Strange Roku Problem Fixed

Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison helped me (kind of) solve a strange problem with my Roku device. You see, it was Albert Einstein who said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. For the problem I had, there was only one procedure that was supposed to work. I kept trying it and every time I tried, it didn’t permanently fix the problem.

It was Thomas Edison, when asked if he was getting discouraged that it was taking so long to invent an electric light, he replied, “I now know a thousand things that DON’T work”, so he wasn’t discouraged. After getting way “outside the box” for fixing my Roku problem, to my amazement it solved the problem.

The Problem

In switching from Spectrum TV to streaming TV, I chose a Roku Ultra for streaming. I’ve been very happy with Roku streaming, except for the remote control. It came with a remote control called “Gaming Remote” that lacked a mute button. More recently, I noticed that the Roku Ultra advertising showed an added mute button along the side, just below the volume buttons. I also found that they sell the newer remote separately, so I bought one. I figured it would be handy to have a backup in case one was lost. Ever since getting the new remote called “Voice Remote Pro”, the volume buttons and the mute button have been intermittent. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.

You need to understand that Roku remotes typically use two different ways of controlling your TV:

  1. All the buttons EXCEPT the volume and mute buttons operate over your home network.
  2. The volume and mute buttons operate by the remote broadcasting an Infrared (IR) signal out the front of the remote toward the TV.

These two ways operate at the same time. To demonstrate, turn on your TV with the Roku remote from another room. It will turn on. Now try changing the volume from another room. It won’t work. Even when you are in the same room with the TV, you must aim the remote at the TV to change the volume or mute it.

It is possible to use all controls through the network by changing the Roku settings and TV settings from “IR setup” to “CEC setup”, but I couldn’t get the CEC setup to work with my 11-year-old Samsung TV.

This is how I kept trying on Roku over and over again to get the volume and mute buttons on the remote to work consistently with my TV:
Settings > Remotes & devices > Remotes > Voice Remote Pro >
Set up remote for TV control > IR setup

After that, I followed the simple instructions answering “Yes” or “No” when asked if I heard each sound. It always told me it had successfully set up the remote. The volume and mute buttons would work after that for a while but soon would no longer work.

The Fix

Since I was giving up on ever getting this new remote to work correctly, I dug out an ancient Philips universal remote, put in batteries, and programmed it as directed to operate the TV. The idea was that I would just use that remote for volume control and mute. Programming that one involved turning on the TV and trying different codes until one of the codes turned the TV off. Ever since doing that, the Roku Voice Remote Pro as well as the original Roku Ultra remote have been working flawlessly. Who knew?

My only guess is that somehow that code that got entered changed the way the TV “listens” to IR signals, enough to fix the new remote while not affecting the original Roku Ultra remote.

If anyone has any other ideas as to why this worked, I’m open to reading what you think in the Comments section below.  As always, your feedback on this article is welcome.

4 thoughts on “Strange Roku Problem Fixed”

  1. Thanks for letting us know that Roku now sells an upgraded remote device that allows a user to mute the TV. Sounds like a a wonderful Christmas present to replace our thirteen-year old device. I visited the Roku website and ordered one. Roku offers a modest discount until the end of the year for this device and free ground shipping.

    1. Hi Jack,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Hopefully, if you have the same problem I did after getting that new remote with mute, you’ll know at least one way to solve it.

  2. I had almost the exact same problem. The difference was that some days the Vol and Mute would work and some days it wouldn’t with no rhyme or rhythm.
    Finally, out of lacking anything else to try, I went into Roku setup and unpaired the remote and then added it back. Since then it’s been solid.
    Another unrelated but interesting note: The volume up & down response is much smoother from the ROKU remote than from my TiVO remote.

    1. Hi Bruce,
      Your problem was exactly the same problem as mine in that some days it would work, the next day not, and sometimes 10 minutes after working it stopped again. However, I tried unpairing the remote and pairing it back three or four times and it didn’t help. The only thing that helped me was pairing the TV to an old universal remote causing it to work with the Roku remote ever since. But unpairing and pairing it back may help others with this problem.
      Thanks for replying.

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