Surround Receivers

What is “Protection Mode” on My AV Receiver?

We’ve talked about Protection Mode on an AV receiver before. Mostly, how to fix it. But what if this is the first time you’ve seen this particular error? What do you do? What has happened? Should you call in an electrician? Let’s discuss!

Don’t Panic!

Step one is to take a deep breath and relax. Your first, and honestly very understandable, thought was probably that something is broken. Protection Mode sounds like a fault that will require shipping your AV receiver off to a shop for repair or just scrapping it and buying a new one.

That’s usually not the case! Exhale and we’ll explain what’s going on.

Yamaha A-S2100 integrated amp insides

Protection Mode in Short

Your AV receiver does two primary things: It processes and routes your video and audio signals and it powers your speakers. A “Protection Mode” message will appear on the screen of your AV receiver if the power to one or more of your speakers is somehow short-circuited. Usually, this happens because the two wires coming from the AV receiver have touched in some way. There are other ways as well.

In the Old Days…

When I was new to home theater, AV receivers didn’t have protection modes. From a “freaked out by an error code” perspective, I suppose that’s a good thing. But what it did mean is that if you accidentally short-circuited your speaker wires, you very often damaged the amplifier channel attached to the wire. This would mean that you would either have to have the receiver repaired or you’d simply have to replace the whole unit. As repairs often cost as much as a new receiver, the second option was far more likely than the first.

What Protection Mode does is prevent damage to your amplifier channel. It detects the fault and then shuts down the receiver before damage can be done. That’s great and definitely will save you some money. You may simply wait a few minutes and then the receiver will power back on normally.

A warning here: Don’t assume that simply because your receiver powered back on the fault has somehow fixed itself. There was a reason your AV receiver went into Protection Mode. You should find out what it is and fix it.

What Do You Do?

If your AV receiver shows a “Protect” or “Protection Mode” message on the front display, it’s time to do some troubleshooting. Like we said earlier, the most likely culprit is a speaker wire short. Double and triple-check your speaker wire for loose strands. Look for debris that may be lying across the speaker terminals (on your speakers or AV receiver) that could cause the short. Did you hear any strange noises from your speakers before your receiver shut down? That may also be a hint as to what happened.

You definitely want to find and fix the cause of the issue. Protection Mode will save your AV receiver from a few faults, but it isn’t a panacea. Aside from the hassle of waiting for the AV receiver to turn back on, every time it goes into Protection Mode you are risking damaging your receiver. Find the issue, fix it, and use your receiver worry-free.

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