Sky+ HD Box and Surround Sound Audio Cut-Outs

A very quick post this morning before I forget; we have been watching Sky for years now, and at some point over the last year or more, we have been getting audio cut-outs via our Sony Surround sound box.

What would happen is that the sound would cut out for half a second to a second, and then come back a moment later.  If we rewound the programme by a few seconds and tried again, it invariably played ok the second time around… proving that the recording itself was not at fault, but the audio communication to the Surround Sound box — the picture quality was not being impacted during these issues.

Over a period of months, the problem was getting worse and worse, with the playback of recorded programmes being interrupted more and more frequently; I would think it was happening once every few minutes overall, but there might have been bursts of the problems such that a ‘rewind’ to try again to hear some missed audio would itself be impacted by another cut-out of audio!

This all got so bad in May — that we eventually had to figure out how to get the TV to play terrestrial TV because the Sky box playing back the recorded program, or Live TV was interrupting the sound so often it was painful to watch / listen to!  As an aside, we never had similar audio cut-outs with the Sony BluRay player or our Apple TV, so I was very confident this was not the surround processor or anything else than the Sky box.

Look; this post needs to be quick today, so I will shortcut the story and simply say; I tried to open the DRX890W box to take a look at the internals (check it was not clogged with dust or whatever), because I had noticed that the top of the box was getting very hot.  Granted, I had had a small Sony BluRay player on top of it, but moving that had not improved matters.  I actually failed to get the box open — I guess I had not done enough research on the many odd features of the box — but during the process of disconnection I noted that the box was still connected to my home phone line, which surprised me.

When I reconnected the box, I did not re-connect the phone line (surely the need to connect to the phone was a precursor to the internet connection that is now possible)… so I thought I would save having another cable spread across the lounge.  Amazongly, I have not had the audio cut-out problem since then!

So here is my suggestion to you if you have similar audio cut-out problems intermittently:

  • Try to disconnect your phone line if it is still connected (note: your terms of service with Sky may require it to be connected, but I believe this is superseded by the box being connected to the internet or wifi.
  • If you have anything on top of your Sky box try to remove it or raise it to allow the heat to dissipate.

Personally, I suspect the phone line was the problem all this time… though Sky support forums have several support cases reporting very similar audio issues since at least 2011; when various other causes such as software versions appear to have been the culprit.

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