Sonos Playbar volume control using Bluetooth TV remote with no IR

  • 15 April 2019
  • 3 replies
  • 321 views

Bought a new TV. It uses a Bluetooth remote, no IR capability, which the Playbar requires for volume control. Playbar can learn TV remote volume cotrnol, but only if TV remote uses IR. How to control the Playbar volume from the TV remote?

I didn't want to get a Universal Remote. I didn't want to use phone to control TV volume. I didn't want two remotes (I could have kept using the old TV remote just for Playbar volume).

I solved the problem with a $12 converter box from Monoprice (www.monoprice.com). Its an Analog-to-Digital audio converter. I connected the converter the to TV analog audio out, which is of course controlled by the TV remote volume control. I then connected the Toslink digital audio cable from the converter box output to the Playbar. I initially set a middle-ground volume level in the Playbar using the volume control on the side of Playbar, then use TV remote to control analog audio out, which then sends the volume level as part of the digitally coded content to the Playbar. Bluetooth TV remote now controls Playbar volume!

The converter only needs an AC power source, and an RCA left and right cable connection to TV analog output (on my TV, its a 3.5 mm headphone jack, so I just used a headphone to RCS cable I had laying around). On the output end it just needs a Toslink digital audio fiber cable. The cables don't come with the converter. There is no setup or config for the converter, just plug and play. The converter box is small. Fits behind my TV in the pocket where all the input/outputs reside.

Play around with best initial Playbar volume to get the best sound using the TV volume control. You are basically controlling volume from two sources, one of which you will leave static. Its important to get that static Playbar volume level value in a good place. After that its just use the TV remote!

This workaround should work for any TV remote that doesn't use IR, so long as TV has an analog audio out that is controlled by TV remote (which should pretty much be any modern TV.)

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It's worth noting that your work around limits the audio format to stereo. You would not be able to watch anything in double surround sound.
This is indeed rather a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. In addition to the loss of any 5.1 surround information there's the extra conversion of digital to analog in the TV and analog back to digital in the converter box. Plus the fact that TV headphone outlets often don't have a particularly good noise floor.
Throwing the baby out with the bathwater would have been throwing out the Playbar, which was my only other viable alternative, and one I was all but set to do. Welcome to hear other workable alternatives.

What I was really looking for was some sort of Bluetooth to IR converter. Something that could take the Fire edition TV Bluetooth signal from the remote, and pass some sort of IR signal for volume up and down, which the Playbar could then learn. But I could not find any such device.

Ironically, the latest Firestick has a remote with built in volume up and down buttons, and that remote WILL output IR signals, just for accessories like Soundbars. They even sell that remote separately. Alas, its not compatible with Fire edition TV's.

So I have a Soundbar that will only work with IR, and a remote that will only work with Bluetooth. But the sound from the Playbar, though hamstrung, is still better than the sound from the built in TV speakers.

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