I have HEALED this man’s WOUNDED STEREO!

One of the users of a mailing list that I’m on had a nice stereo receiver with one bad channel. Stereo has two channels, and while one worked, the other simply had no output. I opened it up and found that the signal lines from the amplifier run through a relay to the rear panel connectors. I can think of a couple of reasons for this, but the main one is that when you power it up, there is a period where the circuitry of the receiver stabilizes and effectively “boots up”. During that period, it might put some sort of really loud signal out over the speakers (and blow them inside out) unless they are disconnected. Once everything settles, it is safe to connect the speakers. The other possibility is that if you short the speaker connection, the receiver can detect the excessive current flow and disconnect the speaker hookups.

Whatever the reason for them, one of the relays was DPST, with one pole for each stereo channel, and one set of the poles didn’t close when the system powered up. I figured this out by plugging in an audio source, turning the receiver on, and then tracing back from the connector until I found an audio signal. There was nothing at the connector, nothing where the connector joined the PCB, nothing at one pole of the relay, music at the pole it was supposed to be connected to.

The fix was to remove the board with the relay on it, pop off the case of the relay, clean the contacts, push them a little closer together, and put it all back together. If the relay had really been shot, it was a pretty common size, and would have been easy to replace. Overall, the receiver was well-designed for repair, and the service manual was available online. I will give Onkyo props for using one size of normal philips-head screw throughout their case, but did they really need 41 of them?