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Beam: Speech Enhancement via Airplay 2?

  • 28 June 2019
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I'm considering a Sonos Beam for my projector set up as a way to improve the speech (centre channel) in movies, tv series etc. My current floor speakers do really bad job at it, no surprises here.

I was doing some research and noticed that Speech Enhancement and Night Mode are not available over Airplay 2. This is the only way I can send audio from my Apple TV, since it's attached to the projector on the ceiling.

My question is, why can't these features function over Airplay 2?

To my understanding, Airplay 2 broadcasts 5.1 audio (Dolby Atmos) in lossless format. So, in theory, it shouldn't be problem.
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Best answer by Airgetlam 28 June 2019, 17:29

Here’s some thoughts....to be taken with a grain of salt, but should prompt more thought.

First, for better or worse, Sonos considers AirPlay 2 to be an audio signal, not a video signal, so none of the video enhancements are available on that signal.

Second, I believe AirPlay 2 only sends a stereo signal to devices that are not Apple TVs.

Third, I’ve never seen the ability to separate video and audio so that they’re sent to two different devices via AirPlay 2.

If this is indeed the road you intend on traveling, I would be considering sending the AirPlay 2 signal only to the Apple TV device, and then separate the audio from the HDMI stream before it reaches the projector.
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Here’s some thoughts....to be taken with a grain of salt, but should prompt more thought.

First, for better or worse, Sonos considers AirPlay 2 to be an audio signal, not a video signal, so none of the video enhancements are available on that signal.

Second, I believe AirPlay 2 only sends a stereo signal to devices that are not Apple TVs.

Third, I’ve never seen the ability to separate video and audio so that they’re sent to two different devices via AirPlay 2.

If this is indeed the road you intend on traveling, I would be considering sending the AirPlay 2 signal only to the Apple TV device, and then separate the audio from the HDMI stream before it reaches the projector.
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Hi Airgetlam, thanks for the thoughts.

I should have specified that when I say 'Airplay 2' I'm referring to the audio. Not the screen mirroring. So yes, I'm considering Airplay 2 to be audio only.

I also consider Speech Enhancement to be an audio enhancement that takes advantage of multi-channel audio (more specifically the centre channel) to do its magic.

My current setup sends video to the projector using the HDMI connection from the Apple TV. For audio, the same Apple TV sends its audio wirelessly via Airplay 2 to my sound system. The Airplay 2 audio I get on my sound system is indeed 5.1

I hope that clarifies my question.
Sonos, as a music system, doesn’t handle anything beyond stereo. Only the sound bars and the Sonos Amp have the ability to accept and process a Dolby Digital signal, it isn’t available as a streaming input. Sonos has tied things like speech enhancement to those Dolby Digital signal processes.

Beyond that, it sounds like you already have more knowledge than I, so I will wish you the best of luck.
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Hi @Airgetlam,
thanks for the info. And sorry, I didn't mean to come across as arrogant or pushy. I have been researching about this topic for a while and still didn't understand what stops Sonos from getting a DD 5.1 audio from Airplay 2.

"Only the sound bars and the Sonos Amp have the ability to accept and process a Dolby Digital signal, it isn’t available as a streaming input.".


Does it mean these devices can only process DD audio via a wired connection?

If so, that's where I'm finding it a bit of a necessary limitation. If these devices can process DD, they could as well process the audio coming from Airplay 2.

I sent Sonos a message and I'm waiting for their reply. I'll let you know as soon as I find the answer.
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@gvdias, AirPlay 2 sent to Sonos is received as a music signal and treated differently from TV audio. The HDMI input on a Beam has the speech enhancement and night mode options, and also is capable of receiving higher quality audio. AirPlay 2 sends a stereo signal, which the Beam will treat as a stereo music signal, so your surrounds won't upmix the audio, but they can play ambient sounds or mirror the front channels if you have the settings set to "Full".

My current setup sends video to the projector using the HDMI connection from the Apple TV. For audio, the same Apple TV sends its audio wirelessly via Airplay 2 to my sound system. The Airplay 2 audio I get on my sound system is indeed 5.1


What sound system are you referring to here?
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Thanks for clarifying @Ryan S

This is the point where we disagree:

AirPlay 2 sends a stereo signal,


Airplay 2 sends DD5.1 signal (when available, for example from Netflix). So it's a Sonos limitation which isn't capable of receiving 5.1 audio from Airplay2.

I think that's something Sonos could improve.
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We do only receive the stereo signal, but even if it were possible to get more than a stereo signal, currently there's no way to tell a player that an AirPlay 2 source is content that comes from a video source vs music. I'll make sure to let the team know you're interested.
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I've contacted Sonos support and they pointed me out to this help article from the apple website: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204069

At the end of it they write: "Audio that you stream from Apple TV with AirPlay doesn't support Dolby Atmos or surround sound."


So Airplay 2 doesn't stream surround sound after all, only stereo audio.

Thanks for everyone who helped clarifying.

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