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Sonos Arc - Metallic Sound


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Hi All.

It’s a relief that Sonos has identified the bug that’s causing the bass distortion in Sonos Arc. Thank you @Ryan S for working with the Sonos Communty to identify the problem quickly.

Having said this, I believe that Sonos still needs more work to make the Arc sound as it was advertised. Currently, multiple people on Reddit including myself are reporting the highs being too high which sort of feels “harsh”. This improve the speech clarity and brings out details in the movies, but the warmth in speech is lost because the voices sound thin and metallic (for eg. actors I know having heavy voices don’t sound heavy). I was expecting the mid-range to be a lot better considering the Arc has 8 woofers. 

I have tried TruPlaying twice without success (Turning TruPlay off produces muffled sound). Adjusting the treble also did not help much. Loudness turned on and off does not make a big difference either. May be, this is how the Arc is tuned?!

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

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Best answer by Scott - Sonos 3 July 2020, 00:56

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Ok, you guys are addressing this as a software issue. I hope it is. Might be. Might also be crap speaker elements and bad hardware in general. Money rules and this type of marketing rip offs has been seen many times. Arc is really bad at this point and I hope some tweaks with dsp or whatever will make it better..

I’m heavily invested into Sonos gear and love many of the products also still angry about the legacy stuff. Sonos, you got the hype, do it right. All the way. Please.

I agree. I updated from a Playbar to the arc and I like the the sound of the Playbar for music much more. The Playbar had a warmth with music.  The arc sounds very “tinny”. Lacks the midrange and has no warmth. I have tried many configurations: Moving the sub, adjusting the loudness, equalizer etc.  nothing has helped.  I like the clear dialogue for movies but the harshness in the music has me wanting more. 

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I’m definitely feeling this as well. There is a warmth and depth that seems to be missing in the Arc even when compared to the Beam.

BUT I’ve never had the the Beam and Arc in the same room so wasn’t sure what the dynamic was (the Arc is in a bigger, less enclosed room). But even when you sit close to the Arc and listen, something sounds off, when compared to the Beam.

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.

Note: Unfortunately, I’m also an Android user so cannot use TruePlay. That said, TruePlay wasn’t used on the Beam either.

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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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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!

Upgraded from the beam in a 5.1 setup and the only content that sounds better is either stereo mix older tv/movie content or Atmos content (although not as much as I would expect). 
 

Music is significantly inferior on almost every front even with the sub.

 

Truplay was run on an iPhone XS

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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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I do hope this gets the same attention as the bass problem. The harsh sound is actually causing more discomfort to me than the muddy bass. 

My family members have also feedback that the Arc sounds weird (i think they didn't want to say it's bad seeing how much I paid for it..)

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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

I hope so. I have loved my Sonos speakers. But for me it isn’t just music. Movies also feel a bit off, more shallow and, well, not quite metallic, but on the edge of it. Those same movies have more depth on the Beam.

And I am comparing:

  1. Arc, latest Sub and Play:3 rears versus
  2. Beam with One rears

(though to be fair, the Sub definitely has better low base depth)

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I can see what the authors of the posts are saying although it’s not hurting my ears. I just want Sonos to continue working on the new trueplay they developed specifically for the arc and upward firing speakers as well as the arc to get a familiar sound we have all come accustomed too.

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Just wanted to chime in as well, same issue that everyone else has described in detail. The highs sound super crisp to the point that it’s almost giving me a slight headache, and this is coming from someone who LOVES treble. I will say I didn’t notice this issue until after I Trueplayed with my iPhone 11 Pro Max. Turning it off and on makes a huge difference. You can immediately hear the tweeters make a crisp “ssssss” when flipping it back on. But while it’s off, it doesn’t exactly sound amazing either. It sounds muffled and less detailed, but nowhere near as harsh.

 

I’m coming from a Playbase in this same room and I have a Beam in another room. While the Arc undoubtedly has a wider sound stage that I am digging, it is totally missing the warmth that both the Beam and Playbase have. Something just isn’t right here because this doesn’t sound like a Sonos product to me.

 

Worth noting I have a 5.1.2 set-up here with Sub Gen 3 and Sonos Ones Gen 2 as rears.

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Seeing the same behavior. The mids on the Arc aren’t great even without TruePlay. 
 

Not specific to S2, even a few months ago in S1 I noticed that if I use an iPhone 11 Pro to tune a Playbar, the resulting audio is very treble heavy and tinny. Tuning it with an older iPad Pro worked a lot better. 
 

I suspect there is some issue where maybe the newer iPhones are processing the mic input in a way that doesn’t work well with TruePlay. 

Is it weird for not having complaints? Maybe I'm too average to hear the issues….and no… I'm not deaf :)

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I want to echo everyone else’s concerns and say I notice the same too. It was so bad that I wondered if one of the speakers was blown and was going to send it back. It sounds like the vocal speaker is gone. Sounds awful particularly at high notes when people are talking. Thank god I am not the only one. But agree it needs sorting. I do not have the bass issue as have a sub but I think this issue is equally important...it sounds like the product is faulty!

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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.

 

Suggests different frequency response at upper treble range from the various iPhone models:

https://signalessence.com/can-you-use-an-iphones-internal-microphone-for-acoustic-testing-and-accurate-recordings/

 

 

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Had a demo of this at Richer Sounds yesterday and me and the sales person both agreed that the ARC sounded tinny. I went home and listened to the same demo content on my beam and sounded better!. fingers crossed this gets looked into before I purchase.

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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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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. 

Agreed. Control over the center channel to make the speech fuller would be great if Sonos doesn’t want to fix the issue themselves. This way, we can increase the treble a bit to bring details out of the ambient sound without making the vocals thin and tinny.

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I have the same issue, and the harshness gives me a buzz. As much I want to keep the ARC these issues are not helping. Its too bright,metallic sounding. 

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I have the same issue, and the harshness gives me a buzz. As much I want to keep the ARC these issues are not helping. Its too bright,metallic sounding. 

For now, I have applied the band-aid called truplaying with iPad. Vocals still sound tinny to me. This is bad especially when Sonos said - “Arc was carefully tuned with the help of Oscar-winning sound engineers to emphasize the human voice so you never miss a word.” and “Featuring eleven high-performance drivers for crisp highs, dynamic midranges, and surprising bass.”

just got the arc yesterday and hear the same thing as everyone else. thin vocals and lacking mids. 

Just wanted to throw my experience into this too.  I am experiencing the same ‘tinny’ and ‘metallic’ sounding vocals with my ARC as well.  I have a Beam in the other room and it definitely sounds more warm and fuller than the ARC.  I’m not an expert on this audio stuff but I can hear a big difference between my ARC and Beam. Hope this helps.

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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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It’s definitely a software issue. I don't see a reason why Arc should have thin, tinny vocals since the center channel has one tweeter and 2 woofers. I think Sonos just decided to pack all the hardware it needs to make it sound great but decided to release half-baked product thinking they will fix all the software issues later. Usually done to meet the deadlines. Though this does not explain all the positive reviews. 

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**Updated edit**
 

So I think I figured it out. Spent a lot of time on this.

Its as if the “virtual surround sound” is tuned too high. Think about a cheap sound bar and you select the “virtual surround button.” It creates a “room filling” sound but this also why people are explaining the sound is irritating especially with music. You hear too much of it thus missing out on the warmth and depth of mods. I suspect people with a large room where sound doesn’t bounce off walls don’t have this problem which explains the differing view points.

 

Even when I pair the sub and surrounds I still feel like the arc is trying to do too much electronically to fill the room. Let the speaker do the talking and back down the algorithm for emphasizing “virtual surround sound” 

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