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Sonos Arc - Metallic Sound


Userlevel 6
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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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Userlevel 3

For some reason my ARC sounds EXTREMELY thin and tinny sounding. Very metallic sounding. Vocals are really awful right now and really hurt my ears. I really have no idea what is going on. It’s like the sound bar has 0 mid bass and has maxed out treble. I have the Sonos Sub as well and it is very good but the sound bar really sounds awful right now with music. I have tuned my room and kept settings at flat. Has anyone else ran into this?

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.

Userlevel 5
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Hello all,

I can appreciate your frustration with any ongoing audio quality issues you are having with your Sonos Arc.

If you have updated your Sonos software and are still having issues, the questions that @Smilja linked to are still highly relevant. To work out a solution for this we will need some data from those of you that are experiencing this mid-range audio quality issue. This information will help us determine if this is an isolated or widespread experience and if it is due to hardware or software.     

  • What is the source of the media that is being played (TV app, external streaming device, cable, broadcast, DVD/DVR)?  
  • What volume lever do you experience the issue?
  • Is the Arc wall-mounted?
  • If wall-mounted, does removing the speaker from the wall bracket and setting it on a credenza or table improve the issue?
  • Is Trueplay configured on the Arc?

A diagnostic confirmation number from your system while the Arc is playing is key to getting the right information to work towards a solution. You can find information on submitting a diagnostic report here.

If possible, please make a photo where Arc is located and reply to this along with your diagnostic confirmation number. 

Hello everyone. I’m a product manager at Sonos. Thank you for sharing your experiences with Arc. The development team is monitoring this community and listening to your feedback. 

As we do with all Sonos products, we’ll continue to improve the experience for Arc through numerous software updates into the future. Last week we issued our first update (12.0.1) to fix a bug some customers were experiencing with low-frequency distortion at higher volumes. 

If you have specific music tracks or timestamps for TV shows and movies that you want to bring to our attention, please use this form. It is helpful if you can submit a diagnostic when you’re listening to the content. Instructions for doing so can be found here.

Userlevel 2

Agree on this one. Upgraded from beam to arc and the best way to describe it is thin… like laptop speakers that get irritating when turning up. Yes soundstage is wider and there is some vocal depth but it’s not warm and its tiny sounding. I know the bass issue which was one thing but eq on the mids is off. the beam when listening to Phil Collins is more warm with better vocal depth making you want to turn it up. Wife picks beam every time in blind music tests and that’s a problem.  I’m hoping this is just an eq issue but something is off here on the midrange. 

Userlevel 5
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@Paul A @Kyle A @Krishma M 

 

Hello could one of you give us an update on this thread, we need to know if this issue is being worked on? When we could see an update etc etc ?

thanks

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! 

Userlevel 2

It’s refreshing to see reviews confirming the bass/tin sound issues that the users have been experiencing: Rtings Review

Userlevel 3
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I can confirmed this is the same case for me.

I spend most of the times using the Arc for watching films and TV shows. Dialogues are harsh/sharp and metallic sounding. At times it sounds like it’s coming from a laptop speaker. Music fares better, but still poses the same problem. 

Generally, the sound is uncomfortable to listen at mid to high volume, even causing discomfort to my ears sometimes. Hopefully the Sonos team can look into this.

Userlevel 2
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Thank you for opening this thread, I wanted to open one but kept procrastinating. 

  1. Everybody talks about the bass issues ( alright yes that is an issue)
  2. My point is its not just the bass issue overall Sonos Arc and even the Sub does not sound right
    1. Arc has a very metallic tone, too crisp and harsh to the hears its like having 100% Treble and only the tweeters are working.
    2. Arc lower volume is really low and cannot hear any voice, with enhancing voice yes I do hear it better but why do I want to do that unless its night time and I am having a very low volume level
    3. Arc sound is not balanced and something is off, I am still wondering why no acknowledgement on this from Sonos
  3. Sonos Sub Gen 3 - No comments, personally previous Sub gen 2 performed better, but I am not able to tell what is the difference in this sub since low frequencies are always difficult to measure.

Yes, I have tried different EQ settins, trueplay, my living room is well laid out with carpet, paintings, couch etc so room acoustics are fine. I had LG SJ9 sold it just after getting the Sonos ARC and now regretting. The LG SJ9 for its cost sounded much better (of course the bass was thin in that)

I have 30 more days before I could return I think in the US the return period is only 45 days. So if Sonos does not comment back or reply to my emails. Both Arc + Sub goes back. I am totally disappointed.

Userlevel 7
Badge +26

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

Ohhh. I dunno either! 

I fixed it.

 

Thanks for the feedback everyone. The team is very focused on the bass issue right now, but I’ve flagged this with them too. I’ll let you know if there’s any news to share.

Userlevel 3
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Recently set up a brand new Arc and Sub 3.0 and something is not sounding right.  Coming from a Playbase, Play 5, and several Play 1s around the house, the sound is metallic, tinny, unbalanced, lacking any midrange or full sound that I’ve come to love from Sonos.

I’m aware of the current issue with standalone Arc bass response but there is an issue with Arc + Sub as well that needs to be resolved.  Hoping the Arc bug fix will remedy how Arc performs with the Sub paired next week.

Is anyone else experiencing this same issue with Arc + Sub set up??

Userlevel 5
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For me, it’s not just via HDMI, Music also sounds EQ’d to sound very top end heavy and tinny.

 

The Sound profile, from an EQ perspective it more towards what I would expect from built in TV speakers. I expect a sound bar to sound richer and more pleasant. Playbar sounded great as did Beam. Beam had a more narrow soundstage, but given its size that would be expected.

 

Arc sssoundsss like it isss EQ’d with all the high midsss emphasssissed sssso all the harsssshnesss get to be a bit grating ….. the sssame way built in ssspeakersss do. (You get the point)

 

which is one of the reasons people buy external sound bars, yes it is louder that the built in speakers and has surround, but the EQ or sound profile on Arc sounds way thinner and “cheaper” to my ears than Playbar and even Beam.

 

i still have 2 Beams and prefer to listen to music on them than Arc.

 

I love Sonos, have lots of your kit and believe in your products….. there is just something too harsh and cheap sounding about Arc.

 

To be clear, my expectations were not for Arc to be a full pro cinema experience. Given the price, size and reviews I expected Playbar with Atmos. It does not sound anywhere near as pleasing with movies as Playbar or Beam.

 

I really do believe it is an EQ and maybe Phase issue…. I believe you can sort it

Userlevel 1

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 husbands 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. 

Userlevel 6
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Sonos…..If you are hearing, I would like to meet the people from your marketing team touting “Arc was carefully tuned with the help of Oscar-winning sound engineers to emphasize the human voice so you never miss a word.

Please give us control over the center channel. We can definitely do better than those sound engineers you worked with.

Userlevel 2
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I just want to add my voice here. I upgraded from the Beam to the ARC (with sub + play1 rears).

I felt immediately, and have continued to feel (after waiting for my ears to adjust), that the ARC sounds thin. Midrange just feels empty, with our without trueplay active.

In terms of my preferences and experience - I have owned several home theater systems, some of which were very high end ($10k+). I LIKE very detailed (aka bright, for some) speakers, having often preferred ribbon-based tweeters (Gallo Ref3s most recently). I’ve also owned and preferred very flat headphones, like the Audeze LCD2s.  All that is just to say that I know what a flat frequency response should sound like, and while the Beam may have been overly warm at times, the ARC seems just dead. 

I was actually pretty happy with the beam’s sound overall for the price, but wanted atmos and a bigger soundstage. The ARC definitely delivers on those aspects, and I think the high-end is quite nice and detailed, so I tend to think this can be fixed with better eq. I’m holding off on a return until Sonos has a chance to address these concerns.

While I respect what Trueplay is doing, especially the simplicity of it, I would really like more control to ‘tweak’ it. At the very LEAST add a mid-range slider alongside the bass/treble. Better would be some kind of advanced mode for trueplay that exposes some of what it’s done, and let us move the needle a bit in terms of certain frequencies. 

 

Edit - I’ve seen reports of using older ios devices for Trueplay, which I will try. I also realized that you can probably ‘fake’ a midrange adjustment by just turning down both bass and treble in equal amounts, so I’m going to play with that too. 

Userlevel 3

Same issue here. I will copy what I posted on Reddit. 

My ARC sounds EXTREMELY thin and tinny sounding. Very metallic sounding. Vocals are really awful right now and really hurt my ears. I really have no idea what is going on. It’s like the soundbar has 0 mid-bass and has maxed out the treble. I have the Sonos Sub as well and it is very good but the soundbar really sounds awful right now with music. I have tuned my room and kept settings at flat.

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. 

Userlevel 2

@Jean C. Thanks for the reply! Understand it is a difficult time for you guys and really appreciate everything you are doing to help make top notch products.

 

Below is my information:

  • What is the source of the media that is being played (TV app, external streaming device, cable, broadcast, DVD/DVR)?  
    • Apple TV 4K connected via eARC to Sony A8H
    • Sonos Arc + 2 x One SL for rear surrounds, no sub
    • Netflix: The Crown Season 3 Episode 2 & 6 with 5.1 output
    • Netflix: The Witcher with Dolby Atmos
    • Apple TV rented movies: Mission Impossible Fallout with Dolby Atmos
    • Apple TV rented movies: Kung Fu Panda 1/2 with 5.1 output
    • Apple TV rented movies: Darkest Hour with 5.1 output
  • What volume lever do you experience the issue? up to 50% volume, have not gone beyond 50% since I am in an apartment building
  • Is the Arc wall-mounted? no, on TV stand below TV, Arc on flat surface and is situated near the edge of the stand with minimal protrusion
  • 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
    • Tuned Trueplay several times with iPhone X and 2018 iPad Pro 11
    • Living room is rectangular (longer along the wall that TV sits on), dimensions are about 25 feet x 15 feet
    • distance from Arc to viewing position is about 11 feet
    • tried multiple walking patterns:
      • stayed within a 5 feet x 5 feet box of couch
      • walked entire room
      • patterns above + sweeping area directly around the Arc (top / sides / front)
    • seems like 2018 iPad Pro 11 tuning is resulting in slightly warmer dialogue, but there is still thinness, tinny voices with sharp ‘S’’s in the center channel that were not present prior to the upgrade -- voices were full, rich, warm and center prior to the update

Diagnostic number (running 5.1 output): 1689969690

Diagnostic number (running Dolby Atmos): 858732726

 

Let us know if there is any more we can help test and thanks to the folks in this community for working together to collect data.

 

 

Userlevel 4
Badge +6

Sonos: any updates on this issue?

Userlevel 6
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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.

 

Userlevel 3
Badge +1

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.

Ya. They’ve lost lots of goodwill with me. My impressions was that they made great quality stuff. But now it just seems trial and error. Last week they released new firmware for the bass but that still didn’t fix the issue and they are back trying to fix it. Just throwing darts at a board. I feel like we bought a kickstarter project. 

Userlevel 3

I’d like to add that I’m also having this issue. Certain voices seem to emphasize the issue greater than others. John Oliver’s for example also makes it sound as if the tweeter is blown.  Glad this issue is flagged but currently I’m disappointed with the Arc. 

Userlevel 2

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.

Userlevel 3
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 Quotes from Rtings Review 

“The stereo frequency response of the Sonos Arc soundbar is mediocre. It lacks bass, and because of its overemphasized treble, it sounds bright and a bit piercing.”

“The stereo dynamics of this soundbar are quite sub-par. The bar can get very loud, which is nice, but there's noticeable compression in both the bass and treble ranges.”

 

@Jean C. Hope the Sonos team do look into the above concerns. There are also test results provided in their review, if that helps.

Userlevel 5
Badge +16

Hello all,

While we are aware that some are experiencing or have experienced audio issues with their Arc,we are working on it but I do not have an update for you at this time.

If you are experiencing a thin, tinny quality in your audio that I see that some are describing as “cheap radio” sound, I would encourage you to test playback through a streaming music service of your choice and then make an audio or recording on your mobile phone or camera. Then reach out to us directly so that we can log the issue and evaluate the units on an individual level.

For those that have already exchanged your units, did this resolve the audio quality issue? 

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