I checked all speaker/receive audio connections. Finding a bad center channel connection, I feared I had cooked my PSB Image C8 tweeter and replaced it. This seemed to slightly improve the issues, briefly.
I have also replaced all HDMI cables. Audio from iPods (direct USB input) and CD player (optical input) play fine. HDMI input is less than ideal. Blu-Ray, DirecTV (HDMI sources) are not performing perfectly, though most are OK. ABC programing is terrible.
Here's my hardware lineup:
Good PSB speakers that have performed well for years;
Pioneer VSX 920 Receiver (I wish I could have done better at the time I bought this - like going for an NAD or at least Marantz) but the Pioneer had performed decently until recently.
Directv HD DVR;
Philips Blu-Ray player.
A bit more on trouble-shooting: I suspected the center channel output in the Pioneer receiver could be failing, but switched the audio to just the main speakers, excluding the center channel, and the audio remained terrible. I moved onto the HDMI theory. Replacing the cable brought brief, partial relief, but the audio again deteriorated (especially on ABC programming).
Questions: Is this all just some ABC audio mess, for which I am pointlessly/needlessly troubleshooting my hardware?
Is this the mediocre Pioneer receiver dying a slow death (with ABC being the first bloody casualty, other HDMI content to follow, and stereo sources destine to be the last hold outs)?