Is it ABSOLUTELY definitive that NO Samsung Smart TVs passthrough 5.1 via the optical port?
...because I have now called Samsung multiple times to ask if my model (UN46ES6150) will preserve 5.1 sound via the optical port when the source is connected via HDMI (cable box, DVD player, etc. - NOT native app on the TV itself)...and each time the Samsung rep has assured me that it can indeed passthrough 5.1 sound. Any advice or clarity would be much appreciated before I spring for the full Sonos home theater setup. Thank you!
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Not sure about your model though. My suggestion is if you can purchase the playbar locally from somewhere that has a return policy to try it out.
...Or you could output the Dolby Digital 5.1 from the TV via the 'usual' HDMI port and cable plugged into a 5.1 DD audio extractor device, which will then output the audio in DD 5.1 format, via a toslink optical connection, to the Playbar.
Use a device similar to this one ... https://www.reichelt.com/?LANGUAGE=EN&CTYPE=0&MWSTFREE=0&CCOUNTRY=447&ARTICLE=164186&PROVID=2788&wt_guka=22596754217_79177333817&PROVID=2788&gclid=CMysvvXjtMwCFe4y0wod1S4DXQ
I'm sure there are plenty of other HDMI audio extractors mentioned here on the forum and elsewhere online. I'm not sure which ones work best, or are good value for money etc; so it may require a bit of research, but at least you can then get a TV to suit your own personal requirements, with all the other features you require.
I would like to see a new Sonos Playbar myself with an HDMI input port, in the not too distant future, (wishful thinking), but at least there are plenty of options around now to overcome any limitations on the connections between the 'ever-changing-hardware' that we each encounter from the different manufacturers.
The HDMI DD5.1 audio extractor, I thought, might also help to expand your options when choosing which new smart TV to buy.
On one TV, I use a Monoprice 13345, but there are many cheap devices that will do this. On my other TVs, I come right out of the Tivo, but lack a remote control audio control.