You’ve switched on your Sony AV receiver only to be greeted by the word ‘Protect’ on the display screen and doesn’t do anything else. “Something is amidst”, as you think to yourself, and unfortunately you are right. Don’t be alarmed and before you send your Sony AVR off for repair, there are some troubleshooting steps you should try first. As this may not be your amplifier’s fault and you should isolate the actual problem first.
What is Sony Protect or Protector mode?
When your Sony AV receiver enters this mode, you will see either the word ‘Protect’ or ‘Protector’ appear. Protect/protector mode is activated to prevent damages to your receiver’s internal components such as the power amps, circuits, transistors, etc. The possible culprits that would activate this mode, will be a power surge, a short in the circuitry, excessive heat, speakers issue, and more. Also, when the Sony protect mode is activated, your speakers will not function as you’ll need to find the culprit and remove the threat.
You can do some troubleshooting on your own and hopefully solve the issue before the need to send it for repair. You should always turn off the Sony AVR first, once you have turned it off, you can start by following the below steps.
Overheating / Excessive Heat
Once you have switched off the Sony receiver, you should allow some time for it to cool down. After some time has passed, you can try to have a feel of the heat by hovering your hand near the chassis. If you are confident enough that is not too hot, you can try physically touching it. You will also need to check if the vents/exhaust are been blocked. If it is, you should remove the objects that are blocking the Sony receiver vents. If it is not possible due to the placement inside the cabinet, then you will have no choice but to take the receiver out of the cabinet and place it somewhere else with proper ventilation.
You should always place your receivers in an area with proper airflow and ventilation, this is to prevent them from overheating as it will trigger Sony protect/protector mode. The area will also need to be a clean environment, remove dust from the area and AV receiver, as they may block the vents or deteriorate the airflow. Do not place your Sony receiver near appliances that generate heat or under direct sunlight.
If recently, you find that your receiver generates a lot of heat, just by turning it on and nothing is been played. It is advisable to switch it off immediately and bring it in for repair.
Power Outage / Electrical Surge
If the protector mode is been activated due to a power outage or electrical surge then this could be easily solved by turning off the receiver and plugging out the power cord from the power outlet. You should wait at least half an hour before plugging back the power cord and turning the Sony receiver back on. This step should have reset the internal surge protection circuit and your receiver should be working fine now.
Sony Receiver is Overloaded
If your Sony AV receiver is overloaded to the point of clipping, it will trigger the Sony protect mode. This usually happens when you turn up the volume too high during a music/movie playback as it draws more power from the amps. Another reason will be, there are too many speakers such as your surround speakers, center speakers, ceiling speakers, etc., and your Sony receiver is unable to provide enough power to all of them, causing the amp to clip.
You should lower down the volume to a moderate level or to a point your receiver wouldn’t clip (with enough headroom for peaks). You can disconnect the speakers (by pairs) starting with your surround speakers first until you reach the number of speakers that wouldn’t overload your receiver. Another solution is to get additional power amplifiers to drive the front mains such as your left, right, and center speaker. And allow your Sony AV receiver to power the rest of the speakers. If you do not have an active subwoofer, then it is recommended to get one for this situation since it could help to relieve your receiver, as producing bass uses a lot of power.
Speaker Wires are touching
You should check for loose speaker wires or wire strands that are touching each other, touching other wires, touching the back of your Sony receiver, and the speakers themselves. These situations may short the receiver, and activate the protector mode. Either due to wear and tear or by accident, strands of speaker wires may be exposed. You will need to check your speaker cables/wires occasionally and change to new ones if required. Remember to switch off your Sony receiver when you are doing this step.
Disconnecting all Speakers
This is another way to check if a specific speaker and/or speaker wire/cable is causing the issue. Turn off your Sony receiver, then proceed to remove all speaker wires/cables from your receiver. Turn it back on, and if the problem stops, that means one or more of your speakers or wires is triggering the Sony protect/protector mode. You can either check your speakers and wires individually or reconnect each one at a time to see which speakers are the culprits. Replace the faulty speaker wires or the speakers, this should solve the issue.
If the problem persists when you turn the receiver back on without attaching any speaker wires, this will mean the fault lies with your Sony receiver. You should send the receiver back to the service center for repair as you won’t be able to fix it yourself and also you do not have the components to replace the damaged ones.
You must match your speakers’ impedance with the impedance of your Sony receiver that is designed to drive. If not, your receiver will activate protect mode. Your speakers may get damaged as well due to incorrect impedance. To solve this issue, you can either change your speakers to the ones with matching impedance or change your Sony receiver to match your speakers’ impedance.
Reset the Sony AV Receiver
Turn off the receiver and turn it back on while holding the power button for roughly 10 seconds. A screen will appear prompting something like press enter to clear all and you’ll just need to press ‘enter’ on the remote control. Your Sony receiver will default back to factory settings and all your previous configurations will be gone. Different models may require a different method to do the reset, you can always refer to your manual.
Problems with Specific Models
There is a slight possibility that it could be an issue with your receiver model only or your batch. You can check online to confirm this and if it is true, there’s maybe a firmware update that can solve this issue.
Please remember to power off your Sony receiver first before proceeding with the steps above, unless it is necessary for the receiver to be switched on. If all the steps above fail to fix the issue, it will at least isolate the problem for you and you will know which audio component is to be sent for repair e.g. speakers or Sony receiver. If your warranty has expired, you may want to check and ask for potential repair costs. Based on the provided costs, you might want to consider either proceed with the repair or purchase a new AVR. Especially you have used your Sony receiver for many years, and likely more problems may appear in the future. Might as well use the money to get a new AVR, since it will have the latest features, a longer lifespan, and a warranty.
I also wouldn’t recommend buying 2nd hand AV receivers since you wouldn’t know if there are any problems internally and you may encounter issues just after a few months of use. Still, the decision is yours to make, just audition the used receiver as thoroughly as possible.