WARNING: Beam does not support Dolby Digital Plus, That is a BIG deal

  • 9 November 2018
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The function that Ryan S is talking about is part of the HDMI-CEC connection, and only available on the Beam when connected with the HDMI-ARC connection, as he states. Since it's part of the HDMI connection, any source that is connected with an HDMI-CEC connection will get the automatic switch to Dolby Digital. But that's only if the device sending the signal is HDMI-CEC compliant.

To be sure to understand, in my example

Player : Nvidia Shield (DD+ compliant and CEC compliant)
TV : SONY KDL-46HX820 (DD+ complianta nd CEC compliant)
Beam connected on the HDMI ARC port

The Netflix application that run on the player must be compliant also with CEC ?

The same player connected on another sound bar, show 5.1 signal on Netflix....
Not an engineer, but if the Netflix application isn't receiving the CEC request, then yea, it wouldn't work. This is one of the reasons that I continue to suggest on these forums that you need to set the audio settings wherever you can. There's no guaranty that each app recognizes the signal request being sent back. Although I'd say that it's odd, given that you state that the Nvidia shield is CEC compliant. But I'd point out that you're stating DD+, and Sonos technically isn't DD+ compliant, they're only Dolby Digital, without the plus.

I've seen enough issues with the entire CEC API that I just don't trust it to do what it purports to do all the time, without issue. At the end of the day, I'm a fan of both belt and suspenders. If i have the option to set the audio settings to Dolby Digital, and not have it attempting to send Dolby Digital Plus, or DTS, or frankly anything else, I'm going to choose to set it to Dolby Digital.

There's just too many threads about issues with the Nvidia (which I think is actually NVIDIA) shield, and the Roku devices to satisfy my paranoia.
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Hi! Just wanted to share my setup. I’m using ATV 4K with Playbar + Ones as surrounds. Samsung Series 7 2018 TV with support for DD 5.1 AND DD+. No matter if I play Netflix from the ATV or the Samsung Netflix app I get DD 5.1 to my playbar through optical. No issues whatsoever.
I'm having a similar issue with my Sony A8F, which I describe in detail here: https://en.community.sonos.com/ask-a-question-228987/beam-5-1-with-sony-a8f-and-youtube-6819304

Any help would be appreciated.
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Not true as you've worded it. You don't need to use eARC to enjoy those codecs. For example, you can have a Dolby Atmos, DD+, or DTS X source direct into any component that has a decoder for it via an straight HDMI connection and it's fine You just can't do it using ARC .eARC is only necessary if you plan on using your TV as the source to feed the audio stream to your home theater and that audio stream is a higher bandwidth format than legacy ARC supports ( the most common version in use today). This means multi-channel PCM, True HD, Atmos, DTS X, DD+, etc.

Regardless, no Sonos products have decoders for any of those audio formats, nor do they support eARC and that's not changeable, it's a hardware limitation. So if you own a Sonos product, currently you get Dolby Digital at 640Kbps or Stereo PCM and thats all you'll ever get. DTS in any flavor isn't an option as we know.

Sonos must support eARC to stay relevant going forward. This means you're all re-buying new Sonos products to get it and the support for the good stuff in audio formats, or you're buying something else that supports everything including DTS if they continue to shun that format entirely.
2496wireless,

So, like me, do you expect the next generation PlayBar to support eARC, given too its backward compatibility? Only most of the streaming video services certainly seem to be heading towards Dolby Atmos, including Netflix, Prime Video, Apple Movies etc; some of which have their Apps built into, or connected to, many popular brands of TV these days, which do all the necessary processing/decoding before it is passed to the Receiver.

I understand that HDMI eARC ports will be appearing on new TV's later this year, here in the UK ...and one thing noticeable in the comparison chart above is that lip-sync correction is considered as being 'mandatory', rather than 'optional' with that type of hardware and is something that some sections of the industry really need to address.
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If they don't, they can expect customer migration to other products. It's not just a passing fad, it's how ARC will be implemented going forward across the board.

eARC is about more than just increased bandwidth for higher bitrate audio streams.

It's a slippery slope, however. Everyone thinks they want Atmos, yet the amount of Atmos enabled home theaters that have the correct speaker deployment to utilize the benefits of Atmos is still quite small. I do think Sonos is actively adding more focus to their home theater category specifically as for them , and everyone, it's starting to heat up. It's a byproduct if the widespread availability of 1000s and 1000s of choices in multi channel ready content now at your fingertips inside your tv or a small box plugged into it. I would expect to see a less expensive set of rears from them so you aren't using play ones (just absurdity from the get go). Possibly some upfiring Atmos fronts if they dive in with both feet.

Sonos is not a home theater product, it was an afterthought. It's trying to be everything to everyone, and when you do that, product suffers. Be in the whole house music game or be in the single room multi channel home theater game..they are two different beasts, two different things. Cinema audio is quite different than music based stereo audio in countless ways.

For Atmos, You have two choices for height. Upfiring or ceiling mount. You have a high or vaulted ceiling, upfiring is useless and ceiling mount is expensive. Somewhat similarly to 7.1 for the general consumer, it's not practical.

This is where DTS X shines big time. That object based format can be used in any speaker configuration while Atmos is essentially height based. He heght speakers and Atmis isn't much to look at..or better said, listen to. Virtual Atmos is there, but it lacks comparatively (my opinion and my direct eval).

Sync adjust is present in more and more TV's outside of eARC. ARC is widely known to have sync issues and that addresses it. The reason is, more and more TV's are doing crazy processing shit to video signals which creates the issue as the audio gets decided and heard faster than the tv can take that wonderful 24fps Spielberg classic and make it a nice , wet looking and dynamically different 60 fps .

I don't know if you ever got your problem fixed but I had a 2017 Samsung TV which did not communicate well with my Xfinity box. It would only pass the stereo signal back to my Playbar (Playbar is optical only so HDMI not involved here). But both TV and cable box were supposed to be Dolby 5.1 compatible. What I ended up having to do was to buy a EDID emulator and then finally the TV and cable box would communicate properly. The emulator I bought was this one:

https://amzn.to/2tP4NtH

Maybe this will help someone else be able to use Dolby 5.1 at least.


Did you have to change anything in the EDID emulator, or was it just plug and play? I see that there is a switch with multiple settings on it. I am hoping that could fix my problem. I have a Samsung TV and when I pass the audio through the TV, the Beam only sees stereo. If I use an optical cable directly from the cable box to the Beam it sees Dolby Digital. I have an Apple TV also connected to the TV, and that passes Dolby Digital to the Beam through the TV. So I think that box could be the answer.

Did you put the EDID emulator between the Xinity box and the TV?

I don't know if you ever got your problem fixed but I had a 2017 Samsung TV which did not communicate well with my Xfinity box. It would only pass the stereo signal back to my Playbar (Playbar is optical only so HDMI not involved here). But both TV and cable box were supposed to be Dolby 5.1 compatible. What I ended up having to do was to buy a EDID emulator and then finally the TV and cable box would communicate properly. The emulator I bought was this one:

https://amzn.to/2tP4NtH

Maybe this will help someone else be able to use Dolby 5.1 at least.


Did you have to change anything in the EDID emulator, or was it just plug and play? I see that there is a switch with multiple settings on it. I am hoping that could fix my problem. I have a Samsung TV and when I pass the audio through the TV, the Beam only sees stereo. If I use an optical cable directly from the cable box to the Beam it sees Dolby Digital. I have an Apple TV also connected to the TV, and that passes Dolby Digital to the Beam through the TV. So I think that box could be the answer.

Did you put the EDID emulator between the Xinity box and the TV?


Yes. The EDID emulator has some switches on it so you can tell it what it is supposed to be outputting video wise. I believe just having it between the two devices allowed it talk “talk” to one another audio wise.

On the second question, yes you need to place it between the TV and the Xfinity box.

Good luck!
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DD 5.1 is also the ATSC standard multi-channel format in the US, Mexico, Canada, and other countries.  Any station broadcast in HD with multi-channel audio is required to use it.  As such, It ain't going nowhere.


I am sure things vary from country to country, but flow tv seems to be a dying breed. 
 

In any event, those requirements, I assume, don’t apply to streaming and thus does not apply to any streaming boxes etc. 

 

So you could say that Sonos will continue to be able to play surround from flow tv in those regions, but streaming services are rapidly abandoning DD 5.1 and so are the streaming boxes.
 

With most manufacturers embracing more modern standards, the incentive for Apple TV’s and the like to continue supporting conversion to DD 5.1 is steadily decreasing. 

 

But all is well. If one is fine with watching non-HD DVDs and prefer flow tv rather than the crazy haze of streaming, Sonos will be the perfect partner - just as in the good old days

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Working fine for me on two Philips TVs with a Beam and a Playbase so you maybe didn’t search hard enough. Also it’s part of the Dolby specs, there is not conversion happening, the TV will just output the Dolby Digital 5.1 core of the Dolby Digital Plus stream.

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Working fine for me on two Philips TVs with a Beam and a Playbase so you maybe didn’t search hard enough. Also it’s part of the Dolby specs, there is not conversion happening, the TV will just output the Dolby Digital 5.1 core of the Dolby Digital Plus stream.

At least I have tried two LG sets from their 2018 line and an older Sony with no luck. Works fine for build-in apps but doesn't work with Chromecast via HDMI. 

So just to be clear, you are getting Dolby Digital 5.1 streaming Netflix from Chromecast connected to HDMI via your TV?
 

You are not streaming directly from the TV, from an Apple TV or some other device that does the conversion for you?

 

If so, please list the model no. of your TV as I know a lot of Sonos-users would be interested in this. 

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Chromecast and PS4 both gave no DD with my TV (Samsung  UE46D8000) too. Not sure this was DD+ related though. The PS4 was cured using an audio extractor/embedder (so now I’m using the audio from the optical feed - a clue that it could be DD+ related, but I never had any confirmation on this); for the Chromecast I couldn’t be bothered.

@Tejs Dyrvig Ernst Yes, I am and was getting Dolby Digital from all my sources, also from a Chromecast, but that is not used anymore and was replaced with a FireTV Stick. Netflix and also Amazon Video (not sure right now, if they use DD+) are working fine for me and I get Dolby Digital+. As said, there is no conversion/transcoding happening, Dolby Digital is just the core of Dolby Digital + and at least my two Philips TVs will output that just fine.

I’m using a Philips 32PFK4101/12 and 50PUS6272/12 and these are not even high price models, the first one is not even a smart TV. In general I think Philips is fine when it comes to audio. 

 

@106rallye Your TV seems to an older model. The entry and basic Samsung TVs back in the days didn’t support Dolby Digital passthrough and I think that is what’s causing the issues for you. More modern Samsung TVs do support this feature now (I think from 2017 onwards). 


It sounds fantastic. I assume you mean you were getting Dolby Digital and not Dolby Digital Plus on your Sonos as the Plus is not supported. And you did confirm receipt of Dolby Digital in the Sonos-app? I have never gotten anything but a “Stereo” read on Sonos when using a Chromecast. 
 

Will visit a dealership later this week and have a look at their Philips-lineup then. I had one a few years back which was horrible in many other ways, but hopefully they have improved :)

 

Sorry for the late response. Yes I was getting Dolby Digital and I have actually tested it last week with my old Chromecast and still it was working fine. I tested Netflix and selected a DD+ track from Stranger Things and the TV has put it out as Dolby Digital just fine.

 

I also used Stranger Things to test. In my case, Dolby Digital was output when using my first generation Fire TV, but not with the Roku Ultra I picked up yesterday.  Is there something I can do or am I better off getting a different streaming device? 

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@Tejs Dyrvig Ernst Yes, I am and was getting Dolby Digital from all my sources, also from a Chromecast, but that is not used anymore and was replaced with a FireTV Stick. Netflix and also Amazon Video (not sure right now, if they use DD+) are working fine for me and I get Dolby Digital+. As said, there is no conversion/transcoding happening, Dolby Digital is just the core of Dolby Digital + and at least my two Philips TVs will output that just fine.

I’m using a Philips 32PFK4101/12 and 50PUS6272/12 and these are not even high price models, the first one is not even a smart TV. In general I think Philips is fine when it comes to audio. 

 

@106rallye Your TV seems to an older model. The entry and basic Samsung TVs back in the days didn’t support Dolby Digital passthrough and I think that is what’s causing the issues for you. More modern Samsung TVs do support this feature now (I think from 2017 onwards). 

For another data point, I’m experiencing a problem where the surround sound works only partially.

I have the beam and two play ones as my surrounds on my 2019 TCL ROKU 6 Series (plugged in thru the ARC). Using the built in apps on my TV, the surround works on Disney+, Amazon Prime, and the Dolby Channel, as well as my local antenna. However, audio from Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, ESPN, YouTube, Showtime, and more seem to be stuck in stereo and will ONLY play on the beam itself. Is this caused by the lack of support for DD+ and is there a way around this?

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@Outburst I have a lot of devices connected to my TV. DD passthrough works fine with my Apple TV 3 and my TV providers’ settop box. Problem area’s where the  PS4, Chromecast and, come to think of it, my Mede8er. The last proble I solved using an edid emulator.

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But all is well. If one is fine with watching non-HD DVDs and prefer flow tv rather than the crazy haze of streaming, Sonos will be the perfect partner - just as in the good old days

 

90% of my watching is streaming, and I’ve not found a single streaming service that does not offer DD 5.1.  I’m also someone who won’t buy a soundbar for my main system, and thus I have a modern wired surround setup with capability for all current formats.  Just so happens my room is such that anything more than 5.1 would be overkill.  In short, I’m not worried about DD 5.1 leaving any content I view and that has nothing to do with defending Sonos’ soundbars (which I have criticized from the start).


It all depends on the combination of streaming service and streaming device. For instance, Chromecast + Netflix only serves up DD+ and PCM. No DD 5.1. 
 

In terms of what is needed, I fully agree that DD 5.1 is perfectly fine for your average living room which is where Sonos has its intended user base. Personally, I am fully satisfied with my combo of an Apple TV and Sonos which always gives me DD 5.1. But would prefer Sonos opened up to some of the newer formats before this becomes a real issue.

 

The new players with HDMI should be capable enough. 

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what’s wrong? Is the LG tv not able to pass through the DD5.1 from my STB and PS4 but still output properly from its native Netflix app? Makes no sense.

Exactly. Many TV engineers were confused by their lawyers a few years ago, and misinterpreted the HDCP rules. They thought that if the TV gets a DD 5.1 signal over HDMI, they would be unable to simply send that audio over optical as-is, so they told the HDMI source device to only send stereo (when optical output was enabled). However for internal apps (eg Netflix in your case) they could emit DD 5.1 over optical no problem.

This misunderstanding has been fixed by almost everyone now, but there are a lot of TVs from this period that need "hacks" to get DD 5.1 over optical for HDMi inputs: LGs need service menu changes, Samsung need EDID fakers, etc.

(I say "optical" here from personal experience, but HDMI-ARC is the same signal over a different physical transport. I would have thought that a TV new enough to support ARC would have a sane HDCP understanding, but in this TV I guess not).


If your Beam is connected over HDMI-ARC, the TV will automatically send Dolby Digital 5.1 to the Beam for any source that starts off with a Dolby Digital Plus or 5.1 signal. 

 

This is not true for all HDMI-ARC TVs. It certainly isn’t true for mine. The TV cannot convert Dolby Digital Plus to Dolby Digital if the source is HDMI. It only does it for native apps.

Was hoping to add the beam to existing play:1 stereo pair to get good surround sound, but now it’s heading back to the store.

 

 

I forgot to mention that the TV in question is 2015 J6300 model. It even supports ARC and CEC, but not DD+ → DD conversion (when source is HDMI). Wish I had a crystal ball then which told me I would need it today :)



This misunderstanding has been fixed by almost everyone now, but there are a lot of TVs from this period that need "hacks" to get DD 5.1 over optical for HDMi inputs: LGs need service menu changes, Samsung need EDID fakers, etc.


Great info!

I looked into Youtube and there's a "hack" to get into the LG system and change the settings to passthrough 5.1. Has anyone tried it? I have an iphone and the app needs IR blaster. I'm afraid to brick my beautiful OLED LG!

Any other hacks work? can calling customer service and having them change it work?
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The Roku streaming stick does not claim to support DD 5.1 so yes, you need a different device.

 

https://www.roku.com/products/streaming-stick

 

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Hm interesting, I have a PS4 myself and can’t say that I had any issues getting Dolby Digital from any source (Games and Netflix). 

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@Tejs Dyrvig Ernst Yes, I am and was getting Dolby Digital from all my sources, also from a Chromecast, but that is not used anymore and was replaced with a FireTV Stick. Netflix and also Amazon Video (not sure right now, if they use DD+) are working fine for me and I get Dolby Digital+. As said, there is no conversion/transcoding happening, Dolby Digital is just the core of Dolby Digital + and at least my two Philips TVs will output that just fine.

I’m using a Philips 32PFK4101/12 and 50PUS6272/12 and these are not even high price models, the first one is not even a smart TV. In general I think Philips is fine when it comes to audio. 

 

@106rallye Your TV seems to an older model. The entry and basic Samsung TVs back in the days didn’t support Dolby Digital passthrough and I think that is what’s causing the issues for you. More modern Samsung TVs do support this feature now (I think from 2017 onwards). 


It sounds fantastic. I assume you mean you were getting Dolby Digital and not Dolby Digital Plus on your Sonos as the Plus is not supported. And you did confirm receipt of Dolby Digital in the Sonos-app? I have never gotten anything but a “Stereo” read on Sonos when using a Chromecast. 
 

Will visit a dealership later this week and have a look at their Philips-lineup then. I had one a few years back which was horrible in many other ways, but hopefully they have improved :)

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 Is this caused by the lack of support for DD+ and is there a way around this?

This is a very common problem indeed, the forum is full of such reports. You shouldn’t really have hijacked this thread for it, but here we are.

Some TVs do not pass-thru DD 5.1 from external HDMI sources, but do for internal sources ie the built-in apps. You need to use an EDID emulator on each external input, to force the (dumb) TV to accept DD 5.1. Surprising that any 2019 model TV still has this problem, as the misunderstanding that the HDCP spec caused should be well in the past now.