I connected the TV to the sound bar with an HDMI cable as instructed. That didn't work. I am not a complete idiot (only a partial one) since I did know enough to change the audio settings on the TV and the cable box to make them come out of the sound bar. The problem is that every time I did that I got silence. The settings on the sound bar were correct but it still didn't work.
However, the sound bar comes with an FM radio built in and that feature works just fine so I know the bar works, just not with my TV.
After trolling the idiot boards online I learned that an optical audio cable would be better than HDMI so I bought one, plugged it in and was once again rewarded with silence.
Someone suggested I connect the cable box instead of the TV to the sound bar with the optical audio cable. Yeah, that failed too so I put the cable back to the TV and sound bar and investigated further.
Here's where it gets weird. The TV and sound bar are connected with the optical audio cable. The Wii is connected to the TV with those RCA cables. If I play a Netflix video through the Wii, the sound comes out of the sound bar. They're not even connected to each other.
I also discovered that if I play a Netflix video through the blu ray player (which is connected to the TV with an HDMI cable) then I get sound out of both the sound bar and the TV.
The Apple TV is connected to the TV with and HDMI cable. It plays sound through the sound bar as well.
I visited the JVC customer support website and sent them an email describing my problem. They responded that the sound bar wasn't receiving a readable signal from the TV so the problem was with the TV.
Everything in my house will play sound through the silly sound bar except the plain ol' TV! Since I'd already changed all the settings I could on the TV itself, I though that meant the problem must be with the cable box so I spent over an hour in an online chat with tech support at Comcast.
My "analyst's" name was Claire but I felt sure that in real life it was actually Arunachaleshwara. I tried really, really hard to be patient with Claire even though she was the slowest and most inept tech support person I've ever talked to. I almost lost it once and I felt really bad about that but read this transcript and tell me if it doesn't make you homicidal:
Shannon > I recently bought a sound bar to go with my HDTV. All other components are hooked directly to the TV and their sound plays just fine through the sound bar. This includes the blu ray player, and the Wii. The only sound that I can't get through the sound bar seems to be from the cable box. Our regular TV channels won't come through the sound bar, the sound comes out of the TV. Shannon > Does that make sense? Shannon > Is there some kind of audio setting on the cable box that I need to change? Claire > Just to make sure, you would like to change the audio settings and it should come from the audio device that you have brought. Am I correct? Claire > We actually have steps to optimize and modify the audio settings of the Comcast cable box. Shannon > Yes that is correct. I want all sound to come out of the sound bar that is connected to my TV with an optical audio cable. Claire > Thanks Shannon. Let me check on that please. Shannon > No prob, take your time. Claire > Thanks a lot! Claire > Shannon, is your audio receiver a Dolby Digital receiver? Shannon > Um, okay now it's my turn to check on something. Give me a sec. Claire > Sure Shannon. Claire > According here, you can connect a S/PDIF cable from the output on the cable box to the input of the Dolby Digital receiver. Claire > Or you can connect a Digital Optical Cable from the output on the cable box to the input of the Dolby Digital receiver. Claire > Be sure also to choose the correct Input mode on your Dolby Digital receiver for proper usage. Shannon > Input mode is correct, as far as I can tell, because all my other components are playing just fine. Shannon > So do I need to connect the optical cable to the cable box instead of the TV? Claire > Yes that is right Shannon. Shannon > Okay hang on a sec I'll try that. Claire > Sure. The optical cable should be connected to the audio receiver and cable box. Claire > Please follow these steps also to optimize your audio: 1. Press the Menu button twice on your remote control. 2. Select Setup 3. Select Audio Setup Under the Optimal Stereo setting 4. Choose "Select to Optimize" and press OK/Select on the remote control Shannon > Okay, optical audio cable is going from the cable box to the sound bar. Now I'll follow those steps you just described. Claire > Thank you. Claire > Please let me know for any result and for further assistance. Thanks Shannon! Shannon > Okay that didn't do anything. Claire > Oh I see. We can also try to reprogram the Comcast remote to control the volume of the audio receiver. Shannon > That would be great if any volume was coming out of my audio receiver. Claire > Yes, we would just lock the volume on the audio receiver as well. Claire > Just to confirm also, are you able to turn on and off your audio receiver using the Comcast remote? Shannon > No. Claire > Is your remote with red or gray OK/Select button? Shannon > Red button Claire > No worries, we will have the Comcast remote control your audio receiver as well. Claire > Thanks! May I also ask for the brand name of the audio receiver? Shannon > It's a JVC TH-BC3 Sound Bar Claire > Thank you! Claire > Please follow these steps to program your audio receiver: 1. Turn on your audio receiver. 2. On the remote control, press AUX key once. 3. Press and hold Setup until the selected mode key blinks twice, then release Setup. 4. Enter the five-digit code 30074. If you perform this procedure correctly, the selected mode key will blink twice. 5. Aim the remote control at your audio receiver and press Power once. The device should turn off. Claire > If it does not respond, we will try the search for the audio receiver manually. Shannon > That worked. I can turn the sound bar off and on with the remote. But there's still no sound coming out of it. Claire > Great! Now we will unlock the volume controls and lock it on your audio receiver. Claire > Please follow the steps on unlocking all volume controls: 1] Press and hold Setup until the selected mode key blinks twice, then release Setup. 2] Enter 9 - 9 - 3 and then press VOL+ once. The mode key will blink four times confirming unlock. 3] Now, volume controls for all devices can be independently controlled in their own modes. Claire > Then please follow the steps to lock the volume control to your audio receiver: 1] Press and hold SETUP until the Red light flashes twice, then release SETUP. 2] Enter 9 - 9 - 3 (Red light will flash twice). 3] Press and release AUX (Red light for device will flash twice). Shannon > Okay, what's my selected mode key? Shannon > Is it AUX? Claire > Oh sorry, its AUX. Claire > Yes that is right. Shannon > Okay, just making sure. Claire > Thank you Shannon! Shannon > Okay did that. Now the volume on the TV is where I left it and I can't make it go up or down because the remote only controls the sound bar volume which still has no volume coming out of it. Claire > Let us try another one. Claire > Please follow the steps for Unlocking Volume Control For A Single Device: 1] Press a desired mode key where you want volume to be unlocked (e.g., AUX) and controlled within its own mode. 2] Press and hold Setup until the selected mode key blinks twice, then release Setup. 3] Enter 9 - 9 - 3 and then press VOL once. The mode key will blink four times confirming unlock. 4] If desired, repeat steps 1 to 3 (of this section) for each device that you want volume to be unlocked. 5] Now, after you select a device that has volume unlocked (e.g., AUX), pressing VOL+, VOL-, or Mute, will control the device's volume only in its own mode. Shannon > Okay, they all have their volume controlled independently. How do I get it back to where the TV and cable have the same volume control? Claire > Locking Volume Control To TV Mode (Restoring Global Volume Lock ToThe Default Mode): 1] Press TV once. Then, press and hold Setup until the TV key blinks twice, then release Setup. 2] Enter 9 - 9 - 3 and then press TV once. The mode key will blink twice confirming global lock. 3] Now, when you press VOL+, VOL-, or Mute, the volume of the selected device (e.g., TV) will be controlled regardless of the mode you have selected. Claire > Please try that Shannon. Shannon > Okay, I figured it out. Thanks. Now we're back where we started. Claire > Great Shannon! Claire > Are we still unable to control the audio receiver volume here? Shannon > I can control it with the remote if I push AUX. Claire > Yes, that should how it should be. Claire > I mean that is how it should be. Shannon > Ok. Now how do we get the volume to come out of the audio receiver instead of the TV? Claire > Please follow the steps to lock the volume control to your audio receiver: 1] Press and hold SETUP until the Red light flashes twice, then release SETUP. 2] Enter 9 - 9 - 3 (Red light will flash twice). 3] Press and release AUX (Red light for device will flash twice). Shannon > Oh my gosh are you kidding me?! I don't want to be unkind but I don't think you are understanding the problem. I don't need to control the volume on the audio receiver because there IS NO VOLUME. The audio is coming out of the speakers on my TV instead of the audio receiver. That's the problem I need help with. Can you help me with that? Claire > Oh I apologize on that matter Shannon. Claire > The hook up with the cable box and audio receiver should do it. Claire > Unless the audio receiver is not compatible with the cable box. Shannon > How do I know if they are not compatible? What would make them incompatible? Claire > You may refer with the audio receiver Original Equipment Manufacture since it a third party. Or you may also check out the manual. Claire > *is Shannon > Yeah, it's supposed to be compatible with everything. There is nothing anywhere that says there may be a problem with certain cable boxes. Like I said before, my other components work just fine with the sound bar, it's just the TV that I'm having trouble with. Shannon > I suppose it could be a problem with the TV but that doesn't make much sense because my other components are hooked to the TV as well, not directly to the sound bar. So I know the TV is capable of sending audio through the sound bar. It's just my cable TV channels that are giving me trouble. Claire > I certainly understand. The unlock and lock of the volumes are just the steps to have it fixed. Shannon > Those steps have nothing to do with why the cable box's audio continues to play through the TV instead of the sound bar. Those steps are for controlling audio that is already there. I have NO AUDIO coming out of the sound bar so changing how it is controlled is pointless. Shannon > Is there someone else who might be able to help with this problem? Claire > Thanks for pointing that out. Claire > I am checking on it further. Shannon > Okay, thanks. Claire > You are welcome! Claire > Shannon, I have just confirmed here that we need to setup the TV to have the sound diverted to the audio receiver. Claire > Do you happen to know how to go about modifying the TV audio setup? Shannon > Yes I have done that. The TV is a Sony and I have changed those settings. When I do that, the audio on the TV goes off but it does not come out of the sound bar. Claire > What is the selected setting if I may ask Shannon? Shannon > On the TV I have a choice of 2 settings: TV Speakers or Audio System. If I choose TV speakers I get sound out of the TV. If I choose Audio System I get no sound at all. Claire > Thank you for telling me. Shannon > Any other ideas? Claire > I am still confirming here.\ Shannon > Okay. Claire > Thanks for understanding.\ Claire > Shannon, may I ask what are the video and audio cable wires you used from the box to the TV and the TV to the receiver? Claire > I was informed here that it would be best for the audio receiver to work with the TV set, if we have it connected to the TV. Claire > However, connecting it to the cable box is also possible. Shannon > The cable box is connected to the TV with an HDMI cable. The TV is connected to the sound bar with a digital optical audio cable. I have also tried connecting the TV to the sound bar with an HDMI cable but that didnt' work either. Shannon > Yes, I disconnected the sound bar from the cable box and hooked it back up to the TV with the optical audio cable. Shannon > I just played a video through Netflix streaming on my blu ray player to confirm that the sound bar is working correctly and it is. The blu ray player is connected to the TV with an HDMI cable. Claire > Shannon, when we tried the optimize steps earlier, have you encountered an HDMI option on the Audio Setup?\ Shannon > Audio setup for the cable box? Claire > Yes Shannon. Shannon > No, I didn't notice that option. Should there be one? Claire > Can we check please? Claire > I will repost the steps here. Claire > Please follow these steps to optimize your audio: 1. Press the Menu button twice on your remote control. 2. Select Setup 3. Select Audio Setup Under the Optimal Stereo setting 4. Choose "Select to Optimize" and press OK/Select on the remote control Shannon > Yeah, did all that. There's nothing under that menu that says anything about HDMI. Claire > Thanks Shannon. Claire > In this case, it is the TV settings audio to be setup and have the TV audio diverted to the audio receiver. Claire > Since the TV and box is working okay. Claire > The issue is with the TV and the receiver issue then. Claire > And it would be best to contact the TV manufacturer for that.
On the bright side, I have now memorized how to change the volume control settings on my cable remote control. That should serve me well in life.
Okay, so the cable box works, the sound bar works, and the TV works but not with the sound bar. The problem must be with the TV like JVC and Claire, in all her wisdom, suggested.
I called Sony and explained my dilemma to the tech support guy there. He very quickly came to the conclusion that the optical audio port needed to be replaced on the TV. He would order the part then when it came in he would call to set up a time to send someone out to fix it.
From the git go I just didn't feel like that was the problem. I have nothing to base that on except gut instinct. But I was excited to get a real person out here who might be able to figure it out even if the new part didn't solve the problem.
The TV is a nice 46" LCD that was a gift when we moved into our new house. Since it was a gift I had no original receipt for it. The guy at Sony was kind enough to accept my word that the TV was only about a year old which meant the warranty would cover everything.
Just a few days after talking to Sony tech support guy I got a call from someone else at Sony who informed me that the part they ordered was not available right now and they didn't know when they could expect the part to come in so as an alternative they offered to replace our TV with the same model factory refurb.
I was not excited about this since I had a feeling there really wasn't anything wrong with our TV. I couldn't see that I had much of a choice so I agreed to let Sony ship us a new TV with a 2 year warranty. All we had to do is put our old TV in the box the new TV came in then call Fed Ex to pick it up. There was no charge for anything.
This morning Fed EX rang my bell with a new TV. I disconnected the old one, hooked up the new one and just as I expected it didn't work either.
So. I have confirmed that the TV works, the sound bar works, the cable box works, and I can't figure out how I got stuck in this 2 week long hell when I don't even watch the stupid TV!! Oh that's right. I'm the mom.
I decided to give JVC one last chance before I packed the sound bar in plastic explosives and sent it back to them. I called their tech support and told the guy what was going on. He asked me some questions, asked me to verify some settings and how things were hooked up then said there was no reason why it shouldn't be working. I agreed since I now felt like I had earned an honorary degree in electrical engineering. Or in advanced home theater hooking up at the very least.
JVC guy felt like there was a problem with the cable box. I told him that I spent over an hour with tech support at Comcast and they said it was the TV's fault but according to the brand new one that I just uncrated that's not the problem at all. He said something about the cable box not being able to handle both an HDMI signal and optical audio signal at the same time. He said I should leave the optical audio cable connected since the other components were running off it just fine. But if I could find 2 HDMI cables he had another option to try. He said to hook one cable from the cable box to the HDMI In on the sound bar. Then hook the other one from the TV to the HDMI Out on the sound bar.
That's probably the only configuration I hadn't tried. I robbed HDMI cables from the blu ray player and the Apple TV and followed his instructions. The little genius was right. It worked. I was so grateful I gave him a hug over the phone in my mind.
I have not yet confirmed that the Apple TV and blu ray player are still working because I need to pick up a couple of replacement cables for them. But the Wii is working properly so I'm confident the others will as well.
I suppose the intelligent thing to do would have been to call JVC in the first place but the email was more comfortable for me since I avoid human contact when possible. It is still a mystery to me how we are getting cable when the cable box isn't even connected to the TV but as long as the sound keeps coming out of the sound bar I'm not going to worry about it.
After screwing up my computer so badly that I stumped 4 Apple tech support guys then scoring a free replacement for TV that wasn't even broken, I'm done with electronics for a while. By "for a while" I mean until the iPhone 5 comes out.