The fix for HDMI woes


Unfortunately, the promise of HDMI has never lived up to it’s reality.  To be fair, if you have a simple setup—a source device connected to a display—and you’re within about 6-15 feet or so then generally you’re fine.  However, once you start setting up an HDMI-based network that’s comprised of a receiver, pre-pro, or HDMI switchers, then that’s where many of the problems arise.

Problems can manifest themselves in seemingly maddening ways:

  • You’ll get no audio or video
  • You’ll get video, but no audio
  • You’ll get audio, but no video
  • Switching sources can take 2 seconds per device in the chain so if you have source, switcher, receiver, and TV, that’s 4 devices or 8 seconds between switching
  • Powering the devices “on” in a certain order will make things work fine while powering them on in a different order will make things go all out of whack.
I’ve had the terrible and painful experience of almost all of these HDMI-based problems with my AppleTV. If you lookup the problems online, you’ll be met with one of a few knowledge based articles on Apple’s site.  For example, there’s this one:
AppleTV: HDMI Audio Stops Working: or this one:

AppleTV (2nd and 3rd Generation): Troubleshooting video issues or this one
Apple TV (2nd and 3rd generation): About Apple TV and HDCP
The articles sound so promising but what they’re really telling you is you’re at the mercy of HDMI.  My favorite is certainly TS2090.  The tech article matter-of-factly states: “Your Apple TV may stop playing audio to an HDMI device (TV, AV receiver, or HDMI switcher) for these reasons:”  My hopes are then dashed when I see the reasons being:

  • Switching devices using AV receivers 
  • Using HDMI switches 
  • Using HDMI splitters 
  • Removing an HDMI cable and plugging it back in when all the devices in use are on

Wait a minute, you just described every setup that isn’t AppleTV connected to…. the TV!  So, I can’t play my AppleTV content through my stereo system for high fidelity?  I’m limited to those tinny speakers in the TV?  Oh I could go on and on.

Nothing I tried worked in my case.  So I decided to research ways to address HDMI-based issues and came across a wonderful little product that from its description appeared that it would be my HDMI panacea. This divinely-inspired HDMI Gremlin zapper would solve all my ills.  It’s name?  Dr. HDMI. Wow, what a perfect name. For $99, I could have the problem of HDMI-inspired ills completely cured.  But alas, I’d need a Dr. HDMI at my display and possibly connected to every device.

I settled on a solution that I’ll talk about in my next post as I take you through what I did to try and solve my HDMI trials and tribulations.