Sonos Home Theater System not playing 5.1 surround sound

  • 22 November 2016
  • 5 replies

I have an ATT Uverse cable box hooked up to my Samsung PN64D8000FF tv via an HDMI cable, a Playbar connected to the TV with the optical connection, and 2 Play:3s for surround sound.

In the "About Sonos" menu it shows the "Audio In" as Stereo. I can't seem to get 5.1. When I go to the TV menu to select the Sound output, it is stuck on PCM and I can't select Dolby Digital. Any ideas on how to fix this?

Thanks as always.


Best answer by ratty 22 November 2016, 09:53

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5 replies

It depends what audio accompanies the TV channel. SD channels are likely to be only stereo. HD could perhaps be DD2.0, some DD5.1. On many channels in stereo there's very little ambient information from which the PLAYBAR can synthesise any surround channel information.

Does your cable box have its own optical out? You may have better luck getting 5.1 out of that (if present) than via the TV.
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Some Samsung TVs in the past only passed through stereo PCM audio from HDMI sources. The only way they passed 5.1 was if it was from an antenna channel or smart app, if the TV is a Smart TV. Can I guess that your TV is probably about 5-6 years old or so (I believe the D in the model number you gave is Samsung's "year code"; they're up to K this year, and they skip vowels). It probably falls into the group with this issue.

Another possibility is that the cable box may only be sending stereo audio out to the TV. Check the sound settings on the box and make sure they're also set to surround or Dolby Digital. And I'd also try what ratty said and hook your cable box directly to the Playbar, assuming the box has an optical output.
Thanks ratty & MikeV.

MikeV - you're correct, the TV is from 2011/2012 so it probably does fall into that "older tv" category that didn't pass through everything in 5.1.

I'll give your recommendations a shot and see what happens, worst case I'll have to return the home theater system.

Thanks again guys. I plugged the optical line directly from the AT&T Receiver into the Playbar, and double-checked the sound output setting on the AT&T Receiver to find that it was indeed set to stereo - I switched it to surround sound and voila! 5.1 Dolby Digital coming through. Now I just need to play with it and get the balance of the speakers adjusted.
Encountered the same problem. My comcast X1 box will not stay set on "surround" when I have it connected via HDMI to my Samsung TV. I suspect it is because my TV is not taking in the surround format so the comcast goes back to the "stereo" setting. When I hook the comcast box up to my soundbar directly using the optical, the soundbar shows that it is 5.1 DD sound and the Comcast setting stays set on "surround".

I purchased the following optical splitter and will channel all of my audio sources to the splitter and then have the 1 digital optic (TOSLINK) output go to the soundbar. This should get me 5.1 surround sound for all of my needs. The setup will be:

Cable box video to TV
Cable box audio to optical splitter ---> soundbar

Samsung TV (smart apps)
Samsung TV audio optical out to optical splitter --> soundbar

DVD/BluRay video HDMI to samsung TV hdmi in
DVD audio optical out to optical splitter ---> soundbar