You might be looking to invest in an audio-video receiver to upgrade your home theater experience, but doing so could lessen your other playback experiences instead. It’s possible that adding an AV receiver will create a lag between the audio and video connection. Thankfully, this can usually be solved by changing the settings of your receiver.
AV receivers can potentially add input lag if you haven’t changed their settings. By default, AV receivers compress the audio and video feed before outputting it to the television. You can alter the AV machine’s settings to bypass this compression by turning on the “passthrough” mode.
The following article will help you learn exactly what input lag is, how an AV receiver adds input lag, and what you can do to avoid it.
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What Exactly Is Input Lag?
Do you know when you move your computer’s mouse, but the cursor on the screen stays still for a few seconds before kicking into gear? That is called input lag. It’s generally defined as the time elapsed when an electronic device receives a command and performs the task.
Lag like this can be annoying on your computer or phone and can ruin a movie-watching experience altogether. It’s even worse for interactive mediums like video games. Not only can an AV receiver create lag from the time you push a button on your remote to the time the television responds, but it can also create a discourse between the timing of the audio and video feeds.
For gamers running their consoles through an AV receiver, they can experience input lag from the controller to the game. This complaint is common among gamers who are always searching for the fastest response time.
Why Would You Buy an AV Receiver?
At this point, AV receivers probably don’t sound very beneficial. So, why would you buy one?
Audio-video receivers are usually purchased to take multiple audio and video sources and enhance them before sending them to your television. Not only does the receiver upgrade the media, but it also acts as a single channel to funnel multiple sources into. You can control your disc player, cable box, satellite radios, and gaming consoles with an AV receiver.
One of the main enhancements that the AV receiver offers is converting 2-channel audio to 5-channel audio, or run 5.1 sound from native sources. An AV receiver can take a basic audio source and turn it into a multi-faceted audio signal. Each of these audio signals can be sent to a separate speaker, which creates an immersive audio-visual experience when positioned strategically around the room. These five speakers are the left surround (rear), right surround sound, left, right, and center speakers.
This next-level experience is the main draw of the AV receiver. By surrounding yourself with speakers, you can achieve an intense immersion into the music, movie, or game that you’re enjoying. Input lag can alter and ultimately ruin this experience, creating frustration and disorientation in extreme cases.
Why Some AV Receivers Add Input Lag
Even without a receiver, any gaming console on its own will also add input lag. Televisions have to process all media inputted to them, and this internal processing can add a delay before the television displays the video game.
On its own, this lag is usually so minimal that the human eye could never notice it. However, add in the AV receiver’s process to the already-present lag of the TV, and you get a visibly noticeable lag.
As with the 2 to 5-channel audio enhancement, audio receivers can also process and enhance image quality. If you have a satellite subscription to NFL, UFC, or other live sports, you’d want to change this conversion to “sport” mode, which would cause the receiver to convert the stream to a sport-friendly display.
Any direction that you give your AV receiver can add input lag. Even something as simple as changing the volume or the channel can add a noticeable lag to your viewing experience.
This lag can be diminished by changing your device’s settings.
How to Limit AV Receivers’ Input Lag
If you notice your AV receiver is adding input lag, you can attempt the following three tactics to limit it:
- Change your AV receiver settings
- Alter your TV settings
- Bypass/Go around the AV receiver connection
We’ll take a closer look at each of these steps below, but if you don’t notice an improvement in the input lag when using your receiver, you should directly check with your receiver’s documentation or support site.
Change Your AV Receiver Settings
Take a look through your AV receiver to check what settings the machine has to offer. Many AV receivers have a “video bypass mode,” which clears the video feed straight through to the TV without altering it at all. When video bypass mode is engaged, your AV receiver will still upgrade your audio source to 5-channels, while leaving the video alone. This will help to minimize input lag.
Video bypass mode is not usually the default mode on an AV receiver. If you’ve just purchased your receiver, it likely does not have the bypass mode engaged.
Bypass mode is also sometimes called “passthrough mode” or “direct mode.” Both of these processes will deliver the video feed directly to the TV without compressing it. While your video will no longer be specially optimized for the live sports you’re watching, at least you’ll be seeing the hits in real-time.
Tip: Turn off on-screen displays for simple remote control changes. Even having your TV display the changes in inputs, channels, and volumes can create minuscule lag.
Alter Your TV Settings
If you’re a gamer, you’ll want to pursue all avenues to create a lag-less gaming experience. This pursuit will include checking settings on all of your devices. Your AV receiver is not the only thing in the equation that tries to alter the media it’s projecting; TVs often have processing functions as well.
Your television is likely altering the image you see through a picture processing function. Similar to the “sport” mode on your AV receiver, your TV can have different settings. Sport, cinema, news, and gaming are all common modes on modern televisions. If you haven’t guessed it yet, “gaming” is the mode you want to be in.
The gaming mode on your television should remove all video processing that the device may do otherwise. Gaming/game mode can sometimes lower the picture quality slightly, but it can also greatly diminish input lag. What’s more important, making the shot or seeing your opponent make it first – in high definition?
Not all TVs have “game” or “gaming” modes. They could have a similar fast mode that does not alter the video feed at all. Choosing this mode will also lessen the effects of input lag.
Every television is different. Let’s review some of the settings you could alter on your TV.
- Processing: This setting on your TV will force the unit to add filters to the video stream before it passes through to the display. Some of these processes include color correction, dynamic whites, and auto-energy modes. Turn all of these processes off to lower the incurrent lag.
- Video-Input: Your television input settings tell your TV what type of media is coming into it. In turn, your television will treat this media in different ways. To diminish lag, set your TV to “PC” or “Game” mode.
- Audio/Video Mode: Whereas video input tells your TV what is coming into it, audio/video mode tells your TV what to do with this media. Again, select “gaming mode” if available.
- Adjust Delay: In some receivers, especially if you use optical audio, you can apply an audio delay. Look at your audio options in your receiver’s settings. You can usually do this with TVs as well. Look for the frame delay option in your TV settings.
Bypass or Go Around the AV Receiver Altogether
You purchased your AV receiver to enhance your home theater experience, but perhaps it’s creating an input lag when gaming that can’t be ignored. Ultimately, the only way to remove all traces of the AV receiver lag is to remove the AV receiver from the equation. This doesn’t mean you need to get rid of the receiver altogether, but you may need to bypass it when it comes to gaming.
By feeding your video game data straight to the television instead of going through the receiver, you’ll remove any chance of lag that the receiver would add through filters or processes.
Unfortunately, you’ll also remove any of the receiver’s benefits, which means you’ll go back to using multiple remotes, and your AV receiver won’t split your audio into 5-channels. To use your surround speakers, you’ll have to use another cable to deliver the TV’s audio to the receiver.
AV receivers can add input lag if their settings are set to alter or compress the incoming media. Luckily, most of these settings can be altered. In general, “gaming mode” will deliver an unaltered video experience, and bypass or pass-through modes will do the same.
If you’ve gone through all of the steps in this article and are still experiencing input lag, reach out to the company that produces your receiver. They may have an insight into the device that we have not mentioned.