Surround Receivers

Receiver Shuts Off During Loud Scenes – Causes and Solutions

There are tons of articles and advice out there about what to do when your AV receivers goes into protection mode. We’ve even written a few. But you’ve got a weird problem. Your AV receiver seems fine most of the time. Come movie night, however, when you’re cranking your system, your receiver shuts down. Sure, you know this is probably protection mode, but why? Why does your AV receiver shut off only during loud scenes? What can you do about it? Let’s discuss!

It’s Not Your Subwoofer

Your first thought is that it is probably your subwoofer(s). Your subs are going crazy during loud scenes, so surely that’s what is shutting down your receiver. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely the case.

Your subwoofers almost certainly have their own amplifiers. They are connected to your AV receiver via a simple RCA cable. Your AV receiver is sending a very low power signal to the amp in your subwoofer to tell it what notes to play and at what volumes. Sending a signal that results in a loud sound isn’t all that different (from your receiver’s perspective) than a soft sound. If your subwoofer was somehow shutting down your AV receiver, it wouldn’t matter if the scene was loud or soft. It would happen all the time.

That Leaves Your Speakers

If your second thought was that it has something to do with your speakers, you are likely correct. While it is always possible that there is something wrong inside your AV receiver, protection mode usually comes from a problem with your speakers. As your receiver provides power to your speakers, something happens that causes it to shut down. The most common problem is the speaker cable.

Check Your Speaker Wires

Generally speaking, if a wire works, it always works. If it is broken, it doesn’t work. It seems counterintuitive that a speaker wire could cause your receiver to shut down during loud scenes.

What is likely happening is that there is a stray wire near one of your connections. This can be at the speaker side or the receiver end. Either way, there is a strand of speaker wire that is not secured. During normal use, this doesn’t create any problems. During loud scenes, however, more power is flowing through the speaker cable. This causes it to heat up. That loose strand will move slightly as it warms until it is close enough to touch the other speaker cable (or terminal). This creates a short that puts your receiver into protection mode. When the wire cools, it bends back and the speaker cable functions normally.

The Fix

Check each end of your speaker wire looking for stray strands. If you can’t find any, re-terminate all your speaker wires. Maybe with banana plugs.


The second most common cause for your receiver shutting down during loud scenes is overheating. This happens when a loud scene happens and your receiver is pushing maximum power to your speakers. There are a number of reasons why this might cause your receiver to go into protection mode. Without knowing your exact system and setup, it is nearly impossible for us to say what is the exact cause. Here are some articles to help you out:

The Fix

The fix for other speaker problems depends on the problem. If your speakers have very low impedance, you could add an external amp (if your AV receiver has pre-outs) or by moving your speakers closer to your seat. If you are running your speakers’ full range because you don’t have subs, it might be time to invest in a couple. Lastly, simply turning your system down might stop the issue, but it won’t make you happy. Better to find the cause and fix it rather than have to lower the volume. You didn’t invest in a home theater system NOT to blast it from time to time!

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