Read this if your new Apple TV is messing up your TV or receiver

By , Nov 12, 2015

Apple TV control receivers off

Strange things started happening to my TV since first plugging in my new Apple TV a couple weeks ago, and while I didn’t immediately connect the dots, it quickly became apparent that the new device was the culprit. After a bit of digging and a lot of commonsense, I figured out my problems and how to fix them. As often, the solution was just at the click of a button.

The symptoms

The symptoms I experienced appeared to be completely random, and never seen before, as far as I was concerned. For example, the most annoying one was my Samsung TV suddenly displaying a “weak or no signal” error message while was watching cable. In that case, circling through the different inputs of my TV with its remote fixed the problem. It was a quick fix, but that was annoying nonetheless.

Another symptom I experienced was that my TV would magically turn itself on when AirPlaying music to my Apple TV. At that point, it became clear that the Apple TV was responsible for that mess.

Doing a little bit of digging about this problem online surfaced a bunch of similar issues from users who all have the 4th generation Apple TV. Some of the symptoms they experienced were their TV powering itself on and off, their receiver acting weird, and inability to change TV settings while Apple TV was on.

The cause

The cause of the problem is that Apple TV 4 is compatible with HDMI-CEC devices. Briefly, CEC, which stands for Consumer Electronics Control, is an HDMI feature that allows individual CEC-enabled devices to command and control each other without user intervention. There is much more to it than just that, but as far as we’re concerned today, this is what we’ll remember. Those of you interested in learning more about the topic can read the Wikipedia entry about HDMI-CEC.

The solutions

In my case, the problem was that I had turned on the Control TVs and Receivers option under Settings > Remotes and Devices. This setting was literally sending mixed signals to my receiver which would then pass these mixed signals on to my TV, causing my issues. This was also the reason why my TV would turn on when I AirPlayed music to Apple TV. In that case, Apple TV was just doing what I had set it to do.

Going to Settings > Remotes and Devices > and turning off Control TVs and Receivers fixed the issue. Of course, my Apple TV can’t control my other electronic devices anymore, but that is something I never wanted to begin with. On the flip side, the Apple TV remote is still capable of controlling the volume of my receiver, which in my case is just perfect.

Also read: How to control your TV or receiver volume using the Apple TV remote

While I can’t really pinpoint the true reason, it seems that for some users, turning off “Control TVs and Receivers” settings on Apple TV didn’t fix the issues entirely. Depending on your set up, you might have to disable HDMI-CEC directly from your TV settings. I know, digging around the terrible UI of a TV set is not something any of us enjoys doing, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.

So power on your TV, grab its remote and look for HDMI-CEC settings in there, then turn them off. Note that most manufacturers come up with a different name for HDMI-CEC, so this is not what you might see on the screen. For example, the following manufacturers use these specific names for the feature: Anynet+ (Samsung), Aquos Link (Sharp), BRAVIA Link and BRAVIA Sync (Sony), SimpLink (LG), HDAVI Control, EZ-Sync, VIERA Link (Panasonic). You might want to look up how your TV maker branded HDMI-CEC with a quick Google search.

If you were having similar issues with your new Apple TV, I am hoping this will fix the problems. If not, let’s discuss further in the comments section below.

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  • James G

    My Siri remote started randomly changing the volume on my TV and randomly switching the input back and forth between the Apple TV and my DirecTV. It was extremely annoying. This started happening after upgrading to tVOS this week and only on one of my televisions.

    Apple, get it together. Fix this, and your Remote app already.

  • Briggamortis

    I noticed my receiver turned on by itself when I turned the apple tv on. Figured this was the case. Kinda like that actually. Might turn that on in my tv as well to controll it all. Thanks for confirming this guys!

    • Kiwi

      🙂 normally tv supports turning receiver on and off now days. Aslong the tv has any type of cec’s ( different names for different companies ) and in some cases there is settings to activate it in the menus after cec’s is enabled

  • Indy

    It’s enabled by default and I absolutely love it. No issues, works as I would expect. Also why would you not want your devices to turn on when you airplay to it? Turned out my PS4 can do the same thing but I had to enable it manually, went 18 months without it because I simply didn’t know it was a feature.

    • George

      Yeah I don’t get how that is a problem lol

      • If you don’t see how that could be a problem, then you obviously didn’t read the post and the description of the issues I encountered.

      • George

        I didn’t realize you were airplaying to speakers my bad.

    • I can think of several reasons why I don’t want that to happen.

      1. My whole home entertainment system is controlled by an Harmony remote. If my electronics start being controlled by another remote, then it confuses my Harmony. For example, if I turn on all my electronics with Apple TV remote, my Harmony remote doesn’t know all the electronics are on and won’t control any of them.

      2. I often AirPlay music to my Apple TV which in turn sends the music to my receiver. I do this because my receiver sucks at AirPlay (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t). In these cases, I don’t want the TV on because there is absolutely no reason to have it on, since all I’m doing is listening to music.

      Besides, the point of this post is not really to discuss best home set ups. The point was that feature was messing up stuff, such as throwing error messages when I was watching cable. This was a problem that needed to be taken care of. Looking at Apple support forums, it seems I wasn’t the only one having random problems, hence this post.

  • Unknow Unknow

    Still can make to turn on tv and appletv at same time -Cec?????

  • Garrett

    Not only am I having this same issue described in the article but the playback on all movies and shows (be it iTunes or Netflix) pause after playing a few seconds. Anyone else having this playback issue?

    • rodehouse

      Yes, I have the same problem, and then some. I returned my first Apple TV4 since it was pausing and not playing at all. The second one is pausing again and again. If I restart, it runs fine for 30 seconds or when I flip through the first menues. Then it slows down again. Yesterday I gave up watching Mad Men 🙂 on HBO – It was way to slow and paused all the time.

      My Apple TV2 worked just fine. Never had any problems with it. If I could use my Apple TV2 for HBO, I would return the Apple TV4 in a heartbeat. It simply does not work well enough. I guess my next step is to hardwire my internet connection even though my Wifi is stable and 15 Mb download???? What can I do?

  • Techsticles

    Ever since the ChromeCast I’ve been waiting for every device to have CEC.

    The trouble with Apple’s solution is that almost any movement of the remote turns on everything. It should really only turn on if you press the Home button.

    Once problem I am having is that there is no audio from anywhere after using a Bluetooth headset with the Apple TV.

  • Innes

    CEC is a bit of a blunt instrument as I found out when I first got a raspberry Pi running RaspBMC. Thankfully RASPBMC had all sorts of options what the CEC could do. All I wanted it to do was control the audio of the Amp. I didn’t want to switch off the Pi if I pressed the power button for the TV. Happily there was quite a clear menu which listed the different options available. Maybe Apple TV needs to have more options under the CEC setting.

  • AwkwardApple

    When I first hooked up my new Apple TV it worked great. When I pressed the Apple Remote the TV would also turn on. This lasted for a couple of days. Now after I turn off / sleep the Apple TV and set top TV 30 seconds later the set top TV turns back on. I am not using airplay or an external speaker. If I turn off off Control TVs and Receivers will I have to manually turn the TV set with the TV remote?

  • ArgHelp!

    I have a Samsung 8000series HDTV and a Samsung Home Theater system which has been working fine using AnyNet+ With the 3rd gen Apple TV plugged directly into the HTS. Once I upgraded to the 4th gen Apple TV things started going haywire. Even when I set the Apple TV not to control my TV or HTS they will automatically switch to HDMI1, when I switch inputs it changes for a second and then switches right back. No matter what I press it just switches right back to HDMI1. I’ve had to completely turn off AnyNet+ on both the TV and HTS which means ARC no longer works and I have to use 3 separate remotes… Any idea what’s going on?

    • Bill Hilmer

      Do you have Xfinity for cable? I just switched from DirecTV to Xfinity with he X1 DVR. That’s when the issues started. When I unplug the C1 from the inputs, my Apple TV works just fine. When I plug it back in, I can’t switch to Apple TV. I’m assuming the box is constantly sending some kind of signal to the tv, thinking its a new device turning on. Anyone figure out how to fix this?!

      • DeanMN

        Same issue here on my TV with X1 DVR. I was able to use the new Apple TV just fine for a few days. Now I have to turn off the cable box to get my TV to recognize the Apple TV’s input. Very annoying.

    • Peter Holmstedt

      Same problem for me! Samsung 8505 with Apple TV 4. Apple TV connected to HDMI on TV. Switching back to HDMI 1 all the time.

    • JC

      Have you fixed your issue? If so, how?

  • Nina Rodriguez

    did the same problem for me. I eventually switched to an older HDMI cable. no problem since.

    • Peter Holmstedt

      Did you have problem with switching back to HDMI all the time?

  • Phil Tomaskovic

    I don’t have that option on my apple tv4 . Maybe the atv update removed it? I have home theater control greed out and under it is “turn on your tv with your remote”.

    I would love to turn off CEC on the atv and leave it alone on my receiver, it works fine with my blurry player, but I can turn that off. I can’t easily turn off the atv with one button!

  • Joesee

    I split my receiver inputs between my tv, music audio, and any audio played through a movie I am watching. The new appletv 4 eliminated the optical and now my audio set up is ruined. My tv does not have an optical outlet. I have a hdmi running to my appletv 4. I have a (not sure if the technical term) but the mini hdmi to hdmi wire, would that be enough to keep my audio set up the way it is? If I plugged it into the small input behind the appletv4 and then into my receiver? I know that space was only to be used for service. My only option is to use my existing airport express for both my music and my movies. I liked having the option of playing music while having different vids playing / am I being stubborn? I can still play my audio, in my head I’m suddenly hearing a difference when I play my movies through my express, rather than when I had my optical set up.

  • Alejandro

    Thank you for the tip!!
    I was having this problem in my Sony. Digging in the bravia sync menu I simply disabled the keys of my tv remote, so now I can use it normally while using the Apple tv. Else when I pressed the right keys in the remote the tv didn’t show any of the options menues.

  • Phil Bastanchury

    I ran into the issue where AppleTV was changing my Sony AVR HDMI output from AMP to AMP+TV. This caused my PS4 and AppleTV to both act like my audio output only supported two speakers (cause my TV is stereo) and disabled surround sound for both devices.

    For the longest time, I’d have to go back to my Sony AVR menu and and change the HDMI audio output back to AMP only to restore my surround sound.

    After turning off “control my home theater” on AppleTV, the problem went away. And I’m still able to control my Home Theater volumn with the apple remote!

  • EoghanHennessy

    The option to turn this off is greyed out on my apple TV. Extremely frustrating as pressing the ‘menu’ button on my Sony TV turns on my apple TV and forces me to stay on that HDMI channel.

  • Gflu

    Settings > Remotes and Devices > and turning off Control TVs and Receivers fixed my problem! Whenever I hit the menu button on the Apple Remote it would lose signal to the Yamaha Receiver. Thanks!

  • JC

    This worked with my Apple TV 2 (ATV2) and Sony Bravia multi-system TV. My older Apple TV (ATV) didn’t cause a problem in 2 years of use. When I added the newest Apple TV 2 my sound began to “stutter” about once every minute. Over time it began to get way worse. Isolated it to the ATV2 then swapped out my old ATV and it seemed slightly better but mostly stayed the same. Then I swapped them back, found the above settings in my ATV2…note that (I think) a recent update has changed the menu option under settings to “control your TV’s volume”…I disabled this and tested, still had the issue!…long story short, you must power cycle the TV because whatever the signal did to the Sony TV, it seems it remembers the last input and this throws it off. In my case, I physically unplugged the TV because it doesn’t fully restart from the remote it seems, just goes into standby. My Sony Bravia does a lot of auto detection of inputs thus the thought to power cycle. This solved the problem after following the advice in this article. Thanks for posting this!