When your home cinema system malfunctions during an exceptional movie-watching experience, it can be incredibly frustrating. Here at Hollywood Cinema Store, we understand the frustration that arises when you encounter such issues, leaving you wondering what went wrong and how to resolve it. We’ve compiled a list of a few of the more common issues that new home cinema enthusiasts should be aware of.

HDMI Hot swapping

Most of your home AV equipment, such as projectors, AV receivers, set-top boxes, gaming consoles and laptops, all require an HDMI connection for proper functionality. When you make or break an HDMI connection while your equipment is powered on and in use, as in the case of unplugging, moving and plugging back in a running laptop connected to the front of your AV receiver, it is known as “hot-swapping.” This term stems from the fact that HDMI connections carry a 5V charge. Consequently, if you disconnect or reconnect a cable while it is “live,” it can potentially lead to an electrical short referred to as an electrostatic discharge, which has the potential to harm your equipment. This risk also exists if a live HDMI cable comes into contact with the AV receiver chassis, which constitutes the rear portion of the unit containing all the connections.

Another risk associated with HDMI usage is damage caused by worn-out and deteriorated connectors, which are the parts of the cable that are frequently plugged in and out. A HDMI cable that has undergone frequent plugging and unplugging is significantly more likely to result in a short circuit when hot-swapping.

It is strongly advisable to power off all your equipment before plugging in or moving any AV equipment, especially those with HDMI connections. 

The rear panel/chassis for a Denon AVC-X8500AH AV Receiver.

HDCP Handshake

HDCP, which stands for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection, serves the crucial purpose of safeguarding digital copyrighted content as it traverses from a source device to your AV Receiver or Projector, typically via HDMI, DVI, or DisplayPort connections. This safeguarding process is referred to as a “handshake” and, at times, can be the root cause of video or audio problems if there is damage to the HDMI cable or the connections involved.

Common troubleshooting solutions for HDCP-related issues include reversing the ends of the cable, bypassing your AV Receiver or sound system by directly connecting the device to your projector, trying different HDMI ports, or utilizing a new cable. It’s worth noting that HDCP problems can also arise when using older AV equipment or non-HDCP compliant connections.

Volume Overload

One of the more common technical failures we encounter is when we excitedly turn up the volume to very high levels on our new surround sound or stereo hi-fi system and exceed the limits of either the amplifier or the speakers.  This can trigger the amplifier to go into protection mode, which is a safety feature designed to prevent irreversible damage to your audio equipment.  It’s important to note that your speaker drivers can sustain damage even before the protection mode is activated. Overloading your speakers with excessive power from your amplifier can easily result in their malfunction, and since this issue does not typically stem from a product fault, any necessary repairs may not be covered under warranty.

Note: This does not apply to subwoofers, as they have their own onboard power supply.  Instead, an overloaded subwoofer played at excessive volume will be destroyed.

Change the channel

It’s often the simplest things that can lead to confusion. Your Home AV Receiver offers a range of input options, including various HDMI, Phono, and USB connections, akin to the channels on a TV set. Selecting the correct input is crucial for accessing the content you desire. For instance, if you wish to enjoy a Blu-Ray movie on your home cinema system, your AV Receiver should be set to the Blu-Ray input. Similarly, for gaming on your PS5, you’ll need to switch the input to Game/PS5.

Fortunately, most modern receivers are designed to automatically label the input to match the connected device. Additionally, you can manually assign or rename inputs through the menu, making it easier to keep track of all your input sources and ensuring you select the right one when needed.

The front display for a Denon AVC-X8500AH AV Receiver, showing the Input selector set to Blu-Ray.

Get the right help

Our commitment is to assist our customers through both over-the-phone tech support and on-site support services (fees may apply). Additionally, it’s worth remembering that sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective. If you encounter issues where things stop working, a tried-and-true method is to turn everything off and reset the entire system. This basic troubleshooting step can often save you a significant amount of time and frustration.