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

  • 9 November 2018
  • 81 replies
  • 50955 views

Userlevel 3
Word of warning for anyone looking at the Beam to start a 5.1 surround sound system, it will NOT work ideally for any streaming box except the Apple TV. I would suggest really doing your research and/or staying away from the Beam if you want a home theater solution.

The Beam does not support Dolby Digital Plus (DD+) and only supports PCM (poor quality) or Dolby Digital. Why does that matter? DD+ is the current standard. Dolby (the only thing Sonos support) sounds good but is hardly used anymore by anything halfway modern. PCM is the audio equivilent to standard definition TV.

DD+ is the de facto standard for streaming boxes and services. Hulu, Netflix, HBO and I want to say Plex support this standard and only this standard. Those services do not use Dolby Digital. To get Dolby Digital, that means the stream must be downconverted (transcoded) on the fly by either your streaming device or your TV before reaching the Beam. If you do not convert, you are forced to use the poor quality PCM.

Now here's the rub. Few TVs downconvert. If you have one that does? Great! You should have few problems. Thing is though today, few streaming boxes do as well. In fact, the only one that does that I can tell is the Apple TV 4K. The nVidia Shield does not, nor does any modern Roku device. The 2016 Ruku Ultra does, but the 2017 and 2018 models do NOT. Looking at Roku forums, a software update from Roku may have removed that option thus meaning no Roku converts DD+ to D.

I can not believe Sonos is selling a device, geared for home theater, that does not support what is a very common standard. Every single streaming device support DD+ along with all the major players including Netflix and Hulu. It is THE standard, yet Sonos does not support it.

Keep this in mind as you're researching. I find it very disappointing, and will be returning my Sonos products.

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81 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +17

Since the Beam never does any conversion, are you saying your new TV is wonky?

Userlevel 4
Badge +6

I just got a new LG TV and tried to play a movie that is in Dolby Atmos on my AppleTV 4K with a Beam attached to my TV.  I’m aware that the Beam doesn’t support Atmos but NO SOUND came out.  I thought it would at least downgrade the sound to something compatible.  Seems wonky at best.

You need to set your Apple TV 4k to output Dolby Digital 5.1. In this case, I think the culprit may the TV. 

Update : I was  not able hear surround  sound when I tested my Sonos products (Play 1 & Beam) with Hulu, Showtime, or HBO.  However, my surround sound only works with Netflix. 
 

This is a huge disappointment and would like Sonos to apply a patch to fix this problem. 
 

 

Userlevel 4
Badge +6

Update : I was  not able hear surround  sound when I tested my Sonos products (Play 1 & Beam) with Hulu, Showtime, or HBO.  However, my surround sound only works with Netflix. 
 

This is a huge disappointment and would like Sonos to apply a patch to fix this problem. 
 

 

You may be blaming the wrong party. Sometimes, the problem is with the TV not passing through sound in the correct format to Beam. You must ensure that the TV passes Dolby Digital and not LPCM. 

Update : I was  not able hear surround  sound when I tested my Sonos products (Play 1 & Beam) with Hulu, Showtime, or HBO.  However, my surround sound only works with Netflix. 
 

This is a huge disappointment and would like Sonos to apply a patch to fix this problem. 
 

 

You may be blaming the wrong party. Sometimes, the problem is with the TV not passing through sound in the correct format to Beam. You must ensure that the TV passes Dolby Digital and not LPCM. 

I have TCL TV that supports Dolby Digital and  Dolby Digital Plus. I tested the beam using both TV configurations but no luck. The surround sound worked only when I watched Netflix. 
 

Do you have any recommendations on how to fix this problem? 

Userlevel 7
Badge +17

It seems though that the Hulu Showtime and HBO apps on your TV not give you DD (DD+ will not work with the Beam). Are there any settings within the apps you can change?