It Took Dish Network Months To Figure Out Their HDMI Cables Are Crap

Don is a relatively new Dish Network customer, and he’s annoyed. Not because he’s lost his favorite channels in a carriage fee dispute, or his rates are higher than indicated. No, his problem is a little stranger than that. Pausing or fast-forwarding any programming would make his TV’s audio go out. He describes “dozens” of calls to Dish and quite a few service calls, replacing the DVR, the Dish-supplied cables…everything. The issue went all the way up to Executive Escalations. After all of this effort and nonsense explanations that solved nothing, one tech happened to hook up component cables instead of HDMI. Hey, look at that–the audio didn’t drop out anymore! The tradeoff for this, however, is no more high-definition programming.

For months after starting with Dish, pause or fast-forward for recorded or live TV caused a loss of audio, restorable only be turning the TV off and on (literally thousands of times). Various false fixes from dozens of calls to Dish included changing DVRs twice and the HD cable (for another of their garbage standard cables) and their second tier techs saying it was a software issue they were working on to be available in another month or two.

Finally another tech came out, identified the problem as their garbage HD cable; hooked up composite cables to solve loss of sound issue but deprive me of HD picture quality which I pay extra for. Their Executive Resolutions member [W] said she would locate the Tech who knew the issue and reimburse me $15 to buy the HD cable to give me HD picture without loss of audio. Then she failed to call me back in spite of several voice messages. Another Executive Resolutions member, [H], told me he personally gets HD quality picture with composite cables (something their tech and my eyes tell me is impossible) and Dish would do nothing further to resolve the issue.

So I pay for HD but don’t get HD. Do not believe their recent ads about superior customer service; it is no service, just aggravation and no help.

If that “garbage HD cable” is just a basic HDMI cable, that’s nothing proprietary, and you can find decent-quality cables online even cheaper than $15. If a better cable is all that’s needed, Don could be awash in pixels after a quick trip to Walmart or a cheap Monoprice order.

That’s not the point, though, is it? Look at how many people involved in this incident just made stuff up when they couldn’t solve Don’s problem. Phantom software upgrades? High-definition composite cables? All nonsense told to Don out of desperation to tell him something, anything, and make him go away without necessarily solving the problem.


Edit Your Comment

  1. floyd fan says:

    I definitely would have canceled within the window and switched over to Direct TV.

    • Murph1908 says:

      Forget the window. They are not providing the service you signed up for, which is HD programming. They are not living up to their side of the agreement. Send them a letter telling them you are cancelling, and to shove any terminate fee up their HDMI port.

      I did the same to DirecTV when my HD was pixellating and emitting a periodic rasping sound, and they couldn’t fix it over several months and several trips.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      I would have purchased an HDMI cable.

      • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

        Though I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s actually a problem with the port, or how the box is interpreting certain signals.

      • Oh_No84 says:

        This makes no sense. The problem is obviously with the port not the cable.

    • guynameddrew says:

      How do we know that it was for sure the HDMI cable’s problem? It could’ve been the HDMI jack in the back of his TV.

  2. Captain Spock says:

    Yeah just go out and buy yourself a cable, and get the reimbursement later… 15 dollars is worth it to have the HD you pay for whilst you wait. I know its a pain in the ass, but perhaps the OP is just “suffering” with composite to prove a point… I personally, always have a couple extra cables laying about.

    • kc2idf says:

      On this point, I think that the OP or someone with whom he was speaking has confused composite and component. Component is HD capable, and works beautifully. Composite is SD-only.

      Component cables (the ones that do HD) have five connectors: green, blue, red, white, red. Composite cables (the ones that do NOT do HD) have three: yellow, white, red.

      I advise anyone who wants to stick to Dish to do two things: (1) set up component cables now and (2) tell Dish to fix their f***ing HDMI ports. It is NOT the HDMI cable (see my other post).

      • NeverLetMeDown2 says:

        +1 for both points.

      • Ragman says:

        Component cables only have 3 connectors(Y Pb Pr) – you’re confusing the stereo audio(red white) as being part of it. If you’re watching HD, you ought to be using the digital audio out instead of stereo.

        • kc2idf says:

          Trying to keep it where the non-techies can grok it. If this were Slashdot, then I would have gone into far more detail and noted what you said.

          This isn’t, though, it’s the Consumerist, where you need to tailor your message to be compatible with non-techies, also. As such, I stand by my description.

      • dirtyblueshirt says:

        I wonder if the claim that the could get HD with composite cables is a slight misunderstanding on the OP, or miscommunication on the tech. Technically, you can use five composite cables in the component jacks, if you don’t have a component cable set. Of course being an analog signal, the cheaper the composite cables are, the more your picture will suffer. However if you have high-grade composite cables, you can use them as component and never know the difference.

        • Ragman says:

          Since it’s an HD box, it’s almost a given that there will be component outs. Just pick up a component cable and if you want surround sound, a digital audio fiber cable from monoprice and be done with it. That and make sure the component output is set to HD resolution.

          The words “component” and “composite” are soo freaking similar that it’s very easy to get them confused. I’m a very technical person, and I have to slow down when talking about the two so that I don’t start using the wrong word.

      • seth_lerman says:

        Cause also be a fault on the TV itself. Or if it is going through a receiver or other switcher. The symptoms sound like it is losing handshake. There are many links in the chain that could break.

        It is most likely not the cables themselves as they say they changed those numerous times. What are the chances multiple cables will have the same issue when tons of other people are not affected?

        • Overman says:

          HDMI is a consumer cable with built in HDCP (DRM).
          The TV and box are losing their EDID when FF or RR.
          Plug in the HDMI direct into the TV, and if you still lose audio, the box needs a firmware upgrade.
          Componant (Y,R,B + L,R) is analog and will do HD up to 720p.
          HDMI will run up to 1080p, but has no locking connector.
          When I see HDMI at work I flip out that people are bringing in this consumer crap.
          Sure the image is fine, but its designed to be a gatekeeper, not a pathway.
          R6 HD-SDI is a single coax with a locking connector the carries 3g of data a second with 6 channels of audio. And its illegal to use outside of the broadcast world.
          Proof that content creators don’t give a crap about ip, only content providers.

          • dullard says:

            It’s nice that you appear to know of what you speak, and some of us understand. But, since this is not a tech site, not everyone does. It might be nice to explain some of the terminology rather than use letters for terms when what these letters represent is known only to techies and those in the trade.

            • JEDIDIAH says:

              This is basic consumer stuff. This is a consumer site. If you don’t educate yourself when you are out spending money, people WILL take advantage of you. Whining that it’s hard won’t help.

              All of the “technical mumbo-jumbo” are issues relevant to this particular type of product.

              Although it all boils down to Disney and Viacom treating you like a thief and making tech more complicated and more failure prone just to prevent you from doing something that would never occur to you in the first place.

              DRM punishes the paying customer and does nothing to stop piratese.

          • daveSH says:

            A couple of points:
            1) Component connections commonly go to 1080i (not limited to 720p). In fact, it is capable of 1080p, but very few TV sets are capable of dealing with it.
            2) I’m not sure why you brought up SDI – but it is NOT “illegal to use outside of the broadcast world”.

            • Overman says:

              Dullard: You’re right, too many terms, but it illustrates the amount of roadblocks that are inserted to the chain that can cause problems.
              There are multiple flavors of digital and analog (componant), all designed around the ability to control content.

              daveSH: Try to remember that 1080i is NOT HD. It is essentially 540p,
              the equivalent of a progressive scan DVD player. Sure its better than 480i through a line doubler, but not by much. When you play it on a plasma (lcd monitors give false color representation) you can see the artifacts of upscalling.
              The only analog cables of pushing 1080p are 5 wire with seperate H/V sync, or old school composite sync, but these are pretty much dead since DVI.
              In higher rez, we use Dual-HDSDI to transmit either uncompressed video (4-4-4) or the new 4k standard.
              As for using HDSDI in the consumer world, you bet its outlawed due to the DMCA. All consumer gear MUST have HDCP.
              You people can’t be trusted.

            • scoosdad says:

              Thanks for bringing both of those points up.

              I have dozens of non-broadcast installations where we’ve installed HD-SDI to go digital over long distances using a simple coaxial cable instead of using HDMI. Nothing illegal about those at all. Who would care? HDMI does not always contain HDCP (copyright protection), so it can be converted back and forth to SDI if HDCP (or EDID negotiations) are not a concern.

              I have friends in the video switching and distribution equipment business who privately say that if it weren’t for HDCP and the copyright police, their jobs would be so much easier and we’d have some amazingly simple and inexpensive products to handle and switch digital signals.

      • bobosims says:

        Component cables will pass *some* but not all HD signals between the dish tuner box and the TV. Component cables do not support HDCP handshaking though, so any programs which are content protected (I think HBO and some other premium channels do this, and even non-premium channels will do this with some of their content, especially sporting events) will not be able to be displayed via component cables.

        In short, component cables will allow for some of the HD content to be viewable. But, to guarantee that everything is viewable (thanks to HDCP), you have to use an HDMI cable. A quick stop by the monoprice website will fix you up, and if the issues continue with the dish receiver, then it will be up to DISH to solve the problem via a firmware update.

        The fact that the OP is having this issue but that it’s not widespread among dish customers indicates that the OP should check with his TV manufacturer to determine if there is a firmware update available for his television set. So far, at least from what I’m reading, this has not been done.

        Also, consider moving the HDMI connection to a different HDMI port on the TV (most have two or 3 HDMI inputs)… it could be that there’s a cold solder joint or a tin whisker or something that’s interfering with the proper operation of the HDMI port on the TV that he’s presently plugging the HDMI cable into.

  3. scoutermac says:

    When Dish Network installed my receiver they provided 1 HDMI cable at no charge. It worked well enough I purchased a second from their online store for $10 shipping included for my PS3. I have not had any issues with either cable.

  4. CheritaChen says:

    Buy a decent cable and deduct the price from your first bill payment with a note explaining the issue and a copy of the receipt for the cable.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      This will open up a whole ‘nother can of worms.

  5. SirWired says:

    It could be his TV doesn’t get along well with the Dish box. HDMI is kind of a crap standard prone to weird issues like this.

    But yes, this “you can get an HD picture with composite cables” is a stupid lie.

  6. spartan says:

    I think it was clearly a problem with the Auxiliary Cathode Refractorizer Device.

  7. kc2idf says:

    Actually, it’s their HDMI interface. I have had zero problems using the HDMI cable they supplied for anything else but my Dish Network receiver. Use HDMI with this, though, and you will be able to use it once per reboot, until such time as you turn the TV off or change it to a different input. What a signal back? Reboot the receiver.

    That very same HDMI cable, provided by Dish when we got this receiver, will connect my netbook to the very same TV with zero issue. I have also used it to connect my netbook to two other monitors, again with zero issue.

    I went to component and it works fine, and solved a couple of other problems in the same step.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Hmmm…have been using Dish for the past couple years with 2 recievers on 2 TVs with everything hooked up via HDMI – never had any such trouble.

      • bobosims says:

        likewise… dish dvr dual receiver with hdmi to off-brand LCD panel with no problems whatsoever…

        This is NOT a universal issue. However, you might be similar enough in configuration to the OP that you’re noticing the same or similar results…

      • JEDIDIAH says:

        This stuff depends on what particular TV and AV receiver you have. It’s all complicated enough that one combination of A+B+C can work perfectly while another one doesn’t. The addition of DRM probably doesn’t help.

        With my own HTPC stuff I have seen vastly different results from different TVs.

    • guynameddrew says:

      My DIsh recievers connected with HDMI have worked fine. Maybe it was the HDMI input jack in the back of tv?

  8. nightshade74 says:

    You wouldnt happen to have a Westinghouse TV?
    I seem to recall they had this exact audio problem.
    It was a TV firmware issue.

    Otherwise spend the $5.49 for “AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable (6.5 Feet/2.0 Meters)”

  9. snarfies says:

    Don was clearly suffering from virus noise on his HDMI cable. He should probably buy:

  10. nopirates says:

    you can get decent HDMI cables online for about $4. do it.

  11. xmason99 says:

    I always get my HDMI cables at Monoprice (or any cables I’ve needed, for both business and home):

    $3.50 for a high quality 6 foot cable, in your choice of fashionable colors!

  12. Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

    I am SURE he would not have had the problem if he had a Monster© HDMI cable.

  13. JustJayce says:

    I have an old 61 inch Hitachi projection TV on component video since I have no HDMI. Before I switched to Dish I went out to the various DBS forums and found out the component video would do HD with my TV. I’m running 720P and 1080i with no problems on Dish through their Hopper Box. I’ve heard of issues on HBO when it comes to protection of content, but I have yet to encounter any issues with anything I have recorded.

    • Captain Spock says:

      This kind of thing (The HBO issue) just drives people to piracy. Do you Jayce, want to buy a whole new 61 inch TV just so you can watch a channel you PAY FOR? You can get a HDMI to Component converter for a set top box (Roku or similar) and stream pirated content right to your “Old” tv.

      • JustJayce says:

        I did a lot of research before I made the switch to ensure I could get the HD signal. Honestly I am disappointed with the content I get on the premium channels. Dish also has “Blockbuster On Demand” and that is pure crap. When my free trial is over I won’t be buying in. Instead I will RedBox it or NetFlix it through my streaming media player.

        HDMI = The punishment for the many due to the piracy of the few.

      • StarKillerX says:

        Well that and wanting everything for free. lol!

        • JEDIDIAH says:

          After being charged a kings ransom for something and not getting it, a lot of people feel entitled to a free replacement. It’s not that unreasonable.

  14. CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

    My gut tells me it probably has nothing to do with the HDMI cables but with the ports on the box..

    • ferozadh says:

      This. Cables either work or don’t. They wouldn’t cause issues like this, especially cables carrying digital signals.

    • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

      I think it was the TV, honestly. They switched the boxes AND the cables. The only constant variable was the service and the TV. I would wager the TV has a bad connector. I have a TV that sat on a microwave for years. Eventually the Coax input went out. But if I hooked it up from the cable box to the RCA jacks, there wasn’t a problem. So Verizon could have given me coax cable after coax cable, box after box. But the problem was the input on the TV.

  15. goodpete says:

    The idea that there are different kinds of “quality” when it comes to HDMI cables is simply not true. It’s something the folks at Monster and Best Buy dreamed up in order to sell cables with a high markup.

    Sure, some HDMI cables may wear out faster than others. But that only really matters if you’re unplugging them and moving them around a lot (not something most people would do). Also, some are rated for in-wall installation because of building codes. But that’s also only something you need to worry about under special circumstances.

    When it comes down to it, blaming the “quality” of the HDMI cable for why the audio drops out when you fast-forward is like blaming the “quality” of your tires for why you can’t parallel park.

    As the infographic above explains, HDMI cables simply transfer bits from here to there. As long as they support the HDMI spec being used, all HDMI cables are totally created equal.

    The problem is with the OP’s receiver. Not their cable. They should demand a replacement (again).

  16. Ashman says:

    Just go buy a better cable and be done with it… now that he knows this is the problem, amazon has tons of hdmi cables on the cheap. Hell I have hdmi cables that cost a few dollars – no issues with them. Even got some of those expensive cables, cannot tell the difference.

    He should just suck it up and go buy a new cable.

  17. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    It is probably an HDCP problem. That’s the stupid DRM overlaid on the DVI and HDMI protocols and if it’s not done right causes all kinds of grief. Some TV’s and source devices can be incompatible because of of bugs.

    Component video will solve the problem, but I know on Bluray you can’t get HD in a lot of cases as the DRM on HDMI is required. I know nothing about whether this could be an issue with Dish.

    • CheritaChen says:

      I bet it’s this. So he should use component for the Dish box and he can use their HDMI cable for his Blu-ray if he has one. Still doesn’t resolve the issue that he has to pay extra to obtain a working HD connection, unless he calls them back and they give him the component cable at no charge.

  18. GodfreyOriole says:

    How can a bad hdmi cable cause those problems? HDMI is digital not analog. seems to be with the box or tv itself . I buy really really cheap mono price hdmi cables . Heck the one attaching my tv to my cablebox was literally 99 cents and I have no problems.

    • Press1forDialTone says:

      I can never understand why people will knock themselves
      out to get the cheapest on something that is extremely
      important like connecting digital interfaces together, something
      that they will buy -ONCE-. I go to an expert and ask him/her what
      type they use or recommend (not someone in Best Buy, someone
      in IT at a University for example) and buy that and I never have
      any problems. Yeah, I might pay $30 for a top of the line Belden
      cable but its not the same as buying paper towels…..

      • bobosims says:

        well, it mostly is. some hold up better than others, but all do the same job if they’re not subject to a manufacturing defect. Consumer belden cables and “top of the line” don’t necessarily go hand in hand, there will still be occasional manufacturing glitches regardless of brand (though Belden’s pro lines are outstanding). And, frankly, the only reason to pay $30 for an HDMI cable vs $5 for an HDMI cable is for peace of mind, not any actual guarantee of functionality… but, if that’s what it takes to make you happy and if that’s what you are willing to pay, then more power to you… :-) I love the free market!

      • JEDIDIAH says:

        As long as you don’t take the free cable from Dish or the one included with the Angry Birds Roku then you should be fine. Some things don’t have to cost a lot of money. There’s no good reason to waste money when you can avoid it.

  19. evilpete says:

    Run video via HDMI and audio via analog…


  20. kathygnome says:

    It’s probably not the cable as much as it is that the HDMI interface isn’t quite ready for prime time. It has a bunch of logic built into in that frequently ends up with incompatibilities between the TV, audio receiver, and cable/sat box. These usually pop up when there is some kind of “transition.” Usually it’s when you change between different picture resolutions, but in this case, my guess is when you pause the DVR, the sound cuts off, and this causes the HDMI to turn off the sound channel.

    I had this problem with a Comcast Motorola DVR changing the default video resolution. DISH is quite correct, if you have incompatible equipment where the HDMI doesn’t negotiate correctly, the “fix” is to switch to a separate digital audio connection and component (not composite) video, which will give you HD and 5.1 sound.

  21. IGetsAnOpinion says:

    I have an older HD Dish Box VIP 622 and I’m on probably my 3rd or 4th box (over the past 4 years). I don’t even remember what the problem was with them that I had to return them. This one I have now, it’s hooked up via HDMI, and the only problem I have is occasionally the sound will drop. It seems to only happen on certain channels though, and it’s only for a second or two. I’ve checked all the connections to make sure they were tight. I’ve tried several different HDMI cables and none make a difference. I know I’m due for an upgrade but I’ve heard too many negatives about the hopper, so I’m going to wait. It’s working right, so why fix something that isn’t broke.

  22. webweazel says:

    It may not necessarily be the cables, it could be the TV. For example, we just got a Roku. We hooked it up to our living room TV with the composite cables. While watching a movie, the screen would black out frequently for a half-second or so. We hooked it up on another TV we had with the same cables, and not one problem. We hooked it back up to the living room TV with HDMI, and now there is no problem. The TV just did not like that hookup for some odd reason,
    Our living room TV is weird also. If we have a channel on with no sound, like a “static” channel, then turn on our Wii game and change the input to the Wii, there will be no sound whatsoever until we turn off the Wii, go back to the TV input and change to a TV channel WITH sound. When we go back to the Wii, all is fine. It seems like if the TV recognizes a “no input” or something, it turns OFF the sound, but then has trouble turning it back ON when input is again available on anything other than TV channels specifically. I bet something similar COULD be happening in this situation.
    Sometimes a little investigation with a process of elimination is more worthwhile and easier to deal with than spending hours of time dealing with tech support.

  23. Press1forDialTone says:

    I would have cancelled immediately and switched to Comcast if
    it was available in his area. Both DirectTV and Dish are run by
    people who don’t have a clue about the technology which is
    not perfected and is incredibly inconsistent in quality across
    the US. Not to mention the high-power satellites bathing us
    in microwaves 24×7 at a unprecedented level…GPS I can
    justify, entertainment I can’t

    • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

      And if the comcast box had the same HDMI issues, would you still blame the company? The most likely explanation is that it’s the TV. TV’s can have issues as well.

  24. sparc says:

    i’ll bet it’s an HDMI issue with his TV. It’s ashame he didn’t post the model of TV.

    I’m guessing it’s some sort of Olevia type manufacturers and it’s got some sort of hdmi handshake issue with the Dish receiver.

    Why not use component cables instead of composite? That would have got Don HD without using HDMi.

  25. Klay says:

    With the red-blue-green component cables you can get 720p which is the best you can get with satellite for most non-VOD channels. Yes, it is analog not digital but I don’t think you can see the difference. No, 1080i is not better than 720p–we’ll take that up later. Go to menu-settings-TV settings-HDTV-Widescreen- and force 720p for the output. Use the digital out with an optical cable and you’ll get discreet surround. You may have to set the audio receiver for this.

    And BTW, it may not be the Dish receiver. Not all HDMI inputs are created equal.

    • Overman says:

      This is why HDMI sux.
      The “standard” (HDMI 1.0) was set to stop pirates, but the pirates worked around it.
      So a new “standard” (1.1) was created. Again, those crafty pirates figured out a way to
      transcode digital information and strip out unwanted bits.
      And they changed the standard, again.
      Now they are on 1.4b, as in 4th itteration second revision.
      WTF kind of standard is this?!?!?
      Its supposed to be for consumers, but the manufacturers can’t keep up.
      The CEA is under the assumption that we should replace all devices every 3 years.
      That means my gear deprieciates 33% every year.
      And they still want me to pay +$1000 for new monitors, that are filled with toxic materials that are sent to landfills overseas.
      In the non-consumer world, there is gear that works fine 25 years down the road.
      Thats the reason Grass Valley and Barco can charge $20k for a video processor.
      Hell, I’ve bought used Folsome gear that was over 10 years old and only depriecated 20%
      But thats the difference between spending $1000 and $20,000.
      Oh, and I hate the CEA, if that didn’t come across.

  26. FoodorFuel? says:

    I can confirm the problems with the audio. For the last 2-3 years ~ 2-3 times a day Dish either loses audio or freezes with audio intact. The only solution is a reboot. I would bet that it is a problem with the DVR receiver box itself as I have tried every HDMI cable I own, monster included.

  27. guynameddrew says:

    Am I missing something? How do we know the HDMI jack on his TV wasn’t messed up–not the cable? I have Dish and two HDTV’s connected to the reciever via the HDMI cables they gave me and they’ve worked perfectly fine…

  28. soj4life says:

    Could just hook up component cables to get a hd signal to his tv