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 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 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....

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 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. 

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 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

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 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 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.

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 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!

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.


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!

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. 

I'm getting the same problem, constantly changing the volume to suit quiet dialogue and very loud music/effects. I'm using a new Samsung qe55q95t TV along with arc, sub and surround play 1's. TV is fine and iplayer but amazon prime and Netflix really suffer from this quiet dialogue. Nothing constructive suggested by Sonos help as of yet. I have a playbar and sub in another room and that is fine. Someone at Sonos needs to look into this problem urgently!

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.


My TV is the Sony 80J Series OLED 2021 (77 Inch).

I will submit a diagnostic report, considering even doing a few.

What really is strange is that I get different results in True Play process:

I have used:

  • Iphone 8 Plus
  • Iphone SE
  • Iphone 12 max

Although I would assume that Sonos has calibrated the microphones of each (microphone profiling), the results are indeed different. How can that be?

I paid close attention to how I walked the room. That’s what I referred to above as “True Play Lottery”.

Is the recommendation such that I do many True Play runs until I like the result?

Very strange.


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!

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 

Userlevel 5
Badge +7

Still have this issue with my ARC and not improved with any of the updates

Have you tried another Arc or a Beam Gen 2 instead? Switching to a Beam resolved all my issues. 

Well I have Beam gen 2 upstairs and yes its much better on this compared to the ARC, but I wouldn't want to lose the wider sound stage as my living room is quite large. 

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 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!


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.*

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!