What to Do About an AVR That Clicks and Ticks

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I imagine at some point most people have experienced an AVR that ticks and clicks. It can be a very irritating problem that can have an effect on your viewing experience, so I decided to look into what you can do about it.

So, what to do about an AVR that clicks and ticks?

If your AVR ticks and clicks, the first thing to do about it is diagnose the issue. The clicks and ticks are most likely caused by a faulty relay or solder joint, which can be fixed if you know what to do. If not, then the best thing will be to get it repaired.

What to Do About an AVR That Clicks and Ticks

Diagnosing a ticking and clicking AVR can be a complicated process, but is worth attempting if you think you can repair the issue. In this article I’ll be looking a bit more into what to do about an AVR that clicks and ticks.

If you haven’t, chect out my top recommendations for AV receivers.

Why your AVR clicks and ticks

Your Audio/Video Receiver (AVR) will generally make clicking and ticking sounds as standard, so it’s not a problem if it does this sometimes. You can typically expect your AVR to click and tick during the following functions:

  • When it turns on
  • A second or two before the audio and video signals are output
  • When changing between stereo and surround sound
  • Muting and un-muting the audio

These clicks and ticks are made by the AVR’s electro-mechanical relays. This is basically a fancy term for a switch within the AVR that controls the signals. Electro-mechanical relays are important in devices that control several circuits with one signal, as an AVR does. This article has much more information on the subject.

The electro-mechanical relays help to open taps on the AVR’s transformer. Doing this helps to regulate the voltage of the incoming mains current, which either needs to be boosted or reduced. Opening and closing taps in this way help to provide the AVR with a consistent voltage.

While this is completely normal, constant clicking and ticking from your AVR likely indicates a fault in the relay or in the solder joints that hold the relay(s) in place. This isn’t necessarily always the issue but is the most likely cause and therefore the best place to start.

Diagnosing this issue can be difficult if you don’t know your way around a circuit, and have little experience with electronics. That said, it’s worth learning if you’re investing in a home theater, as fixing this kind of issue yourself will be significantly cheaper than getting it repaired.

However, getting into the finer details of how the circuitry works starts getting very complicated, and if you don’t yet feel confident it can be worth visiting a professional to get it repaired. If you think simply replacing the relays will get the job done, then try it, but if this doesn’t work then the next step should be getting a professional in.

What to do about the ticking and clicking

Providing you think you can fix the problem once you’ve diagnosed it, then there are a few solutions you could try. It’s worth starting with the less invasive options, because if you can troubleshoot the problem without having to look at your AVR’s insides, then all the better. Here are my top solutions:

1. Check your wiring

Read my home theater wiring guide.

Your first point of investigation should always be the wiring. If the clicking and ticking is having an effect on your speakers, it seems an obvious place to start. For example, faulty connections could be causing the speakers to cut in and out when relays are switched within the AVR.

Check your connections on the back of your AVR, giving them a little wiggle. If this has any effect on the speakers, then it can be worth investigating in a bit more detail. Even a single stray wire can cause a short, which can cause the speakers to drop out.

If your wiring is held in place with banana clips, then take these off and check the wires themselves. Reconnecting the speaker wires could also make a difference, so taking them off helps in several ways. It could also be an idea to take the banana clips off and see if this makes a difference to the sound.

While this might not solve the problem, it’s worth starting with this because it’s a pretty easy thing to check. Obviously, if the clicking persists after then you know it’s more likely a problem inside your AVR.

2. Giving your AVR a little nudge

I’m recommending this as the second option, but try it at your own risk. The circuitry inside an AVR is relatively sensitive, which can be both a benefit and a problem. The clicks and ticks could be caused by something as simple as the relay being stuck.

All you need to do is lift your receiver up at the front by a small amount and then drop it. You might be horrified by this idea, but I only mean for you to drop it by a few millimeters. Doing this can jog the relay out of place and get it working again.

Not only have I tried this myself with success, but I know plenty of other people who found this worked. You’ll be able to hear the relay click if you’ve been successful. However, bear in mind that this is more of a temporary solution, as it’s likely the problem will come back in a few months.

The obvious thing to state here is don’t drop it from very high, otherwise, you could cause more damage. If you don’t feel comfortable trying this, then don’t, but I’ve known it to work for fixing a clicking relay.

3. Check the soldering

One of the more common reasons for something like clicking and ticking is a cold solder joint. In short, this means a joint in which the solder material hasn’t been heated enough to form a joint. Over time, this can cause cracks in the solder, which causes the connection to fail. This is why it wouldn’t be present immediately.

In order to repair a cold solder joint, you just need to reheat the solder until it melts, allowing the joint to form again. Something like this isn’t particularly easy to explain in writing, so check out the video below for a better guide on how to do it.

Finding the faulty solder joint and repairing it can be a bit fiddly, and it obviously helps to know your way around a circuit. Providing you’ve got this knowledge, it can be worth a try, but if not, then take it to be repaired.

4. Replace the relays

Again, this is a viable option if you know your way around a circuit. To find the relays in your AVR, it’ll be worth starting with the user manual. Most come with a circuit diagram and exploded diagram with the parts labeled, so it shouldn’t be that hard to find what you’re looking for.

However, the difficulty you might find is in sourcing the parts. Start by identifying the specs of the part you need and then searching for it online. You might find this difficult for older AVRs, but some websites have quite an amazing selection of components.

This website from All Data Sheet is a good place to look because it has listings for millions of different parts. You’ll need the part number, but this will be written on the relay itself. It’s also worth checking somewhere like Element14, as they might have information on the parts you need.

5. Take it to be repaired

This is obviously the final option or the first if you don’t want to try repairing it yourself. The biggest limitation is the availability of specialists, as you might not have any in your area. Search online to see if there are any AV repairmen by you.

6. Buy a new AVR

Obviously, another option is to buy a new AVR that doesn’t experience clicking and ticking. Some models of AVR actually do away with the mechanical element of the electro-mechanical relays, which makes them effectively silent. You won’t find this on many models, though.

One that does feature electronic relays is the Harman Kardon AVR 2700 (Amazon), which is a pretty pricey model. This is just an example of an AVR that has silent relays, but there are more out there. If this is something you’re interested in, then do some digging online and you should find some more information.

Some final thoughts

When it comes to what to do about an AVR that clicks and ticks, the solution largely depends on the problem. Start by trying to diagnose the issue, but as I’ve mentioned, this can start getting complicated.

The best thing is to try some simple diagnostics before you begin looking at wiring. If you don’t think you can identify the problem, then have it repaired by a professional. Hopefully questioning them on the issue can help you work out how to resolve it in the future.

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