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Sonos Arc - Metallic Sound



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Just purchased the ARC. Using it primarily for movies or shows.   Dialogue seems thin or without midrange.  Basically like there is no warmth to the voice.  And perhaps an even bigger issue is the soundstage sounds “weak”.   Most voices seem contained like in a little box and trapped in the speaker.  Every now and again the soundstage improves in a scene or two but kinda few and far between.   Have messed witht the treble and bass controls and they don’t seem to do too much.  

Looks like this is similar to some others.  Has Sonos come up with a fix??

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TLDR: something was off with the HDMI handshake between devices. This caused distorted audio from Apple TV to Arc. Resetting the TV fixed this. Arc sound much improved, still harsher than I would like. 

Intro and bottom line: Arc still sounds harsher than I like, but I discovered an odd problem that once fixed, improves the situation somewhat. Again - harshness is still there, and I am eagerly waiting for a fix, but I want to share this with you, should you also be affected.

Setup: Sony X850E, Apple TV 4K on HDMI2, Arc on HDMI3. The TV does not have eArc. I only stream data from Apple TV; I do not use any of the TV’s built in apps. Apple TV is audio setting is set on convert to Dolby Digital 5.1. 
 

The problem: I played this simulated Atmos demo from youtube, which supposedly compares stereo with Atmos sound. There’s this ball jumping from left to right, with sound following it. Well, whenver the ball was on the right side, there was no sound! This was clearly a problem. At first I figure my Arc was defective. However, when I airplayed sound to the Arc, the right channel was coming through loud and clear. I switched the Apple TV to HDMI4, and suddenly the right channel was working again! This is not a viable solution, as HDR is only possible on HDMI2. To solve this, I reset the TV to factory setting and now HDMI2 works perfectly. 
 

Technical note: throughout all of this, HDMI CEC was working perfectly: volume control was good, as was turning off and on all devices.
 

 

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The Sonos ARC sounds terrible !! I’m following this topic for 4 months. No answer from Sonos after all. 
 

I’m wondering if Sonos is actually reading this topic..

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I was on the phone yesterday with tech support and he had me send in the diagnostics from the Sonos app. He said it came back with some bad “bashes”, he would not elaborate, but obviously it is not performing like it should, but I still have a feeling this has nothing to do with the tinny lack of bass. I am afraid this is a hardware and not a software problem :( I am so bummed, I was really looking forward to this being a great speaker, but when I go back to my Playbar, which I still have, I get more bass and a fuller sound. I was doing my best to sell my wife on the fact that it would be great to have this new speaker which costs a lot, but alas, playing the Arc is not helping. And music through it is just awful! The dialogue on movies with the Arc is a bit better, but to loose the lows is a non starter. My setup has the sub and to Sonos Ones as well. 

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Because Sonos has also admitted that this problem has been recognised by themselves.

 

6 Months ago.

@Krishma M 

“Hi folks! Just to let you know that we have received the reports and working on resolving this. We’ll surely let you know once the fix has been done. Appreciate all your patience. If you any other concerns, please let us know. Thanks!” 

 

all the time I was hoping that this was indeed resolved by an update. I have multiple Sonos products. So still had confidence that it would be fixed….

 

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It’s not the HDMI cable causing the issue people.

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As one of the earlier people reporting this issue, I thought I’d offer an update on my experience.

Initially, I found the ARC very harsh, ‘tinny/metallic,’ and lacking midrange. My original post describes it in more detail. After recalibrating with an ‘old’ iphone 6, it was better, but not as good as I thought it could be. After the 12.1 update, I retuned with my 11” iPad Pro (2018), and made sure NOT to move around the room, but just wave the iPad around the couch area, it was at least AS good, but seemed slightly less harsh than the iphone 6 tune. 

After living with the arc for 4+ months, I am satisfied with the sound, and DO think it’s better on all metrics than the Beam. I still have the Beam, and recently played with it a bit and I’m reminded that, while it definitely emphasises midrange more, it really lacks detail in the high end, and the soundstage is dramatically smaller. 

I don’t listen to much music on this system, and when I do, it’s mostly for background/ambiance. If I were focused on music, with TV secondary, I would not recommend the Arc. But it does a pretty dang good job with home theater. I no longer find it distractingly harsh, but I admit that’s just as likely due to my ears/brain adapting as any changes Sonos has made.

Things I would like to see change in order of likelihood:

  1. Sonos could provide more control over the sound profile of a tuned system. My preference would be some kind of ‘advanced’ mode that shows you the eq settings it had detected, and let you customise them a bit. Let people who understand sound, and know their preferences, take more control. AND all eq settings should be able to be saved separately for music vs. tv playback.
  2. Sonos could allow adding left/right main speakers to a surround setup. I would LOVE to spend the money on two Fives to add as main left/right. I could get a bigger soundstage, more punch in the mids, and the arc could be freed up to focus on center/height/virtual-surround). For stereo music, I would want JUST the Fives and the sub to be active. 

 

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Glad it's working good for u. 10 pages back and you can see that the Sonos team has sort of acknowledged the problem and looking at a fix. Let's hope the upcoming beta testing is able to address the concerns raised here.

Hi,

Glad it’s not just me.

Sold my previous full surround setup yesterday and was so excited.

Everything so far has tinny vocals, not sure what to do ☹️
 

Did truplay via iPhone 11 Pro, non wall mounted. 

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When I first bought the Beam late last year, I was very impressed with the sound. When I turned on the Arc, I just felt like something was missing.

 

Yes, that was exactly my feeling!

 

I have beams in 2 other rooms and much prefer listening to music on them.

 

I am sure it will get sorted

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@Jean C. I’m a bit different here… I’m new to the forum, have just replaced a $5000 full dolby atmos/surround system with the Arc (in order to appease my wife by simplifying the living room)…. and for some reason have zero problems.  Sounds amazing.

HOWEVER, I was playing around with the Dolby Atmos app on my XBox One, which has Atmos demos in it, and found a single demo that seems to highlight a harsh, metallic sound in the sibilance of the woman narrators voice that I didn’t hear in my prior system.  Mind you… this is the ONLY example I’ve had with my Arc so I thought it might be helpful.

  • What is the source of the media that is being played (TV app, external streaming device, cable, broadcast, DVD/DVR)?   XBox One.
  • What volume lever do you experience the issue?  Almost all volumes
  • Is the Arc wall-mounted?  No
  • If wall-mounted, does removing the speaker from the wall bracket and setting it on a credenza or table improve the issue? N/A
  • Is Trueplay configured on the Arc? Yes

In order to replicate, add the “Dolby” app onto an XBox One, and under “Demo Content” choose “Atmos Explainer”.  The highs in the sibilance are pretty harsh.

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Just recently found this thread, would anybody be so kind to summarise this thread up for me so i don't have to read through all the 418 replies haha. Is there a solution to the metallic sound or anything that helps/reduces it?

 

No - not for those affected by the issue.  Sonos has been pretty silent on the issue as well.  There may or may not be a hardware issue/bad batch as some people don’t seem to be having any issues/complaints whatsoever.  Others think all the issues can be fixed with software updates.

Bottom line is - your guess is as good as anyone’s at this point!

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Having the exact same issue. I believe there’s an issue with the Trueplay calibration when done via an iPhone (at least me and my husband's iPhone 11). Tries tuning with a first-generation iPad Pro and the results were much better. That incredibly harsh, metallic trebly heavy sound is gone. Can anyone else see if this works better for them? 

@Heilo the Dog I noticed the exact same thing. TruPlay done with iPad Pro did bring down those harsh trebles, albiet with compromised details. Then I redid the TruPlay again with my iPhone XS, and no surprise - the harsh and metallic treble came back. I plan to repeat this process multiple times to validate our hypothesis.

 

So I repeated the Truplay again with both iPad Pro and iPhone XS. I can confirm that harsh trebles go away with iPad Pro Truplay, though it does not sound as detailed and clear. Vocals sound like they are using mask. iPhone Truplay did bring the clarity back, but the “highs are too high” scenario came back with lacking mid-ranges. 

I think the enhanced truplay that Sonos is implementing might be a culprit here. This is specifically affecting iPhones. @Ryan S Can you forward this to the team if you think it’s worthwhile? Thanks!

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Ok I fixed it! So I trueplay tuned again but this time I did not move around the room. I just sat in my tv viewing spot and moved the phone around. And perfection!

 

and this was with an iPhone XS

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Some users are happy with their Arc setups. That’s great and I am happy for them. Other users, me included, find their Arc setups lacking. I have a full 5.1 setup with Arc, Suc, and two Sonos ones, and I experience the harsh S issue and the hollow sound. This ruins the listening experience for me.

Users also report that moving Arc helps, or that Trueplay with older iOS devices helps. Additionally, there are specific Trueplay “dances” that users recommend.   

From the above facts, here is what I think is happening:

  1. Sonos Arc was tuned at the factory to a certain room size and shape. Testing was probably done for a limited number of scenarios, and for them it works well.
  2. Trueplay also assumes certain factors about a room, such as (maybe) symmetry, wall material, etc. 
  3. Thus, there are problems if people have different room setups that cause distorted sound signatures. For example, in my TV room: the Arc is on a cerdenza near a reinforced concrete wall. Across from it ( about 4.5 meters) is another concrete wall. To its left (looking at it from the sofa) is a big glass doorway, and to its right is an empty space (for the dining area and kitchen). Ceilings and floor are both reinforced concrete, and there are no rugs or anything of the sort. This is very different to what you may find in North America, and perhaps differs significantly from the settings Arc was optimized for. 

Now, the above *is* a problem, and Sonos should fix it. Could it be that due to Covid19 less testing was performed? Sonos, please address thus issues! Also @Scott - Sonos @Jean C. @Krishma M and others at Sonos: please don’t let us hang dry, and give us some intermittent updates. Keep us in the loop! 

As for some users on this thread: I am ecstatic that you are not experiencing problems. That’s great for you. This does not mean that “everything is fine” and that other users must be imagining things. Believe me, I am not imagining that the sound is problematic and worse. As someone who loves their Sonos setup, I want to just be happy with it. Instead, I am constantly A/B testing with other speakers. The effect of these problems is to make me, a frequent Sonos buyer, doubt my system and start considering other alternatives. Today, Sonos Arc is frustrating; once the sound problem is fixed, my Sonos system will once again bring me great joy. 
 

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Come on Sonos! I have the arc 5.1 system and it is by far the worst 5.1 system I have ever owned. I have reverted to just using my TV speakers as the dialogue is clear. I spent $1700 on this system and I’m way outside the return window. I definitely feel like Sonos RAPED me here. before the arc I had the beam and thought that sounded pretty terrible for the price so like an idiot I upgraded to the arc thinking that throwing more money at the system would solve the problem. It did not. I think that Sonos just makes a terrible sound bar altogether i guess. I have been listening to this thing for seven months and I have never hated watching movies more than when I turn on my TV and have to listen to this POS. If this is something fixable by a software update why the hell hasn’t SONOS fixED this yet? Anyone stating the sound is good or even reasonable for the price is either insane, deaf, or working for SONOS. 

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The video is very interesting. It’s a bit frustrationg to spend $800 on a product that doesn’t work as advertised and the fix is to buy another another $700 product????

I don’t doubt the sub is a nice product but one reason I spent more on the Arc was to not have to buy a sub. 

 

 

Don’t think the sub fixes it. I have a sub and my arc sounds terrible

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So, I see the post on the home page about a “Clarity upgrade” for the Arc. After 40 pages of complaints about the sound quality, especially the rampant sibilants, I am starting to reconsider my planned October purchase of an Arc+sub+surrounds.

Has this newly hatched upgrade helped anyone who has had this problem? Should I stay or should I go?

Last post here in the thread (before yours) was a month ago, so maybe that helps to answer your question?… if not, just stick around anyway.😀

You’ll always find those in support and those against, but the real answer here is to just try things for yourself, as there is a Sonos 100-day returns policy and money back guarantee in any case.

Yep, last post here was a month ago alright, but I just got here! I expect to stick around!😊

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@Jean C. I’m a bit different here… I’m new to the forum, have just replaced a $5000 full dolby atmos/surround system with the Arc (in order to appease my wife by simplifying the living room)…. and for some reason have zero problems.  Sounds amazing.

HOWEVER, I was playing around with the Dolby Atmos app on my XBox One, which has Atmos demos in it, and found a single demo that seems to highlight a harsh, metallic sound in the sibilance of the woman narrators voice that I didn’t hear in my prior system.  Mind you… this is the ONLY example I’ve had with my Arc so I thought it might be helpful.

  • What is the source of the media that is being played (TV app, external streaming device, cable, broadcast, DVD/DVR)?   XBox One.
  • What volume lever do you experience the issue?  Almost all volumes
  • Is the Arc wall-mounted?  No
  • If wall-mounted, does removing the speaker from the wall bracket and setting it on a credenza or table improve the issue? N/A
  • Is Trueplay configured on the Arc? Yes

In order to replicate, add the “Dolby” app onto an XBox One, and under “Demo Content” choose “Atmos Explainer”.  The highs in the sibilance are pretty harsh.

Id advice you take a diagnostic report shortly after playing this content (less than a few mins) and inclyde it in your report

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Meanwhile at Sonos headquarters..” Sh*t, this topic about tiny, harsh treble isn't dying out by itself...what to do? keep silent or not?….”

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Interesting video about treuplay on the Arc and boosting the higher frequencies causing “metallic sound”  

 

Could Sonos boost the higher frequencies on purpose, so the atmos en surround effects of the Arc work better? Since higher frequencies bounces better of walls and ceilings? If so, this explains why the are ignoring this topic as it is “By design” 

@Sonos if it is “by design”, please tell us, so each of us can decide if the Arc is the right product them. If not give of some info regarding a fix!

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Agreed. I can mitigate somewhat by dialing treble down manually, but it’s definitely messed up. Sounds almost like a “hollow” speaker housing- someone else mentioned a laptop, I’d say it’s like one of those super cheap Bluetooth portable speakers or a bad outdoor speaker (you know, the ones designed to look like rocks). Performed TruePlay on iPhone 11 Pro.

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No. Dialing back the treble does not only turn down the higher frequencies but also the mids. Which result in a bad sounding speaker. 
 

if we had control over a full equalizer than we could do something. 

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I agree. Mine just sounds off and not what I expected at all - especially after listening to so many other Sonos products over the years. Being that Sonos is reluctant to help with with an RMA at the moment I still have mine. I’m going to wait to see what happens with next week’s update for the bass issue and then make a final decision on a return. 

Oops. I accidentally tagged your answer as the best. don't know how to fix it. @Ryan S

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@Jimothy My Arc/Sub/Play:1s setup sounds fantastic to my ears, and the majority of users love their Arc. Rather than complaining and hoping for a “fix” for something that isn’t broken, you should sell your system and find something you can enjoy. No one is forcing you to own a Sonos Arc. Cut your losses and move on. Life is too short to be angry over a speaker.

 

I paid $1700 and it does not perform as advertised or even reasonably for the price.  I have every right to be upset and complain. I cannot return it and even if I sell it I can’t get anywhere near the money back for it. People settling for a sub par system For such a high price such as the arc Are the reason this crap happens. This is a subpar system at best I have heard $200 LG and Samsung sound bar sound better than this thing. Like I stated I have resorted to using my TV speakers which deliver clearer dialogue. How about you stop putting out false information like this system sounds good... There are people that read these comments and are going to go out and buy the thing like I did. Do you work for sonos? Also this is the correct forum in which one would voice their grievances with the product. 

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