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Using Amp in a 5.1 setup

  • 30 November 2021
  • 5 replies
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I’m considering a 5.1 system driven by an Arc, with Amp providing in-ceiling surrounds and, possibly, subwoofer. I’d like to clarify some details that are unclear in the support articles.

Here’s what I think is true:

  • If the ceiling speakers are configured as surrounds, they cannot be used to play audio independently; but there is an option to play full volume through the Arc and the surrounds together (described here). I assume this works for all types of inputs (TV, AirPlay, internet audio).
  • Per this article, it’s not possible for Amp to drive a subwoofer when its other speakers are used as surrounds. The only supported subwoofer in this configuration is the Sonos Sub.
  • As long as the Arc and Amp are on the same network (I’m anticipating using ethernet), I can store the Amp in another room/closet and route the speaker wires to that location (despite the statement about line-of-sight here).
  • Although Amp generally requires use of the Sonance architectural speakers to allow for TruePlay calibration, TruePlay *will* work effectively when Amp is only providing surrounds, no matter what third-party ceiling speakers are used (per the statement here)
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Best answer by GuitarSuperstar 30 November 2021, 18:28

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If the ceiling speakers are configured as surrounds, they cannot be used to play audio independently; but there is an option to play full volume through the Arc and the surrounds together (described here). I assume this works for all types of inputs (TV, AirPlay, internet audio).


When the Arc is in music mode, if you set Music Playback to Full under the Surround Audio settings, the music will play at full volume out of the surrounds as it would through the Arc. But if you play music or TV audio while the Arc is in TV mode, the surrounds will only play what is determined to be ambient audio unless you are listening to multichannel audio like in 5.1 or Dolby Atmos.

 

Per this article, it’s not possible for Amp to drive a subwoofer when its other speakers are used as surrounds. The only supported subwoofer in this configuration is the Sonos Sub.


This is correct. 

 

As long as the Arc and Amp are on the same network (I’m anticipating using ethernet), I can store the Amp in another room/closet and route the speaker wires to that location (despite the statement about line-of-sight here).


The Arc will communicate wirelessly with the Amp with its own 5 GHz signal. So ideally the Amp should be in the same room and have line-of-sight to the Arc.

 

Although Amp generally requires use of the Sonance architectural speakers to allow for TruePlay calibration, TruePlay *will* work effectively when Amp is only providing surrounds, no matter what third-party ceiling speakers are used (per the statement here)


This is correct.

Just to add some additional color to the second bullet point, when used to drive surround speakers, the Amp is only receiving those two channels. When you use a Sub, you’re bonding that to the front sound bar, be it an Arc, or Beam (or any of the older devices, too), and not to the Amp.

The front ‘device’ is the interpreter of the HDMI ARC signal, and splits out the surround channels, and the Sub channel to be sent out to the various devices. 

Please note that ‘TV mode’ and ‘Music mode’ are not something you can select. When the input is TV, you are in TV mode.  So say you’re watching a music video that only plays in stereo….you won’t get full stereo out of the surround channel speakers.

Also note that ceiling speakers are not ideal for surround speakers, as they should be placed at ear level behind and to the side of the listening area.  This becomes more of a factor when using the Arc as it has the upfring speakers that bounce on the ceiling to the listening area.  You’ll get less of the atmos effect as both the atmos and surround audio will be coming from above.

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Thanks for the useful info! 

If the ceiling speakers are configured as surrounds, they cannot be used to play audio independently; but there is an option to play full volume through the Arc and the surrounds together (described here). I assume this works for all types of inputs (TV, AirPlay, internet audio).


When the Arc is in music mode, if you set Music Playback to Full under the Surround Audio settings, the music will play at full volume out of the surrounds as it would through the Arc. But if you play music or TV audio while the Arc is in TV mode, the surrounds will only play what is determined to be ambient audio unless you are listening to multichannel audio like in 5.1 or Dolby Atmos.

 

What is “TV mode”/”music mode”? Is that just whether the input is coming from the HDMI cable or not? So no way to use “music mode” if the music is coming from an Apple TV via the TV’s ARC?

If so, that’s disappointing. In my current setup, I push a button on the receiver remote to switch between standard home theater audio and full-room stereo.

 

As long as the Arc and Amp are on the same network (I’m anticipating using ethernet), I can store the Amp in another room/closet and route the speaker wires to that location (despite the statement about line-of-sight here).


The Arc will communicate wirelessly with the Amp with its own 5 GHz signal. So ideally the Amp should be in the same room and have line-of-sight to the Arc.

Ugh, also disappointing.

Here are more details about the networking options:

https://support.sonos.com/s/article/3235?language=en_US

So there doesn’t seem to be any way to configure an all-wired setup, with ethernet cables carrying audio from the Arc to the Sub and Amp. It’s either over my home WiFi, or over Sonos’s dedicated WiFi. In fact, if I have ethernet going to the Sub or Amp, seems like that will be totally unused?

That said, I don’t really understand the line-of-sight recommendation. WiFi is quite happy to travel through walls, and the above article shows devices in multiple rooms. Are there any special considerations about the Sonos network, or a 5.1 system in particular, beyond the normal risks associated with WiFi signals?

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Please note that ‘TV mode’ and ‘Music mode’ are not something you can select. When the input is TV, you are in TV mode.  So say you’re watching a music video that only plays in stereo….you won’t get full stereo out of the surround channel speakers.

Yes, this is what I was inferring, but thanks for the confirmation.

Also note that ceiling speakers are not ideal for surround speakers, as they should be placed at ear level behind and to the side of the listening area.  This becomes more of a factor when using the Arc as it has the upfring speakers that bounce on the ceiling to the listening area.  You’ll get less of the atmos effect as both the atmos and surround audio will be coming from above.

In my case, the ceiling above the Arc is two stories high and I don’t expect those effects to work. The ceiling for the surrounds is at normal height, a ways back behind the couch. I agree, it’s not ideal.

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