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Sonos Arc extremely poor dialogue levels VS Music and Action

  • 6 November 2020
  • 71 replies
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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.  

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Best answer by wilc50 17 December 2020, 20:42

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I had the same problem for a while and could not understand the reason. I finally solved it. In my case the issue was due to tue tv’s HDMI ARC audio output settings. It was configured to PCM2 and not Dolby. That is why the voice and surround were not properly distributed throughout the speakers. You can check in the Sono’s App when playing a movie or a tv show how it is being received. Once I saw it said PCM2, I understood the problem and changed the tv’s configuration. I am finally very happy with the results!

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Ken_Griffiths

2 days ago - From: “Speech enhancement of movies” thread; which, of course, Sonos closed the thread.  I guess there is too much for them to handle🤷‍♂️

I’m sory that I could not respond sooner! & I hope you find this message.

Yes, we all do hear things differently, especially depending on room size, ceiling height, acustics, Etc..

As I mentioned my wife can heare things across the state, but I cannot.

I only have the best cables that I could buy - Never skimp on things such as that.

I am truly glad that someone (your family) does not have difficult with dialogue! AND, I do not disbelieve anything that you have said!

However there are too many complaints, for too long, for our situation to be an anomoly.

Just so you know, I have reached out to Sonos, and all I get are the stock answers.

Unfortunately, your diagnostic link(s) do not work.

Regarding the Soro App being only iOS is on Sonos. In this world there is no excuse for a company to ignore Android when developing Apps!  

In addition to everything I tried, Senior sound system Techs, from Best Buy, were here no less than 4 times, to troubleshoot, and they did not have any success either.

I appreciate your sincerity across the board!

Thank you for your comments!

Regards,

S

 

PS: For everyone using the Arc only for TV sound, especially in a small room, and can ddistinguish dialogue in movies and TV series that is great!

 

SOME ADDITIONAL INFO FOR THOSE CONSIDERING THE Sonos Arc:

Unfortunatly for us, the consultant we used knew of Each and Every issue that we had/have, and he was only interested in making a commission, and lied about many things. 

In addition, I was not aware that the Sonos Arc only has 2 inputs (1 HDMI eARC, 1 Toslink).  This is not an issue for anyone not using periferal accessories, including wanting to attach a turntable.  To have to add another $500 - $600 for a Port or Amp is awful, and that was never mentioned to me.  Did they also leave out Bluetooth to force people to buy the port in order to be able to stream music from phones, and PCs?

It will cost me a considerable sum to replace, and get rid of the Arc.  I am looking into ZVOX, and have written to the company to make sure the music capability is adequate, as well as other things. I am also seriously interested in the new Bose - Smart Ultra Soundbar

I am not an audiophile, and my hearing is not what it used to be, but when listening to music, at least without Sonos’ satellite WiFi surround speakers, the lack of separation is, without a doubt, a tech engineering blunder by Sonos - unless they intended to get consumers to buy as many add-ons as possible.

 

To all who like your Sonos equipment - Keep on Enjoying!!!!

 

==============================

From: Ken_Griffiths

@Stirv,

I guess we all may hear things differently and of course there’s the listening environment to consider aswell as the various audio/video sources. There could even be something wrong with your A/V products, or cables etc.

It is difficult to diagnose these things from afar. However I and all my immediate family members have 6 Sonos soundbars between us and that includes 3 Sonos Arcs and we all think that the Arc sounds great. 

If you think something isn’t right with your equipment you should really reach out to the manufacturers customer support desk. If you think it’s your Arc that’s at fault, then supply Sonos with diagnostic reports and videos and then go from there.

Personally speaking myself and family members that have Sonos Home Theatres are all happy with them - I’m sorry if you do not believe that’s the truth, but I can assure you it is.

To submit diagnostic reports and video etc. to Sonos, see the below links…

And I do sincerely hope you find the answers you’re looking for with your TV audio in your own listening environment.

P.S. - Yes the Soro App is iOS only (sorry🙏 I perhaps should have clarified that). 

S

Airgetlam

You and 1 other person like this

I believe I have fixed the dialogue problem on my Arc. Just got my system over the weekend.

I tried a posted fix above but couldn’t because I don’t have that particular sound adjustment. So in my settings under the sound settings, I selected reset sound. I of course had to adjust the default tv speaker selection to receiver…but now I can hear and understand the dialogue! 
 

I'm going to check out more types of programming to make sure but this is great. Perhaps I won’t return my Sonos system after all.

On my LG C1, selecting "pass through" under digital sound output in the advanced sound settings has made a HUGE difference.

This worked for me. I have a Beam Gen 1, Sub Gen 1 with pair of One SLs connected to an LG NANO91 and an Arc, Sub Gen 3 with pair of Era 300’s connected to an LG C3 - both use Apple TVs as source of content.

The Beam sounded consistently deeper and more pronounced than the Arc.

I’ve tested with and without Trueplay, tweaked heaps of settings, but today tried the above while watching Top Gun Maverick and it was a huge improvement.

The Era 300’s are amazing but they were constantly drowning out the Arc. Now the sound is significantly more balanced and the Arc finally draws your attention forward.

For me at least, this doesn't sound like a ‘Sonos issue’.

I was on the point of contacting Sonos before reading this thread, as I have been experiencing the exact same problem with my setup, being the Arc paired with the Sub Mini. Listening to music is fine, but it’s as though there is no mid-range on the Arc… Dialogue is scratchy / squeaky and on modern films, like Oppenheimer, I gave up halfway through as 50% of the dialogue is totally inaudible. I’ve tried changing the TV set up, splashing out on a very expensive HDMI cable… and continually adjusting the EQ…. I have now given up… so will be listing the Arc on E-bay  

I see this is your first post here, but before I even consider bidding on your device, how do you know it’s perhaps not a defective product, or even if your TV output is the issue? 

I was on the point of contacting Sonos before reading this thread, as I have been experiencing the exact same problem with my setup, being the Arc paired with the Sub Mini. Listening to music is fine, but it’s as though there is no mid-range on the Arc… Dialogue is scratchy / squeaky and on modern films, like Oppenheimer, I gave up halfway through as 50% of the dialogue is totally inaudible. I’ve tried changing the TV set up, splashing out on a very expensive HDMI cable… and continually adjusting the EQ…. I have now given up… so will be listing the Arc on E-bay  

Unless it’s something that they have not been able to replicate? I don’t know, I don’t work for Sonos, but if I’m going to complain about an issue, I’m going to try to be part of the effort to fix it, rather than waiting for someone else to maybe figure it out. It’s affecting me, I’m the one who should be helping figure it out, especially if, by some odd chance that it’s an issue with my personal setup. I’ve always assumed bugs get prioritized by how much data is available. That’s certainly one of the key components we looked at when I was managing a software group. A lot better chance of figuring out what the cause was, with multiple data points to look at and compare. Nothing worse than tasking a programmer to look at an anecdotal bug, with no data to support the investigation.

Just complaining isn’t my style. 

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I really see this as a Sonos problem. Yes the bad audio levels aren’t Sonos’ fault, but with an AVR system you can easily boost the center channel to correct for bad content.

No idea if the center level is adjustable on other sound bars or not but if it is that is a selling feature for them when compared to Sonos.

 

 

Have you provided them with hard data, via a diagnostic, and called them so that they will look at it?

I, too, get frustrated, but it’s always with the audio mixer for the original source, and not Sonos, as I can duplicate the issue on non-Sonos setups. 

 

Why should I have to do their job for them? It's not hard to replicate. 

 

So many people are having the exact same issue to the point they could easily say "you might need to check that your TV or media player settings allow this or this feature to help clear up voice" 

 

Seeing that it's literally only the Arc having the problem, it seems pretty clear where the focus needs to be, including better customer service, regardless whether it's a forum or not. 

Have you provided them with hard data, via a diagnostic, and called them so that they will look at it?

I, too, get frustrated, but it’s always with the audio mixer for the original source, and not Sonos, as I can duplicate the issue on non-Sonos setups. 

Came here to say I’m also experiencing the same faults. Had this unit since it’s release, but now I’ve been at home on holiday and watching more movies, it’s become quite apparent that there’s a serious problem with voice dialogue and yeah, I’ve tried most of the processes to improve audio.

 

Was watching Dogma yesterday and was just annoyed having to up and down the volume on the TV, as we’re in an apartment and have young kids which don’t need waking up!

 

This thread has been here for years with the same faults, yet Sonos has done diddly squat to respond, let alone fix.

Userlevel 5
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Yes. still have dialogue problems, never bee fixed, just ignored by Sonos. Still the amount of times I have to turn up the volume to hear the dialogue and then turn volume down when action etc kicks in. Need some sort of centre channel control.

Any Sonos Bar set up is a compromise for convenience over a AVR based HT wired speaker set up with a dedicated centre channel/speaker and this is one of the prices paid for the compromise.

One workable solution is to use subtitles for dialogue. It does not take long to get used to it.

Turn on subtitles, because our $900 soundbar isn’t capable of producing dialogue that can be heard consistently?   You can’t be serious.   

Userlevel 2

With so many complaining about the crap dialogue and piss poor replies back from Sonos basically trying to say there’s nothing wrong it’s everyone’s set up problems, it’s clear to see they do not give a *.

so disappointed 

there was a stage at some point where this was not a problem and the sound was brilliant but then it all went to * and they can’t admit it😓

*Moderator Note: Modified in accordance with the Community Code of Conduct.*

I noticed my sound issues were most notable with streaming services. Your tv settings may be causing the issues with the center channel sound volume. On my LG C1, selecting "pass through" under digital sound output in the advanced sound settings has made a HUGE difference. I think any other settings are double processing the audio resulting in the muffled voice. Not sure for other tvs, but I'm guessing any settings other than pass through are causing the issue. Even "auto" settings seem to still negatively process the voice audio. At least with LG...

I've also done some comparative testing. For me, native apps in the tv produce better sound than the native apps in my Xfinity cable box. Disney+ plays in Atmos with the LG app and 5.1 with the Xfinity app. Atmos processing seemed to be most improved selecting pass through as well. Not sure about a Roku or Firestick as I only have old ones of those.

Also in advanced settings, make sure the HDMI iaudio format for each input is set for bitstream. You may have to do some testing to get it to work. My Switch needs to be set on PCM to get audio to work with pass through settings. Not sure about PS5 or Xbox since I don't have those.

Good luck!

 

I reached out to support and have received the generic turn on the dialogue / adjust EQ settings responses .  What does live support do ? 

Userlevel 7
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Did you call Sonos?

I have the Sonos arc and am extremely disappointed in the dialogue lack of clarity on streaming channels .  I have adjusted settings on the iPhone app and run trueplay many times . I have also adjusted the sound settings on my roku device . All to no avail .  For a $900 soundbar to perform so poorly in this regard is frustrating . I have a Samsung 2019 Oled tv  Any suggestions on a fix would be a Christmas miracle at this point  . Let me know if there are any 

I’ve been plagued with the same problem for months now. It all began when I plugged my laptop into my living room TV (LG webOS NANO90UNA) for a webinar. I must’ve toggled a setting that caused the dialogue to sound as everyone has described: muffled, underwater, etc. Today I decided I was going to figure this out. Nothing on the app helped. On the TV itself I went to Settings>Sound>Additional Settings>Digital Sound Out, which was set to <Auto>. When I switched it to PCM, boom. Problem fixed! Perfect. 

I can’t speak for any other brand, obviously, but this fixed my issue. Good luck!

When you switch to PCM you lose the ability to listen to 5.1 audio.

To echo everyone else, I am having the exact same issues. Extremely disappointing.
On top of that I also have audio delay.

I have the Arc, Sub (Gen 3), 2xOne. On an LG CX tv.

I’ve been plagued with the same problem for months now. It all began when I plugged my laptop into my living room TV (LG webOS NANO90UNA) for a webinar. I must’ve toggled a setting that caused the dialogue to sound as everyone has described: muffled, underwater, etc. Today I decided I was going to figure this out. Nothing on the app helped. On the TV itself I went to Settings>Sound>Additional Settings>Digital Sound Out, which was set to <Auto>. When I switched it to PCM, boom. Problem fixed! Perfect. 

I can’t speak for any other brand, obviously, but this fixed my issue. Good luck!

Hi all - for what it’s worth… I had a brand new Arc about a week ago… music and effects sounded excellent in stereo, 5.1 or Atmos. Dialogue was generally “fine” in stereo… but as soon as I tried 5.1 or Atmos it was a muddy, mumbly, tinny mess. Certainly nowhere near the sound I paid that sort of price for. 

 

I spent 90 minutes on a call to Sonos support and tried every setting and little bit of trouble shooting going - I didn’t get anywhere.

 

I returned the Arc for a Beam Gen 2 and the difference was night and day - dialogue in 5.1 and Atmos was now clear and crisp. 
 

So, for anyone not getting what they want from the Arc, I highly recommend trying a Beam! Sometimes more expensive doesn’t equal a better experience. 

I have a beam gen 2. Sure its clear and crisp. But it is too clear and crisp. It sounds like it comes from a tiny phone speaker on max volume with no depth what so ever. Looked at lord of the rings the other day and action scenes sounds amazing but the dialogue sounds as if the cast is totaly out of place speaking to me in a phone with no bass reflecting the environment. Clear and crisp is good, but it is not all you need in good speech representation. It needs to be adjusted to match the environment. Heck the cast dont even sound like them selves. They sound like, as i have mentioned here and there like they talk on the phone or somehting bass less..

(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.



Seems reviewers only mention the speech clarity. Sure its clear, so clear that it sounds like its comming from a small earbud in your ear with no bass what so ever. its like a solution for clarity is by removing all the bass.

Please Sonos, look in to this, product is realy good otherwise
 

Feel i need chip in here as well since this looks to be the same problem i experience. 
I bought my system one week ago and i have tried all the sonos app setings back and forth and i feel the speech aint getting much better. 
How come the reviews all hype the new beam gen 2 for having better speech representation etc. When i feel its really poor. Makes me question these so called “hi-fi” nerd channels.. 
Sure its clear, thats all i hear in the reviews, but its super tiny and high piched compare to rest of the sound. I need more depth and base added to the center speaker, not only clarity…

Please make an update for the bars to use more base on speech or something.
 

Yes same problem spent alot of money and surrounds and bass are awesome but dialogue from the Arc is horrible keeps changing from channel to channel and movies especially Netflix can't hear unless volume is way up high then the effects blow your head off 

Regretful purchase and will be recommending another brand to all my friends and clients as Sonos don't care about there members 

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I am having dialogue issues as well but I wonder if it’s due to using the Apple TV 4K. My arc was working fine for sounds and dialogue when I was using Firestick 4K. My current set up is Sony a90j oled  with eArc hdmi connection to arc with Sonos sub and two play 1’s.  When I leave the Appletv audio set to auto/Dolby atmos the Sonos system showed multichannel PCM 5.1 but the sound especially dialogue was very low. I had to increase volume from 40 to 50-60. When I changed the Apple TV audio to Dolby digital 5.1 the sound and dialogue was back to being good and I was back to setting volume to 40. I hate to change the Appletv audio settings based on Dolby atmos vs Dolby digital for different movies. I didn’t have these sound issues with the Firestick. It didn’t send out any multichannel PCM signal. Is everyone else having these sound issues with other streaming devices?  I am considering returning the Appletv and buying a new Firestick   Any response would be appreciated 

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