Lip Sync Problems

  • 20 February 2017
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Sigh. I wanna love Sonos. But lip sync is not working. Sonos imposes enough audio delay to annoy for TV use. Are there any work arounds?

My understanding is that Sonos is imposing some latency due to wifi use. I read in one place 30ms, which isn't bad, but I read another place 70ms. The thing is my TV is already adding some delay compensation to the audio to match audio to video processing delay, such that what you see from the TV and hear from the audio is pretty much in sync... Its assuming that any soundbar I might be using won't be adding any more delay. There is no way for me to turn that off on my TV that I have been able to find: Sony XBR-65X850B. If anyone knows a secret way to disable it on the TV, I'd love to try it.

Are there any other work around? If I put the sub and soundbar onto wired ethernet, will the latency on sonos be reduced?

I have heard I might need to get an HDMI switch that splits out the audio to optical before hitting the TV, and feed that to the SONOS. In theory the audio would then be early and I could use the Sonos to add delay back, however, the Sonos only appears to have like 5 delay settings for the audio, I'm not at all sure if that will be fine enough control to match the audio to the video.

This is very furstrating, I love the concept of Sonos for music throughout my house, but it does not really seem to be a very good solution for home theater due to this wifi latency being imposed. I wish Sonos would at least make the soundbar take the sound immediately when only the one zone is being used, and when no wifi is actually needed...so that lip sync would be matching at the very least for watching tv.

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Hey Dewdman42,

Just wanted to provide a comment that details for you that the Sonos sound bar is not adding latency due to wifi. So, no, I wouldn't expect a wired Ethernet connection to change things since the audio comes from the TV and out the PlayBar... no data flow over wifi for the TV audio for the front 3 channels...

The PlayBar takes digital audio data from the optical port and uses it. The processing is very limited in time...

The delay you refer to that is discussed in the forums generates in a few different contexts... if a Sonos device like the play 5, or a Connect, needs to take an analogue signal and convert it to digital to play, then you will get a delay due to the audio processing time.... if you then try to take that audio and send it to a Sonos device that is NOT Bonded to a playbar, there is further delay going to those speakers for the data transfer to occur.

If you have a PlayBar and it has bonded SUB and Bonded surround speakers... (that is, it is set up as a 5.1 audio system) in this configuration the PlayBar sets up a specific 5Ghz wifi connection directly to/between the Bonded devices for fast data transfer and there is no substantitive delay in the audio getting from the PlayBar to the Bonded speakers.

I do understand that there are a variety of people who struggle with audio sync on external systems... and I understand it happens across many manufactures. .... I don't suspect it arises specifically in the audio equipment... I'm not enough of a home audio set-up expert to help you with your specifics, but my point is, I'm wondering if indeed any sound bar coming out of the optical output of your particular TV would be materially different... regardless, the delay isn't a result of the wifi communication.... hope his helps...
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what I read here on this forum, including in posts from staff at Sonos it would seem, is that there is some latency intentionally introduced so that all Sonos speakers will play in sync when grouped together. I have read 30ms in one place and 70ms in another place, I don't know which is correct. Its nice to hear that the SUB and PLAYBAR communicate by their own direct wireless connection, if that is actually true, but still...even for that there will be some unpredictable latency and Sonos needs to buffer everything by a certain amount so that they can group together any devices on the wifi network and make sure they all play together. I do feel that direct ethernet would be less latent then 5ghz wifi, but I'd like to hear from sonos about that. And anyway it doesn't really matter if they are buffering all audio with 30ms or 70ms of latency to make sure the wifi can keep up.

That all makes sense, but doesn't solve my problem for watching TV that doesn't look like a kung fu movie with overdubbed english.

When I play both the internal speakers on the TV and the sonos at the same time, the difference in time between them is long enough to hear chorusing, or doubling of the sound. And I can see visually that sonos is the one coming later.

Again, looking for help to resolve this. If it can't be resolved, I will have to return the equipment to sonos and try a different soundbar that has less latency.
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The buffering you read about for synced audio is not done for TV audio... that is why a Player *grouped* to a Playbar will be behind... (and Bonded system are not materially behind) ... and why the PlayBar, the only device with optical in to avoid analogue conversion delays, is the only device recommend to set up for viewing TV.... (until the new PlayBase arrives... you could look up the rumours on that to see if it perhaps may have better performance for you... but the rumours are slim at the moment...

And yes the PlayBar does connect to surrounds with a dedicated 5Ghz wifi... (and why if using connect:amp for surrounds a wired connection to the PlayBar is required... the Connect:amp doesn't have a 5Ghz radio. It is 'actually true' and I do resent the arrogance of you assuming I'm lying to you.

But... doesn't solve your problem, I was hoping to save you some headaches... you already know that the audio from the TV to PlayBar is processing as fast as can be played but the PlayBar... feel free to try another system and see if it works better...or wait for the PlayBase..... I'd be inclined to split off the audio in front of it getting to the TV... but you've read that already so no need to tell you what you already know....
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so are you saying the only way I can watch tv with correct lip sync is to get rid of the SUB and forget about surround?
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and calm down, nobody is calling you a liar. You are writing over my head as a newbie to sonos. Maybe try simpler explanation.
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and what is the playbase?
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what I don't know about splitting off the signal before the TV is: any reccomendations for an affordable simple device for that task and, how adjustable is the lip sync settting in Sonos? from what I can tell it has maybe 5 or 6 settings, not finely adjustable and I don't know what the range there is or whether it will result in good lip sync after using and external HDMI switch to split off optical audio.
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PlayBase is a newly rumored device expected to be released... there are a post or two on here about it... but still vague... the suggestion is it is a platform base that your TV can sit on with audio built in under it.

Still just rumour at this point, but seems to have some credibility to it... we'll see. I don't think anyone really has details of what it will contain or how it will sound, etc...

No, the SUB and Surround... as far as I understand, do not cause material delay... you could try it, remove the SUB and Surrounds temporarily form the setup and see what happens... but I don't think your audio timing will change...

If there is any audio processing in the TV... you may want to shut it off as it could generate delay...

Otherwise, I think your answer of the external switch to get you direct to the PlayBar is the way to go....
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Sorry Dewd... I don't know anyone who has needed to use a switch for sync delay so can't recommend anything I'm afraid.
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The TV has no audio processing on, lip sync is ok on the internal speakers also...its only to the connected Sonos over optical that its delayed.

You mention "no material" delay, but I need to hear more about the 30ms and 70ms latencies that have been mentioned in other threads. I would like to understand better how I can eliminate that from the TV room setup without losing the SUB at the least. I hear delay. Now why some others don't hear delay, I have no idea, maybe your TV's are able to send the audio ahead of the video a little bit, while Sony only sends it right on time. I would like to understand the 30ms and 70ms latencies that have been mentioned on other threads before I sink more money into an HDMI switch.
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What worked for me if you are able to is do the following, although i have an lg tv.

Turn the tv sound up and the sonos sound up so you can hear an echo. Then play around with the delay options (i found the lg audio out delay was much better) until they are in sync. Once happy, turn off the tv speakers. Bingo.
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the sony doesn't provide any audio out delay options. Also the problem is the audio is already late and the Sonos only allows you to make it even later.
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Original Poster

In order for us to help please give us details of your system:

Playbar + do you have surrounds and/or Sub
Do you have other Play units and you are grouping them with Playbar?
Where is the audio input to Playbar coming from? - Direct from TV or Direct from BlueRay or Satellite or an HDMI splitter or optical switch?

As to delays:-

- Playbar will have around 30mS of delay on the audio signal - this is generally considered to be not noticeable but some are more sensitive than others.

- If you GROUP other Play units to your Playbar + surrounds/Sub then THEY will have an audio delay of around 70 mS so they will be out of sync with Playbar and picture (obviously)
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I would like to understand the 30ms and 70ms latencies that have been mentioned on other threads before I sink more money into an HDMI switch.

I will see if I can be more clear...

The 70Ms delay you are referring to applies only to Sonos devices playing music audio when they are receiving an analogue input. For our example, let's take a device playing audio to a Play 5's 3.5m input jack. The play 5 needs to receive the analogue audio, complete an analogue to digital conversion (ADC) (not a long process) and places the data into packets that are sent along the wireless network (That inevitably will have intermittent data flow speeds that result in what is called "Packet jitter") to all players who receive the audio and play it in sync. The delay is designed into the process to ensure processing time, and mostly communication time and buffer to alleviate challenges in wifi communication. (As it is, you can quickly see from reviewing posts that a number of people who post on this community have networking systems with noise, interference, congestion, that speakers still drop audio - That is their networking challenge to resolve as the system works well with most networks.)


The PlayBar does not need to to an analogue to digital conversion as it receives digital data and plays it. The time for audio production is approximately 30ms ... a delay that should keep close enough to the video match that you should see no issues... This timing, I understand, is the same for a bonded SUB and surrounds (Because of their higher speed dedicated 5Ghz wifi)

That is why I'm wondering where your noticeable delay is occurring... The PlayBar isn't really adding much overhead.

If you were to try to get Playbar TV audio out to the rest of your Sonos system (e.g. play the audio of the hockey game in your bedroom on Play 1s while in there...) The audio in the bedroom would be behind the audio of the PlayBar. The PlayBar, when playing the audio from it's optical port, plays it at it's speed and allows the other "grouped" speakers of the system to lag behind at the pace they need to manage packet jitter occurring over the 2.4Ghz network. (This would be audio approximately at the 70ms latency described above. No problem if you are in your bedroom and can't hear the playbar... but they will not be in sync is you tried to send audio to speakers that are just "grouped" to a PlayBar.)

Hopefully that was more clear...
The bottom line here is that using the Playbar for TV sound there should be only a 30ms latency. That should not be affected by whether or not you have a Sub, nor will it be in any way improved by using a switch.

For most people a 30ms delay is completely unnoticeable, so either you are highly sensitive to this or your Playbar and TV are not playing ball with each other. I suspect the latter, and it would probably be best to submit a diagnostic and post the number back here, or call Sonos Support.
Or the audio is already significantly delayed by the source. Unfortunately, TV sources are notorious for shoddy lip sync, and if the audio is lagging, the slight 30ms delay will be extended to the point it is noticeable.
The best solution - although not cheap - will be to by-pass your Sony TV's audio and take s/pdif audio (optical or coax digital) directly from your sources to a digital audio delay product like the ones made by Alchemy2, Felston or Primare.

Alchemy's D.DaD is $499, Felston's DD740 is $249 and I think Primare's Delay Box is $399 but the Primare only has two inputs. The other two have 4 s/pdif inputs so can switch between four sources and delay the audio source selected in 1 ms increments by remote control for perfect lip-sync adjustment.

By taking the audio directly from your sources you will eliminate the audio delay Sony imposes of about 70 to 80 ms (not sure about Sony but that will be close) which will make the inherent video delay of the TV available to offset the 30 to 70 ms audio delay you are seeing from Sonos. That is, when signals arrive in-sync (which is actually extremely rare) you should find perfect lip-sync with your digital audio delay set on 40 ms if your Sonos is providing the other 30 ms audio delay and your Sony's video delay is 70 ms (or on 50 ms if your TV delay is 80 ms).

That should solve your problem plus you will find lip-sync error changes from program to program and with these devices you can align it perfectly at the touch of the remote without disturbing the image. Even TV's that offer an audio delay adjustment (like Samsung and Vizio) do it in huge increments of 10 and even 20 ms which means you will never find a spot that seems in-sync plus you have to go into menus to make a change which isn't practical in my opinion.

I use the Felston DD740 which can actually adjust in 1/3 ms increments but I find 1 ms steps to work for me. I adjust sync for every program but menus aren't feasible because you have to wait until an appropriate "target" comes along which might be 5 minutes or longer into some programs. You need a talking head with a view of the lips long enough to get feedback on your change.

When such a scene appears I focus on the lips, touch the + button a few times to judge if I am improving or making lip-sync worse and if worse reverse direction until perfect. All of these devices will adjust by hand held remote in 1 ms steps so any of them should work as well as my DD740 to correct lip-sync.

Another benefit of this connection (not using audio from the back of your TV) won't matter to you since you have a Sony but "most TV's" (like Samsung, Vizio, etc.) will deprive you of Dolby 5.1 audio from any HDMI source connected to the TV.

You have a Sony which is one of the "few" TV's to offer Dolby Pass-through which allows the TV to request Dolby 5.1 form its HDMI sources even though it doesn't have a Dolby decoder and bypass all internal audio circuitry and send it out its optical output on the rear of the TV. Of course you have to enable that setting which means you could get 5.1 out of your Sony but since Sony gives you no way to turn off the audio delay it imposes it may be academic.

My Samsung offers audio delay in its s/pdif menu but as mentioned impractical to adjust since it's in 10 ms steps and must be done via menus but at least it can be turned OFF (set to zero) so for anyone who doesn't care about Dolby 5.1 the TV's optical output could be used for input to the Sonos but it will be limited to stereo.

That's because Samsung (and most TV's) will request stereo from each of its HDMI input sources and that's all that will be in the HDMI stream. Note that using a device to extract s/pdif audio from the HDMI stream going to such a TV (most TV's) can only extract what's there and that will be stereo if connected to a TV like a Samsung that doesn't offer Dolby Pass-Through.

I overcome that limitation of my Samsung since taking audio from each source is not via HDMI and can be 5.1 even though the HDMI audio is stereo. Of course essentially all TV's can output Dolby 5.1 if received from their internal tuners -just not from their HDMI inputs - so if you use your TV's internal tuner you may want to route an optical cable from the back of the TV to an input of your delay box but note that output will unfortunately have the Sony imposed delay but you will be able to correct lip-sync on all the other inputs except the internal tuner.

I hope this helps. By the way if anybody is upset with Sonos for a 30 ms or even 70 ms delay I just heard the super expensive Devialet Phantoms delay audio over 150ms!
Couldn't you just just go from your source to a HDMI splitter like the one below cheaply that has optical out and run it to your soundbar? Not really saying this in theory as I have this set up. I have a projector set up, so I don't even have a TV output, I run my directv to my splitter and feed the optical to the soundbar via a 50 ft optical cable. I have no audio issues.

https://www.monoprice.com/Product?p_id=15375&gclid=Cj0KEQiAot_FBRCqt8jVsoDKoZABEiQAqFL76FjpnqNOgc6IilrpzhIW8JweBSH87j_od98CqcjNHRsaArrA8P8HAQ
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since my last post I did buy a monoprice HDMI switch and it does seem to work for this, lips are sync'd. I'm still trying to decide if its worth it to have an extra switch and have to hit the button on it to switch inputs between satelite and roku. Probably. it has an IR remote, so maybe I can program it into my sony tv remote somehow, I doubt it, but if I could that would solve the issue really... or I could get a universal remote maybe to make it all easier... Anyway, thanks..
I just picked up my set up on the 2/23 so it's all new to me. I really love being able to flip over to music when my wife puts the tv on pause. and then when she gets back, we just push plan and optical feed switches back to tv mode. very slick. also, have a sub which makes a nice diff. So very shocked how much sound/bass comes out of the play 1 speakers. it's crazy. Now if i could figure out how to trueplay set up my speakers on the beta software I would be set. But I think they have it disabled. Doesn't make sense but oh well.
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Dewdman42,

Thanks for coming back and filling us in and that your splitting solution worked! Glad you got it sorted!
Now if i could figure out how to trueplay set up my speakers on the beta software I would be set. But I think they have it disabled. Doesn't make sense but oh well.
It's an Apple restriction which prevents Sonos supporting iOS devices for public beta. Since the controller is at a different version to the rest of the system its functionality is reduced.
https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/3354

You could always leave beta, update your system (which will downgrade it to 7.1), Trueplay tune it, then re-join the beta.
In my case (since I have a Samsung TV) using the Monoprice audio extractor you mentioned would only give me stereo audio not Dolby 5.1 but if stereo is OK that should work fine. With your Sony set for Dolby passthrough (which Samsung doesn't support) you should get Dolby 5.1 from the Monoprice I would think.

The reason is the Samsung TV (and most TV's except Sony,Toshiba,Panasonic,Vizio and a few others) will request stereo in their EDID sessions with HDMI sources and stereo is all there will be in the HDMI signal for Monoprice to extract.

But unless your TV's video delay "happens" to be exactly your Sonos delay it seems odd that "alone" solved your lip-sync problems. Usually the TV's video delay ( say 70 or 80 ms) is too much and will need some additional audio delay applied to get it perfect. For example if it's 80 ms and your Sonos is 30 ms audio delay it would take 50 ms of audio delay added back in to get it perfect.

But according to the Stanford study most people don't "consciously" notice 42 ms video delay so maybe it reduced it below that threshold. If you focus "deliberately" on the lips is it really perfect?
Dolby passthrough (which Samsung doesn't support)
YMMV. A recently purchased Samsung in the UK delivers DD5.1 perfectly, from internal sources (Amazon Prime etc) and from HDMI.
Can you give me the model number? Internal sources have never been a problem as they have always been able to handle 5.1 but I've never seen a Samsung that accepted 5.1 via HDMI inputs. Does it allow you to specify Dolby Passthrough? I have 2 Samsung TV's but each is over 2 years old so maybe they finally started offering 5.1 passthrough?