Sonos Surround Set - Issues

  • 15 April 2021
  • 3 replies

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I purchased the Sonos Surround Set. The arc arrived last night, and after spending a fair amount of time trying to sort it, I’m having a number of issues.

1.The dialogue sounds terrible. I’ve tried the dialogue enhancer, and it makes no difference. As a test, I put on a nature documentary, and David Attenborough’s narration sounded so muffled, like he was underwater. It was like a jumper was on top of the arc. As another test, I tried various channels (Apple TV, Netflix, Regular TV) and the dialogue sounded poor on most of them. The best it sounded was on a game show on normal TV, but it sounded like it was going up and down, and changing each time a different person spoke. Really distracting.

2. The sub makes absolutely zero difference. It is definitely connected, but when I switch it on or off, the sound remains exactly the same.

3. The rear speakers (Sonos Ones) are fantastic for music. The quality is high. However, when the surround sound system was set up, I couldn’t hear any dialogue through them, just the odd bit of background noise. Also, it seems that there is no way to increase (or decrease) the rear speakers without increasing (or decreasing) the arc at the same time. This is disappointing.


4. Ever since I set up the Sonos Ones on our wifi network, our home wifi has become noticeably more sluggish. We have one of the top wifi packages, and it has always worked on multiple devices, but it seems to have slowed down as soon as we get the Sonos kit. Does Sonos have a habit of doing this?

Now, I should point out that my TV (55-inch 4K Sony Bravia) doesn’t have eArc. Just HDMI ARC. I realise that I won’t get the full quality without eArc, but I wasn’t expecting the quality to be this bad – and it shouldn’t be.


After speaking to technical support for an hour or so, a diagnostic test revealed that there is an issue with the Arc, so it has to be replaced. However, after looking at various forums, it seems that lots of other people have had similar issues with the arc and the surround set.


I’m looking for a surround sound set that will provide crystal clear dialogue and distinct, immersive sounds. I’m now concerned that the Sonos Set isn’t going to give me these things. Does anyone have any advice or guidance or experience?


Best answer by Airgetlam 15 April 2021, 20:54

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3 replies

  1. My guess is that the Arc is/was not receiving an appropriate signal. You may want to open the controller, and look at what the Arc says it’s receiving. If it’s stereo, then it will indeed sound “not good”  I’d recommend looking not only at the audio settings for the TV, but also the audio settings for any device feeding that TV. Not everything is CEC capable, which is the system that the Arc uses to communicate to the hub (TV) which is then supposed to send that information on to all connected devices.
  2. Same thing as above. If the signal being received by the Arc is not at least a 5.1 signal, then there’s zero LFE channel to transmit to the sub.
  3. Again, not significant sound from them during TV, but great sound during music suggest that the Arc is not sending them the surround information that is normally encoded in a 5.1 signal. However, you’re not supposed to hear dialog in surround channels, except in very rare situations. They’re for ambient / surround noises, not center channel voice. 
  4. I’m glad that you were able to get together with tech support, and determine that there was an issue with your Arc, but all of the above statements are worth looking in to while you wait for the replacement to arrive. 

My experience (two PLAYBARS replaced by Arcs, and PLAY:1s as surrounds, along with Subs for both systems) is that it works incredibly well. I do use a Vizio TV which is limited by only passing Dolby Digital through to the Arc, not Dolby Digital Plus or TrueHD, which is what Atmos is carried on, but have had zero issues.  And I chose to upgrade one TV with an HD Fury Arcana device in order to be able to feed my living room device with the Atmos signal generated by my Apple TV. There are several threads in this forum about the Arcana, it is a cheaper purchase than replacing an entire TV, like mine, that doesn’t properly handle all of the formats required. 

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Cheers for the reply! 

The Arc has been packed away, since it has to go back. However, I seem to remember that “5.1” came up on some screens on the app. To be honest, I find the interface (on the app) quite confusing.

I tend to watch most things through the apps on the TV (iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Now TV, Apple TV) so I’m guessing that means they will have the same setting / input. 

With regards to dialogue on the rear speakers, I know that the centre speaker is the one that deals with dialogue, but I’m sure my old 5.1 system had dialogue through them, and when I tried a few channels with the arc, some of them had dialogue via the rear speakers. When this happened, it was like we were hearing the same thing from the Arc and both Sonos Ones.

I have re-connected my old Soundbar (a £200 Sony one) and the dialogue is miles better than what I was getting from the Sonos one. When I was listening to the Sonos system, it felt either too loud or too low. Either deafening or I couldn’t make out what was being said. One of the things I want from a surround sound system is to stop having to keep turning the volume up (during dialogue scenes) and down (during big action scenes). 


I’ve looked at the Fury Arcana, but I’m hesitant about paying for one, given how much I’ve already shelled out, and I’m starting to think that the Sonos Arc isn’t great for dialogue (due to the amount of other people who have had similar complaints). 


Well, since the Arc you had was broken, it’s somewhat unfair to compare it to any other soundbar. You should wait until you get a functional one before taking any comparisons. And when you get one that works, it’s entirely possible that you don’t need the Arcana device, it’s really for those of us who have TVs that won’t properly pass the audio input on an HDMI port to the ARC electronics built in to the TV, and then sent back out along the ARC channel via HDMI.

My Vizio is one that fails to ‘pass through’ or properly reflect the input. The TV’s internal apps work, it is just any input via HDMI that fails. It’s the price I pay for saving several hundreds of dollars when purchasing the TV, and not doing proper research, but it’s somewhat hard to blame Sonos for that. 

If any system you’ve had was playing the center ‘voice’ channel through the surround speakers, it was set up improperly, or receiving a non 5.1 signal. In a true 5.1 setup of any type, there is no amount of the center channel sent to the surrounds.