How to Correct Audio/Video Synchronization Problems

Voice and video don't match? Here's how to fix that

Illustration of a family looking at a TV with the Setup Menu onscreen

Lifewire / Luyi Wang

When watching TV you may find that sometimes the audio and video don't match.

The audio soundtrack may be running slightly ahead of the corresponding image. When this happens, watching a cable/satellite/streaming program or upscaled DVD, Blu-ray, or Ultra HD Blu-ray disc video on an HD/4K Ultra HD TV or video projector can become a frustrating experience. This is especially noticeable on close-up images of people speaking (thus the term lip-sync). It's like watching a badly dubbed foreign movie.

This problem can occur with televisions from a variety of manufacturers including, but not limited to, those made by LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, and Vizio.

What Causes Audio/Video Lip-Sync Problems?

The main cause of lip-sync problems is that audio can be processed a lot faster than video, especially high-definition or 4K video. HD and 4K video take up a lot of space. As a result, it takes longer to process than audio formats or standard-resolution video signals.

If your TV, video projector, or home theater receiver is set to do a lot of video processing to the incoming signal (such as those upscaled from standard resolution to 720p, 1080i, 1080p, or even 4K), the audio and video can become out of sync, with the audio arriving before the video (or vice versa).

Check to see if the problem is limited to a specific cable/satellite or streaming program or channel. Although this is annoying, the problem might not be anything on your end. It could be a temporary or chronic problem with the specific content provider. If you suspect that's the case, contact them for assistance, or alert them to the problem.

Audio/Video Sync Correction Adjustment Tools

Depending on your TV, home theater receiver, or soundbar, tools may be provided or other steps that you can take that may enable you to manage AV synch issues.

  1. Disable all of the video-processing settings on your TV, such as motion enhancement, video noise reduction, and other picture-enhancement features.

  2. If you have a home theater receiver that is performing video-processing tasks, try the same procedure; you might be adding more delay by setting video processing to occur both in the TV and home theater receiver.

  3. If changing the above settings corrects the situation, then add each processing feature back until the audio and video get out of sync again. You can use this as your lip-sync reference point.

  4. If curtailing the TV or home theater receiver's video-processing features doesn't work, or you need to have those features on, check out the settings available in the operating menu on your TV, home theater receiver, and source components. Look for terms like Audio Sync, Audio Delay, and Lip Sync. Some soundbar systems have a variation of this feature, too.

Regardless of the terms used, all these tools offer settings that slow down or delay the arrival of the audio signal so that image on the screen and audio soundtrack match. The settings usually range from 10ms to 100ms and sometimes up to 240 ms (millisecond = 1/1,000th of a second).

AV Synch Settings Onkyo Example
Onkyo

In some cases, the audio delay may be offered in both positive and negative terms just in case the video is ahead of the audio. Although milliseconds seem minuscule, a 100ms change between the timing of the audio and video can be very noticeable.

If you are using a home theater receiver that features Audio Return Channel via HDMI connection, you might have a setting available to correct AV sync automatically or manually. If so, try both options and see which one gives you the most consistent correction result.

If both your TV and home theater receiver (or soundbar) include eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), lip-synch should be automatic between those two devices.

If the audio/video sync problem is with just one source (such as your Blu-ray /Ultra HD Blu-ray player, media streamer, or cable/satellite box), check for audio/video sync settings on those devices that you can take advantage of.

AV Synch Settings OPPO Digtial Example
Oppo Digital

Possible Audio/Video Connection Solutions

If provided settings and other tools don't solve the problem, you can also try modifying your connection setup.

For DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD Blu-ray disc players try splitting your audio and video connections between the TV (or video projector) and home theater receiver. Instead of connecting the HDMI output of your player to a home theater receiver for both audio and video, connect the HDMI output of your player directly to the TV for video only, and make a separate connection to your home theater receiver for audio only.

If all of the above steps and tips fail to solve the problem, turn everything off and reconnect the audio cables to your home theater receiver and TV. Turn everything back on and see if it resets.

The Bottom Line

Settling into that comfy chair for home movie night can get turned upside down when the sound and picture don't match. However, your TV and audio system might offer tools to correct the situation. If not, contact tech support for your TV and components to get additional assistance.