Easy Fixes for Stereo Systems

June 30, 2015

Don't let simple issues with your stereo system keep your from enjoying music. Many issues can be resolved at home with simple household tools. Follow the below tips to keep stereo sounding its best.

Easy Fixes for Stereo Systems

My hi-fi system keeps cutting out

Diagnose and solve the problem

If the problem is specific to one of your audio sources (for example, the sound cuts out only when using the CD player), focus your attention on that component. If all sources are affected, the problem may lie with your amplifier or speakers.

  • Make sure that your amplifier (or combined system) has adequate ventilation — grilles should be kept clear, and nothing should be stacked directly on top of its casing. Amplifiers produce heat, and have safety cut-offs that trigger if they get too warm.
  • Check that all the plugs connecting the units (if they are separate) are fully pushed into their ports on the amplifier. Pay particular attention to the speaker connectors; some audio systems use "bare-wire" connectors, in which the ends of the cables are strands of copper wire that need to be threaded and secured to a post on the back of the amplifier. Stray strands of wire can easily cause a short circuit between the speaker posts, so trim them back with a pair of wire cutters or wind the wire more tightly.
  • If only your radio tuner cuts out, the signal may be too weak. Some tuners have a "muting" circuit that cuts the sound if the signal falls below a certain level.

My CD player skips badly

Lubricate the lens rails

If your CD player skips frequently, and you've tried using a lens-cleaning disk, the problem may lie with the mechanism that moves the player's lens across the disk. Fixing this isn't difficult, but it does mean opening up the case.

Unplug the player, and wait for an hour before you start work to let any electrical charge dissipate.

Time needed to lube the lens rails: 30 minutes

You will need: screwdriver, WD-40, ethanol and cotton swabs.

  1. Find the screws that secure the CD player's top cover — there may be six to eight in total. Remove them with a small screwdriver, and keep them safely in a bowl. Lift off the top cover of the player.
  2. You should see a small clear lens set in an assembly that slides to and fro along two parallel rails. Spray a little WD-40 onto the tip of a cotton swab and gently rub it along the surface of each rail.
  3. Part of each rail will be obscured by the lens assembly; move it out of the way by turning the large cog wheel and lubricate the rest of the rails that are now exposed.
  4. With the cover off, take the opportunity to clean the lens itself. Dab a fresh cotton swab into some ethanol so that it is slightly damp, and rub it gently over the lens of the CD player's laser.
  5. Reassemble the unit carefully and try playing a disk.
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