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Amp Digital Input?


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Replaced a Connect:Amp with an Amp. When it arrived I realized I had not done my homework and the digital output required another $25 dongle on top of the already steep price for the Amp. Ok, too far in to back down.

Connected the Optical output on my LG TV to the Amp via HDMI. Set the LG output menu to speakers+optical. 

Nothing on the Amp. Shows no input connected.

Plugged the Optical from my Tivo into the Amp. It worked. but would only play on the AMP speakers. 

Plugged in the RCA out from my Tivo into the Amp. I was able to play that input on other Sonos speakers around the house.

Soooo:

  1. Is there some special magic in getting the TV to work?
  2. Is it true that the digital input will only play on the Amp speakers and nowhere else?
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Best answer by Airgetlam 21 July 2021, 01:35

Question. Was the settings on the TV set, and whatever was feeding the TV set  turned to Dolby Digital only, and nothing higher (like Dolby Digital Plus, Atmos, DTS, or even “best”)?

The optical from the TiVo worked because I suspect it was sending a Dolby Digital signal, which the Amp could interpret. If you want it to play on other speakers, you’d either need to “group” them with the Amp. 

So 1) Yes, probably. Dolby Digital is the only 5.1 signal the Amp can interpret. 

and 2) No, you should be able to “group” the line in, either digital or analog on the Amp with any other Sonos room. 

 

 

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Question. Was the settings on the TV set, and whatever was feeding the TV set  turned to Dolby Digital only, and nothing higher (like Dolby Digital Plus, Atmos, DTS, or even “best”)?

The optical from the TiVo worked because I suspect it was sending a Dolby Digital signal, which the Amp could interpret. If you want it to play on other speakers, you’d either need to “group” them with the Amp. 

So 1) Yes, probably. Dolby Digital is the only 5.1 signal the Amp can interpret. 

and 2) No, you should be able to “group” the line in, either digital or analog on the Amp with any other Sonos room. 

 

 

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OK, I’ve been playing around with this and now I have the optical coming out of the TV.

But it will only play to the deck speakers which are the ones connected to the Amp. I want to play it to my 2 family room speakers.

Basically the output from the TV is “locked” to the deck speakers (and the input shows up as TV, even though I never set it for that.)

Big Room (the pair of Play:3’s) is selected to Line in from Deck but the sound only plays on the deck, not Big Room and I can’t either a.) get the input somewhere else nor b.) stop the Amp from playing on the Deck. With our Connect:Amp this was never a problem.

 

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Someone on reddit has pointed out that on the Amp the inputs are treated differently. The digital in only works through the direct speakers and cannot be re-routed to any other device. The RCA inputs can be ported to any other device. What a terrible limitation.

The aux RCA inputs are there for music related sources, such as a turntable or CD player.  The audio coming in will be buffered slightly so that you can group in other Sonos rooms and have everything play in sync.

THE HDMI-ARC input is for TV.  If your TV is HDMI-ARC capable, then you should connect the amp to the HDMI-ARC port on the TV (labeled as an input on your TV).  You will need to change the settings on the TV to output via ARC, as well as the Sonos setup for TV input.  If your TV is not HDMI-ARC capable, but has an optical output, then you would need the dongle adapter you were referring to.

As @Airgetlam mentioned before, the format of the audio playing also matters.

What you heard from reddit isn’t exactly correct. For the RCA inputs, you can set it so it doesn’t play on the device itself, but in another room. You can group rooms together and play everything in sync.  For the HDMI-ARC input, it has to play in the room that the amp controls, and you can also group it with other Sonos rooms in your home.  However, the audio will play immediately on the amp in order to stay insync with the video on your TV.  Other rooms in your house will be buffered slightly for multiroom audio.

 

 

 

 

 

Someone on reddit has pointed out that on the Amp the inputs are treated differently. The digital in only works through the direct speakers and cannot be re-routed to any other device. The RCA inputs can be ported to any other device. What a terrible limitation.

 

  1. Since it is logical to think you wish TV audio to play on the actual speakers that are situated near the TV, calling it a “terrible limitation” is not a fair assessment. 
  2. You can group other Sonos devices with the speakers connected to the Amp and have the TV audio play in other rooms.
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My use case is paired Play:3’s in the family room where I want to play the TV’s sound. The front deck is not viable as an output source (to standard mounted speakers) because that would play TV out to the neighborhood any time I tried to listen to TV on the Play:3’s, so grouping is not a viable solution. 

The reality is that the RCA input does exactly what I want, but the limitation is having to do that out of the Tivo instead of out of the TV, so the value of that is greatly reduced.

The fact that these two inputs act differently is a limitation and it is one that is not readily stated anywhere in the documentation. Ultimately I needed the Amp so it is not like I would have bypassed the purchase. But I would not have spent the time to chase down a $25 dongle to try to get digital output if I had known the limitations. Not the end of the world, but Sonos could have done a better job of identifying that digital music input is not possible. I get that some people have a different use case and that’s great that it works for you, but based on the cost of the Amp, the inability to utilize the digital input for music is a real limitation. Especially if you are trying to promote the idea that S2 has higher fidelity.

My use case is paired Play:3’s in the family room where I want to play the TV’s sound. The front deck is not viable as an output source (to standard mounted speakers) because that would play TV out to the neighborhood any time I tried to listen to TV on the Play:3’s, so grouping is not a viable solution. 

The reality is that the RCA input does exactly what I want, but the limitation is having to do that out of the Tivo instead of out of the TV, so the value of that is greatly reduced.

 

 

Again, the RCA input is not designed to be used with TV audio.  If you connected your TV to the amp this way, the audio would not be in sync with the video on the TV screen.  The HDMI-ARC port on the Amp exists for this purpose.

 

The fact that these two inputs act differently is a limitation and it is one that is not readily stated anywhere in the documentation.

 

 

You are sort of correct here.  Documentation does not explicitly mention the buffering/lag that occurs through the RCA inputs, but it does state that the port exists for external music players.  As well, documention does say that HDMI-ARC port is for TV audio.  It does explicitly say you can a TV here, not play it thorugh the amp, and play it elsewhere...but is that something that really needs to said?  It’s not a matter of different use case, it’s just extremely unusual to connect a TV to an amp or soundbar and not have that audio play through that amp and sound.  A

 

Ultimately I needed the Amp so it is not like I would have bypassed the purchase. But I would not have spent the time to chase down a $25 dongle to try to get digital output if I had known the limitations. Not the end of the world, but Sonos could have done a better job of identifying that digital music input is not possible. I get that some people have a different use case and that’s great that it works for you, but based on the cost of the Amp, the inability to utilize the digital input for music is a real limitation. Especially if you are trying to promote the idea that S2 has higher fidelity.

 

Are you referring to the HDMI-ARC port as a “digital music input”? HDMI-ARC is a specification specifically designed to connect to TVs,  The optical dongle is available for older TVs that only have optical output and no HDMI-ARC.  And I have no idea what you’re talking about with S2 and high fidelity.  The Sonos amp works on both the S1 and S2 systems with the same functionality in terms of what audio can be played where.

 

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 And I have no idea what you’re talking about with S2 and high fidelity.  The Sonos amp works on both the S1 and S2 systems with the same functionality in terms of what audio can be played where.

 

 

On the Sonos S2 web page (https://www.sonos.com/en-us/controller-app)

With upgraded audio processing, Sonos S2 supports higher resolution audio technologies for music and home theater, including Dolby Atmos.

 

My assumption was that with higher resolution audio for music that the digital input would be accessible. Clearly a bad assumption on my part.

 

 

 And I have no idea what you’re talking about with S2 and high fidelity.  The Sonos amp works on both the S1 and S2 systems with the same functionality in terms of what audio can be played where.

 

 

On the Sonos S2 web page (https://www.sonos.com/en-us/controller-app)

With upgraded audio processing, Sonos S2 supports higher resolution audio technologies for music and home theater, including Dolby Atmos.

 

My assumption was that with higher resolution audio for music that the digital input would be accessible. Clearly a bad assumption on my part.

 

 

 

Stop referring to HDMI-ARC as a "digital input" like it's the equivalent of  optical or coax.  It's not.   It was created specifically for TV audio, and only TV audio.  There are no CD players or audio only streamers with an HDMI-ARC output.

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What does Sonos have to say about this?

Line-In Sources Supported: Audio device with analog RCA output or optical output (optical adaptor required). TV device with HDMI ARC or optical output (optical adaptor required).

 

https://www.sonos.com/en-us/shop/amp.html

 

They clearly state that they support audio with optical output (with adapter).

It’s not me saying that the Amp supports digital audio, it is Sonos.

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