Beam setup - confirming 5.1 is being sent and received correctly


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Hello,

This evening I have unboxed and setup my Beam system. I have done this after reading about issues some TV's have passing through DD 5.1 signals, as a result I wanted to get some feedback and confirm my system is setup correctly and that my TV is correctly sending DD 5.1 to the Beam from other HDMI sources.

My setup is that I used a Fire TV Stick connected to an HDMI port as my primary streaming device and then I have the Beam connected to the TV via an HDMI ARC connection.

Freeview TV
Most shows I viewed displayed in the Sonos app as "Audio In: Stereo" but one show displayed as "Audio in: Dolby Digital 5.1"

Fire TV Stick
With my Fire TV Stick surround sound setting set to "Best Available" the Sonos displayed as receiving "Stereo" on all content from both Amazon Prime and Netflix content.

If I change that setting to "Always Dolby Digital" then content on Netflix and Prime showed as "Dolby Digital 5.1", and a show on the Fire TV IPlayer app displayed as "Dolby Digital 2.0".

I then switched from HDMI to Optical and found that with the "Best Available" setting content continued to play in "Stereo" and with the "Always Dolby Digital" setting no audio was played at all.

Questions
1 - Whenever the Sonos is showing as receiving Dolby 5.1 is it definitely receiving this signal correctly? Or could this be an issue as it was required to set the Fire TV to "Always Dolby Digital"?

2 - Is there a reason why when using the "Best available" only a "Stereo" signal is received? could this indicate a lack of true Dolby support?

3 - Does this confirm that my TV is indeed correctly passing through a 5.1 signal received from the Fire TV stick HDMI through to the HDMI ARC port to the Beam?

4 - Does it confirm that the TV is unable to pass Dolby received from an HDMI input through to the optical output?

5 - If the Beam is receiving a 5.1 signal but no rear speaker are connected is that a problem?

6 - Finally, if I listen to music via the sonos app, if I then try to watch TV again the TV sound does not engage. I have tried pausing/restarting content and altering the volume but the TV sound does not restart. Am I doing something wrong?

Many thanks for any feedback

14 replies

Answering as many of these as I can.

1) The data in the "about my sonos system" is as accurate as it can be. It will tell you what the speaker is receiving. That's all that it can know.

2) Don't know.

3) Same as 1). If the speaker is reporting that it's receiving a 5.1 signal, that's what it is receiving (or being sent, if you prefer).

4) Don't know. Check with the manufacturer of your TV.

5) No, it will handle that in software. There are many people who have Sonos soundbars with no surround speakers attached.

6) Try turning off the TV, then turning it back on. It sounds like the handshake for HDMI-ARC isn't occurring properly. Might be worth a power cycle of the TV, too, and then a retest.
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Thanks for the response Airgetlam.

So to confirm, if the Sonos app says it is getting DD 5.1 I can be pretty confident that the signal is definitely being maintained as 5.1 and sent correctly?

I have noticed when watching Netflix or Prine content that everything is displaying as 5.1 isn’t he Sonos app, even if it’s an old film or TV show.

Is that correct? Do these apps send a 5.1 signal for all content? Or does this indicate that the Sonos System believes it is receiving a 5.1 signal even when the content isn’t 5.1?

Apologies for all the questions, very keen to ensure that this setup works 100% correctly, I don’t want to add a sub and rears to the setup if they aren’t going to get the correct signal.

Thanks again.
Yes, if the Sonos app says that the Beam is receiving Dolby Digital 5.1, then that's what it is getting, so it's being sent properly.

Many TV stations/content providers encode a stereo (or other) signal into a 5.1 carrier, so even though you're receiving a 5.1 carrier, it only has 2.0 data within it. Nothing you can do about this, as long as your device is receiving the data, you'll be getting the intended result.
In the app and with the Beam selected press the Browse icon and then select TV to revert back to TV audio via the app.
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Airgetlam wrote:

Yes, if the Sonos app says that the Beam is receiving Dolby Digital 5.1, then that's what it is getting, so it's being sent properly.

Many TV stations/content providers encode a stereo (or other) signal into a 5.1 carrier, so even though you're receiving a 5.1 carrier, it only has 2.0 data within it. Nothing you can do about this, as long as your device is receiving the data, you'll be getting the intended result.



Sneekyb wrote:

In the app and with the Beam selected press the Browse icon and then select TV to revert back to TV audio via the app.



Thanks for both the responses.

I added my Play:1 speakers as a rear surrounds yesterday and watched some content to test it out. Oddly in some content such as Star Wars, the rears mainly seemed to play music with only limited sound effects coming from them.

Then I watched an episode of the Grand Tour and that definitely seemed to have different sounds and effects coming from the left and right rears, when a car passed left to right on screen the sound seemed to mimic that.

So it does indeed seem that the TV is preserving and passing through the 5.1 audio channel via HDMI.

I may try and find a test app/video on mac tonight that I can play through the system to test the various speakers/channels and confirm they are all separated.
Hoogie wrote:

I added my Play:1 speakers as a rear surrounds yesterday and watched some content to test it out. Oddly in some content such as Star Wars, the rears mainly seemed to play music with only limited sound effects coming from them.

This is not unusual. The music is to provide atmosphere, and to have it coming from the front could detract from sound effects and especially the dialogue.

One of the classic tests of surround used to be the lobby scene shootout in The Matrix.

I may try and find a test app/video on mac tonight that I can play through the system to test the various speakers/channels and confirm they are all separated.

Make sure you're actually getting 5.1 from the Mac. I've used a couple of test DVDs in the past.
Note that Sonos doesn't "control" what comes out of the surround speakers. That's decided by the sound producer on whatever show you happen to be watching. In some cases, it's really great, like the scene that ratty is talking about, or the beach landing scene in Saving Private Ryan, in other cases, there's just not much there other than music. It all depends on the source, and not Sonos.
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Airgetlam wrote:

Answering as many of these as I can.

1) The data in the "about my sonos system" is as accurate as it can be. It will tell you what the speaker is receiving. That's all that it can know.

2) Don't know.

3) Same as 1). If the speaker is reporting that it's receiving a 5.1 signal, that's what it is receiving (or being sent, if you prefer).

4) Don't know. Check with the manufacturer of your TV.

5) No, it will handle that in software. There are many people who have Sonos soundbars with no surround speakers attached.

6) Try turning off the TV, then turning it back on. It sounds like the handshake for HDMI-ARC isn't occurring properly. Might be worth a power cycle of the TV, too, and then a retest.



Could you kindly tell me where in the Sonos app can you see that the Beam is playing Digital 5.1? Thank you.
LandoSD wrote:

Could you kindly tell me where in the Sonos app can you see that the Beam is playing Digital 5.1? Thank you.



Settings/About My Sonos System. The current audio format will be displayed alongside Audio In:
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Thanks so much; that's only on the MAC controller and not the phone correct?
No you can also get that information using the phone app.
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Sneekyb wrote:

No you can also get that information using the phone app.


Could you please tell me where in the phone app? I can't seem to find it. Thanks you.
On the iOS app it can be found here:

More - Settings - About My Sonos System
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Perfect; found it. Once again, sincerest thanks.

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