One Plus One Equals Three – HDMI Math

I have written in the past how, with HDMI, a one sided test is not really a test at all. Generally if a receiver has an issue passing or processing an HDMI signal, I will replace the receiver with an HDMI barrel connector and use this as a judgement on whether or not the receiver has a problem. Also, I will connect the TV directly to the source (eliminating all but one HDMI cable). Last week while installing a Sony network receiver (replacing a standard Sony which worked fine), I discovered that my new Sony would not pass a picture from the cable box or the BluRay. So I slipped an HDMI barrel connector into the signal path (in place of the receiver) and I immediately got a picture. It seems the new Sony STR-DN1060 receiver had a problem. So I replaced the 1060 with a Sony STR-DH550 receiver to prove the case and it also did not pass a signal. This job was a prewire between the TV and the receiver in-wall about 20 feet long and I had installed both an HDMI cable and a backup Ethernet cable in case of HDMI failure. As a matter or precaution, we often use what the industry calls a “port saver” on the TV end of the HDMI. This can be very helpful; it adds about 8 inches to the length of the cable. But more importantly, if the wire gets pulled, it slips apart and “saves” your in-wall HDMI cable. HDMI port savers are male to female connectors, so it simply adds a connection to the end of your wire. Now this concept goes against my general belief that adding connections, whether they be speaker, line level, or signal path is against my better judgement. However, in the case of HDMI if you break an in-wall HDMI cable by pulling on it due to TV installation, de-installation, or by sliding the TV on a typical wall mount to the left or right (to center TV on the wall) there is no repair for a broken HDMI cable. HDMI cables have 19 connections on the terminal which are machine-placed and soldered similar to most board level repairs of microelectronics. It is not field-repairable. (There are some kits available for HDMI repair (though I have not witnessed this repair).
Back to my case in point. It turned out that the HDMI port saver was apparently bad. Even though it worked fine with the barrel in place of the Sony receiver (between in and out), when I installed the second Sony receiver, it also did not pass a picture. So I removed the port saver and the receiver started to work. I installed a new port saver and it continued to work. I reinstalled what I thought was a defective new network receiver and it also worked.
Moral of the story:
Check your test in two different ways. Similar in logic to a shorted speaker wire (has a nail or screw through it) – You can test as closed-but it will not test open. In the case of HDMI, once you think you have found the problem- test the unit or wire, in a completely different environment to prove your theory.

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