New HDTV, but no sound?

A friend told me “With this economy, Santa is not checking his list twice.” But looking at the offers from electronic stores, I’m sure 2009 is the year that a lot of new homes are finally getting HDTVs.

Unfortunately, most of them will not be able to take full advantage of the sound and video quality of their High Definition TVs. The cable providers do a good job of telling customers to upgrade to High Definition channels. You need to pay a little bit more each month to get the HD signal plus you need to “rent” the HD cable box. My recommendation is to get a HD cable box that is also a Digital Video Recorder, or DVR. There are lots of good HD program to record and watch later. You will run out of space on your HD-DVR, but we will cover that on a future blog post.

Back to video and sound… your cable provider will give you the HD box and the “cables” to connect the cable box to your HDTV. The will not give you High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cables. Sometimes they will remind you to buy HDMI cables from them or tell you to go to the local electronics store to buy them. But you do not need to pay $150 for cables.

If you do not have a few days to buy the cables online and wait for them to come in the mail, compare the prices of your local electronics store with your local home improvement store. They have the same HDMI cables for a lot less money.

Ok, you have the HDMI cable and you connect your cable box to your HDTV. New TVs have an automatic setup. Since they can get a signal from a computer or several HDMI inputs, you just need to tell the TV what input to use. For my Samsung 46” LCD, it is HDMI 2.

Now you have video. But before you say, “I don’t see the High Definition difference,” make sure you are looking at an HD channel. With your HD cable box, you should have HD channels like Discovery HD, TLC HD and more. And since you have a great TV, you might as well pay the monthly fee to get HD movie channels like HBO. Ask your cable provider to give you a free month to test the HBO HD channel.

So, you are now looking at amazing video and then it hits you, “there is no sound!” The reason is simple. Your HD cable box does not know that you have an HDMI cable and the default for most cable boxes is “Dolby” sound.

Before you get upset, blame the HDTV or your cable provider, look for the sound settings of your cable box and change from Dolby to HDMI. From the remote control of my Scientific Atlanta HD cable box, I click “settings” to reach the preferences of my cable box. Under Audio: Digital Out, my cable box had Dolby. After selecting HDMI, the sound of my HDTV was working properly.

If you can’t find “setting” on your cable remote or cable box, now is the time that you need to call them. Tell them that your cable box has HDMI cables for your HDTV and you are not getting sound. They should be familiar with this problem and in a few minutes you should be able to hear and see your HD channels.

Share your HDTV experience with our readers. Please leave a comment below.