely notice them, and even when I do is doesn't really distract me at all.
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