DTS, Dolby 5.1 on Playbar, 2015 edition!


Userlevel 1
Hi all

I am writing this post in the hope it may help those struggling with the above issue(s). The first topic which appears on this in Google is the post at https://en.community.sonos.com/home-theater-228993/solving-the-51-dts-issues-with-the-playbar-34523, which is now out of date. For my part I wanted to set out what I did to "resolve" this issue (or more accurately, work around it).

Since the above post, Sonos have written a few useful notes. The most helpful is: https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1945/~/maximizing-playbar-sound-from-your-television.

A further note deals with the XBOX work around (https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/2490/session/L2F2LzEvdGltZS8xNDQxMjA4NzE0L3NpZC9JdER6cXR2bQ%3D%3D) and another provides the details for PS4 (https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/3075/related/1).

The Issue

Playbar with 2 Play:1s and a Sub is a 5.1 Surround system. However, because the Playbar connects through a Digitial Out/Toslink/SPDIF, its limited bandwidth prevents it from EVER being compatible with DTS-HD, Dolby True-HD or any other lossless/HD audio. However, it is possible to play Dolby 5.1 providing your TV can output a Dolby Digital signal through the Digital Out.

People realise that they are only listening to Stereo when they go to About My Sonos System and realise that the AUDIO IN listed under PlayBar is STEREO. When its 5.1 it will say Dolby Digital 5.1, or when Dolby Digital 2.0, exactly that.

DTS

DTS will have to be re-coded as Dolby Digital to be played by the PlayBar, else it will be silent (displaying "Audio not supported"). There is no way of playing DTS itself.

Work arounds: My experience

I read the above post and went off to buy a switch (although, this one in the UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00DZIXIMQ?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00, called Portta 4x1 HDMI Switcher with Toslink and Digital Coaxial Port 3D Splitter with Remote and AC Adapter/ 3D 1080P). When I connected my BD-Player to this by HDMI, with my STB and TV, and connected the switch to the Playbar, it started to play 5.1. Result. However, this is a poor solution as you have to manually switch between inputs, have another remote, cannot use a magic remote or the input management system on the TV etc.

I thought about buying an XBOX (which my research indicted is the better media system when compared to PS4) it (with PS4) decodes DTS to DD 5.1 "on the fly.

I also thought about buying the OPPO BDP-103 for a whopping £400 as suggested by the post.

However, there are literally a handful of BD Players which also re-code DTS to DD (please see SONOS's own post). I purchased the Samsung BD-H6500 for a very reasonable sum and can now play DTS easily on the Playbar (obviously, recoded to DD5.1).

I have set my system up as follows. My LG 55EC930V is connected to the Playbar. This TV outputs Dolby Digital (and I think, even Dolby Digital Plus) via Digital Out. I have then connected my Virgin Media STB to the TV via HDMI (STB set to output Dolby Digital Audio) and the BD Player via HDMI, which is set to output recoded DTS.

My issue was that my wired Home Cinema system (Panasonic SC-BTT270) would not output DD as it only had an Optical In, so I had to buy a new player. I highly recommend the one I bought, it plays great.

Also, my Playbar also plays 5.1 from Netflix, Amazon Prime video and Live TV (though, not Youtube for some reason).

Other work arounds

You can also work around the DTS issue by connecting the Playbar to an XBox or PS4, or at worst, a switch.

I hope this helps!!! 🙂

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136 replies

Userlevel 7
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thanks for the info
Userlevel 3
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With Samsung latest TV Dolby digital 51 is available on the optical out only if the TV is playing it from an antenna signal or from a smart app. A 5.1 Dolby digital signal arriving to the TV from an hdmi source will have a digital output in 2.0.

So, while using TV optical into the playbar I am having Dolby from a movie streamed with the TV app from my Nas , the satellite box goes to TV in 5.1 but reach the playbar as 2.0.

I had to buy an optical switch to play TV apps for TV to playbar and the satellite box directly to the playbar ......
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Which switch did you buy for the Samsung? I have multiple sources (e.g., ATV, X1, Uverse, etc) I need to consider with my new UHD 4K.
Userlevel 3
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i bought this on on amazon.it. They shipped it from California, so I assume you will find it in many Amazon http://www.amazon.it/gp/product/B00BB0GY1C?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00

regards
giovanni
Thank you for the updated information on converting a DTS 5.1 signal!
Same problem here.... I have a PS4, a Nvidia Shield TV and a Freebox Revolution (French ASDL TV box).... I still need to choose a new TV but i assume very few of them will decode DTS => DD 5.1 on the optical output.

So i was wondering if a good amplifier like a Pioneer LX 59 could not solve the problem : all HDMI sources on the Pioneer, HDMI out on TV just for the picture and all the sound output on the optical cable with a DD 5.1 conversion.

What do you think ?
Thanks Evander, the most useful post I have read on the topic! This is mainly because I have this exact TV model and couldn't work out the audio output.

So can I ask you, does the LG output Dolby Digital 5.1 from the optical out? So if all I'm concerned about is Netflix, then I don't need any other accessories? - I just connect an audio lead direct to the Playbar etc and we get true 5.1? Or are you saying that you HAVE to buy the Portta HDMI converter to get that 5.1 output through optical if I have say, Netflix on my TV?

Basically, I just want to check was the Portta essential for the 5.1 from any source, or was the only reason you got that, because you have your BD player and multiple sources. Thanks so much!
good
Userlevel 1
I am looking to invest further in sonos, but this stubborn approach over DTS is worrying me. Why won't you (Sonos) enable DTS format? At least explain why you won't.
Sonos has explained a dozen times already. The Playbar was designed to connect to an optical out on a TV, the vast majority of which do not pass DTS. If you wish to use Sonos in a full-blown home theater, the best solution is to get a Connect and a receiver based full-blown home theater.

And just to reiterate; Sonos has definitively stated they are NOT going to support DTS playback on the Playbar. I believe you should take them at their word.
Userlevel 1
Hi jgatie, I thought the whole sonos brand and product usp is built around effortless usability, high quality audio and bringing all music to your room. The playbar combined with pair of play 1's and a sub is being marketed as a 5.1. If the playbar only has optical input and the optical does not support DTS and therefore can't produce 5.1 then that seems poor for a combined price of £1500.
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Hi jgatie, I thought the whole sonos brand and product usp is built around effortless usability, high quality audio and bringing all music to your room. The playbar combined with pair of play 1's and a sub is being marketed as a 5.1. If the playbar only has optical input and the optical does not support DTS and therefore can't produce 5.1 then that seems poor for a combined price of £1500.

Can you explain why you have to troll the Sonos community if you aren't interested in the products? Sonos has consistently reported that despite your and many other requests for DTS, they are just not interested in DTS. If the connection options don't suit you either, just move on. Then you wont have to worry any more.
Will the BD-H6500 re-code, mvk or other files on disk/network, from DTS to DD? Or does it only do from the blu ray disc?
Userlevel 7
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Will the BD-H6500 re-code, mvk or other files on disk/network, from DTS to DD? Or does it only do from the blu ray disc?

That's a great question, it looks like that Blu-ray player can stream network content through the Samsung Link feature (using specific devices) which has the supported formats here. The manual doesn't specify if it'll convert that content over to Dolby Digital though I'd suspect it's transmitting as PCM. I'd recommend asking Samsung support directly though, they'll have access to more information about that device.
Userlevel 1
Hi jgatie, I thought the whole sonos brand and product usp is built around effortless usability, high quality audio and bringing all music to your room. The playbar combined with pair of play 1's and a sub is being marketed as a 5.1. If the playbar only has optical input and the optical does not support DTS and therefore can't produce 5.1 then that seems poor for a combined price of £1500.

Can you explain why you have to troll the Sonos community if you aren't interested in the products? Sonos has consistently reported that despite your and many other requests for DTS, they are just not interested in DTS. If the connection options don't suit you either, just move on. Then you wont have to worry any more.
Userlevel 1
Hi Toltec21. Not sure what you mean by ... troll the sonos community? I am a member of the sonos community, have sonos products and about to invest in more products this week. I am interested in whether Sonos will add ability to stream DTS as it would be a valued upgrade and save the need for hdmi/optical switches. Many people on the sonos community are enquiring about DTS so it must be something that people want.
Userlevel 7
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There is nothing further to know other than Sonos has said repeatedly (over a long time period and multiple people asking) that there will be no DTS on the current Playbar. There isn't much more to ask about.

Yes it would be nice if it had it. I can't think of a reason anyone would disagree with that. But the fact is it doesn't and never will.
Hi jgatie, I thought the whole sonos brand and product usp is built around effortless usability, high quality audio and bringing all music to your room. The playbar combined with pair of play 1's and a sub is being marketed as a 5.1. If the playbar only has optical input and the optical does not support DTS and therefore can't produce 5.1 then that seems poor for a combined price of £1500.

That is your subjective opinion and you are welcome to it. Others feel differently. And this may surprise you, I happen to agree with your assessment, which is why my Playbar is on my bedroom TV and my Home Theater is fitted with a proper 5.1 system using wired speakers, a receiver, and a Connect. Then again, I feel any soundbar is a compromise for Home Theater, so make of that what you will.

However, unlike you, I understand a product is made for a certain market, that I may not be in that particular market, and critiquing that product for not meeting my needs to a T is not only unrealistic, it is most certainly a waste of my time. The Playbar is made for people who are not hardcore Home Theater enthusiasts and Sonos has repeatedly stated they are not going to support DTS on the Playbar. Period. Now you can do two things*: Keep banging your head against the virtual brick wall, or you can get over it and move on.

*Actually, there are 3 things. You can also buy a Blu-ray player that converts DTS to DD, and with a TV that passes DD through to the optical, you are good to go. Then again, that still leaves you with a soundbar based 5.1 system, with all the weaknesses therein. 😉
Userlevel 1
Hi Jgatie,
I understand what you mean. I previously had an entry level 5.1 speaker system with Arcam 350 receiver. Didn't like the system as the receiver was massive and I didn't like the flicking between remotes etc... So got a playbar and liked the declutter of wires and boxes, etc. Enjoying the playbar, and the simplistic user friendly aspect to sonos I now want to add rear speakers to create 5.1. Then did some research and understood that there is a potential lack of 5.1 which would make the rear speakers almost pointless. Hence my comments.

I am looking into switches and currently between 4x hdmi in - to - optical & hdmi out, or 4x optical in - to - optical out. Or getting speakers and new receiver and a connect. But after original experience not sure I want to go down that route.

And finally I understand Sonos said they are not adopting DTS. I am interested in why not? What is the/their reason? And from this thread that goes back more than two years there are many who also feel the same way as me. I am not alone on this.

Regards ...
Userlevel 7
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And finally I understand Sonos said they are not adopting DTS. I am interested in why not? What is the/their reason? And from this thread that goes back more than two years there are many who also feel the same way as me. I am not alone on this

here is the explanation:
https://en.community.sonos.com/home-theater-228993/please-add-support-for-dts-for-the-sonos-playbar-4985155/index47.html#post13831903
If you have the time you can read all 47 pages - it got quite heated at times ! Strangely, I think there was about 1 year where it was actually under consideration so it was obviously a close call !

However, if you really want to read into it with a positive spin you could interpret the final sentence "We’ll be actively monitoring TV and streaming services capabilities and trends. If our development stance around DTS decoding in PLAYBAR changes, this community will be among the first to know." as leaving the door open to adding it in future but I wouldnt get your hopes up !
And finally I understand Sonos said they are not adopting DTS. I am interested in why not? What is the/their reason? And from this thread that goes back more than two years there are many who also feel the same way as me. I am not alone on this.

Regards ...


It has been explained why not: As I stated above:

The Playbar was designed to connect to an optical out on a TV, the vast majority of which do not pass DTS.

Now that explanation may seem illogical to you (and in some ways to me), but it is easier to understand when coupled with the fact that the Playbar was designed for ease of installation and use by non-tech savvy persons. Most people don't care about DTS/DD, HDMI, multiple cables, etc. The Playbar is one cable from the TV. Boom. Done. Unfortunately, that one cable approach has it's limitations. I suppose it is assumed people looking for that type of simplicity will find the pseudo-surround you get from PCM stereo when DD is not available to be sufficient. You and I may disagree, but I guess Sonos knows its market better than us.
SPDIF/Toslink has more than enough bandwidth for DTS and every other lossless audio codec. Blu-ray DTS streams at most around 1.5Mbps and Toslink has a is up around 125Mbps, so there's plenty of room. Xbox 360 and PS3 converted it to an LPCM (bitstream) to transport over Toslink, so it can be done.

This sounds like the same problem as the AppleTV 4. The problem isn't bandwidth, it's DRM. Toslink doesn't support DRM which means Sonos probably can't get the license for DTS. The way around is to use switches that can extract the audio stream from an HDMI cable and sends it to a Toslink output. Even then... most switches don't support DTS. I love my Playbar, but I really wish Sonos had given us a set of HDMI passthrough ports on it. I'd even consider upgrading if they ever released one.

Btw, most TVs only pass 2ch stereo on their optical out ports. Only a handful will pass a 5.1 stream.
Userlevel 1
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Hi All

I have a simple solution to this poor design choice.

I'll go buy a Playbar, the second I type my pin number in SONOS will announce a new Playbar.
It will be called Playbar :)
It will support HDMI,3 or 4 inputs, pass through and DTS/DD etc.

Derek
Userlevel 2
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Its a shame that Sonos does not listen to his customers. We all want the DTS update for our Sonos playbar! Don't lie to your loyal customers just answer why Sonos why is there still no ____ DTS update for the Sonos playbar???
After all this time people ask the same question! We don't want dolby digital 5.1 we want DTS!! Please add the update soon I've been a true Sonos Fan from the start, I have buyed a lot of Sonos stuff (3000+euro). We just want the DTS update for the Sonos playbar that's all why does it have to take Sooo long?


Max P.: Posted edit due to Profanity.
Its a shame that Sonos does not listen to his customers. We all want the DTS update for our Sonos playbar! Don't lie to your loyal customers just answer why Sonos why is there still no fucking DTS update for the Sonos playbar???
After all this time people ask the same question! We don't want dolby digital 5.1 we want DTS!! Please add the update soon I've been a true Sonos Fan from the start, I have buyed a lot of Sonos stuff (3000+euro). We just want the DTS update for the Sonos playbar that's all why does it have to take Sooo long?


Lie? Sonos have never lied about about this subject? They've never spoken about this subject, so how could they ever lie about it?

It isn't taking Soooo long, it isn't happening, I would have thought that was blindingly obvious by now.