Sonos Arc extremely poor dialogue levels VS Music and Action

  • 6 November 2020
  • 71 replies

Userlevel 2

Hi - other SONOS ARC owners have posted this issue previously but it did not reach a resolution so I am reposting.  

I’ve just purchased a Sonos ARC and I’m having to constantly adjust the volume level up and down to compensate for the extremely low levels for dialogue vs action / music.  The dialogue levels are extremely low in any movie compared to action and music.  

I am using the ARC with a Samsung 55 inch 2019 model.

I have set night mode and speech enhancement on.  Still getting the same issue.  

There appears to be no further adjustment / modes in the SONOS app to adjust dialogue to music / action balance other than reducing SubWoofer level.  

DEAR SONOS team - surely this is a software setup issue which is resolvable?  Please let me know - really don’t want to send it back!! 

Quite bummed!  Love my Sub, Play 5 Gen 2 and Gen 1 and Play 3.  

Thanks in advance for your timely solution to this issue.  


Best answer by wilc50 17 December 2020, 20:42

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71 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +17

Have you done a Trueplay?

Userlevel 1

I don't like the dialog from my sonos arc ether.  I reconnected my play bar and the dialog is so much better.  I don't own any apple products to calibrate it.  I have a lot of sonos products and am disappointed in the arc's dialog handling.  I've tried every combination of settings. No help.  I would play the volume up and down game on the arc just to hear speech,  I don't on the play bar.   Sonos help!


If they can't fix the dialog on the arc, I may look at the Samsung Q950T soundbar instead....

I’ve had my Arc for a few days now and I had the same problem until I turned loudness OFF, turned speech enhancement ON and redid Trueplay. It made a night and day difference. I’m not sure exactly how the Loudness setting works but it only seems to make loud noises louder, which is counterproductive to speech. 

Userlevel 1

This is one of the reason I just sold my ARC, Cant believe how low they tuned the dialog, you need to enable speech enhanchment al the time. 

I upgraded (or so I thought) from the Beam to the Arc and have the same issue. Tried turning loudness off, turned speech enhancement on, tried night setting, nothing helped. Now I sit with my remote control in my hand adjusting volume scene by scene. Seems to be a very common issue as there are lots of complaints both here and on other forums. Sonos never seems to reply to any of the threads discussing this issue. Love Sonos, but the Arc is massively disappointing. Not sure if I should return or hope for an update in the future. Pricey risk to take.

Userlevel 1

I went the same route from beam to ARC Ive read lots of reviews where they al praised ARC but to be honest I was very dissapointed, the only good thing Is that the second hand market is strong so I did not loose more than 1/10th of the new price.

Userlevel 1

Got the Sonos Arc and the Sub Gen 3 and am extremely disappointed with the dialogue.

Tried all combinations within the app and was of no use. I have an LG 2020 model and the TV’s dialogue clarity spins circles around the Sonos Arc. Sonos please fix this or at least put up a graphic equalizer option in the app so one can bump up the vocal frequencies.

I now use it only for music and pull out the HDMI when watching TV or movies. Defeats the purpose of getting the Arc in the first place.

The tall claims of Sonos that one can even hear soft whispers on the Arc are baseless. The speech enhancement helps a little but not as much. 

And seeing the number of people complaining about this dialogue issue, I guess Sonos should address it soon. 

Userlevel 2

(Posted on another thread about tinny sound)

I just purchased my first Sonos products. Arc and 2 One SL’s. I was very excited unboxing these lovely speakers. Such attention to detail in all regards. Very Apple! Set up was fairly straightforward. Used Trueplay. I am a HiFi nut and have a good idea about sound and relevant gear so it was a good experience so far. Watched a couple of TV shows and was a little disappointed with the tinny speech. Then I turned to some movies and series on Netflix and it all went pear shaped. The dialog was so soft I had to increase the volume ...but then the music or special effects came on and i was blasted out of my seat by the extreme volume. Movie after movie (and shows) all do the same thing.

I recalibrated the system. Moved speakers. Changed settings on my Apple TV 4K. No difference. Tinny and super quiet dialog. 

Looks like I am not alone with this. Complaints are all over the internet. So what’s with the overwhelming positive reviews by the press and review sites with not a single one picking up on the issues???

I will give it one more try but if it does not improve greatly its all going back. I am stunned that with this many complaints Sonos is not commenting or coming out with any fixes. Looks like no more Sonos for me.

Userlevel 2

I’m writing to add another vote for the ARC’s very poor handling of dialogue in both TV shows and movies.  I, too have tried all combinations of settings to no avail.  For the money they charge, I shouldn’t be wasting my time and suffering with their product.

The ARC initially had me thoroughly impressed, but time and the aggravation of going up and down with the volume controls has taken the luster off what I expected to be an amazing experience.  What is as painfully obvious as the ARC’s sound problems is the apparent lack of interest in the issue from SONOS. I know one person who visits my home who decided not to buy SONOS based solely on the problem with dialogue volume.  So, they’re losing business because of this issue, but it remains of little importance to the company?  

And, as a longtime SONOS 1 owner, I will take this opportunity to say how displeased I am with the way you treated your original supporters and customers by abandoning us along with any support or upgrades to your expensive equipment.

Userlevel 7
Badge +17

Can you pinpoint what audio format the Arc is receiving when you have this problem?


Volume Normalization is what you are asking for and, to be frank, doesn’t make sense in a “home theater”.

Other than that, be sure to Trueplay.

Userlevel 1

I’ve had my sonos arc for just over a year now and the speech issues have deterioted dramatically over the last month. Have tried similar setting changes and re-doing trueplay a number of times without any luck. 

Not sure i feel any better knowing there’s so many of us out there with similar isues.

Userlevel 7
Badge +17

Not sure how you can come to the conclusion there’s many people out there having this problem but you contacted Sonos to let them try and solve it?

In most similar complaints, the issue has been that the source being played has been in stereo, and not an actual 5.1 signal with a disparate center channel.

Userlevel 4
Badge +3

Dialogue handling and balancing in high frequency is POOR. Very low dialogue and high frequency volume. Have a look at Bose 700 Soundbar, the mids and highs sound super CRISP. There are two main issues with ARC:

Low volume

Dialogues not clear

Mids and highs are not CRISP

So many customer complaining of the same issue. Why does Speech Enhancement need to be enabled always? It spoils the melody balance between Mids and highs especially 5KHZ and above. Pretty sure this can be fixed with a software update. But how soon? Should this be taken to Social media for prompt action? The equipment is very expensive and obviously there shouldn’t be any excuse. I have written to the CEO twice who has just cascaded my email to a Manager who reportedly has just taken my feedback and didn’t promise an ETA for the update.

Userlevel 1

Decided to chime in as well. Initially I was impressed with the Arc but it seems as time went on the dialogue on the Arc became a serious problem. Just to clarify I am using a Sony A80J, Sonos Arc, Gen 3 Sub, and Apple TV 4K. I have retuned Trueplay multiple times. Repositioned the sub and etc and no matter what the dialogue is just not improved. Maybe Sonos will read the comments and realize that there is a problem on their end. Just very infuriating to spend so much money and for dialogue to be the main issue with the ARC. Hopefully their is a fix down the road but given this issue has been going for awhile I doubt Sonos even cares to acknowledge the issue. 

Userlevel 1

Adding a vote. Been following these threads for months (this community, reddit, and others) and have tried it all, including doubling down and adding the sub and ones to my arc, but still not satisfied with the dialogue quality at all. 

There’s obviously something wrong and I’m finding it hard to believe Sonos has still not resolved the issue or provided much of an update. (Maybe it’s something they can’t fix??)

I’m seriously regretting the purchase and cannot recommend Sonos at this point. 

im sure there’s many more people that are not posting as so many others (thousands) are already writing about the same - if that’s you, I encourage you to post. Again, hard to believe that Sonos doesn’t understand the severity of the issue at this point, but let’s at least make sure they understand the scale of dissatisfied customers. 

Userlevel 1

I will say this I will heavily consider the new set of Sony Sounbars that are releasing and just sell this Arc if no improvements are made when I move into a new space. So I am hoping Sonos does something cause I truly believe they know it is a problem but just has not made it known. So maybe a future update down the line but I am not expecting it to keep my expectations low. 

From what I’ve come to understand, Sonos needs to work with Apple to sort out this iOS microphone trueplay issue. Once that’s worked out, the soundbar will sound the way it was intended. Hope you guys at Sonos are working on this!

I have the same exact problems. Tried every fix out there multiple times - and to no surprise - terrible. 

Sonos should be held accountable ! We need a fix!

Hi All. I’m not sure if this is of help to anyone but thought I would post. I was having the same issue with the Arc which I just set up and had upgraded from the Playbar with my LG. I’m using Dolby Atmos. Voices sounded underwater while music and effects sounded normal. I tested several apps but only seemed to have the issue on some but not all Apple TV+ shows and movies. Very weird. I tried all the techniques in this thread to no avail. 
Eventually I paused a show and saw there was an Apple TV setting to ‘reduce loud sounds’ checked. I switched to ‘full dynamic range’ and it appears to have fixed the issue. Perhaps it’s an app by app issue? I hope to be out of the woods and not writing this prematurely. good luck!

I’ve found a fix. Use your native tv apps and your sound will improve drastically. Apple TV for some odd reason, sounds worse and doesn’t let the Arc breath. If you have an LG, you still have access to the Apple TV app on WebOS. Try it out, you’ll be surprised

Turn OFF “Reduce Loud Sounds” on the Apple TV.  It really messes up Atmos on the ARC.  I’m so glad I tried that, it solved the dialog issue for me completely.  Before vocals would jump around in volume depending on the scene.

Userlevel 5
Badge +7

I’ve had my Sonos Arc Since around launch.. I also had a beam which has just been upgraded to a beam gen 2. I’ve never been happy with the ARCs centre channel speech, it always just feels underwater and not direct in your face which the beam does a better job of, in truplayed and trueplayed adjusted many settings but never get the wow feeling. I’m really hoping Sonos can sort this out, maybe give centre channel customisation like the height channels.


in my case  this happens when the Arc receives Dolby Multichannel , and DD at lower bitrates my solution is lower the treble 3 or 2 points behind the bass ( 0 bass and -2highs for example) and turn on the speech enhancement, and this solves the problem in most of scenes  but is kinda annoying doing this every time