Troubleshooting Digital Cable Signals: Roamio Series, Premiere Series, and Series3 DVRs

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If you have a CableCARD installed in your TiVo DVR, you can view digital cable channels. Digital cable gives you a clearer, more detailed picture than analog cable, but when your digital cable signal is too low, or there is a lot of interference (noise) on the cable line, the result can be much worse than the "snow" you see on analog stations.

If you are experiencing picture quality issues, such as blocks of color instead of a smooth image ("macroblocking" or "pixilation"), or you cannot see video on one or more of your digital channels, use the troubleshooting procedures below to determine what is causing the problem.

IMPORTANT: If you just installed a CableCARD, and you cannot see video after the cable provider sent an activation signal, go to the CableCARD instructions for your DVR:

A failed activation is the most common reason why channels are not visible after CableCARDs are installed.

Checking cable connections and input settings

If you don't see video or the picture seems to be cutting in and out, you'll need to perform some troubleshooting to see if the problem is a loose cable connection or if a setting is preventing your TV from displaying the signal from your DVR.

Press the TiVo button on the remote.

If you can't see TiVo Central, you need to troubleshoot the connection between your DVR and the TV.

Show the steps

  1. Make sure there is power to the TV and that it is turned on.
  2. Check the TV's input setting to make sure it matches the physical connection (for example, HDMI or component) between the DVR and TV:
    • If you already programmed the TiVo remote to control your TV's video input function, press Input repeatedly to cycle through the settings until you see TiVo Central.
    • If you have not yet set up the TiVo remote to control your TV, press the Input or Aux button on the TV's remote control to cycle through the settings until you see TiVo Central. If the TV remote does not have one of these buttons, refer to the TV's manual for instructions on how to change the input setting.
  3. If you still don't see TiVo Central, check the cable connections between the DVR and the TV. Make sure you are going from an OUT connector on the DVR to an IN connector on the TV, and that all the connections are secure.
  4. If you still do not see video, press Format on the DVR to cycle through the settings (for example, 1080i, 720p). Check your TV's manual to make sure the format setting on the DVR is compatible with a video input setting on your TV.
  5. Restart the DVR.
  6. If you still don't see video, try a different cable connection from the DVR to your TV (for example, try component instead of HDMI, or composite instead of component). Press the INPUT button on the TV's remote until the setting matches the new cable connection.

    NOTE: A component cable (red, blue, and green connectors) does NOT carry audio. If you use this cable to carry video, you will not hear audio until you connect the red and white leads of a composite cable. If your TV supports higher-quality digital audio, you can connect an optical cable (sold separately) between the digital audio jacks on the DVR and TV or A/V system.

  7. If you see video, you can either keep this new cable configuration or troubleshoot the old one. For example, if your original connection was HDMI, you can try a different HDMI cable or try connecting the DVR to a different HDMI port on your TV.
  8. If you do not see video after you have tried two different cable connections between your TV and your DVR, connect another A/V source (such as a DVD player, a game system, or a VCR) to the television and turn it on. If you do not see video (be sure to test the same input jack on the TV that the DVR will be using), contact the manufacturer of your TV for further assistance.
  9. Carefully reconnect your DVR to the TV. If you do not see video when the DVR is connected, but you did see video when another A/V source was connected to your TV, contact TiVo Customer Support.

If you can see TiVo Central but not Live TV, you have a good connection between your DVR and TV. You need to troubleshoot the connection between the cable source and your DVR.

Show the steps

  1. Make sure the power indicators are showing on the front of the DVR: Roamio Series, Premiere Series, and HD/HD XL DVRs have a green indicator light. Series3 HD DVRs have a clock display. If the indicator is not on, make sure the DVR is plugged in, that the power strip (if present) is turned on, and that the power outlet at the wall is working—use a lamp or other device to test the power outlet.
  2. Make sure the coaxial cable is plugged securely into the CABLE connector (not the ANTENNA connector) on the back of the DVR. Make sure all the connections on the cables between the DVR and the TV are secure. Press Live TV and check for cable signal. If you do not see a TV signal, press the TiVo button and continue.
  3. Make sure CableCARD(s) have been installed and activated. TiVo DVRs cannot display digital channels unless a CableCARD is installed and working. For more information, see Roamio and Premiere CableCARD Instructions and FAQ.
  4. Restart the DVR. After the DVR restarts, press Live TV. If you still do not see video, go to Checking signal lock and signal strength.

Checking signal lock and signal strength

When a signal is too weak, you might see picture quality issues (pixilation or macroblocking) or you might not be able to see video at all.

If you can't see video, or you see a poor-quality picture on some or all of your channels, you can use the Signal Strength Meter on your TiVo DVR to determine if the DVR is receiving a signal, and if the signal has sufficient strength for a good picture.

Show the steps

1. Navigate to the Signal Strength-Cable screen:

From TiVo Central > Settings & Messages > Settings > Channels > Signal Strength-Cable

2. Press Select to display the Signal Strength Meter. A warning screen appears, telling you that using the Signal Strength Meter will stop all recordings.

3. Select OK, access this setting. The signals strength meter appears.

Click this picture to see it larger:

4. Press Chan Up/Chan Down to check the signal on each of your digital cable channels. You can also enter channel numbers using the buttons on your remote. Signal strength of 80–100 is ideal, but the signal strength can be lower and still give a good picture, depending on your DVR model and the type of modulation used on the channel.

Press Clear to exit the Signal Strength Meter screen when you have finished testing.

To troubleshoot further, you must look at the DVR Diagnostics screen when the DVR is tuned to a problem channel.

You can use the DVR Diagnostics screen to find more detailed information about the signal on a specific channel.

Show the steps

1. Tune to a channel that is having a problem.

2. Write down the channel number and then press Record to lock the tuner to the channel (Series3 DVRs: If two CableCARDs are installed, this also locks the tuner to the CableCARD.)

3. Navigate to the DVR Diagnostics screen:

From TiVo Central > Settings & Messages > Account & System Info > DVR Diagnostics

The first page of the screen shows the diagnostics information for tuner 0. If the channel listed is not the problem channel, press Chan Down until you see the information for Tuner 1 (if you have a 4-tuner or 6-tuner TiVo DVR, you might need to continue scrolling until you reach the correct tuner for the problem channel).

Click this picture to see it larger:

4. Check the Signal Lock setting for the problem channel.

Click this picture to see it larger:

  • If you see Signal Lock: No, Test Channels could not display any video on the CableCARD, and you already checked your cable connections, contact your cable provider so they can troubleshoot why you are not receiving digital cable channels.
  • If you see Signal Lock: No, and Test Channels showed that video was missing on only one or a few channels, these channels might not be in your lineup. Go to My CableCARD channels and Guide data do not match to troubleshoot.
  • If you see Signal Lock: Yes, the DVR is detecting a signal for the channel. Go to the next step to continue troubleshooting.

5. Check the Modulation type and Signal Strength reading.

Click this picture to see it larger:

6. The following table shows the minimum signal strength that the DVR Diagnostics screen must display before you can see video when CableCARDs are installed. Signal strength numbers of 80 to 99 are ideal.

 

Premiere series box

TiVo HD or TiVo HD XL

Series3 HD

Modulation:

QAM 256

QAM 64

QAM 256

QAM 64

QAM 256

QAM 64

Minimum signal strength:

50

53

50

65

70

75

Recommended signal strength:

80-99

80-99

80-99

80-99

80-99

80-99

7. If the signal strength is in the recommended range and you see poor-quality video: go to Checking the signal quality.

8. If the signal strength is in the recommended range and you don't see video, contact TiVo Customer Support.

9. If the signal strength is below the recommended range, and you see poor-quality video or no video at all:

  • Remove any splitters in the cable line. If the signal strength does not improve, or if there were no splitters in the cable line, contact your cable provider to have your cable line tested.
  • It is best to have your cable provider run diagnostics and correct the conditions that are causing the poor signal. If you choose to add an amplifier, make sure you check the signal quality first to ensure that you won't be amplifying a poor-quality signal.

    NOTE: If your signal strength is at 100 and the video looks fine, this is not an error. The signal strength meter sets 100 as a safe threshold. If the signal is at this threshold or a bit beyond, your picture quality should be excellent. If the signal strength is well beyond the threshold, it will still register as 100, but you might experience poor picture quality, as some DVR components cycle in and out of "protect" mode to prevent damage.


Checking the signal quality

If you have confirmed that your DVR is receiving a strong signal, but you are seeing pixilation or macroblocking, you can use the SNR, RS Uncorrected and RS Corrected readings to determine if a poor-quality signal is causing the issue.

Show the steps

1. Tune to a channel that is having a problem.

2. Write down the channel number and then press RECORD to lock the tuner to the channel (Series3 only: If two CableCARDs are installed, this also locks the tuner to the CableCARD).

3. Navigate to the DVR Diagnostics screen:

From TiVo Central > Settings & Messages > Account & System Info > DVR Diagnostics

4. Under Tuner 0, look at the channel number. If the channel listed is not the problem channel, press Chan Down until you see the information for Tuner 1 (if you have a 4- or 6-tuner TiVo DVR, you might need to continue scrolling until you reach the correct tuner for the problem channel).

Click this picture to see it larger:

5. Check the Modulation type for the channel and then check the SNR value.

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6. The SNR reading must be within the following range to give good-quality video.

Modulation type:

QAM 64

QAM 256

Minimum SNR

23 dB

29 dB

Maximum SNR

30 dB

35 dB

A higher SNR reading means that the video signal is stronger relative to the noise level on the line. If the SNR value is lower than the minimum, contact your cable provider, who can test and improve the signal on the cable line.


RS Corrected and RS Uncorrected

For ideal reception on Live TV and good recordings, RS Corrected and RS Uncorrected should have a value of 0. RS Corrected and RS Uncorrected readings indicate a problem on your cable line.

NOTE: If you are using analog cable instead of digital, the value for both will read N/A.

1. Tune to a channel that is having a problem.

2. Write down the channel number and then press Record to lock the tuner to the channel. (If two CableCARDs are installed, this also locks the tuner to the CableCARD.)

3. Navigate to the DVR Diagnostics screen:

From TiVo Central > Settings & Messages > Account & System Info > DVR Diagnostics

4. Under Tuner 0, look at the channel number. If the channel listed is not the problem channel, press Chan Down until you see the information for Tuner 1 (if you have a 4-tuner or 6-tuner TiVo DVR, you might need to continue scrolling until you reach the correct tuner for the problem channel).

Click this picture to see it larger:

NOTE: Change your channel after each step to refresh your RS values.

Errors in RS Corrected

  • Errors in this field mean that while the signal might be poor, it is good enough that the DVR can compensate for the signal errors. Most of the time you will not see any problems while watching LiveTV.
  • If you see a number for RS Corrected but not on RS Uncorrected, the SNR is good, and the signal meter indicates a constant 100, you should try new cabling.

Errors in RS Uncorrected

  • Errors in this field can present image and/or audio distortion. The RS Uncorrected reading will increase while these events are happening and will hold steady during periods when the cable signal is sending good video data.
  • If the audio data alone is responsible for the RS Uncorrected errors, you will hear clicking, popping, or other audio distortion. If you hear audio errors only, you will likely see a slow but consistent rise in RS Uncorrected errors.
  • If the DVR Diagnostics screen shows RS Uncorrected errors, but the value doesn't increase, it indicates that there was a problem with the cable signal in the past that currently isn't detectable. In this state, Live TV is likely to work without problems, but you might see symptoms when playing recordings that were created when the signal previously had errors.

If you are experiencing distortion or macroblocking with your recordings or Live TV, follow these steps:

After each of the steps below, tune to another channel, then change back to the channel experiencing quality issues before checking the RS Uncorrected value for improvement. This will reset the RS value to reflect the change you made.

If there are no (or few) RS Corrected or RS Uncorrected errors, and their values are constant, you should troubleshoot to determine whether the issue is caused by your TiVo DVR, TV, A/V equipment, or cabling between the DVR and the TV.

  1. Try replacing the coaxial cable with a new one.
  2. Remove the coaxial cable from your TiVo DVR and connect it directly from the wall to your TV.

    No improvement: There may be a problem with your cable signal. Please contact your cable provider for assistance.

    Issue is resolved: Please contact TiVo Customer Support for further assistance.

  3. If these steps do not resolve your RS Uncorrected issue, contact your cable provider to have the signal tested.

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