An Experience with HDMI Handshake Issues

Sep 17 2013

If you have an HTPC, many of you may have experienced a problem with no picture or sound with your Home Theater setup connected through an HDMI cable at one time or another. This article is to cover some of the nuances that can come with them along with possible solutions as well as open up a discussion for better solutions. Many of you already know the many advantages of the HDMI cable and what a great piece of technology it is. As a recap, it allows one to simplify an audio and video setup for a home entertainment center by using one cable compared to several. The HDMI cable will also maximize the performance of your home entertainment systems by passing through the streams of DTS HD Master and Dolby True HD lossless audio as well as having the ability to send 3-D video to a 3D capable TV. In addition, the HDMI cable provides ARC or Audio Return Channel support which allows components to talk to each other and transfer audio without any additional cables. That being said, along with newer technology sometimes come new problems in the HTPC (home theater PC) world.

The apparent problems of an HTPC not  showing a picture or sound or even sometimes both can be caused by an HDMI handshake issue. In a nutshell, it basically means that the HTPC does not connect or  loses its video or audio connection with the TV and entertainment system. It presents itself with a blank screen, a “no video signal” message from the TV, or static/snow; this can happen with or without sound if you have it connected it to your AV Receiver. It even happens when you have a box that is “always on” but is more common coming out of sleep mode, and is a frustrating issue to say the least. Up until about a year and a half ago I really didn’t experience any of these problems personally, as my HTPC always connected to a Hitachi (57S715)projection TV through a Sony AV Receiver (STR-DG 710). Upon upgrading to an LG 3D LED TV and an HDMI 1.4 Sony AV Receiver, that is where the problems began.  No other video playback unit that I owned had the problem, and I honestly couldn’t have been more blindsided that this would be such a serious issue.

So I started troubleshooting. I upgraded my HDMI cables to high speed, downloaded and installed the latest video drivers, set my video settings to never time out, ensured I had the latest software and firmware for my TV, and bypassed the Sony AV receiver and ran a direct connection from my HTPC to my TV, just name a few. Nothing solved the problem and improvements were minor at best.  Back then I was single,  I lived with it knowing that if I unplugged my HDMI cable and re-plugged it in, that would solve the problem and the video would come back about 75% of the time. When it didn’t I had to do a reboot. When my girlfriend moved in, it wasn’t as appealing to her--hence the SAF (spouse acceptance factor. I get it, it really wasn’t acceptable to me either, I just lived with it.  While I could get by and fix the problems systematically, my girlfriend was unable to.  After receiving a few frustrated text messages from her about not being able to watch TV and then she started talking “cable box,” I really needed to find a way to get the SAF back.  To put a bandage on the wound I put an extender in our living room so she could watch TV properly. For me an extender is not a long term solution due to the inherent video playback issues regarding accepted file types and bit rates via the Microsoft Windows Media Center (WMC) extenders in general can be temperamental in performance. Upon researching fixing the HDMI handshake problem, it became evident this problem was viral with no concrete resolution. Why haven’t I heard of this before? I really was oblivious that this had been going on. I tried three different computers, my HTPC box had an Nvidia GT 430 and my laptop and another desktop both had the embedded AMD ATI 4250chip, but they all still had the connection issue.  I’m glad I researched this quite a bit because I was ready to call Best Buy’s extended warranty for a replacement TV. I did see that the incidents of HDMI connection problems for HDMI 1.3 were lower and most were often fixed by updating video drivers, HDMI cables and occasionally a possible component compatibility issue with an AV Receiver. While users had problems with HDMI 1.3, it is apparent that HDMI 1.4 did not fix the previous problems and for users such as myself, it may have created them. One of my theories is that with newer technology, issues appear. See, computers are not dedicated to do a specific primary function such as a Playstation 3 and that can leave it more vulnerable to issues when newer technologies present themselves. So what does HDMI 1.4 do that is so important and special anyway? Several, but the main differences between HDMI 1.3 and 1.4 in a nutshell is that it gives you 3D capability and ARC. The full features and specs can be read up at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDMI. I did enable ARC (CEC) however that caused some real issues with my receiver tuning to the correct input and was creating more problems for my system--it wanted to keep switching back to the TV input, so I turned it off. This may not be typical, but for my setup it is a problem. It is worth a try because it can keep the connection flowing to the TV resolving the connection problem. I will try this again once my firmware updates in my TV to see if they have resolved the ARC issue.

So what is the bottom line fix? Currently that I am aware of, there is not a one step solution like downloading a driver or software at this time that does not cost you money. I do have a viable work around that has worked about 99% of the time for me.  One of the intentions of this article was to bring this to the fore front and have some of the best minds in the HTPC world see this and continue working on a fix if they don’t already have one. Here is what has been working for me, your results may be different but I encourage your feedback.

  • Don’t use the cables that come with the CE kit you just bought. High quality cables are cheap and easy to get from http://www.monoprice.com/ or http://www.amazon.com/. If you have poor cables you will see snow or have signal drop outs. It’s also possible that you’ll get no picture if the cable can’t handle 3D’s increased bandwidth requirements
  • Turn your video on your HTPC to be “always on.”  You can do this by going to Control Panel,” change plan settings” then under drop down for “turn off display” select “never.” I also do this when playing audio because if the video times out, it can interrupt the audio playback.
  • When you’re done with WMC, close it out so that your desktop is showing. FSE causes many perceived issues with HDMI . This is what I have seen to be most effective above everything else! WMC and other HTPC software seems to play a role here when running FSE mode. I have noticed this with both MCE and SageTV both on Windows 7 OS.  If you are using a different HTPC software and are having these issues, close that as well and ensure that your desktop is showing. I used SageTV for a bit of experimenting with the HTPC HDMI handshake issues, and I do not remember having nearly as many issues, however they did show up occasionally. I did close it when I was done to prevent them.
  • When starting up your HTPC, if you have a Logitech Harmony remote, have it trigger to start your HTPC software in “live tv” mode. This seems to jog the video back on, kind of like shaking someone’s shoulder while they are dozing off.
  • You can also try “Standby Helper”if you have the occasional issue of the black screen, or your TV is showing “no video signal” or snow.  As a last resort you can take out the HDMI cable from the video card and plug it back in. You can also try plugging in a mouse or keyboard and move it around or hit the space bar. If that doesn’t work, it’s reboot time. You may want to check your scheduled recordings to ensure nothing is recording before doing this. An app I use is My Media Center by Ceton.
  • Get an HDMI Detective Plus at http://www.amazon.com/. I lied before when I said there wasn’t a fix. There is one, and it’s drop-dead simple – the problem is that it costs $85. The HDMI Detective works by cloning the EDID of the TV and AVR when they are powered on and broadcasting it even when they aren’t. So to the GPU, or any connected CE device (the HDMI Detective is a common “goto” device for EDID issues in the CI market), always receives the same, clean, EDID.

To sum it, there is no perfect fix for the HDMI handshake issues that I am aware of that is completely free.  It does not seem to discriminate by TV or AV Receiver brand either. Some may have better success than others, however I do not have the budget to buy several TV’s and AV Receivers and test them. The tips above worked for me quite successfully and the WAF is much, much better--she rarely has a problem now. Try the tips above and give us your feedback. If you have other solutions that have helped you please share them. Some people have bought HDMI switch type hardware separate from the HTPC and I have received and read feedback that this has helped them,  however the price is around $100. I have not tested that as of yet and if you’re looking to save $100 or more try the above first.

Comments

I solved all these problems and more with a very simple solution.  I use Devcon to rest the video card 8 secs after the PC wakes.  I did this with a small bat file tied to the wake event.  Since that time I have had 0 issues and waf gone through the roof.

I did something similar, using the same SetupAPIs to reset the GPU after waking.  No issues here.

With the GT430 I never had issues though, well after the drivers became stable.

mikinho wrote:

I did something similar, using the same SetupAPIs to reset the GPU after waking.  No issues here.

With the GT430 I never had issues though, well after the drivers became stable.

I didn't have any issues with my GT430 as well and I had it for about a year and a half.. It wasn't until my TV and AVR upgrade to 3D capability and thats exactly when the problems started. Do you have a 3D capable display?

 

JeffLeppard wrote:

mikinho wrote:

I did something similar, using the same SetupAPIs to reset the GPU after waking.  No issues here.

With the GT430 I never had issues though, well after the drivers became stable.

I didn't have any issues with my GT430 as well and I had it for about a year and a half.. It wasn't until my TV and AVR upgrade to 3D capability and thats exactly when the problems started. Do you have a 3D capable display?

 

I had used the GT430 with the same setup with a Hitachi, Vizio and two Sony's TV and none of them had an issue. They were all non 3D displays. I just don't have a reference point because I did go to a different brand of TV- an LG 5600 3D Smart TV.

JeffLeppard wrote:

I didn't have any issues with my GT430 as well and I had it for about a year and a half.. It wasn't until my TV and AVR upgrade to 3D capability and thats exactly when the problems started. Do you have a 3D capable display?

 

I do, a Samsung 3D Plasma.  Connected to HDMI2 (I hate that not all HDMI ports are equal on Samsung)

mikinho wrote:

JeffLeppard wrote:

I didn't have any issues with my GT430 as well and I had it for about a year and a half.. It wasn't until my TV and AVR upgrade to 3D capability and thats exactly when the problems started. Do you have a 3D capable display?

 

I do, a Samsung 3D Plasma.  Connected to HDMI2 (I hate that not all HDMI ports are equal on Samsung)

Nice! I think that's what frustrates many about this. It works fine for some people and not for others. It baffles me as to where the actual problem is. Are some manufacturers using cheaper HDMI hardware and that's causing the problem, or is it their firmware or software that is the problem? I believe that the only way to truly find the problem is to systematically log each make and model of each TV and then each make and model of the video card that is being used to see if there is any type of pattern.

Unless I see some scripts I'm not going to believe it Tongue.

You can find devcon here:  http://support.microsoft.com/kb/311272

Then write a bat file with the following command:  devcon restart =display @"look up your video card in device manager here"

Then attach the bat file to wake event using Event Viewer/Task Scheduler.

I had to play around a bit with a delay since my TV takes roughly 5 secs to start and sync to HDM1.  So I added a simply WAIT/Delay in the bat file of 8 secs.

I also delayed MCE started up by 5secs using MCE Standby Tool.

I think I've experienced every HDMI hanshake issue there is, and this simply procedure has cured them all.

Tester

Sounds like you should make a guest blog post about it Smile

mikinho wrote:

Sounds like you should make a guest blog post about it Smile

+1

That'd make a good read.  I wonder if I can bind one of my unneeded buttons on my MCE remote to run that script.  I've got a HDMI detective on my main machine, but could come in handy on the 2nd unit.

I have seen others map buttons to sequences/files and so on, so I see no reason why that would not work.

Yes I could write a blog post or something, just give me a couple of weeks to get settled in.. In middle of house rebab/moving and all my googies are in boxes.

Tester

thetesterman wrote:

You can find devcon here:  http://support.microsoft.com/kb/311272

Then write a bat file with the following command:  devcon restart =display @"look up your video card in device manager here"

Then attach the bat file to wake event using Event Viewer/Task Scheduler.

I had to play around a bit with a delay since my TV takes roughly 5 secs to start and sync to HDM1.  So I added a simply WAIT/Delay in the bat file of 8 secs.

I also delayed MCE started up by 5secs using MCE Standby Tool.

I think I've experienced every HDMI hanshake issue there is, and this simply procedure has cured them all.

Tester

That's great! I agree with the other two posts and you should do a guest blog with screen captures showing the procedures. While many of our readers would try this out, there are many that enjoy Missingremote that would be less apt to trying something like this without a guide or a blog.

Thanks for the feedback!!

 

I do the exact same thing.  I actually use a program called DevManView and it has the option to disable and enable a device as one command. I have created a task in task scheduler that runs with a 30 second delay on startup.  Works like magic.  I also have a desktop shortcut setup to run the task on demand in case something goes wonky. 

 

My setup is an extended display on a AMD A10-5700 and about 2 months ago I started having EDID issues out of the blue.  I had the setup running for 7 months solid without a hickup and then all of a sudden it did not want to let me dual display. After a frustrating week that involved me having to update all of my video and audio drivers numerous times.  I finally got back on track.  Unfortunately the EDID scenario remained where upon startup it would only recognize EDID from 1 device and for some reason my AVR trumped my Pany projector.  So I found the DevManView app and created the tasks.  The last 3 weeks everything has worked great.

 

One other thing to note is that DevManView has a great GUI interface that shows you all of the "names" of the devices that you have.  This made it super easy to identify the correct name for the built in graphics driver.

 

Hope this helps.

 

I would like to thank everyone who has replied so far! This is exactly what I was looking for. While we are waiting to see a form of a blog/guide to walk our readers through the procedure, has anyone set up a download that would do a click and install procedure to write the changes automatically?

I've had good luck with a little program that I stumbled upon a while back called HdmiYo. Forces a resync on wake up and log in. Also can be triggered by a hotkey combo. Works well for me on my Win7 x64 system, which is what the dev has tested on.

https://mymce.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/hdmiyo/

I had the handshaking problem on Win 7 with my gigabyte 785G board. My only fix was to hit live TV, occasionally that did not work and I would have to cycle to a different input and back. But since going to Win 8.1 I no longer have that problem, but there are new quirks with 8.1 for sure.

Interesting! Thanks for the update! Did you have the same problems with 8.0?

I fought HDMI handshake issues for 2 years after building my HTPC. I would have to cycle my AVR on-off-on, unplug HDMI, etc... to get the signal correct. Then I found a forum a couple of weeks ago talking about the GeFen HDMI detective plus and how it solved their problems. I didn't want to spend $85 on a small box that it's only purpose was to hold the EDID but after a couple of days researching I opened my wallet and paid up. Having it for a week now and not having any signal issues or having the wife complain that the computer is not showing on the TV I don't really know how I lived without it.

mattstallbaumer wrote:

 I didn't want to spend $85 on a small box that it's only purpose was to hold the EDID but after a couple of days researching I opened my wallet and paid up. Having it for a week now and not having any signal issues or having the wife complain that the computer is not showing on the TV I don't really know how I lived without it.

That's the same thing everyone who's ever bought one has felt.  Not wanting to dish out cash for something that should just work and then wondering why they just didn't do it sooner and avoid all the troubleshooting and complaining from their SOs.

Sorry to comment on an old post, but I thought I would register and reply to this with my own personal hdmi handshake issues in the hope that I can help save somebody else the amount of time I have spent sorting my problem out.  I stumbled across this post whilst trying to rectify my issues, and it was one of the most helpful.

I started off with a Windows7 / AMD based onboard GPU/CPU HTPC (running XBMC) connected via HDMI to a Pioneer VSX-527 AVR in turn connected to a Panasonic TV TH-P59V20A (also via HDMI).  I also have a Logitech Harmony remote.

For the sake of brevity, I will remove some of the fluff.  When I first turned on I couldn't get a picture on screen which I soon found out was due to running at 1080p/60Hz, and if I lowered the resolution to 1080p/50 I could get an image.  Also when putting to sleep with the Harmony remote, it would just start up with a black screen.  I could work around this by putting just the PC to sleep and waking back up again, but this was not an acceptable solution.  That's when I came across this page, looking for standby helpers.

Whenever I tried to switch up to 1080p/60, the TV would briefly indicate 1080p/60 with no picture, then fall back to 1080p/24 (with no picture) before finally returning back to 1080p/50 because I had not confirmed the resolution changes.  I had a suspicion that the standby and the refresh rate problems may have gone hand in hand.

If I connected directly from the HTPC to the TV via HDMI, this worked okay - 1080p/60 and coming out of standby was fine as well.  However, this meant needing to connect the audio to the amplifier via TOSlink optical which meant I was losing some of the surround capabilities and the higher bit rates that HDMI supports.

I went back to try and find a solution.  I purchased new v2.0 HDMI cables, tried different HDMI inputs on the receiver, turning on the "control over HDMI" & updating video drivers.  I then started looking at the video card and operating system.  I dropped in another AMD/ATI PCI video card which I found had the same problem.  I then brought in a second PC that I had at home that was also an AMD/ATI video card with Windows 8.  This too exhibited the very same problem running through the receiver. I tried my wife's laptop which is also an AMD/ATI chipset, same thing.  I was starting to think that it may have been the Pioneer receiver at fault, so out of frustration I connect a $40 Raspberry Pi up to the amplifier and was quite surprised to find that this would work at 1080/60 quite happily.   WTH!

So I next went out and purchased a $40 Nvidia GT610 video card, plugged it in, installed the drivers and low and behold it is all working.  It will now sync at 1080p 60hz and coming out of sleep is no longer a problem.  No need to use HDMI-Yo or a standby helper.  It just starts up and syncs.  So basically every computer that I connected that was running AMD/ATI based video cards would not work correctly through the Pioneer receiver, where an Nvidia card just works.

This is just my personal experience, and it may not be the fix for every user, but I thought I would share.

TL;DR - Possible incompatibility between AMD/ATI based cards and Pioneer receiver (maybe more) - Use Nvidia video cards

duplicate - please remove

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