I used to have this $250 Sony 5.1 surround system with my livingroom television. It didn’t sound bad and did the job, and the rear speakers were even wirelessly connected to the unit so I didn’t have a wire running across my livingroom floor to the back which was nice. But I have gotten older and years back I was ready for an upgrade and had seen Sonos, so I grabbed a Sonos Playbar and 2 Play 1 rears. (Yes, I hear the sub is a must but have not gotten that yet) I like the wireless because I move a lot and its easy to setup in a new place and with music, the system in a smallish livingroom sounds fantastic. But unfortunately I have always had problems with the television, it never sounds quite right and I always struggle with the voices being difficult to hear or the rear speakers hardly sounding like they are working. The Sony setup just did a much much better job at home theater which is disappointing when comparing $1,000 to $250.
Just to review my setup... rear speakers are at the back set as surrounds, they have been turned all the way up in the television settings of the Sonos app and I have toggled the voice feature and night mode on and off to try different things. The Playbar is connected via optical wire to a Panasonic TC-50PS14 television from 2009. When I go into the Sonos “About” and check connection, my Apple TV or Xbox One both show “Dolby Digital 5.1” however my Fire TV Stick shows “Stereo”. The Fire Stick sounds noticeably worse which makes sense given stereo, but even the other two don’t sound great. Although the Xbox One and Apple TV show as Dolby Digital 5.1 could the audio coming form the television optical out be 2 channel still? I have read the manual and read around online and I don’t think I quite get how to tell what the optimal setup was.
I was considering a J-Tech Digital ULTRA HD 4K HDMI to HDMI + Audio (SPDIF + RCA Stereo) Audio Extractor Converter from Amazon.com to help me try and solve this problem. I don’t have 4K now but could upgrade at some point. I thought perhaps using my HDMI switch to feed in all the devices, and then splitting the optical out straight to the Sonos Playbar, might help me achieve better sound. But given the setup above I described I was not sure if this would help or not because it does sound like for at least 2 of my devises it is outputting Dolby Digital 5.1 just fine? Does anyone read this and have any thoughts about quality and if I went with an Audio Extrator if you think I could achieve better sound?