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Vizio soundbar cutting out with Panasonic P42GT25

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
I recently purchased a Vizio VHT215 soundbar and connected it to my Panasonic Viera TC-P42GT25 plasma TV. The soundbar works fine when I'm watching content from my Xbox 360 or PC, both of which are connected to the TV via HDMI. But when I watch over-the-air content from the digital antenna or streaming content from the built-in Vieracast Netflix or Hulu apps the sound cuts out for just a second every couple of minutes. It seems that the bar is losing the signal from the TV intermittently, which is confirmed by the fact that if I mute the bar it will unmute within a minute or two, presumably at the same time the sound would have cut out if it hadn't been muted.

As for my connections, the soundbar is connected to the TV via the HDMI 1 port, which is an ARC port. I'm starting to wonder if there is something wrong with this port, though. Aside from the sound cutting out, the ARC functionality doesn't work as advertised because the bar doesn't go on when I turn the TV on. It does go off when I turn the TV off, and I can control the volume on the bar using the TV's remote, but I have to manually turn the bar on after I turn the TV on. Another thing I noticed is that the sound doesn't seem to cut out when I disconnect the Xbox and PC from the other two HDMI ports. Lastly, I did connect the bar to the TV via an optical cable and the sound did not cut out, lending more weight to my theory that there is something wrong with the HDMI 1 port. I tried connecting the bar to the HDMI 2 and 3 ports but then I didn't get any sound at all for some reason. Those two ports are not ARC, but the Vizio instructions don't indicate that it has to be connected to an ARC port so I would think it should work in any of the HDMI ports on the TV.

I've called both Vizio and Panasonic, and they each say that it's the other's equipment at fault. Vizio told me that this bar works best with a PCM signal, but Panasonic tells me that this TV does not output PCM. Even if it's true that the bar works best with a PCM signal, that wouldn't explain why the Xbox and PC signals work fine, since everything is going through the same HDMI port on the TV, nothing else is connected directly to the bar.

Any ideas?
post #2 of 4
I can answer a few of your questions that aren't directly related to the sound cutting out.
Quote:
Aside from the sound cutting out, the ARC functionality doesn't work as advertised because the bar doesn't go on when I turn the TV on. It does go off when I turn the TV off, and I can control the volume on the bar using the TV's remote, but I have to manually turn the bar on after I turn the TV on.
You're confusing ARC with HDMI-CTL. ARC only does audio return, not any of the other stuff. Go to your Viera Link settings and see if you have "auto-on" disabled. Panny has separate controls for auto-off and auto-on. That's probably why the bar isn't turning on.
Quote:
I tried connecting the bar to the HDMI 2 and 3 ports but then I didn't get any sound at all for some reason. Those two ports are not ARC, but the Vizio instructions don't indicate that it has to be connected to an ARC port so I would think it should work in any of the HDMI ports on the TV.
ARC only works when two ARC-enabled ports are connected.
Quote:
Vizio told me that this bar works best with a PCM signal, but Panasonic tells me that this TV does not output PCM.
Shame on Panasonic for saying that. The TV outputs PCM from any source device connected to the TV. However, the TV outputs DD5.1 when received from the internal tuner and you can't change that to PCM which may be what Panny was referring to. I'm surprised you're having a problem with the smart apps though as I thought they were only stereo and were sent out PCM.

Have you tried using a different HDMI cable? ARC does require a high-speed cable and even if you're already using one, I'd try another.

If all else fails, use the optical connection since that seems to be working fine.
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your response. I've never heard of HDMI-CTL, but both Vizio and Panasonic told me that the ARC should turn the soundbar on with the TV. For what it's worth, I got my information about ARC from this article: http://hdguru.com/what-is-hdmi-arc-and-what-does-it-do-for-your-hdtv/8322/. To quote part of the article, "In most ARC products, the soundbar and TV essentially act as one device, with just a single button push to power them both on (no programming required)." Assuming this article is correct, the soundbar should power on when I turn on the TV, but it does not. Also, the HDMI cable is connected to ARC ports on both the TV and the soundbar.

I found the Viera Link settings you mentioned, but they don't seem to change anything. There is an "Power On" setting that was set to "Off," as you suspected, but the description reads: "Enables compliant devices, connected via HDMI, to turn on the TV power." I take this as meaning that another device can turn the TV on, not the other was around. In fact, even with it enabled, using the soundbar's remote does not power the TV on, so it doesn't work either way. The reason I had not fiddled with the Viera Link settings is that my understanding is that Viera Link is a proprietary system linking different Viera products, not linking this TV with products from other manufacturer's. Since the soundbar is not a Viera product, I didn't think the Viera Link settings would affect anything.

To answer your final question, all of the cables are high-speed HDMI. And yes, the optical cable does seem to work fine, but it is not ideal since I would then have to use different remotes to change channels and set volume.
post #4 of 4
Quote:
"In most ARC products, the soundbar and TV essentially act as one device, with just a single button push to power them both on (no programming required)."

Although that's technically correct, I can see why people get confused about ARC. ARC is an extended feature of HDMI-CTL (CEC). It began appearing on 2010 models, but the other functions of CEC (such as on/off and volume control) were in place several years prior to that. So you don't need ARC for the control functions, but you can't have ARC without the control functions also. biggrin.gif

Viera Link is Panny's name for CEC, just as Bravia Sync is Sony's and Anynet+ is Samsung, etc. For the most part, the basic functions usually work well across different brands. Example: I have a Panny ST30. I used to use a Sony soundbar, but now use a Denon AVR. Viera Link works just fine with either of those.

In your case, turning on the Panny's Power On function should turn the soundbar on when you turn on the TV using the TV remote. Won't work the other way around; the TV is the "control" part of HDMI-CTL. Perhaps Vizio implemented their CEC differently, I don't know.
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