What was sonos Thinking with Playbar re:5.1?

  • 12 April 2013
  • 50 replies
  • 63657 views


Show first post

50 replies

I'm still going to give it one more shot before I TOTALLY give up on trying to get a 5.1 signal to my Plabar. I went to Vizio's website and they state:

"The optical out port, (aka SPDIF, TOSLINK), is used to send digital audio from your television to a sound bar or stereo receiver.

To ensure that you will be able to transfer digital audio you need to ensure that the source that you are using is sending a digital audio signal to the television. Also, you will need to make sure that the digital settings inside the television are set Dolby Digital for the digital audio to be sent through the cable
"

When I go home, I'll change the setting from PCM to digital, reboot my HTPC and then see if other audio options become available.
I have a playbar with two 3s set up with my TV.

My TV does not have 5.1 passthrough so I connected the optical direct from the source (virgin tivo box) to the playbar. I thought I had cracked the lack of passthorugh however to my dismay, I kept getting audio/ video sync issues (!) as the audio was a few fractions of a second infront of the video. Has anyone else had a similar issues connecting an optical direct to the playbar?

In the end I got so miffed monitoring the movements of the lips of the people on tv I went back to stero sound. As it happens the majority of transmissions in the UK on Sky and or Virgin are only in stereo (some movie channels of course do regularly).

Additionaly, for those that use a pair of play3s/1s alongside a playbar, have you experienced uneven/ fluttery sound through the back speakers when the bar is distributing 5.1?
Userlevel 7
Badge +17
I have a playbar with two 3s set up with my TV.

My TV does not have 5.1 passthrough so I connected the optical direct from the source (virgin tivo box) to the playbar. I thought I had cracked the lack of passthorugh however to my dismay, I kept getting audio/ video sync issues (!) as the audio was a few fractions of a second infront of the video. Has anyone else had a similar issues connecting an optical direct to the playbar?

In the end I got so miffed monitoring the movements of the lips of the people on tv I went back to stero sound. As it happens the majority of transmissions in the UK on Sky and or Virgin are only in stereo (some movie channels of course do regularly).

Additionaly, for those that use a pair of play3s/1s alongside a playbar, have you experienced uneven/ fluttery sound through the back speakers when the bar is distributing 5.1?


did you try adjusting the lip sync delay setting for the playbar ? There is a setting somewhere under room settings (I think) where you can add a delay to the audio to bring it in line with the video (but not the other way around).

for the uneven sound, I dont have this on my setup but apparently there is a fix which can be put onto your specific setup if needed - see here - you need to submit diagnostics and sonos will make the fix available for you. Seems to solve quiet/silent rear as well as fluttering.
did you try adjusting the lip sync delay setting for the playbar ? There is a setting somewhere under room settings (I think) where you can add a delay to the audio to bring it in line with the video (but not the other way around).

for the uneven sound, I dont have this on my setup but apparently there is a fix which can be put onto your specific setup if needed - see here - you need to submit diagnostics and sonos will make the fix available for you. Seems to solve quiet/silent rear as well as fluttering.


The "fluttering" sound is not related to the issue you linked to, I think.

The "fluttering" sound is (I believe) related to the "simulated 5.1" that the Playbar and rear surrounds are producing when given a stereo signal (which is to say, nearly all of the time!).

A normal 5.1 signal generally has the background noises in the rears and perhaps in the front as well, and the dialogue in just the front. The "simulated 5.1" (Dolby Pro Logic?) seems in my experience to send the sound to all speakers with background noise, but when dialogue is detected, tries to separate this from the background sounds but is not that good at it resulting in a short term (0.5 secs or so) reduction in volume until there is a break in the dialogue. Try listening to a film and standing by a rear surround - you might notice that at specific times when there is speech, the rear surrounds dip in volume.

This is of course why a true 5.1 signal given to the Playbar is much, much better than a simulated 5.1 from stereo - my TV can output DD5.1 from Netflix (confirmed by "about my Sonos system") which does not suffer from this fluttering sound issue. Instead, the surround sound is glorious!

Fingers crossed that Sonos will for this reason expand the range of 5.1 formats that the Playbar can decode, instead of requiring a stereo signal from "certain" surround sound sources. Mentioning no specifics. Do This Sonos!
Cheers for your input nika99 and aldude.

I will check out the delay option but I have done resyncing audio to video before an generally spend most of the movie/ programme wondering if I'm marginally out!

In investigating solutions I grouped the play3s and played them stereo in tandem with the bar which drowns out the noise from the neighbours from the party wall they face out from, unexpected bonus.
Userlevel 2
Sonos Surround System vs Traditional Receiver, Sub, Speakers
SONOS System = Playbar -(2) Play1 - Sub Woofer
Most People want to hear the speakers they paid for more than they want to hear accurate replication of a movie's soundtrack. Most of my customers use 5 speaker or 7 speaker mode almost all of the time anyway. So why invest in traditional when you can do it for less wirelessly (many hours of saved labor).Plus have the option to move around your rear speakers at will to play music in an other room instead of collecting dust in the tv room. As for true 5.1 use the BD and AppleTV device's optical audio out to playbar for True 5.1 !
Sonos Surround System vs Traditional Receiver, Sub, Speakers
SONOS System = Playbar -(2) Play1 - Sub Woofer
Most People want to hear the speakers they paid for more than they want to hear accurate replication of a movie's soundtrack. Most of my customers use 5 speaker or 7 speaker mode almost all of the time anyway. So why invest in traditional when you can do it for less wirelessly (many hours of saved labor).Plus have the option to move around your rear speakers at will to play music in an other room instead of collecting dust in the tv room. As for true 5.1 use the BD and AppleTV device's optical audio out to playbar for True 5.1 !


Most people would rather the same sound coming out of every speaker than directional sound? For movies? Well that just goes to show that my thesis on mankind is highly accurate; to whit: Most people are bleeping idiots!
And by the way, as of release 5.0, Sonos now allows you to switch from "surround" to "full" mode for music out of your surround speakers. So you can now have full stereo out of your surrounds instead of them being ambient and "collecting dust." Just a little info for the less informed dealers out there. 😉
Most people would rather the same sound coming out of every speaker than directional sound? For movies? Well that just goes to show that my thesis on mankind is highly accurate; to whit: Most people are bleeping idiots!


My experience has been that I am considered to be the "idiot" because the lay public expects the surround speakers to be active -- always. They paid for the speakers, therefore the surround speakers should be always active. My idea that the rear speakers are there for subtle enhancements, is met with that "you don't get it" stare.
My experience has been that I am considered to be the "idiot" because the lay public expects the surround speakers to be active -- always. They paid for the speakers, therefore the surround speakers should be always active. My idea that the rear speakers are there for subtle enhancements, is met with that "you don't get it" stare.

I paid for my refrigerator, but that doesn't mean I want it running at 10 below zero at all times. Listening to surround sound in 5/7 speaker mode is like running the fridge full blast so all you get is frozen milk, fruit, and eggs.
... so all you get is frozen milk, fruit, and eggs.

How else is one to know that the refrigerator is "powerful"?
Badge
Using the handy tip above "Help about my SONOS system" I see that I have "Audio In: Dolby Digital 5.1"

Sony KDL 46W905A
Userlevel 2
Badge
I posted about this in another thread:

http://forums.sonos.com/showthread.php?t=40755

But the Samsung UE55F9000 does pass 5.1 from HDMI sources, as verified in About my Sonos.

Perhaps the Smart Hub they've introduced for this and some of their newer TV's is a good mechanism for doing this, it takes all the HDMI sources into the Smart Hub and passes the 5.1 sound out via Optical into the Playbar?

Does that even make sense?!
Badge
If you have a 5.1 source and your TV outputs 5.1 through the optical connection then your playbar/sub/surrounds have 5.1 to reproduce with no trickery, it seems that I am in this fortunate position.

The OP suggested that 99% of TVs don't do this, I wonder if that is accurate?

Using a hub could work if your TV accepts 5.1 but doesn't pass it through to the optical output and the hub does do this.

However, that's another box with another power cable and another potential source of failure or syncing problems so I'm glad I don't need a smart hub for 5.1 TV audio and I don't feel the need to stream DVDs to my iPAD either.
Userlevel 2
Hi,
I am new to the forum, although I own an extensive Sonos system. I like almost everyone else it seems, purchased the Soundbar thinking it would give me 5.1 with the addition of Play3's.
So of course my Panasonic Plasma won't pass the 5.1 signal via optical out, & I unfortunately need a switch.
I purchased a Monoprice 4x1 HDMI Switch w/ TOSlink & Digital Coaxial Audio Output. I couldn't get it to work, so I sent it back to Amazon.
Does the Shinybow product work? If so, what is the model #? They have an extensive line of different model's.
Does anyone else have personal experience with other brands/models known to work?

Thanks!
Userlevel 2


But the Samsung UE55F9000 does pass 5.1 from HDMI sources, as verified in About my Sonos.

Perhaps the Smart Hub they've introduced for this and some of their newer TV's is a good mechanism for doing this, it takes all the HDMI sources into the Smart Hub and passes the 5.1 sound out via Optical into the Playbar?

Does that even make sense?!


I called Samsung yesterday, as I own a 59" plasma and was considering the Sonos 5.1 setup. According to the rep I spoke with yesterday afternoon, NONE of their TVs can pass 5.1 from HDMI inputs through the optical audio outputs. I asked if that was just none of the plasma models that I recently purchased, or none of their TVs, period. He clarified to say NONE of the TVs Samsung makes has this functionality.

Now, it sounds like your setup is suggesting otherwise. Seems like even Samsung isn't sure (although the rep I spoke with was very confident it could not and none of their TVs could). I asked someone at Best Buy's Magnolia center and he said the TV could, but I know he was wrong for my model (I found some documentation somewhere or another that said mine could not).

As a side note, CNET said they only had 1 high end Sony in their test labs that could pass 5.1 form HDMI to optical audio out. It sounds like no one is really sure, and this, along with the lack of DTS support, is what just stopped me from buying. Too bad.
Userlevel 2
Surely most peple are using a set top box which usually have 5.1 out over optical ??? failing that, cabling direct and maplin do a 4port hdmi switch with simultaneous optical out.
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Surely most peple are using a set top box which usually have 5.1 out over optical ???Well no, we do not have a set-top box or any box, we just have a screen and a PlayBar.
failing that, cabling direct and maplin do a 4port hdmi switch with simultaneous optical out.Yes that is true, but the whole point of Sonos is simplicity and sleek design. A 4 port HDMI switch is a very inelegant way around the issue (which Sonos should never have allowed to exist!!). :rolleyes:
Badge
Weighing in with my $0.02 here...

I don't doubt that people are having problems with getting 5.1 out from their TVs.

I have all my source devices connected to my TV via HDMI and then run an optical cable from my TV to my amp (which helpfully displays the input audio format on it's display).

My TV can output 5.1 (Sony Bravia) however I specifically need to go into my source devices and explicitly configure them to output Dolby Digital over HDMI, otherwise they default to stereo - even a PS4 talking to a Sony TV was outputting 2.0 stereo.

I'm guessing what was happening was the PS4 was talking to the TV, the TV said it had 2 speakers and the PS4 started outputting stereo. This then came back out the optical output. Once the PS4 was configured to output DD, it was all good.

It's actually more work for the TV to receive 5.1 on HDMI and downconvert it to 2.0 to output to the optical out than it would be for it to simply pass on the input audio stream from HDMI to optical bit-for-bit.
Badge
Had my Playbar (and multiple Playones round the house) a couple of months now and use a generic optical switch (£30 off amazon) into which I plug my Sky Box and my Mac Mini that I use for streaming. This then plugs into the Playbar's optical input. I use my programmed Harmony remote to switch on the correct devices/inputs remotely. My TV is muted.

I have to say I am thrilled with the surround sound using two play ones.

In the space of a couple of weeks and at quite an expense (though I got rid/sold my old AV equipment and all the wires) I had Play ones set up all over the house (including the bathroom) having never heard or used Sonos previously. The system is flawless. The Playbar was a large outlay, the Playones less so, though they breed like rabbits lol

I agree its not plug and play, but this work round solves the problem.

Before this I dabbled in wireless streaming with Squeezebox Radio which was a nightmare!

Jerry
I have tested de playbar in a lot of ways.

It is true that there is a lot of tvs that don't passt 5.1 through optical, but I have an LG TV and it does.

When you use the internal apps on the TV, for instance Netflix, it pass 5.1 dolby digital.

When I see the channels Warner HD, Fox HD, MTV HD, from direct tv connected to the TV, the TV pass 5.1 through the optical.

When I play a movie from a Hard Drive connected directly to the TV, it plays 5.1, but if it is DTS, it doesn't play anything through the playbar. :(


I test using a chromecast, and it only recognizes Stereo.

When I test connect a WD TV Live to the tv, it can reproduce any movie DTS or DD... but DTS is passed to stereo.

When I use a samsung blu ray C6500, (an old one), I can't reproduce a DTS (no sound).

But I'm getting a new Blu ray, H6500 Samsung, and it can transcode DTS to Dolby, so if I try to play a blu ray disc in DTS, my playbar recognizes it like Dolby digital 5.1, because of the internat conversion the blu ray does.

In conclusion, The best way to connect the playbar is to connect all of your devices to the tv and an optical cable from your tv to the playbar.

The DTS fact can be solved , with the Blu ray , transcoding. (I don't know if all the new blu rays have this option, but at least the samsung's blu ray does.) Go to the manuals and look for the transcoding dts to dolby.
Userlevel 2
Badge +1
I think the Sonos Playbar is a fantastic piece of equipment on it's own and perhaps with a sub for 3.1. However, with respect to the ability to add a pair of surround sound for 5.1s... I'm at a huge loss. Considering:

a) 99% of TVs will not output 5.1 sound from HDMI inputs over optical

b) TV manufacturers do not advertise this spec on their TVs so it's difficult or impossible to determine in advance

c) Sonos refuses to maintain an official list of such compatible TVs on their website

I don't understand why Sonos would advertise the Playbar as being 5.1.

Yes, you could get the Playbar to output in 5.1 if you add an A/V receiver and possibly if you use an HDMI switcher, although the switcher is iffy because of how HDCP handshaking works, it still might only output 2.1. Also, there's reports of HDMI handshaking failing between switches, which requires turning the TV and connected device on and off each time you use it.

But here's the problem-- the Playbar, or any soundbar, is supposed to be used when a person wants a simplified home theater setup, with minimal wires, minimal components, and minimal fuss. If you add an A/V receiver or switcher then it's no longer minimal.

So what exactly was Sonos thinking with the Playbar? Don't get me wrong, I enjoy mine for the 2 channel sound it is. However, it's going to be virtually impossible to reliably and easily get 5.1 out of it. And then even if you can, it won't do DTS but that's been hammered to death ad nauseum already.

I actually bought my Playbar with the thought that I could buy a new TV that outputs 5.1 over optical from HDMI inputs, because in a few months I'll be in the market for a new TV. Unfortunately, it still appears that I will be unable to reliably make a purchasing decision due to a dearth of information on what TVs will do this.

My initial question - What was Sonos thinking? remains. Clearly there was some discussion on this in the engineering room during R&D. Here's the best I can come up with:

1) The Playbar can take a 2.1 signal and put out a crappy faux 5.1 version that is extrapolated, and won't sound anything like real 5.1, but the average Sonos consumer is too ignorant to notice that the sound out of their rear $300 each speakers is really just a slightly quieter version of their front channel.

2) They didn't perform due diligence and didn't realize so few TVs output 5.1 over optical, and just assumed it would work.

Those are the best two explanations I can come up with, and neither of them make Sonos look good. I'm open to other possibilities, but when I contacted Tech Support asking them about a list of TVs that support 5.1 over optical, Sonos official CSR basically told me to screw off and I'm on my own. MAYBE Sonos created the Playbar with the idea that 99% of their customer base would NOT use it as 5.1, and Sonos was "nice" enough to add the functionality to pair the Play:3s for 5.1, for the 1% of hard-core customers that might want it, and Sonos figured those people would be able to parse through the methods of doing that on their own. That would be a reasonable thought, perhaps.

What was Sonos thinking with the Playbar regarding 5.1?


DTS, You are correct here. For a simple (component free) installation you would have to take you 5.1 source directly into the Playbar but this becomes very limiting if you have more then one source such as DTV decoder and BluRay. I would love to see two or three inputs on the Playbar as this would resolve most of the challenges.

Don't get me wrong, the Playbar and Sub combo do sound great but being able to have a simple wireless 5.1 setup from more then one audio source is what one would expect to be able to do, especially at this price point.

I have a fairly large house-side Sonos system with 20 Sonos devices. I would actually be very interested in being able to configure a 5.1 system using three Play 5 (LCR) two Play 3 (SL, SR) and a sub. I think this would be the bomb. This is similar to what you and others have mentioned.
Hi
After I did some research I decided to go for a Playbar,now I knew it wouldn't play DTS or DDplus nor higher formats.In my opinion the Playbar on is own its just an expensive soundbar,to my ears even connected to a Skybox streaming DD movie channels its not even to a satisfactory level,it jus adding some more base and volume to the TV,the only reason I've bought it was the ability to connect two Play1's acting as rear surround satellites,it just makes a huge difference playing DD traks,even music sounds a lot better,adding the two speakers will enhance the whole experience near a dedicated 5.1 system.Very imoprtant is the position of the speakers,they need to be positioned behind or at least in line with your normal sitting position,best is to place them behind you to get the full surround effects,playng Saving Private Ryan the beech battle scene its jus purely fascinating,all the shots can be heard as you are in the middle of the action.Now for me to get the DTS out of the Playbar I had to do the following: connect the Minix Neo X8-H Plus directly to the Playbar via Toslink,set the sound settings to SPIDF PASS THROUGH,for media player I'm using Kodi,in sound menu select DD (AC3)Capable Receiver and thick EnableDD Transcoding,leave DTS capable receiver unselected,also select Enable pass through,after that you should be able to play DTS encoded files thru the Playbar,now the quality of the sound transcoded is not as good as you expect as you are using a dedicated receiver but is good enough(for me).To sum all this,Playbar does more than a decent job when two Play1's are added for surround,DD sounds very good but DTS lacks the detail after transcoding thru Kodi,still very watchable,alsoAAC 2.0 and 5.1 works thru Kodi.If you got the Playbar I strongly recommend getting two Play1's as its a massive improvement.I hope this will help you as it helped me before deciding to buy the system.
Userlevel 5
Badge +2
Most all new 4K channels as they become available will be dolby digital plus thats 7.1 not 5.1 sonos better gets some more techs to set at their desks and scratch their heads, oh by the way that includes all your new 4K movies that you will play through your brand new 20 year old technology $750 sounder. Sonos update this!

Reply