How and When You Should Perform a Hard Reset on Your Stereo System

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Know What to Look For

A DVD stuck in an open DVD player tray
A stuck and unresponsive DVD tray can happen with a frozen device. George Diebold/Getty Images

If a product is entertainment-oriented and requires power to operate, it's a pretty safe bet that it contains the kind of electronics that can 'freeze,' 'hang,' or 'lock up' to the point where no amount of user input generates a response. Maybe the component is turned on, with the front panel lit up, but buttons, dials, or switches fail to perform as intended. Or it could be that the drawer on a disc player won't open and/or it won't play a loaded disc. Products can even fail to listen to a wireless/IR remote control in addition to the front panel user interface. 

Receivers, amplifiers, DACs (digital-to-analog converter), CD/DVD/Blu-ray players, digital media devices, and more contain the types of circuitry and microprocessor hardware that you might find in smartphones, tablets, laptops, or computers. As well-designed a piece of modern equipment can be, sometimes it needs a little help from us through the occasional power cycle/reboot or hard reset. There are two ways to perform such resets on audio components, both of which take less than a minute's worth of time.

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Unplug the Component

A hand unplugging an electrical cord from a wall outlet
Unplugging a device is often the easy fix for an unresponsive system. PM Images/Getty Images

You may already be familiar with this technique: unplug it. The easiest way to reset an audio component is to disconnect it from the power source, wait for 30 seconds, and then plug it back in and try again. The waiting part is important, because most electronic technology contains capacitors. Capacitors hold a reserve of energy while the unit is plugged in – it takes a little bit of time for them to discharge once disconnected from power. You might notice how the power-indicator LED on the front panel of a component can take up to 10 seconds to fade away and disappear. So if you don't wait long enough, the device will never be truly powered down in order to correct the problem. Otherwise, you can expect everything to work normally after plugging it back in.

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Perform a Hard/Factory Reset

A finger pressing a bright red reset button
If unplugging doesn't work, a hard/factory reset might be in order. FotografiaBasica/Getty Images

If disconnecting and reconnecting the power doesn't help, many component models have a reset button and/or ability to be reset to the factory default settings. In both instances, it's best to consult with the product manual or contact the manufacturer directly to understand the steps involved. A reset button needs to be pressed in for a certain amount of time, but sometimes while also holding down another button. And the instructions to perform a hard reset tend to involve simultaneously pressing multiple buttons on the front panel, which can differ from brand to brand, model to model.

Be aware that these kinds of resets performed on the electronics will erase the memory and most – if not all – settings you may have entered (e.g. custom settings, network/hub profiles, radio presets) since taking the product out of the box for the very first time. So if you had specific volume or equalizer levels for each of the channels, you can expect to have to set them that way all over again. Favorite channels or radio stations? You might want to write them down first, unless you have a sharp memory.

If in the event that resetting a component back to the factory default does not work, it's possible that the unit is defective and may need repair. Contact the manufacturer for advice or the next steps to take. You may end up shopping for a new replacement component, if the cost of repairing the old one is prohibitively expensive.