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Apple TV 4K (1st gen), Sonos Arc + 100s (surrounds), and HDMI ARC port

  • 28 December 2023
  • 8 replies
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Hi team,

 

I just got a Sonos Arc and two Era 100s to use as surrounds, but as I’ve been using it I've noticed that the only sound I’m getting is Stereo PCM. While this does still sound 100x better than what I used to have, I would like to get as much quality sound as I can out of this system. Here’s my set up as of now:

 

  • Sonos Arc → HDMI 3 ARC Port (no eARC port, old plasma tv)
  • Apple TV 4K → HDMI 2
  • Era 100s as rear surrounds (back left and right)

I have it true tuned and everything as well. Is there any way to get a higher sound quality than base Stereo PCM with only my ARC Port and no eARC? Also, as a side question, Should I keep the Eras behind or should I move closer to the sides or the front as front left and right channels? Thanks in advance for any and all advice!!

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Best answer by Ken_Griffiths 29 December 2023, 01:59

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8 replies

Userlevel 7
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Your TV does not do eARC, but does have ARC, so your not using the optical converter?

In a Sonos surround system the Era 100’s are always rear speakers. Trueplay will adjust the sound of your speakers to your room, but will not alter the sound format the Arc receives (and will play). What you would be looking for is the right sound settings on the Apple TV (Dolby Digital is the maximum your TV could take because it is an older model) and your TV? Could you post those here?

Correct, I’m using the ARC HDMI port, but only getting Stereo PCM — I was under the impression that either this set up I should be getting Dolby Atmos (DD+, not Dolby TrueHD) but at the very least I thought I should be getting Dolby 5.1 surround sound with this set up. 
 

the TV is a Panasonic Viera GT50. The AppleTV doesn’t show any option for changing the format other than turning auto off. Any advice or any more information needed? Thanks for your help!

Correct, I’m using the ARC HDMI port, but only getting Stereo PCM — I was under the impression that either this set up I should be getting Dolby Atmos (DD+, not Dolby TrueHD) but at the very least I thought I should be getting Dolby 5.1 surround sound with this set up. 
 

the TV is a Panasonic Viera GT50. The AppleTV doesn’t show any option for changing the format other than turning auto off. Any advice or any more information needed? Thanks for your help!

Apple TV 4K needs an eARC connection to the TV for its ‘default’ audio settings, because it uses Multichannel PCM audio, which is uncompressed and is in a Dolby MAT container with Atmos metadata in some instances. and so it needs an eARC port on the TV for that uncompressed audio.

To use it with HDMI-ARC you need to switch the Apple TV ‘Audio Format’ to ‘On’ and select Dolby Digital+ but you ‘may’ (perhaps) find you still get just PCM Stereo only audio if your TV only supports Dolby Digital 5.1 audio… but if the TV supports the DD+ codec, you will then get surround sound.

Userlevel 7
Badge +17

@Ken_Griffiths I do not own an Apple TV 4K. There’s no way to make it do Dolby Digital (no +)? That would be unfortunate.

@Ken_Griffiths I do not own an Apple TV 4K. There’s no way to make it do Dolby Digital (no +)? That would be unfortunate.

You are probably right here @106rallye, on reflection.🙏

My thinking was that the OP’s Apple TV 4K is falling back to PCM stereo only - I know the older Apple TV 4HD (which I have) will fallback to Dolby Digital 5.1 and then PCM stereo (if the TV does not support the DD codec).

I’m not 100% sure that the Apple TV 4K will do what I outlined in my earlier post (but maybe🤔?) ..

However if the OP is only getting PCM stereo only in this instance, then I’m thinking it’s either the Apple TV 4K causing it, or (on reflection) it might perhaps be their TV is not supporting the Dolby Digital codecs - so as an example, the TV may just support the DT`S 5.1 codec instead.

Correct, I’m using the ARC HDMI port, but only getting Stereo PCM — I was under the impression that either this set up I should be getting Dolby Atmos (DD+, not Dolby TrueHD) but at the very least I thought I should be getting Dolby 5.1 surround sound with this set up. 
 

the TV is a Panasonic Viera GT50. The AppleTV doesn’t show any option for changing the format other than turning auto off. Any advice or any more information needed? Thanks for your help!

Apple TV 4K needs an eARC connection to the TV for its ‘default’ audio settings, because it uses Multichannel PCM audio, which is uncompressed and is in a Dolby MAT container with Atmos metadata in some instances. and so it needs an eARC port on the TV for that uncompressed audio.

To use it with HDMI-ARC you need to switch the Apple TV ‘Audio Format’ to ‘On’ and select Dolby Digital+ but you ‘may’ (perhaps) find you still get just PCM Stereo only audio if your TV only supports Dolby Digital 5.1 audio… but if the TV supports the DD+ codec, you will then get surround sound.

So I did what you outlined here, and was able to get the Apple TV Audio Format to select Dolby 5.1, but when I choose that, for some reason the Apple TV now is sending sound straight to the tv and not to the so is any more. Sometimes I can control the sound with the tv remote itself but as soon as I try to stream something the sound cuts out and I have to airplay it from the Apple TV to the Sonos System. Where should I go from here? I’ve seen the arcana fury could be a way to fix this, but I don’t wanna drop another $250 and end up having to buy a new tv with the eARC port anyways. Thanks for the help!!

 

Edit: it is a plasma TV from 2012, so could it maybe just not support any Dolby sound being routed through it, which is the reason why it won’t send sound through the tv and forces me to airplay instead?

@rm102233,

I suspect your TV is too old to support DD 5.1 too. It’s likely a case of living with PCM stereo, or opting to use an audio extractor (NB: there are much cheaper options if you just want DD5.1 audio) - you only need to use devices like HDFury Arcana if you want Dolby Atmos audio …or the more expensive option is a new TV.

Simply check Amazon for DD5.1 audio extractors - they are really quite cheap these days.

In fact looking on Amazon I came across this…

https://www.amazon.com/OREI-Switch-Audio-Extractor-Output/dp/B01MDU0M30

I’ve not used one personally speaking, but it looks like it should work for Atmos audio too and it’s not that expensive compared to other products - I’ve just not (yet) come across anyone who has tested it with their Arc or Beam.