Sonos playbar 5.1

  • 23 April 2017
  • 6 replies

Hi all,

I have a playbar and a sonos connect amp and am trying to get the 5.1 set up to work in the UK.

I'm a bit novice with the terminology but understand that the playbar doesn't support a DTS input but will support a Dolby Digital 5.1 input.

I have a Panasonic TX-40CX680 and am trying to find out if it will output 5.1 from a 5.1 source via an HDMI input. About 1 year old. It appears to output in Dolby Digital 5.1 when using the netflix app.

Assuming it will not output 5.1 via HDMI source - then I understand the options to get true 5.1 (with sub) are

a) splitter cables to get multiple inputs to the playbar via optical cable. Downside is that the signals might get confused if the sources are active in standby

b) HDMI siwithcher boxes - with the HDMI cables going in to the switcher with a single optical audio output to the playbar.

My question is in scenario B - how will my TV audio (i.e. normal broadcast TV or the netflix app) get to the soundbar as they're not connected?

Also, if I buy a TV that outputs Dolby 5.1 from any HDMI input - would that solve all problems? If I use the "5.1" setup through my TV with 5.1 inputs - is that any good? It sounded very quiet when I tried it and I thought they were broken.

Are there any other simple to use soundbars where I can still use my TV remote?


PS I also have a WDTV live - but it doesn't seem to be sending 5.1 to the playbar when connected directly and after playing about with the audio output settings. If anyone has the exact settings that are needed then please let me know!

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6 replies

Userlevel 2
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Hi Sicole51, I think you're maybe over complicating this.

Looking at your TV's User Manual it has an Digital 'Optical Output' which supports PCM & Dolby Digital
PCM / Dolby Digital, Fibre optic"

So to keep things simple:-

- Connect your sources to TV via HDMi (including WDTV Live)
- Connect TV to Soundbar using Digital Optical output
- Set TV to use Optical Output for Audio
- You can control the Playbar with your TV remote, in Sonos App settings

I'm not familiar with your TV so don't know the exact settings and the User Manual is pretty useless!

If your sources are outputting Dolby Digital then all should be rosy in your garden and when in normal TV use it should just output PCM to Playbar and DD 5.1 if watching Netflix HD content.

I use the same setup for my Sony TV/Playbar/Sub/Play 1's with Samsung 4K Blu Ray & WDTV Live and it works a treat.

I'll check my WDTV settings and let you know what i use.
@opsman. Very useful comment but I think a couple of caveats to be made. You have a Sony TV and Sonys generally pass 5.1 over optical from HDMI sources. Panasonics, in my experience, generally don't. And you have a Samsung Bluray player, which converts DTS to DD5.1. I suspect the OP will need the same.
Further to my previous post...
@sicole51. The HDMI switch needs to support ARC to get the TV audio back to the switch for OTA or Netflix audio. One of your TV HDMI sockets should be labelled for ARC.
Userlevel 2
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@John B
Apologies, I made the assumption that as the Panasonic User manual states under Digital Output "PCM/Dolby Digital, Fibre Optic" that it would pass 5.1. If this is not the case i stand corrected.
The WDTV works a treat though and i'll try to help with my settings.
Hi, thanks a lot for the helpful replies.

It does appear that the Panasonic TV will output the necessary sound to get the best out of the playbar. (Email from Panasonic below - seems clear please correct me if I'm not interpreting this correctly!)

On this basis I'll just plug the sources directly to the TV. Grateful for your replies and any info on the settings for the WDTV.


**Email from Panasonic** response to "does this tv output Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound from an hdmi input to optical cable? Would like to use with sonos sound bar in 5.1 set up."

I would like to inform you that we have tested this feature between Panasonic units and it works just fine. However, when connecting a unit made by a different manufacturer, the same result cannot be guaranteed.

Should this not work, please connect the Source Device to the Sonos sound system directly through an Optical Lead (bypassing the TV).
Hi. You can check if you are getting DD5.1 by looking in About My Sonos System in the controller app while a source is playing. I'd be interested to hear how it goes.