No noticeable surround effect from Arc.

  • 6 October 2020
  • 9 replies


I recently bought/installed a Sonos Arc, connected via HDMI to a Sony X900H TV.

I’m generally quite happy with the sound quality, but was disappointed that I didn’t hear any noticeable surround effects. I hear a bit of left-to-right movement, but nothing front-to-back. There are no obvious configuration problems—I’ve confirmed via “About My System” that it’s getting a 5.1 signal (and Atmos when available); I’ve run Trueplay tuning.

Some reasons I might not be noticing surround effects:

  • It’s not going to work in my room, due to wall/ceiling dimensions or furniture configuration.
  • I’m doing it wrong. Need to find & tweak a setting somewhere or do tuning differently in order to make it work.
  • It’s one of those illusions where you don’t experience it until you stop thinking about it. It’s subtle, but I’ll notice it eventually.
  • I’m expecting too much. A soundbar is not a surround sound system, and isn’t going to sound like one. The advertising about a multi-dimensional soundstage is mostly just marketing spin.

Here’s what the installation looks like, if it helps diagnosing the first bullet. Room is 16’ across, 13’ deep,  8’ valuted ceiling with a peak at 10’ (a 14° angle).


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9 replies

It is probably just the content you have played so far. Lots of stuff just doesn't have much going to the surrounds.

In tbe Arc settings there are sliders to alter the relative volumes of soundbar and surrounds.

Do you have any streaming services like Netflix or Prime Video?

You do actually have surround speakers, and are not relying on the Arc to provide that, correct?

You do actually have surround speakers, and are not relying on the Arc to provide that, correct?

Good point Bruce. I think I may have presumed.


Nope, no surrounds. Just Arc.


Here’s the kind of thing I was expecting, from The Verge’s review:

If you didn’t know the Arc was bouncing sound off the ceiling and rear wall, you would easily believe that there were speakers there. Compared to the traditional Atmos system, the Arc sounded different — it’s definitely tuned to deliver very loud dialogue, and it’s still a soundbar, so the overall left / right soundstage isn’t as wide — but it delivered a surround effect that was easily as convincing. Take the opening scene of Baby Driver: it sounded like there were cars flying across the screen, helicopters overhead, and sirens whizzing by.

Instead, I’m just hearing reasonably-good stereo sound.


Do you have any streaming services like Netflix or Prime Video?

Sure, I’ve tried many different inputs. For example, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on Disney+ (with Atmos), and a Plex playing back a rip of a Wall-E Blu-ray (with 5.1 AC3). I’m subscribed to both Netflix and Prime Video, if there’s something you’re wanting to point me to.

I was going to, but I was making the completely unjustified assumption that you had rear surround speakers.  I really don't know what the Arc sounds like without those.

I am sure the expense would be unwelcome but.I think you would find the sound transformed by a pair of One.SLs. I certainly get some great surround sound effects with my setup with two Play:1s.

To my knowledge, the Arc is designed to supplement surrounds with side firing speakers, not replace them. As John suggests, adding real physical surrounds would be a real perspective changer.