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Sonos Beam - how to get Netflix 5.1?


I'm looking to add the Sonos Beam to my two Sonos Ones in order to get a surround sound while watching Netflix. It doesn't look like any of the current streaming devices (Chromecast, Roku, Amazon, my Sony x720E TV) allow me to do that, as they output DD+ and the Beam only accepts DD.

To me, this seems like such a basic use case for this device. Do any of you have a suggestion how I could make it work?

Happy to buy the Beam today, but need to know that I can use it for the advertised use case 🙂
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Best answer by Paulw123 4 July 2018, 11:41

Ryan says your tv will downgrade DD+ to DD with hdmi handshake?
From beam thread:-
"The Beam will play stereo PCM, multiple channels beyond that won't be played. With HDMI-ARC, a handshake with your TV will assure that Dolby Digital 5.1 is sent for the best sound when your source is in Dolby Digital Plus or Dolby Atmos."
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Userlevel 2
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Xbox one or apple TV 4k allow you to force Dolby digital essentially and it works great with the other products so I see no reason it won't work with the beam.
Userlevel 7
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Ryan says your tv will downgrade DD+ to DD with hdmi handshake?
From beam thread:-
"The Beam will play stereo PCM, multiple channels beyond that won't be played. With HDMI-ARC, a handshake with your TV will assure that Dolby Digital 5.1 is sent for the best sound when your source is in Dolby Digital Plus or Dolby Atmos."
Ryan says your tv will downgrade DD+ to DD with hdmi handshake?
From beam thread:-
"The Beam will play stereo PCM, multiple channels beyond that won't be played. With HDMI-ARC, a handshake with your TV will assure that Dolby Digital 5.1 is sent for the best sound when your source is in Dolby Digital Plus or Dolby Atmos."
Thank you very much, that sounds promising! Will buy it on the 17th, test it and report back here.
Ryan says your tv will downgrade DD+ to DD with hdmi handshake?
From beam thread:-
"The Beam will play stereo PCM, multiple channels beyond that won't be played. With HDMI-ARC, a handshake with your TV will assure that Dolby Digital 5.1 is sent for the best sound when your source is in Dolby Digital Plus or Dolby Atmos."
Thank you very much, that sounds promising! Will buy it on the 17th, test it and report back here.


so how it went?
Yeah, how did it go? I'm cocnered you will be losing up to 10x the audio information on the transcoding of DD+ to DD
Userlevel 3
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It works just fine for DD+ as well as TrueHD and Atmos.
Userlevel 1
This does not work if using Roku Ultra 4K, for Netflix or any other streaming service - very disappointing
Userlevel 3
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You will need to ensure all settings are correct, and if optical it may not work (especially if the TV doesn't support 5.1 passthrough)
Userlevel 1
You will need to ensure all settings are correct, and if optical it may not work (especially if the TV doesn't support 5.1 passthrough)

Yes, that is the issue - Samsung TV does not pass through 5.1. So forced to use an HDMI switch in order to get surround sound from DirectTV cable box & Plex (have movies in personal library that are DD) but unfortunately all other streaming services come out as PCM since they are in DD+ and a switch doesn't convert audio before passing along. There are also a lot of other issues that have been brought up in relying on TV to transcode audio and pass to Sonos. (https://en.community.sonos.com/home-theater-228993/if-you-re-experiencing-audio-delay-issues-read-this-6793458/index11.html#post16287855)
Userlevel 3
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So that would be an issue with the TV, and the switch not the Beam. It is working just fine on my system. If it is DD+ True HD or Atmos it does not have to transcode and are simply being down mixed. If it was a DTS signal that would be different.
Userlevel 1
So that would be an issue with the TV, and the switch not the Beam. It is working just fine on my system.

Since Netflix, HBO and Amazon ALL use DD+, and those are arguably the vast majority of the growing streaming market, shouldn't Sonos provide native support rather than relying on an upstream device to do the transcoding? The whole premise is that Sonos removes the need for an AVR - in reality they are just pushing the problem up stream to a handful of TVs to solve the issue. Per the other thread I shared, there are different issues that can arise when relying on the TV and the recommendations there are to use an HDMI switch and bypass audio going to the TV, which brings back up the problem that SONOS can't handle one of the most common audio formats that exists today (Netflix has 125M subscribers and counting, HBO has ~134M...) - so explain to me again how this isn't a Sonos issue?
Userlevel 7
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I'd say that Sonos is properly following the ARC protocol when it comes to the dolby formats. The TV is suppossed to taking care of the job of down mixing. That said, it's been clear that ARC protocols are not rigidly adhered to when it comes to TVs, and of course older TVs don't follow the standard. It would be nice if customers could use ARC the way it was designed to be used whereever ARC was implimented properly, but could optionally down mix dolby formats where that was not an option with thier TV setup..
Userlevel 3
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Again, there is a difference between transcoding and downmixing (which is what is happening here). The issue is that your TV can’t pass through 5.1 through optical so it would have nothing to do with ARC. You are then relying on the switch, which is having an issue with recognizing DD+


ARC works much better than CEC implementation overall, and said issues are with said implementation which come up no matter what device is being used.
Userlevel 1
Unfortunately the TV won't pass 5.1 sound through the HDMI Arc port either... Guess I'll just have to save up for a nice, new 4K TV that can properly handle down mixing.
Userlevel 3
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While that is rare there are some TV's that lack that ability through ARC. What model do you have? When on ARC there is an HDMI handshake that ensures that the proper signal is received, and would apply not only for DD+ but also TrueHD and Atmos. DTS will come through as stereo but Sonos then uses Pro Logic to simulate surround, and while not the same it is more than serviceable.
Userlevel 1
Samsung UN55F6400 - to quadruple check everything I just manually validated TV was running the latest firmware, used Sonos provided HDMI cable to connect Beam to Arc Port in TV, tried every possible setting on both TV and Roku but still no 5.1 sound. Depending on settings it's either no sound or stereo. *sigh*
Userlevel 1
FWIW - I went ahead and bought an Apple TV 4K; it has an option to force audio signal to Dolby so enables 5.1 sound for all streaming services. Still not ideal but at least was able to get it all working without buying a new TV (only required an HDMI switch and Apple TV; so an extra ~$230).
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I'm running into similar issues with my setup: Samsung KS8000 connected to a Beam + 2 Play 1's... no subwoofer yet.... I've tested all the speakers individually and they work as well as if I group them.. but I can't get Netflix or Youtube from the TV apps to play to the surround ones.... ideas?
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I'm running into similar issues with my setup: Samsung KS8000 connected to a Beam + 2 Play 1's... no subwoofer yet.... I've tested all the speakers individually and they work as well as if I group them.. but I can't get Netflix or Youtube from the TV apps to play to the surround ones.... ideas?

My bad... it was that I had disabled wifi on the Beam..... all working now!

Now if only I could force the system to be permanently in surround mode.... ideas? My old early-2000's Sony amp could!
Userlevel 3
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Did you set the 1’s up as surrounds or did you just group them? If the content isn’t in DD 5.1 then the rears won’t be used
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Surrounds, yes.... 😃
Userlevel 3
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Ok. So not sure what you mean by permanently in surround mode. If the content is in 5.1 the rears will always be used. Sonos will use Pro Logic to simulate surround when fed a stereo signal, but it will still depend on the source material.
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Basically my previous amp had a mode where it took a stereo signal from the TV and reproduced it over all the speakers (5 and the sub).... I was wondering if that behaviour could be replicated in the Sonos Beam ecosystem.... 🙂
Userlevel 3
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Yes, that it was I was referring to above when I said "Sonos will use Pro Logic to simulate surround when fed a stereo signal". However, this is dependent on a source. If it's a movie, say it's DTS or you're using a service that only sends stereo, then it can reproduce the surround fairly decently, but if it's a news broadcast that's in stereo then the rears won't be used.
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Understood... That's a step back for me though.. lol! even though the quality of the sound has improved... the experience of having permanent 5.1 sound... even in 2.0 news broadcasts... is something I'll miss... lol!

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