Getting Virgin Media V+ Controller to Control Volume on Sony Bravia TV
Using HDMI Connection

This file is

Last updated: 18 Oct 2010; 23 Dec 2011
Installed: 18 Oct 2010

Aaron Sloman

I hope this web page will save others who have a Virgin V+ set-top box (in my case with 20Mb/s cable connection) the hours I and others have wasted trying to make it work properly. When I acquired a Sony Bravia HD TV and connected it using HDMI cable (supplied by Virgin), I found that everything worked perfectly except that I could not use the V+ remote control unit to control volume on the TV.

It is intolerable to have to use one remote control (VirginMedia V+ control) for changing programme channels and another (Sony TV control) for changing volume, especially as some channels produce horrible loud noises (including a high proportion of the advertisements on otherwise good channels).

Finding out how to fix this is much harder than it should be, owing to the incompetent user-interface designers employed by Virgin Media.

If you give google a search request something like this:
    virgin v+ sony bravia hdmi volume control
You will find that many people have had trouble setting the Virgin remote control for a Virgin V+ (cable) box to control the volume on a a Sony HD TV set using HDMI cable (required for optimum quality vision and sound).

I had this problem after buying a 32inch Sony Bravia KDL-32EX503U from John Lewis Department Store. (Their price includes five year warranty, which would cost up to about £200 from other retailers.)

The Problem: Controlling sound level on the TV
By default the Virgin V+ remote control cannot control volume on the TV (when using HDMI connection).

Attempting to use the volume Up/Down or Mute buttons produces an error panel saying this will not work and giving instructions to find out what to do to make it work. The same error panel unfortunately pops up when you try to fix the problem. See below.

Since we found it extremely annoying to have to use one control for programme selection (Virgin V+ control) and another for Volume level (Sony TV control), I tried following the instructions, but like many other people found that it did not work, at first.

After several failures and a few hours wasted looking for information online, I realised that the problem was a dreadfully designed user interface, including unclear instructions, provided by the Virgin V+ box, as illustrated below.

Overview of the procedure
The procedure involves a number of steps

First go through various V+ menu items to get to instructions for modifying the V+ remote to control HD TV set volume.

My summary is an extended version of the summary given here in 2007.

Find out what to do:

Press the "Home" button: this will present a menu

Select option 9: Help and information

Select option 8: Help with your remote

Select the V+ remote control that matches yours.

    This requires paging through very slow-to-load questions about what your V+
    controller looks like (showing images of various controllers), and giving
    you the option to select Yes or No.

    (The slowness may give the impression that nothing is happening, and make
    some people abort and try again, as happened to me the first time.
    There should be a 'please wait' message.)

    At least one page allows you to say "yes" or "no" to two pictures presented simultaneously.
    This is confusing because "yes" appears to be associated with one picture and "no"
    with the other, whereas you are supposed to select "yes" if EITHER picture matches
    your V+ remote. (One of many serious design flaws.)

When you select Yes you will get an alphabetically segmented table of manufacturers.

Use the table to find the TV make you are looking for and its code:

    For a Sony TV you have to scroll Left or Right to find the column including "S"
    and then scroll vertically to get to "Sony" to find the 4 digit code required to set
    the volume control. (The code for Sony is 3670 on my V+box).

    Eventually you discover the code,  and after pressing OK you get instructions to
    follow (summarised below).

Enter the code, as instructed (ambiguously):

    Using the V+ control, not TV control:
    Press and hold VolumeUp and the Mute button simultaneously for 3 or 4 seconds until
    the yellow light flashes.

    Enter the four digit code

    Press OK (there will be two more flashes).

        That manifests another major design defect:

        Following the first instruction (pressing VolUP and Mute buttons together)
        produces the error panel mentioned earlier, which tells you where to get
        information on how to fix the problem.

        The panel obliterates some of the information after you find the detailed
        instructions and start to follow them!

        If the designers are too incompetent to fix that they should at least
        change the instructions to say
            'Write down the instructions before trying to follow them.'

        However, you get no warning that the error panel will obliterate
        instructions as soon as you perform the first step.

        The fact that following instructions for fixing the problem replicated
        the problem led me, and probably led others, to think something had
        gone wrong, so I aborted and tried again. This turned out to be a waste
        of time: I should have continued with the next step.

Press the Standby (On/Off) button on the V+ control till screen blanks.

    The actual instruction on the screen is to point the remote at the TV
    and hold down the Standby button.

    Point at the TV??  Why?
    It seems they must mean use the TV remote control, since the V+ remote control
    should be pointed at the V+ box, not at the TV.

    Wrong: another idiotic piece of user interface design. It should have said:

        "Press the Standby (On/Off) button on the V+ remote control
        (pointed as usual at the V+ box), and wait for the TV screen
        to go blank."

Press OK

Done, at last, but you may bave to restart your TV set and re-select HDMI after that.

NOTE ADDED 23 Dec 2011
Paul Coucher wrote to me recently saying:
    Hi, I stumbled upon your page while looking for HDMI awakening
    events for the Bravias, what you described was actually not volume
    control by HDMI, but IR command codes being set into your V+ remote.

Why isn't there an agreed standard for all this?

Surely it is a common requirement.

There should be a simple button sequence that sends the appropriate signals to the TV set to allow the V+ or other similar remote control unit, to control volume on the TV (and, of course, any HiFi equipment taking audio output from the TV.

At the very least, Virgin Media should provide details online (easily found using search engines) that can be printed out: instead all you get in online manuals from Virgin is an instruction to follow the instructions displayed by the V+ box, which are hard to follow, both because they are so unclear (e.g. not saying which remote control to use at every stage) and because following them obliterates them after the first step.

Maintained by Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science
The University of Birmingham