Samsung TV won't pass through 5.1 on optical out if input is HDMI, need suggestions

  • 13 March 2015
  • 36 replies
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I have a Playbar, and a Samsung TV that won't pass through 5.1 from its optical out if the input is HDMI. Our Motorola cable box is connected to our TV using HDMI, and I want to get the 5.1 when I watch TV.

I've looked through the questions and answers posted here and elsewhere, and it seems like some people have used an HDMI switch from Monoprice with an optical out to get around this problem.  The suggestion is to connect the HDMI source to the HDMI switch, and the HDMI switch sends out the full 5.1 audio through the optical out and into the Playbar.  (I'll call this the "HDMI switch" approach.)  

The other approach is to connect the cable box's optical out directly to the Playbar.  (I'll call this the "cable box direct" approach.)  This works, but I don't like this approach because we leave our cable box on at all times, and when we turn off the TV, the Playbar still plays audio from the cable box, as the Playbar has no idea that the TV's been turned off.  It's an inconvenience that I don't want to have to deal with.  

Note that with either approach, there is no physical connection from the TV to the Playbar.  

Having said all that, the main issue for me is that we use the TV's built-in Netflix and Amazon Video apps.  If I went with the HDMI switch approach, then, when we watch Netflix, there will be no audio sent to the Playbar.  

I looked into HDMI switches and ARC (using ARC to send the Netflix audio back to the HDMI switch, then out to the optical out), but this doesn't seem like it's been tested.  

I also thought about using an optical out switch, where I could switch between optical out sources.  However, to do this, I would have to get an HDMI switch with optical out, then connect that optical output into the optical out switch, then to the Playbar.  That seems like a lot of work/money/effort.  

Any suggestions?  

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36 replies

I've tried a couple of different alternatives to try and get a solution whereby I can get dolby audio from my PS4 and from internal tuner/apps to go to my Beam. I have a 2013 Samsung F6500 tv which does not appear to passthrough dolby either through optical or arc. I tried to introduce an EDID manager as mentioned in other posts, to allow me to select dolby on the TV when PS4 is on. This did work and dolby was no longer greyed out, however I could not get any sound output either to the Beam or even to the internal speakers. I'm assuming this is down to the lack of passthrough functionality in the TV ie the sound get "stuck" in the TV.

My next option was to try a HDMI switch. I needed something that didn't require external power supply (lack of free plug sockets) that would ideally let me feed sound from PS4 directly to the Beam and so bypassing TV, but also feed sound from TV so I can still use tuner and built in apps. My setup was Optical out on PS4 using the HDMI adapter from Beam > HDMI Switch. Arc socket from TV > HDMI switch and then HDMI switch > Beam. It's a manual switch and when I set it to the PS4 side of the switch it worked perfectly. All I had to do was change sound on TV from receiver to external. Unfortunately when I change the switch to get sound from the ARC port all I get is silence - Beam reports no audio. I'm guessing this is an issue with how the audio is passed through the switch. The TV seems to recognise the Beam when Anynet is enabled it displays Sonos Beam and lets me change volume If I change HDMI source on TV to the ARC one I can see the pattern that comes up on screen so some kind of signal is getting through just not the audio - very frustrating!!

Not sure whether to try a different HDMI switch but struggling to find any that definitively say they will passthrough the ARC signal.
I want to re-iterate the response by Peep, as it worked for me.

Here's my setup:
- AppleTV 4k HDMI In (not ARC)
- Samsung 4k TV
- Sonos Beam + Sub + 2 Play:1's (plugged into TV via HDMI ARC from Beam)

I banged my head against the wall forever trying to get the any of the Dolby audio output settings to become "un-greyed". Finally, after reading Peep's posting, I played a newly-released episode from a new episode series (so i could be sure that it was true 5.1 content. For the first time yet, the Dolby Digital 5.1 setting on my Samsung 4k tv was no longer greyed out. When I put it to another type of content (in my case, DirectTV Now app on apple tv), the Samsung audio output switches automatically back to only PCM and DTS options (Dolby greyed out). I return to the Netflix 5.1 content, Dolby is no longer greyed out and, best of all, when i go to More > Settings > About My Sonos in the Sonos App, the audio input to the Beam is finally sweet, sweet Dolby 5.1.

So no Monoprice necessary, it was just a matter of the content being output from the original source, the Apple TV4K. Until DirectTV Now supports 4k/Dolby content i'm sort of lost in terms of just watching TV, but I have an answer to something that was sort of irking me for a while. Thanks Peep.
I had this problem and have gotnroundnit using a eSynic Spdif Toslink Switcher 3 X 1... from amazon. I attached skyboptical and the tv optical to the toslink and akybto my tv via hdmi. When I want top quality skybsound I switch to that optical, when I want tv/Netflix I switch to the other. It has a remote and good news is that the beam volume can still be controlled from my tv remote which it can’t if direct connecting from sky only. I hope this helps.
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Use an EDID box, as referred to earlier in the thread. Samsung TVs such as mine suck, you need to fool the audio source despite what the TV tells it to send over HDMI.
I *think* that th reason that it's greyed out on your audio settings is that the input that you're watching at the time is only in stereo. Try sending a 5.1 Dolby Digital signal through the HDMI, and see if that setting on the TV's audio settings becomes valid.

Note: I don't own, nor have I ever owned a Samsung TV set.
Similar question to buzben, if I connect to a Samsung UE40D5000, will I get only stereo (what happens to middle seekers then?), or nothing at all?

I have three HDMI inputs into my Samsung plasma and use the optical audio out from the TV to my Playbase. I just added two Play 1s for surround sound. Unfortunately, Dolby Digital is grayed out on my TV audio settings. It can only output PCM, which is 2.1. Sonos converts the signal into 5.1, but it's a matrix, like Dolby Pro Logic. Generally it's okay, but I can't stand hearing dialog from the surround speakers when it should only be coming from the center channel.
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Similar question to buzben, if I connect to a Samsung UE40D5000, will I get only stereo (what happens to middle seekers then?), or nothing at all?
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Hi,

yes, the problem is that many devices use EDID info coming from your TV to decide what audio data to feed to the TV. Almost all TV's report in EDID that they can receive only 2ch stereo (part of HDCP policy and copyright agreements .. yes, stupid, I know). You need to fake the EDID data to fool the source device to start to feed surround sound to your TV. But of course, in some cases, the TV really can't pass the surround sound to the digital audio output (HDMI ARC or Optical). But it's worth the try.

You can use HW devices to fake the EDID data (see the replies above).

On Windows the EDID data can be faked by SW - no HW box needed between your Windows HTPC and TV. Just use utility "Custom Resolution Utility" (search the web and download, it's easy to find) and create your own EDID according to your needs (create Custom extension block - add Audio formats 5.1, add Speaker setup 5.1, add HDMI support with "Support audio information" checked) and restart Windows. Then you'll be able in Windows speaker setup to choose 5.1 to be fed to your TV.

- SWJunkie -


Thank you this solved all my issues with HTPC based surround sound 🙂
Update - in my blu-ray settings there was a setting to transcode DTS to DD. Set up my new Playbar today and all works fine. (May save up for the sub now...!) 😃
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The u blu ray definitely will transcode to DD via optical.

The TV should too. That is set in settings> sound. Look at the TV manual for optical output options.
I have a Samsung UE49KS7000 4K TV with a Samsung UBD-K8500/XU 4K Blu-ray player, Virgin Media cable box and Apple TV connected to the TV (via the Samsung external connection hub).
I am considering purchasing the Playbar but I'm worried that I may encounter silence at any time e.g. from blu-ray discs or from the Netflix app or Amazon app on the TV.
Will I merely get stereo for now (I am not purchasing a sub yet or any surround speakers)?
I used to have a Yamaha digital sound projector connected but moved that upstairs since it didn't have 4K passthrough.
I hope to expand the Playbar in the future but I've seen on other review sites that DTS is a big issue for the Sonos systems.
Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.
I have a Samsung UN60JU7100 with the external connection hub that Samsung provides on newer TVs. All my HDMI sources STB for ATT Uverse, & PS4 connect via HDMI and the optical is connected from the Samsung hub to the Playbar. I was having issues with no DD 5.1 when watching AT&T Uverse cable and found the fix in the cable box settings. I had to switch the output on the STB to surround sound and then I was able to select Dolby Digital on the Samsung TV menu. Now I get DD 5.1 for Cable, Netflix, and PS4 without having to go through a switch. I hope this helps everyone.
Yes, I agree that in case of WIndows source your solution is fine.

In any other case I recommend the small black box for less that 20 euros.
It just needs one extra HDMI cable. No software nor any configuration needed anywhere.

- Tobbe -
Hi,

yes, the problem is that many devices use EDID info coming from your TV to decide what audio data to feed to the TV. Almost all TV's report in EDID that they can receive only 2ch stereo (part of HDCP policy and copyright agreements .. yes, stupid, I know). You need to fake the EDID data to fool the source device to start to feed surround sound to your TV. But of course, in some cases, the TV really can't pass the surround sound to the digital audio output (HDMI ARC or Optical). But it's worth the try.

You can use HW devices to fake the EDID data (see the replies above).

On Windows the EDID data can be faked by SW - no HW box needed between your Windows HTPC and TV. Just use utility "Custom Resolution Utility" (search the web and download, it's easy to find) and create your own EDID according to your needs (create Custom extension block - add Audio formats 5.1, add Speaker setup 5.1, add HDMI support with "Support audio information" checked) and restart Windows. Then you'll be able in Windows speaker setup to choose 5.1 to be fed to your TV.

- SWJunkie -
You don't need to buy an expensive switch. The only thing you need is a small box taking care of the EDID paramaters between the TvBox and the Samsung TV.
It is connected with HDMI cables in between these. I bought this one and it solved all my frustration of not getting5.1 via the TV.:
http://eud.dx.com/product/16-mode-hdmi-edid-feeder-black-844373949

I am sure it will help you as well.
- Tobbe -
Thanks for the help here Matt. I bought the Monoprice Switch and I'm having a tough time getting it setup. Intermittently it kind of works but not really. I've got my Time Warner cable box plugged into the switch ahd my switch HDMI Arc going to my Samsung HDMI arc. I've got an optical cable from the switch to my Sonos Playbar.

On initial turn on of the TV it takes about 20 seconds and then the sound finally comes on. When I switch to watching an app I pick one and get sound, but if I switch to another app or back to TV the sound is off.

So frustrating!!!

Hi everyone, 

An update - I got everything to work as I wanted.  

I got this switch from Monoprice - http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=101&cp_id=10110&cs_id=1011002&p_id=7974 - and set it up like this:

- HDMI from cable box into Monoprice switch
- HDMI from TV into Monoprice switch (the ARC HDMI slot - this is important)
- Optical from Monoprice switch to PlayBar

At first, I wasn't getting 5.1 sound to the PlayBar with this setup.  I read the manual that came with the switch, and changed the jumper setting to pull/push 5.1 no matter what (Mode 2), and that solved the issue.  The jumpers are on the back (there are three switches).  

Now, when I watch TV, I have 5.1 sound.  And, when I watch Netflix through the Netflix app on the TV, I have 5.1 sound then as well.

I did have some issues with the HDMI-CEC Support between the TV and the switch and trying to get that to work.  When I turned off the TV, the CEC commands would turn off the switch fine, but it wouldn't turn the switch back on when the TV was turned on.  Ultimately, I ended up turning CEC off on the TV.  Now the switch is on 24/7, but I have it tucked behind the TV, so it's not a big deal for me.  

Hope this helps someone.  

-Matt

I have a question for Peep: precisely what did you mean by "play back a video with Dolby Digital"? I'm having the identical issue, i.e., I'm getting sound from my Playbar but I don't hear anything from my Play1 surround speakers or my sub (although I MAY be hearing some FAINT sub, although it's hard for me to tell) when I'm using my Time Warner Cable-supplied Cisco 9865HDC DVR. The DVR is HDMI-connected to my Samsung UN50KU6300FXZA UHD TV, via the Samsung's HDMI-1/DVI interface. When you were "playing back a video", precisely how were you doing that and which TV input were you using? I have a Samsung Blu-Ray player plugged into the TV's HDMI-2, so I could test that, but my wife has apparently hidden all of our DVDs, so I'll have to find out where she has stashed them to test.
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Matt - One year in, do you still like your setup? I may try to mimic it exactly.

Hi everyone, 

An update - I got everything to work as I wanted.  

I got this switch from Monoprice - http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=101&cp_id=10110&cs_id=1011002&p_id=7974 - and set it up like this:

- HDMI from cable box into Monoprice switch
- HDMI from TV into Monoprice switch (the ARC HDMI slot - this is important)
- Optical from Monoprice switch to PlayBar

At first, I wasn't getting 5.1 sound to the PlayBar with this setup.  I read the manual that came with the switch, and changed the jumper setting to pull/push 5.1 no matter what (Mode 2), and that solved the issue.  The jumpers are on the back (there are three switches).  

Now, when I watch TV, I have 5.1 sound.  And, when I watch Netflix through the Netflix app on the TV, I have 5.1 sound then as well.

I did have some issues with the HDMI-CEC Support between the TV and the switch and trying to get that to work.  When I turned off the TV, the CEC commands would turn off the switch fine, but it wouldn't turn the switch back on when the TV was turned on.  Ultimately, I ended up turning CEC off on the TV.  Now the switch is on 24/7, but I have it tucked behind the TV, so it's not a big deal for me.  

Hope this helps someone.  

-Matt

I have a very similar problem.

I have my SAMSUNG TV as an HDMI hub to all my electronics including a PS4, and 2 STB (yes two because monopoly).

When playing my PS4, I get 5.1 no problem, but when watching my HD channels on both my STBs (switched their Audio Settings to HDMI Dolby Digital Plus), I get complete silence, when I switch the channel to one that does not support DD, I get the Stereo sound back on.

Basically, because I have this problem, I am unable to actually get the 5.1 experience from both my STBs.. I only get the lousy stereo sound. I really really would hate to get a switch because I am satisfied with having the only ONE Samsung remote through the power of the (not perfect) CEC, but it does the job.. .
I have a JU6700 and figured out how to get DD 5.1 from its optical output and only using the builtin HDMI. No need for a HDMI switcher.
Considering this is a low-end Series 6 TV, I would expect it works on all higher Series Samsung models (I believe they all use the same SmartTV OS).

I posted this in avsforum but I thought I would also post here.

The issue was getting Dolby Digital selected...

Seems that the option to select Dolby Digital was grayed out and only PCM was selectable (well, and a DTS Neo 2:5 which I didn't know what that is). Sending a DD 5.1 signal to TV but the Playbar would still only see a stereo signal.

On my TV... Menu, Sound, Additional Settings, Audio Format.

What I eventually figured out is that I had to play back a video with Dolby Digital, and "while" it was playing, then I could go into this same TV settings menu and then select Dolby Digital. Once I did this, the TV seems to remember the setting and will flip between PCM and Dolby Digital depending on the source.

I also use AppleTV and MrMC (which is a Kodi port). After setting the TV as above, it was working for DD 5.1 but I could not get DTS transcode to work. I followed these instructions I found online to set MrMC sound settings:

Set "number of channels" to 2.0.
"Output configuration" to optimised.
"Enable Passthrough" on
"AC3 capable receiver" on
" - Enable Dolby Digital transcoding" on
"DTS capable receiver" off

This is supposed to transcode to DD5.1 on the fly but I just get silence when playing a DTS movie.
After experimenting I changed the first line, number of channels, from 2.0 to 5.1 and now it works perfect. MrMC transcodes DTS to Dolby Digital 5.1 on the fly. I can verify in Sonos App it sees Dolby Digital 5.1 (Sonos, About Sonos System).

Plex on AppleTV also is transcoding same DTS to Dolby Digital 5.1 without any additional settings (believe it picks up AppleTV settings) and maybe the server is doing something... I don't really use Plex that much and prefer MrMC but this is nice to know. Infuse - didn't bother trying.

However there is something to be aware of - Plex App on Samsung TV outputs Dolby 5.1 movies but when it sees a DTS it won't transcode DTS to Dolby Digital 5.1 and defaults to PCM. Here is strange thing - I find that once after playing a DTS movie in this TV Plex app then everything else plays as PCM Stereo. I have to go back and manually select Dolby Digital again in the TV for subsequently DD 5.1 videos afterwards (eg. playing back from AppleTV) or it defaults to PCM/Stereo in the TV optical out. Not sure if other TV apps have same affect. Keep this in mind that the settings may change if using the SmartTV apps. I checked all the sound settings and this is not fixable. Solution for now is to not use the SmartTV Plex app (I just was curious about it and how it worked on the TV anyways).

Hope this helps those who are having issues with Samsung TVs and Sonos Playbar.

BTW, I just added a Sonos sub and it makes a HUGE difference. Much more noticeable at home than the bad demo setup in Best Buy..
Hi guys,
I have the exact same problem with my setup but I cannot get this to work even with a HDMI splitter. I have a Samsung 6 series smart tv and Sonos Playbar. In order to get Dolby 5.1 from my cable box (or sky box), I have to connect the optical cable from cable box direct to the playbar. However, I like to use the tv in built apps like Netflix and Amazon video, but in order for me to get Dolby when using these services, I have to directly connect the optical from the player to the TV. So to prevent having to switch cables around the whole time, I bought an equivalent HDMI splitter with optical out hoping this would resolve my issue (its not exactly the same as the mono price switch but should do the same job)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Portta-Switcher-Toslink-Digital-Splitter/dp/B00DZIXIMQ

So I now have the setup like this:-

- HDMI cable from cable box (Sky box) going to HDMI input 1 on the HDMI splitter
- Playbar optical going to optical connection on the HDMI splitter
- HDMI cable going from HDMI 2 (Arc) on the tv to the Output on the splitter

Now I can get Dolby when using my Cable box using this setup however, as soon as I come to use Netflix or Amazon prime there is no sound output to the playbar. I have played around with the HDMI CEC settings on the tv (turned it on and off) and still it will not work. My question is, which switch number (1-4) do we have to have the HDMI splitter on to know it is to output the sound from the tv to the playbar? If I select HDMI 1 on the splitter it works for the cable box(sky) as this is what it is connected to but when we switch the tv to Netflix how does the splitter know which input to take the sound from to output to the playbar? (Sorry hope this makes sense).

Any help would be appreciated.
I have this same basic problem. However, my Samsung “Smart” TV has two HDMI ports (STB and DVI), and neither supports ARC, so I don’t think the Monoprice 7974 will help me. In order to (1) get 5.1 audio from my HDMI-connected DVR to my PLAYBAR, and (2) retain the 5.1 audio that my direct Toslink connection (TV out to Soundbar) is already providing for Smart TV apps and OTA/antenna channels, I assume I will need an HDMI switch that has at least one Toslink input (for connecting the TV’s optical out). Does that sound right? And could such a switch possibly exist (and still be available) for under $100? If so, I haven't found it yet.
I have my cable connected to the PLAYBAR which is fine. What stinks is I have to unplug the optical cable and use an optical coming from my DVD player very tie I watch a DVD. Also no volume from my TV when I use Internet TV Netflix. Totally sucks.
I have a Playbar, and a Samsung TV that won't pass through 5.1 from its optical out if the input is HDMI. Our Motorola cable box is connected to our TV using HDMI, and I want to get the 5.1 when I watch TV.

I've looked through the questions and answers posted here and elsewhere, and it seems like some people have used an HDMI switch from Monoprice with an optical out to get around this problem.  The suggestion is to connect the HDMI source to the HDMI switch, and the HDMI switch sends out the full 5.1 audio through the optical out and into the Playbar.  (I'll call this the "HDMI switch" approach.)  

The other approach is to connect the cable box's optical out directly to the Playbar.  (I'll call this the "cable box direct" approach.)  This works, but I don't like this approach because we leave our cable box on at all times, and when we turn off the TV, the Playbar still plays audio from the cable box, as the Playbar has no idea that the TV's been turned off.  It's an inconvenience that I don't want to have to deal with.  

Note that with either approach, there is no physical connection from the TV to the Playbar.  

Having said all that, the main issue for me is that we use the TV's built-in Netflix and Amazon Video apps.  If I went with the HDMI switch approach, then, when we watch Netflix, there will be no audio sent to the Playbar.  

I looked into HDMI switches and ARC (using ARC to send the Netflix audio back to the HDMI switch, then out to the optical out), but this doesn't seem like it's been tested.  

I also thought about using an optical out switch, where I could switch between optical out sources.  However, to do this, I would have to get an HDMI switch with optical out, then connect that optical output into the optical out switch, then to the Playbar.  That seems like a lot of work/money/effort.  

Any suggestions?  

How things work when you are playing from TV (ota channels). I have nvidia shield tv box+ Samsung box+sonos bar+sonos 1x2+sonos sub. Things work fine when played via tv directly (ota channels).
I dont get 5.1 out when playing via shield, does this solution will fix my issue?

Also how to switch audio between tv and shield using your solution?