Many people purchase audio-video receivers to enhance their home video experience, but it’s possible that adding another step between the video source and the television may add a delay. While many receivers can add input lag to your home theatre experience, there are settings you can change to limit this.
AV receivers may add input lag on their default settings as the audio-video receiver compresses and processes these sources before sending them to your TV. You can limit the input lag on an AV receiver by enabling the bypass or passthrough mode and changing your TV to “gaming” mode.
In the article below, we will look at why AV receivers may add input lag, and the steps you can take to lower this effect.
What Is Input Lag?
Input lag is the delay in action from the time you give a machine a command, to the time it performs the task. For instance, when you push the power button on your remote control, the TV may take a few seconds before it turns off. This is input lag.
Input lag is very important to gamers, and especially those playing first-person shooters. These games demand rapid response times between players and their TVs. Even 30 milliseconds can make a huge difference in these games.
What AV Receivers Do
Audio-video receivers are the main hub of the home theatre system. They act as a processor and enhancer of many different video and audio sources. They may have sources coming into it from gaming consoles, cable boxes, radios, satellites, DVD players, and more.
These many different sources are then enhanced by the receiver and sent to your TV. This is another attractive feature of the AV receiver. It allows you to control all of these multiple sources with one remote.
AV receivers have a five-channel audio output, while stereo receivers usually only have two-channel. This means that the standard AV receiver can amplify audio signals to five separate speakers. These are usually the left, right, center, left surround, and right surround sound speakers.
This immersive sound experience is the main reason that both movie lovers and gamers are attracted to AV receivers. It is also the reason why input lag is so annoying to these consumers. Hearing and seeing explosions at different times is both disorienting and unenjoyable.
Why Some AV Receivers May Add Input Lag
Sending audio and video files from your game console to your TV will add input lag, even without the addition of a receiver. Your TV will still have to process the data and display it on your screen. These actions take a small amount of time.
Even though transferring digital content from one place to another will almost always add a small amount of input lag, this lag is so small it is hard to notice with the human eye. When we add in video processing to this equation, especially within both the AV receiver and the TV, the small amount of input lag grows and becomes more noticeable.
Some AV receivers can compress and process videos to alter their image quality. This is usually used to enhance the video display to better suit the genre of video content, like a “dramatic” or “sports” mode.
Even processing the video to provide the on-screen display of remote control commands, like the volume or input changes that pop up when you press buttons, can cause a small input lag.
These settings should be changeable with a little bit of digging in your device’s settings.
What You Can Do to Stop AV Receivers From Adding Input Lag
There are a few main actions you can take to stop your AV receiver from adding input lag. These include:
- Changing the settings on your AV receiver
- Changing the settings on your TV
- Bypassing the AV receiver connection
If, after performing these actions, you are still noticing input lag, it is recommended that you contact the maker of the AV receiver with your specific experience.
Change the Settings on Your AV Receiver
Since the main function of AV receivers is to enhance the audio quality of the digital media coming into it, most receivers have a video bypass mode. This means that while the audio will be converted into digital surround sound, the video will be passed right through the receiver and onto the television instead of being processed.
Sometimes, this is not the default setting on the AV receiver, or someone in your household may have changed these settings at some point in time.
To ensure your AV receiver is not adding input lag by processing the incoming video, check the settings function in your receiver, and change the video settings to “passthrough” “bypass” or “direct” mode. These modes should have little or no video processing and diminish any lag that the receiver may add.
Be sure to turn off the on-screen displays that show the volume, channel, and input changes. This option should also be in the settings area of your receiver.
Change the Settings on Your TV
If you’re experiencing input lag when playing video games, the problem may not be the AV receiver. Check your television and make sure that your television is in “game mode” if it is available.
Your television also adds many different types of picture processing to the videos it displays. “Game mode” should remove all of these processes from your TV. This may lower the picture quality, but it will also remove most or all of the input lag you are experiencing.
If your TV does not have a “game mode,” make sure it is not in any other display mode that may add input lag through video processing.
Since all televisions are different and have different customization options, here is a brief list of settings to check on your TV:
- Video Input: This tells your TV what type of media is coming into the television, so it can process it properly. This should be set to either “PC” or “Game” mode.
- Audio/ Video Mode: This tells your TV what type of media it will be working with, and which processes to attach to it for the output. This setting should be changed to “Game” mode, if available.
- Processing: If your television has a processing or filter tab, be sure to turn all of these off. These include color correction, auto-energy modes, dynamic whites, etc.
Bypass the AV Receiver Altogether
Though the point of purchasing the AV receiver is to use it if you find that it is adding unbearable input lag while gaming, you can bypass the receiver for your video game consoles, but continue to use it for your home movie experiences.
You can plug the gaming console into your tv using an HDMI cable, which delivers audio and video sources. This may mean that you’ll be using your television speakers instead of your surround sound speakers. To use your surround sound speakers, you’ll have to run another optical cable from your TV to your receiver.
This is not the ideal set up but can solve your input lag in a pinch.
AV receivers can add input lag if certain settings on your receiver are selected.
To lower the possible input lag, make sure your receiver is in passthrough or bypass mode, and your television is in game mode.
If you have any further questions or difficulties with the input lag and your AV receiver, be sure to reach out to the device’s makers.
Thanks for reading! Check out my recommended AV receivers.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.