Monday, August 20, 2007

DirecTV HD-DVR (HR-20 700) Pixelation and Audio Dropout Diagnosis

If you're noticing audio drops and pixelation when watching live or recorded HD programs on your HR-20 this is how to diagnose the problem. I was having the problem on the MPEG-2 encoded HD channels (70-79) and it was annoyingly intermittent. At best it would happen every half-hour or so and at worst it would happen every few seconds.

The first thing to check is the signal strength (of course) but you have probably already done that. That wasn't my problem but if you haven't verified that the signal is ok do this:

Menu->Help & Settings->Setup->Sat & Ant->View Signal Strength->Signal Meters

You're looking for green on both Tuners. 75 or better. If you're not there then stop here. You'll probably need to adjust your satellite.

If your signal is ok, we'll next want to determine if the B-Band converters are causing the problem. These are the small boxes inline with the coax coming in from the satellite. Remove them and see if the problem goes away. If it does, your B-Band converters are bad. Call DirecTV and ask for new ones. They are free.

If removing the B-Band converters didn't solve the problem we need to determine if the problem is on one or both signal lines. Every time you change the channel the HR-20 switches tuners (unless something is being recorded on one tuner). Stop any recordings and turn to channel 75 (TNT-HD). Note whether you see pixelation or not. Press: channel up, channel up, and then dial in 75 again. This should put you back on channel 75 but on the other tuner. The first channel up puts us on 76 opposite tuner, the second channel up put us on 77 same tuner and the dial in of 75 puts on back on 75 with the opposite tuner.

If you noticed the problem on on tuner but not the other then we have to determine if it is the coax or the tuner itself. Disconnect tuner 2 on the back of the box. Tune to 75 and note whether you see pixelation or not. Disconnect the line into tuner 1 and put the line that was in tuner two into tuner 1. Tune to 75 again and note whether you see the problem. Repeat the process with tuner 2 trying each line in tuner 2.

If the problem occurs with both lines on one tuner, but not the other, then your tuner is shot. Hopefully your HR-20 is still under warranty. If the problem occurs on both tuners with one coax line but not the other, then the wiring is bad. Run a new cable.

Hopefully this will save a few people an expensive service trip.