Sonos Arc - Metallic Sound

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It’s so strange, why some have issues and some find it good.

Some people have ‘issues’ with soft sweet wine, and prefer a crisp dry. Some prefer processed cheese, others a mature Stilton. Apply same logic to sound. 


True, but people have these harsh bright issues, my yamaha ysp2700 was I would say, warm sounding, the ARC to me is warm sounding as well.


For about a month it sounded fantastic to me… then earlier this week I performed a Trueplay after updating to the latest version and suddenly it sounded tinny, weak, and metallic to me.  I did another trueplay and suddenly it sounded fantastic again - warm with a nice middle.

I think this is not a simple answer.  The performance of the Arc is especially sensitive to position and shape of the room, and in addition trueplay obviously is sensitive to the device perception of what it’s hearing (a complex speaker array may be adding to this sensitivity, along with device mic characteristics).

There was a video posted above where a reviewer showed how much better the bass performance is with the arc without the sub when using the wall to push the sound back towards the listener… but many have the arc in front of the TV and so aren’t using the wall.  Bass may be dissipating. 

It would be great if the results of trueplay were displayed, and then the user had a band equalizer to make fine adjustments.  It doesn’t go along with Sonos ‘simple’ philosophy, however it would alleviate confusion.

Userlevel 1

My Arc arrived last night, and sadly I too am suffering from this issue.

Upon performing Trueplay calibration with an iPhone XS, and firing up the speaker for the first time, I was extremely disappointed to hear the miserable sound quality. It’s like the midrange is totally absent, and the treble/presence is harsh and extremely exaggerated -- cymbals sound almost like static, “s” sounds cut through everything else, etc. It also sounded like the “center channel” was missing… the sound seemed too directional out of the hard left and hard right, rather than uniformly filling the room.

Arc is setup standalone, with no other speakers.

We previously had a Beam in this room, and the sound from that was so much better... full midrange, warmth, perfect balance. Hard to believe an $800 speaker with such glowing audiophile reviews could be so miserable in person. If this can’t be fixed, I’m going to return this thing.

Here’s the thing though… I’m suspicious that this metallic treble sound and missing midrange is a Trueplay bug, or a compatibility issue with certain iPhone models doing the calibration, rather than a flaw with the speaker itself. I re-calibrated Trueplay using my wife’s iPhone 11, and the sound quality is much improved. It’s still not as good as the Beam… the midrange is still off, and it sounds like the center channel is still missing, but the trashiness of the treble is much improved.

I’m tempted to try recalibrating with an iPad, just to see what happens, but I’m afraid of making it worse and not being able to get it back. I wish I could save different Trueplay calibrations.

@Ryan S please let me know how I can help the Sonos team fix this issue!

Userlevel 2

@GuitarSuperstar … Thanks for the reply. Yes it is connected via eARC. I bought a new OLED TV just for this system. It is set up exactly as it should be. There is NO reason that this dialogue issue should be present. From reading the forum its been a year and still no real response or fix from Sonos. This is not inexpensive gear and we should be getting more help from the makers than I am seeing here. Mine is going back.

I’ve owned over 6 bars and never experienced anything like this nonsense.

So, what type of audio am I getting from the Arc….lousy audio, that type ;-)

Just as an aside...I have noticed that rather than dealing with this issue Sonos just keep closing the many discussion threads concerning the subject. This thread is the exception seemingly. 

Having read through this entire thread, I think I am experiencing this exact problem. I normally don’t browse product forums for fear of technology hypochondria, but I came looking to see if anyone else was hearing things - turns out it isn’t just me! For me it is especially noticeable with speech and has a combination of the following qualities:

  • Overemphasised top end
  • Clipping in mid to top end
  • Lack of mid-tones
  • Speech is sometimes louder or quieter than expected (not well balanced) - a bit like a five year old has been given the dynamic range compression slider
  • “Crisp/chip packet scrunching”
  • More noticeable when at higher volume levels
  • I can hear a difference when TruePlay is turned off, but the Arc still experiences the above problems and I would describe the overall quality as worse without TruePlay.

I wondered if the Arc is enhancing any defects in the source material… as in any clipping or issues with the source is being enhanced by the overemphasised top end and not being masked due to the lack of mid-range.

Here is my setup:

  • Sonos Arc running version 12.1
  • Sonos rests on the glass “foot” of a desktop TV stand, and the TV stand rests on a heavy wooden media cabinet.
  • eARC over HDMI
  • LG C9
  • TruePlay with iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • Most content is played from Netflix and Amazon apps on the TV

Yesterday we watched “The Angriest Man In Brooklyn” and “Radioactive”, both of which exhibited the above issues. “The Angriest Man In Brooklyn” is not something I would recommend watching.

My initial setup was done very much as an inexperienced person would set it up - I plugged everything in, placed the Sonos where I wanted it, followed the TruePlay process like someone who hadn’t read 833 forum posts, and started watching TV.

Once the wife is awake and can tolerate loud noises, I will try a factory reset, TruePlay with an old iPhone 6s, and fiddling with the LG settings (I saw someone say Auto was better than Passthru).

This is a real shame - it took a while to convince my wife that upgrading from our Yamaha YSP-2200 was a good idea. I really wanted to love the Arc, it looks superb sitting in front of the TV. However I am finding listening to it a real embuggerance.

I am heartened that Sonos have been replying in this thread, I realise that software bugs do happen, I hope this can be fixed in software… but I bought my Arc from John Lewis and I will need to return it within a reasonable timeframe to be able to get a refund. I am concerned that that timeframe will be much shorter than the time available for Sonos to push a software fix.



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Hello @jkozlow3,

Home Theater audio and streaming music or Airplay music function very differently from each other.

To the best of my understanding this issue is only occurring with home theater audio which indicates a software issue rather than a hardware issue at this time.

If this has not been the case and any audio sourced from the Sonos app or other streaming audio services linked to Sonos was sounding equally bad, it would change the slant of our troubleshooting here.


@Jean C. 

Interesting - I was under the impression people were having issues with music playback as well (either via Airplay or the Sonos app) - not just via home theater audio. 


Hopefully folks will chime in as I know many people have indicated in the various threads here and on Reddit that their older Sonos devices (Playbar, Beam, etc.) sounded better for music as well.

Is there no answer to the Arc sound quality from Sonos? I received my Arc 7 days ago and am very disappointed with the harsh, tinny sound especially noticeable on TV speech. Some things actually sound better on the internal speakers of the LG TV. The only real improvement is in the bass which works well on music and Netflix films. For this amount of money I expected a lot more and its going to be returned to Sonos next week if I don’t find an answer.

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I can confirm that on my system I’m hearing low end issues on playback from streaming, music, and airplay. The midrange is lacking too, especially noticeable on music playback. I am VERY surprised to see that Sonos is just now realizing that everything is sounding bad. Please pay attention Sonos. Read the threads on your own forum. 

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@Krishma M Can you give us an update on this long on going issue with the Sonos Arc?

the highs being too high which sort of feels “harsh”. 

 Anyone else feels that Arc is over-emphasizing the highs with compromised mids?

Yes same here,  I am glad I am not the only one.  This will be hard to fix as I am guessing the ARC is purposely “tuned” in this way.  Also I think a lot of ppl will not even notice this if they don’t have a reference point to compare with. (eg. stereo system or other soundbar).

Userlevel 5
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Had my ARC for about 5 months. Have trueplayed with iPhone 11, iPhone 6s and older iPad.. still find the ARC to bright and lack of mid.. I also have a sub and rears. I sometimes find my Beam has a better overall sound upstairs. The ARC just sounds too Tin can sounding what ever I do. I had a Samsung Q90r before and that sounded much better, The sub wasn’t as good but the bar itself was much better.

@Krishma M any update on this 

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I’ll be happy if they just a a Center settings, in addition to Bass and Treble. 

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Here also flat metallic sound and missing mid range. Voices sound very low and ambient much louder.


i turned off Trueplay, this made the flat sound worse

Add me to the list of people with this problem.

New Sonos owner and not impressed, dialog in particular sounds terrible, too much emphasis on “S” sounds so a person can say.

“Sssonosss is sstill sssounding hissssy on viocessss”.

Have the full set, Arc sub, and 2x OneSL but my TV speaker actually reproduces voice more cleanly, why bother with this product when its so poor?

Userlevel 2

Can someone please test out The Office S4 Ep.19 at 30:30 when Michael sings Goodbye Toby. I am getting crackling/popping static sound pretty much through out the entire song. Is anyone else experiencing this?

Yikes! I confirm. i get crackling sounds. sounds pretty bad. 

I submitted the form and diagnosis . It is terrible, Beam never did this. If bass and this doesn’t get straightened out by my return window this thing is going bye bye. Arc should cost $499 even that is pushing it. How can a product be released like this. Such a fail.

I just tried this…. I could hear it clearly at higher volume.  Then I lowered the volume quite a bit and got near the speaker… I could still hear some popping/crackling.

THEN I went in the bedroom and pulled up the Beam and tried it…. and I could still hear the crackling.  Granted, it was more difficult to hear because the Arc is producing a greater dynamic range, but it was clearly there.

THEN I pulled out my Bose headphones, plugged them into my iPad, and did the same thing… I could clearly hear the popping/crackling.

I think the popping and crackling to an extent is part of the original soundtrack.  The joke is that he’s screaming into the microphone enough the tax their PA equipment.

I’m thinking in this case maybe the arc is doing a terrific job reproducing popping and crackling of PA equipment in a soundtrack.

Userlevel 1

My wife and I agree on this issue, I came from a Bose Soundbar 700. While I could notice more details in the movies, our first impression was that the sound is too thin and metallic like described in the post. I purchased 2x One SL and a Sub (gen 2) and I’m still debating if I should keep this system. I like the immersion it offers. I suspect based on the hardware available in the Sonos Arc a lot can be improved with software. Hopefully, we can get a more fuller sound. But I would definitely like to see  are settings available in Bose where the CENTER CHANNEL can be adjusted just like the Bose SB 700.  I think this could help with this issue by making speech more fuller. This is only for Movies and TV , not so much for music. 

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I would sincerely suggest anyone waiting for a 'fix' to move on, there is nothing to fix as this is how it is.

I don't like the sound either, it's horrible for music to my ears but this is how Sonos built the hardware and no amount of tuning with Truplay or software revisions is going to change that and life's too short to wait for something that'll never happen.

I received the Arc 5 days ago.  I went from a receiver and bookshelf/surround speakers to the Arc/Sub/One set.  My listening experience went from warm, full, rich and enjoyable to unpleasant and somewhat painful.

My previous setup sounded disciplined and focused - the sound appropriately filled the room.  The Arc setup sounds like a scattered mess with manic sound separation, including painful highs, and a tinny/metallic/echoey sound profile.

I read through the comments and tried running Trueplay from all of my ios devices (some older, some newer) and it still sounds echoey.  At this point, I have turned off Trueplay (to reduce the echoey effect), turned off the Sub (to bring back some of the mids to the Arc and to somewhat reduce the piercing highs) and have the treble turned all the way down.  Disappointing, to say the least.

I currently own 2 Play:1, 2 Play:3, 1 Five, 1 Amp and am pleased with the fullness, warmth and richness of these components.  I expected and hope for the same from the Arc, but it’s a mess.  I hope they plan to address the concerns expressed by many in a future software update.  Otherwise, I’ll need to return the Arc.  It’s not an enjoyable experience at all.

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Just an update on my end (I posted here a few days ago).  

After running trueplay with an iPad Air 2 (previously with latest iPad Pro 11”), I think the sound in the midrange improved, slightly less harsh and fuller, but still NOT where I’d like it to be. I have an iphone 6 sitting around I might try. I wish I had a professional mic to measure frequency response.

I can confirm that the issue definitely is present for streaming music and content via hdmi. I do not think it is related to the hdmi source (which is an LG C9 with earc enabled). Not sure where that idea originated. 

I have not had time to run a full diagnostic, but I can if it’s felt that information is actually helping. The thing is, I don’t see much reason to believe it is a ‘bug’ so much as the eq/tuning is just not resulting in a an accurate or pleasing sound. I feel you’d likely need a full range microphone recording to really diagnose. I’m hoping Sonos can potentially work with Rtings and/or other real-world testers to better understand what’s happening. 

I’m still seriously considering a return, and I’ve already had to caution friends who are thinking about diving into the Sonos ecosystem. There is still time to course-correct. 

I spoke with Sonos technical manager today. He said that Sonos is looking into the Bass issue. But wouldn’t confirm that they are looking into anything else. He said that the metalic sound and the high treble “non balanced” sound may just be how the arc is supposed to work. He didn’t quite say that but he would confirm it. He said if I don’t like the Arc sound that I should just return it and go back to the playbar. Which of course I can. He said they are destined differently and this may just be normal. He kept saying that in general Sonos will make updates to the software etc. 

This is unfortunate. Why would they tune the Arc completely differently than the Playbar, Playbase, and Beam that came before it? It sounds so obviously worse. There’s nearly 200 replies in this thread alone about it. And worse yet for Sonos, it sounds cheap. But as we all know, it certainly wasn’t.

The experience I’ve had with the Arc is damaging my brand loyalty and the part that’s most upsetting is we are all being super vocal about the issue and doing everything we can to help Sonos recognize it, taking to the proper forums where they want to host the discussion, scheduling calls with Support after waiting weeks for an email response, but yet they are increasingly silent in even admitting there’s an issue. At the end of the day, it feels like no real progress has been made here.

Userlevel 3

Been reading this thread with interest. I have 2 Arc’s - 1 in an open plan Family Room and the other in a seperate Media Room. Both have Gen 3 Subs as well  

I don’t have any metallic/harsh sound that is talked about in this thread. Or if I do, then I’m blissfully unaware. Both were Trueplay’d using an iPhone 11 Pro Max  I don’t find the sound too bright  

Actually I was so paranoid after reading everyone’s comments about Trueplay using latest iPhones and the bright sound, that I re-did it using an iPhone 7 in the Family Room - and suddenly I was getting the harsh SSSSS in vocals! So I re-tuned it again using my 11 Pro Max and then it went back to normal and the harsh SSSSS’s went away

So it would appear I have the opposite experience to others. All good with the latest iPhone, but worse with an older iPhone. Very strange. 

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The more I hear someone trying to justify the Arc's poor sound quality and making excuses for Sonos ,the more it makes me angry.  There is really no good reason to put out a new product, have many complaints and returns but offer no explanation what is wrong and what can or cannot be fixed.  I believe it is a hardware issue and Sonos doesn't know exactly what to do about it.  If it was only a matter of tweaking Trueplay it would have been done by now.

Userlevel 5
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Hi folks. The issue with the muddy or bottoming out bass from the Arc in a stand-alone configuration (no satellites or Sub) is no longer occurring so meaning with or without satellites and Sub should work perfectly now and that was fixed by the update on July 7th (build 58.1-78210).

We have another investigation with the Sonos Arc that our engineers are currently working on. That is for the customers reporting poor performance in the center channel / mid-range audio. Resulting in thin, tinny voices with sharp treble and harsh "S" sounds. Music played via TIDAL and Apple Music on the Apple TV 4K also have sharp/tinny voices whereas the instruments sound ok. Voices sometimes sound muffled, contained, not very forward but when they hit the highs and "S"s it is again too harsh.  I’m now tagging this thread with that current investigation so we can keep you all posted about it. We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding. We’re all doing our best here to catch up with all your concern and provide the best experience we can give to all our customers. Please let us know if there’s anything else we can help you with.

Good to know a staff from SONOS pointed out the issues and told us the engineers are working on it. :) Actually I’m fine with my setup now but of course we all want it to be better! Thanks Krishma!

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I think the Sonos company released the S2 app and Sonos ARC to quickly before it was ready for prime time. I don’t remember this happening with the Sonos beam. And, I suspect this has something to do with COVID-19 in rushing the product out there, before it was ready.

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Here you have it Sonos, this is the result of you’re “radio silence strategy”; customers returning the Arc…


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How is everyone getting on with the metallic sound? Did it get better over time? Did people return there Arc’s or have people kept hold of there Arc’s in hope for a software update to resolve this?

It doesn’t get better over time. Some shows are better than others. It’s not metallic per se, but that the highs are over pronounced while the mid-range a little thin. 

I am waiting for a fix. I still have faith in Sonos.  Personally, I find it difficult to believe that there is a wide-ranging hardware fault (Some people might disagree with this). Therefore, I have high hopes that a firmware fix will improve things. I just really want Sonos engineers to chime in on this and reassure us! 

I keep testing between my 2 year old SK9Y LG dolby atmos soundbar and the arc and the LG sounds better. The arc almost sounds as if its coming from the TV speakers, there is no depth to the sound & does sound very tinny compared to the LG.

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Ok, so I updated and trueplayed several times. Using iphone 11 pro for trueplaying results in a tinny and hollow sound that sounds terrible. The iPhone 6s produces a better sound signature, but I am still not happy with Arc’s sound signature. There is still a significant difference between trueplay attempts, and I had to do multiple rounds before I got a sound that was passable. However, in all cases the high frequencies are still too sharp, and the SSS sounds are too pronounced. I know that the S sounds are there, but I expect a better balance. When I A/B test scenes between Arc and airpods, the airpods give a much more enjoyable sound signature (the high frequencies are softer and nicer to hear).  

As an example, take the opening minute of Hamilton on Disney plus. The way the narrator says “silence all cellphones” is very bothersome when listened to on Arc, whereas when I use airpods it is much nicer sounding. 

This is what I mean the mics have issues. I listened to hamilton on the arc was saying OMG this is the tinny issue with the Sss this is bad! and then turns out my brother who know has my playbar said the same hting he noticed the Ssss too much and was bad. And I had to turn the treble down for hamilton. I didntr see other content that had this issue. But that turned out to be related to the mics used for that performance recording. And not the Arcs fault

Nope. Listen to this using earphones, and hear the difference. It’s massive.