What Causes a Stereo Receiver to Turn Off?


Stereo receivers are designed under normal circumstances to drive one pair of speakers. Typically, a conventional setup like this offers years of trouble-free use. However, a variety of things cause stereo receivers to shut down. Most of these issues can be traced back to misuse at some level, making the prevention of unwanted shutdown easy to prevent. Understanding what causes shutdowns allows you to use and treat your stereo receiver properly.

Thermal Issues

  • Thermal overload happens when a stereo receiver is installed in a space that lacks proper ventilation. All owner's manuals for stereo receivers caution against this hazard. Generally, this happens more often when the receiver is driven at abnormal volumes. However, any excessive heat buildup from the receiver and the other components inside a cabinet has a cumulative effect, and may cause the unit to turn off unexpectedly.


  • This condition occurs when a receiver is driven to levels beyond the capability of the unit. It is important to understand that almost no receiver is capable of fulfilling full rotation of the volume knob. Continual abuse of the volume knob is a key issue of shutdowns and damage. Additionally, turning bass and treble controls all the way up contributes to this. Tone controls have a frequency in the audio range that it "focuses" on -- typically 50 hertz for bass, and 10 kilohertz for treble. When the controls are maximized, the amplifier is expected to output twice as much power at those frequencies, which may push the amplifier into a protect mode to prevent damage.

Speaker Damage

  • If a driver inside a speaker cabinet is damaged, the short circuit it presents to the amplifier may cause it to go into protection. Although this can happen from age, it normally occurs from "blowing" the driver from excessive volume or tone control misuse. In this case, replacing the individual woofer, midrange or tweeter driver should remedy the issue.

Stray Wires

  • Stray speaker wire filaments that touch the chassis of the receiver or adjacent speaker wires and connections cause receivers to shut off. This is another form of short circuit that causes receiver malfunction. The use of banana plugs prevents this, by containing all the individual wires and offering easier wire connections. However, in cases where bare wire is used, it is very important to tightly twist the bare wires prior to insertion in the speaker wire connectors and in the speaker's wire connectors. In general, never allow another conductive material to be in intermittent contact with a speaker wire.

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