How to Fix Basic Home Theater System Issues

Introduction

Home theater systems can be complicated. When you’ve got a system with this many wires and settings, it’s surprisingly easy for things to go wrong. In this guide, we’re going to break down a few common problems people encounter when setting up and using their home theater system and how to fix them.
Common home theater setup.

Because most home theater setups contain multiple hardware components made by a variety of different manufacturers, many of the steps in this guide will be generic. While not all buttons or options that you will see will match your specific equipment, this guide will take you through the process of what to look for and do to resolve these basic issues.

? What kind of issue are you having?

  1. I have sound and no picture or picture and no sound
  2. My remote isn't working
  3. Picture doesn't fit the screen
  4. Picture doesn't look as good as it should

We're here to help!

Connect to a Tech Pro

Call or chat with a Tech Pro 24/7.

Home theater systems can be complicated. When you’ve got a system with this many wires and settings, it’s surprisingly easy for things to go wrong. In this guide, we’re going to break down a few common problems people encounter when setting up and using their home theater system and how to fix them.
Common home theater setup.

Because most home theater setups contain multiple hardware components made by a variety of different manufacturers, many of the steps in this guide will be generic. While not all buttons or options that you will see will match your specific equipment, this guide will take you through the process of what to look for and do to resolve these basic issues.

Each device within your home theater setup (TV, A/V receiver, cable box, blu-ray or DVD player) will all come with their own remote controls. The following steps in this guide will require that you have the remote control for each individual component you will be working with. A universal remote control may not have all the buttons necessary to access certain settings or menus that you may need.

Various home theater component remote controls.

A common problem within home theater setups is that multiple remote controls can be necessary to get each device set properly. If you are working with the incorrect remote control, or a universal remote control that does not contain all the same buttons that the original device's remote control has, you may experience problems controlling the device you're attempting to work with.

Ensure you have and are using the remote controller that came with the device you wish to control before you proceed.

Your TV and A/V Receiver components may need to be using different "input" or "source" settings in order to be able to find sound or picture properly. This will be different in every home theater setup depending on the cables that are being used, and the different components that you have installed. These steps will touch upon how you can check and adjust the input settings of your components to make sure they're correct.

Television displaying a no signal message on-screen.

Seeing a "No Signal" image on your TV like the one above, means your TV is likely looking for picture on the wrong "Source" or "Input."

In order to check and change sources on your TV:

  1. Locate the Input or Source button on your TV remote.
    Television remote highlighting the input button.
  2. Aim the remote at the TV and press the Input or Source button to begin cycling through the available inputs on the screen.
  3. When you've reached the input option you'd like to test, just stop pressing the input button. The TV will switch to the input option you've landed on automatically after a few seconds.
  4. Repeat this process to try all available inputs on your TV.

To check and change sources on your A/V Receiver:

  1. Some A/V Receivers will have knobs dedicated to changing the input or source it is using.
    AV receiver highlighting an knob style input selector.
  2. Others will have physical buttons for specific inputs rather than a knob.
    AV receiver highlighting button style input selection options.
  3. Alternatively, most A/V Receivers will have Input or Source buttons on their remote controls.
    AV receiver remote highlighting button style input selection options.
  4. Simply turn the knob or press the button of the Input or Source you would like to select.

This is a general guide for rebooting Home Theater or Surround Sound components. This can be any component within your Home Theater system including your TV, A/V Receiver, Cable Box, DVD or Blu-Ray player, etc. Most devices can be power cycled by using their remote controls. However, certain unresponsive devices may need to be unplugged from power if the remote does nothing or does not completely shut the component off.

To power cycle a component using its remote control:

  1. Press the power button on the remote control of the component you need to power cycle.
    AV receiver remote with power button highlighted.
  2. The component should turn off and can then be turned back on at any time using the same button on the remote control.

If power cycling via the component's remote control does not work:

  1. First, attempt to turn off the component normally by pressing it's power button.
    Common TV power button.
  2. Next, unplug the component from power.
    Removing a power cord from a wall outlet. Illustration.
  3. Wait at least 30 seconds.
  4. Plug the component back into power and attempt to power it back on.

Identifying what kind of cable connects the box you wish to be seeing on the screen (cable box, DVD player, etc.) of your TV is very important. This will help make absolutely sure that the correct input settings are being used and that there is not a loose or bad connection with the cables being used. The kinds of cables being used and where they are connected will be different in every home theater setup.

The most common types of cables you may encounter when looking at your Home Theater equipment:

  • HDMI
    Common HDMI cable.
  • Component Video
    Common analog component video cable.
  • Composite Video
    Common analog composite video cable.
  1. Start with the box you're attempting to get picture from, like your Cable box or DVD/Blu-ray player.
    Standard cable TV and DVD player.
  2. On the back of the box, check to see what kind of cables are connected and trace them to see what and where they are plugged into. While checking, make sure each cable is securely connected and pushed in firmly all the way.
    Connecting an HDMI cable to the rear of a video component.
  3. In this example, the HDMI cable that comes from the cable box is connected to the HDMI2 input on the TV. This means the TV would need to be set to HDMI2 to see the picture from this cable box.
    Connecting an HDMI cable to the rear of a TV set.
  4. Check that all cables are securely connected and take note of the names of the ports that those cables are plugged into so those specific inputs can be tested.

Each device within your home theater setup (TV, A/V receiver, cable box, blu-ray or DVD player) will all come with their own remote controls. The following steps in this guide will require that you have the remote control for each individual component you will be working with. A universal remote control may not have all the buttons necessary to access certain settings or menus that you may need.

Various home theater component remote controls.

A common problem within home theater setups is that multiple remote controls can be necessary to get each device set properly. If you are working with the incorrect remote control, or a universal remote control that does not contain all the same buttons that the original device's remote control has, you may experience problems controlling the device you're attempting to work with.

Ensure you have and are using the remote controller that came with the device you wish to control before you proceed.

  1. Lift the back cover up and away from the remote.
  2. Remove and re-insert the 2 batteries.
  3. Reposition the back cover onto the remote, and slide down to click it into place.
    Inserting batteries into a remote control. Illustration.
  4. If the remote fails to respond properly after this, replace the existing set of batteries with new ones.

Your Home Theater system may or may not include a universal remote control that requires specific programming. Depending on what components your system has, these next steps may not apply to you.

Common universal remotes.

Most Cable TV providers will provide a universal remote control like the ones shown above, or you may choose to purchase an aftermarket universal remote control that can be programmed to control your TV and other components. This allows you to cut down on the total number of remote controls you need to keep handy. Unfortunately, this also means that if things are not programmed properly, your universal remote's buttons may not control your TV or other devices the way it should.

Some things you can try if your remote control is not controlling things properly:

  • Make sure there are no obstructions between the device you wish to control and the remote itself. Most remote controls use infrared (IR) technology, which means they need to be aimed directly at the device you want to control. If something is blocking the remote, your commands will not work.
  • Always check the batteries in your remote control. There are no indicators that will let you know when battery life is running low. Low battery power can cause the remote to intermittently function, or not function at all.
  • You may need to contact your Cable TV provider for specific instructions on how to ensure your universal remote control is programmed properly to control the specific equipment within your setup.
  • In a pinch, you can always use the original remote that came with the device you wish to control. The remote controls that come with each device generally do not have to be programmed and should always function properly.

Each device within your home theater setup (TV, A/V receiver, cable box, blu-ray or DVD player) will all come with their own remote controls. The following steps in this guide will require that you have the remote control for each individual component you will be working with. A universal remote control may not have all the buttons necessary to access certain settings or menus that you may need.

Various home theater component remote controls.

A common problem within home theater setups is that multiple remote controls can be necessary to get each device set properly. If you are working with the incorrect remote control, or a universal remote control that does not contain all the same buttons that the original device's remote control has, you may experience problems controlling the device you're attempting to work with.

Ensure you have and are using the remote controller that came with the device you wish to control before you proceed.

Having a high-definition TV is only one part of getting high-definition quality picture on your TV screen. Making sure the things providing picture to your screen is just as important as the quality of the screen itself.

Contrasting high definition and standard definition television signals.

One of the biggest reasons HD TVs get returned these days is because many are not pleased with the quality of the picture they end up with at the end of the day. In many cases, this is due to using a high-quality TV to display low quality content, or content that was never high-definition to begin with. If you are not pleased with the picture you're seeing on-screen, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you are using a standard-definition cable box or a standard DVD player, the picture quality these boxes are capable of outputting is generally quite a bit lower than your HD TV is capable of displaying. You want to ensure that you have a high-definition cable box and/or Blu-ray player that are capable of producing the kind of high-quality picture your TV can display.
  • If you see black bars on the sides of your screen while watching something, this means that the program or movie you're watching was not filmed in widescreen format. Bars are generally put in place to prevent your widescreen TV from stretching and distorting the picture of what you're watching.
  • Many TV stations will broadcast both standard-definition and high-definition versions of their channels. If you are watching a standard-definition channel on a high-definition television, this can greatly impact picture quality. Ensure you are always watching the HD version of the channel you're tuned into, if one is available.
  • If you have bars on the top and bottom of your screen, this generally indicates that the program or movie you're watching was filmed in a wider-than-widescreen format. This is nothing your TV, cable box or DVD player are doing incorrectly.

Stretch and Zoom features may or may not be available depending on the type of TV or cable box you have in your setup. The buttons mentioned in these steps will vary depending on the equipment you are using. This step may not apply to you if your equipment does not offer Stretch or Zoom features.

Common television stretch and screen zoom options.

Most HD TVs have "Stretch" and "Zoom" functions that may allow you to remove the black bands that appear on your screen when you're watching some programming. "Stretch" stretches the image to fill your screen and can cause some distortion of the image. "Zoom" zooms the image, cutting off part of the original picture. If these features are left on when changing channels or to a different device, it can cause things to look very strange.

To check stretch or zoom features on your TV or Cable box:

  1. Look for a button on your TV or Cable Box remote that may mention Stretch, Zoom, Format, or Aspect. While the labels may differ from remote to remote, they cycle thru the same picture options that have been mentioned.
    Examples of TV remote buttons that can alter stretch, zoom, format or aspect settings.
  2. With the remote aimed at your TV or Cable box, press the corresponding button repeatedly to begin cycling thru the available picture options. Once the picture has reached a format you desire, simply stop pressing the button and your TV will maintain the option you've chosen.

This is a general guide for rebooting Home Theater or Surround Sound components. This can be any component within your Home Theater system including your TV, A/V Receiver, Cable Box, DVD or Blu-Ray player, etc. Most devices can be power cycled by using their remote controls. However, certain unresponsive devices may need to be unplugged from power if the remote does nothing or does not completely shut the component off.

To power cycle a component using its remote control:

  1. Press the power button on the remote control of the component you need to power cycle.
    AV receiver remote with power button highlighted.
  2. The component should turn off and can then be turned back on at any time using the same button on the remote control.

If power cycling via the component's remote control does not work:

  1. First, attempt to turn off the component normally by pressing it's power button.
    Common TV power button.
  2. Next, unplug the component from power.
    Removing a power cord from a wall outlet. Illustration.
  3. Wait at least 30 seconds.
  4. Plug the component back into power and attempt to power it back on.

Each device within your home theater setup (TV, A/V receiver, cable box, blu-ray or DVD player) will all come with their own remote controls. The following steps in this guide will require that you have the remote control for each individual component you will be working with. A universal remote control may not have all the buttons necessary to access certain settings or menus that you may need.

Various home theater component remote controls.

A common problem within home theater setups is that multiple remote controls can be necessary to get each device set properly. If you are working with the incorrect remote control, or a universal remote control that does not contain all the same buttons that the original device's remote control has, you may experience problems controlling the device you're attempting to work with.

Ensure you have and are using the remote controller that came with the device you wish to control before you proceed.

Having a high-definition TV is only one part of getting high-definition quality picture on your TV screen. Making sure the things providing picture to your screen is just as important as the quality of the screen itself.

Contrasting high definition and standard definition television signals.

One of the biggest reasons HD TVs get returned these days is because many are not pleased with the quality of the picture they end up with at the end of the day. In many cases, this is due to using a high-quality TV to display low quality content, or content that was never high-definition to begin with. If you are not pleased with the picture you're seeing on-screen, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you are using a standard-definition cable box or a standard DVD player, the picture quality these boxes are capable of outputting is generally quite a bit lower than your HD TV is capable of displaying. You want to ensure that you have a high-definition cable box and/or Blu-ray player that are capable of producing the kind of high-quality picture your TV can display.
  • If you see black bars on the sides of your screen while watching something, this means that the program or movie you're watching was not filmed in widescreen format. Bars are generally put in place to prevent your widescreen TV from stretching and distorting the picture of what you're watching.
  • Many TV stations will broadcast both standard-definition and high-definition versions of their channels. If you are watching a standard-definition channel on a high-definition television, this can greatly impact picture quality. Ensure you are always watching the HD version of the channel you're tuned into, if one is available.
  • If you have bars on the top and bottom of your screen, this generally indicates that the program or movie you're watching was filmed in a wider-than-widescreen format. This is nothing your TV, cable box or DVD player are doing incorrectly.

Stretch and Zoom features may or may not be available depending on the type of TV or cable box you have in your setup. The buttons mentioned in these steps will vary depending on the equipment you are using. This step may not apply to you if your equipment does not offer Stretch or Zoom features.

Common television stretch and screen zoom options.

Most HD TVs have "Stretch" and "Zoom" functions that may allow you to remove the black bands that appear on your screen when you're watching some programming. "Stretch" stretches the image to fill your screen and can cause some distortion of the image. "Zoom" zooms the image, cutting off part of the original picture. If these features are left on when changing channels or to a different device, it can cause things to look very strange.

To check stretch or zoom features on your TV or Cable box:

  1. Look for a button on your TV or Cable Box remote that may mention Stretch, Zoom, Format, or Aspect. While the labels may differ from remote to remote, they cycle thru the same picture options that have been mentioned.
    Examples of TV remote buttons that can alter stretch, zoom, format or aspect settings.
  2. With the remote aimed at your TV or Cable box, press the corresponding button repeatedly to begin cycling thru the available picture options. Once the picture has reached a format you desire, simply stop pressing the button and your TV will maintain the option you've chosen.
We use cookies on our website to enhance your experience, analyze site usage and support our marketing efforts. To learn more, visit our Privacy Policy. By clicking “Accept”, you agree to our use of cookies and similar technologies.
Accept