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Sound drop out...video freezes OTA Locals

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by Gern Blansten, Oct 13, 2010.

  1. Gern Blansten

    Gern Blansten Cool Member

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    Dec 28, 2007
    AS I have posted in a previous post, OTA channels drop sound and video lags and sometimes pixelates during playback of recorded OTA programming. Tonight was HORRIBLE watching Hells Kitchen. Every 20-30 seconds, the sound would drop out. In order to hear, we have to rewind and then it plays. Super annoying to watch OTA programming, if it wasn't high def, I would not worry about it. Sadly HD locals are not slated for our area any time soon, so I am hoping someone can shed some light on how to correct his problem.

    I have tried reformatting, disk scans, reboots, sound to just the TV and no tuner. Make sure that two recordings do not occur at the same time. We have tried everything suggested here. This nvere happes when you watch it live, pause it or record it and BINGO...crappy playback.

    We have a HR20.
     
  2. Kodok

    Kodok AllStar

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    Feb 9, 2008
    I would expect because of bad drive but you did Disk Scan.

    Edit:

    The reason I said about a bad drive, I just experienced myself with my HR21-200. First the AM21 wouldn't turn on intermittenly when I turn on the receiver, so I thought it was a bad AM21. Replaced AM21 with the new unit and the problem persisted. Then I started getting break up on OTA feed though the sat feed locals were fine. Checked the signal meters and everything was OK, so I started to suspect the bad drive with my HR21-200. Ran the diagnostics tool from the receiver and I got 0x77 error from the SMART check. It seems like no one know what 0x77 error means except DirecTV engineers since it's not a standard error code from SMART. Ran the full surface scan to completion and I got around 6000 errors (forgot the exact number), though the scan test claimed it fixed almost all the errors (the differences were 100 errors). Re-ran the surface scan multiple times, it kept giving around the same number of errors and number of fixes. Then it went down hill fast from there, AM21 won't turn on more often and OTA wasn't watchable at all due to picture breaking up. The problem also started to affect the sat feed as well.

    I didn't bother to replace the hard drive (for some reason DirecTV said I own the receivers though I swear I leased it with them when I got the HR21s a couple of years ago) and replaced it with HR24.
     
  3. litzdog911

    litzdog911 Well-Known Member

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    Jun 23, 2004
    Mill Creek, WA
    Is this problem happening ONLY with your OTA channels? If so, then it's not your hard drive. That would point to a reception problem.
     
  4. Kodok

    Kodok AllStar

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    Feb 9, 2008
    Probably need to check both OTA tuners if they are both OK.
     
  5. Gern Blansten

    Gern Blansten Cool Member

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    Dec 28, 2007
    I find it hard to believe that it's a reception problem. If it was a reception problem, I would not be back up and replay it without the stutter or drop outs. For example if I play it and at 2:15 it stutters and I back it up to 2:14 and re-watch it the stutter does not occur at that same location..however it will occur again later on.

    Yes this only happens on OTA channels. The signal strength is 90+ most of the time and both tuners are working fine...

    I am really thinking hard about replacing the hard drive.
     
  6. litzdog911

    litzdog911 Well-Known Member

    12,221
    67
    Jun 23, 2004
    Mill Creek, WA
    Very strange. If it's your hard drive, then it shouldn't matter if it's off air or satellite recordings. What's unusual is that you're only having this problem with off air channels.
     
  7. Richierich

    Richierich Hall Of Fame

    8,489
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    Jan 10, 2008
    I had problems like this with my AM21 OTA Tuner and I finally just unplugged it and have not looked back. There were issues with it back then and I still see them occasionally such as your problem so I would think it is with the AM21.

    Are you connected to the Internet?

    Unplug that ethernet cable and see if that helps. That has been part of the problem in the past and no one seems to know why.
     
  8. AntonyB

    AntonyB Legend

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    May 2, 2008
    I have the exact same problem and have written about it here several times over the last 12 months. I will give you my opinion based on months of observation, equipment swopping, reading in this forum, and talking to several D*TV employees.

    OTA broadcasts use MPEG2, which takes more processing power than the MPEG4 satellite broadcasts. Prior to the software upgrade about a year ago (I think it was 0x034C) the DVR could handle the HD OTA recordings/playback perfectly fine. Some of the HD satellite channels still used MPEG2 at that time (e.g. HD Theater on chnl 76) and those also played back fine prior to the upgrade. The software upgrade caused a lot of hard drive activity to start occuring at random intervals, sometimes quite excessive hard drive access. When that hard drive activity is happening, the symptoms you describe may manifest with MPEG2 programming (today that means OTA, but a year ago I had the same isues with MPEG2 satellite channels and not with MPEG4 channels). With the HR20, the hard drive access may be quite audible (depending on the specific drive installed and how it is mounted) and certainly in my case it is easy to correlate the stuttering playback problems you describe with excessive hard drive activity happening at the same time (you can hear it very audibly).

    I swopped out my HR20 for another HR20, and these symptoms continue to manifest exactly as before.

    I should point out that sometimes I can watch an OTA recording perfectly fine - if I am lucky enough to watch it at a time of day when there is no hard drive thrashing going on, or relatively little.

    I've talked to Customer Retention three times about this issue. The last person I spoke to told me that this problem was known, and that there was no plan to address it in a future upgrade. She expressed the belief that the HR24 series does not exhibit the problem. She based that comment on (a) reported customer experiences and (b) her own family members who have experienced these same issues but have solved the problem by upgrading to an HR24.

    So why doesn't everyone observe the problem and complain about it? Again my own view is: (a) relatively few users of this forum watch OTA, (b) the impact of the hard drive thrashing may be different for different users, and may occur at different times of day depending perhaps on various factors. If it doesn't occur when you watch the recording, there will be no problem.
     
  9. Gern Blansten

    Gern Blansten Cool Member

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    Dec 28, 2007
    Thanks Anthony! That pretty much sums up my problem to a tee. The hard drive grinding away certainly correlates to the problem. We hear it often and when we experience the drop outs.

    I am sure that the H24 will cure the problem and as soon as we can get the locals in HD we will make the switch. Who knows when that will be.... I tried to upgrade to a H24 and get the AM21, but, that got shot out of the water by the CSR's I spoke with. They told me that I was not eligible...who wants to watch football in SD? From what I understand the H24 does not have built-in OTA tuners.
     
  10. AntonyB

    AntonyB Legend

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    May 2, 2008
    Yes Gern, the HR 24 has no OTA tuner so you'd need an AM21 as well. You will also (most likely) be signing up for a further 2-year commitment. Note that there is no guarantee the HR24 will solve this problem. The other Customer Retention folks I spoke to could not make that assurance. I'm skeptical unless there is data that shows the HR24 to have overall better performance. If any forum readers have an HR24 and regulalry watch HD OTA recordings with no problems, I would be interested to hear about it.
     
  11. John Joy

    John Joy AllStar

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    Feb 23, 2007
    I have also had this problem for quite some time with my HR20-700. I too agree the problem is specific to a software "upgrade" some time ago but only affects the MPEG2 channels. It is EXTREMELY annoying.

    Symptoms are identical. Correct playback of the affected segment is achieved by using the 7 second back skip button which confirms the problem is NOT reception related.

    I truely hope the engineers are watching this forum and can take a look at this issue.

    BTW, the only reason I record the channels via OTA is to guarantee reception in severe weather. As to why I don't upgrade? I like the option of being able to record OTA without having to pay for a AM-21.
     
  12. AntonyB

    AntonyB Legend

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    May 2, 2008
    John, I agree with everything you said.

    Can any of the moderators suggest the best way to use this forum to bring the issue to D*TV's attention? Should we continue to post it in the Issues list for the latest software update every time a new NR is released? I seem to recall that is the topic that D*TV actually monitors, but am not certain. (And I used to report the issue there, but have not done so recently.)
     
  13. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

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    Aug 31, 2002
    I welcome you to this forum (belatedly) and I have been enjoying your thoughtful and intelligent posts.

    But I am not sure what you mean about processing power and why it would matter. In the first place, for equivalent HD programs, MPEG4 takes much more processing power to decode (or encode) than does MPEG2; not the other way around. From a number-crunching perspective, it does nearly every thing that MPEG2 does and a lot more.

    But decoding is done in a hardware chip, so even if MPEG2 did take more "processing power", this has no effect on either the processing done by the CPU in the DVR, nor on the processing done by the HDD, other than the fact that the bit rate is about 30% less for MPEG4, which means really nothing to a HDD capable of 12 HD streams at once.

    The CPU has a task of streaming the compressed content from the HDD to the decoder; but there is nothing inherently different about a MPEG4 transport stream compared to a MPEG2 transport stream from the perspective of the CPU regarding this task. IOW, it's the same, and it doesn't care, so that will not matter.
     
  14. AntonyB

    AntonyB Legend

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    May 2, 2008
    Thanks TomCat.

    First, I don't doubt that you have a better understanding of the MPEG2 vs MPEG4 differences than I do. I initially picked up on MPEG2 being a possible culprit based on posts by others also more knowledgeable than me many months ago. I admit to never following that up to seek a clearer understanding.

    I shouldn't have referred to "processsing power" requirements being different. The bit rate difference is what I thought was relevant. More data per second has to be read from the hard drive for uninterrupted MPEG2 playback than for MPEG4, and when the hard drive is extremely busy doing other things (indexing the guide data, or whatever activity it is performing), we observe an interruption in the throughput of that MPEG2 stream. You commented that the HDD should be able to handle this without any issue, and while I have no data to challenge that, I can tell you what we observe - the correlation of intense HDD activity with the occurence of the playback problem is unmistakable.

    I would be very interested in your further thoughts.
     

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