Question

How to test surround?

  • 25 March 2015
  • 20 replies
  • 49296 views

I  have a playbar, sub, and two play:1 speakers.  I have a new Sony 4k TV and I am trying to watch Netflix in 4K with 5.1 surround.  When I go to About in the Sonos controller I can see it says 5.1 but I am not hearing anything from the play:1s, not sure if I hear the subwoofer.

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20 replies

If you go into settings / room settings / ( room where you have 5.1 set up ) / advanced audio / recalibrate audio

You can re set up your surround and also make sure everything is working.
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I am also interested in testing the surround as well. I know I can re calibrate the audio for the Play 1 Speakers but when I play youtube surround test videos, it doesn't seem to work. They did work with my ordinary 5.1 system through a receiver. Is this because my TV optical isn't relaying 5.1 sound?
Userlevel 4
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YouTube doesn't output Dolby Digital (or DTS), you should test with TV broadcast, DVD/Blu-ray or a game console.
You can check whether the Playbar is receiving DD or stereo in Settings => About My Sonos System => Playbar Audio In
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Thanks for the quick response. I also used Disney WOW using Xbox 1 with the same results. I even patch the optical cable straight from the play bar to Xbox 1.
Userlevel 7
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I would recommend trying a BluRay or DVD which you are 100% sure is encoded with Dolby Digital. They are often labelled as such, on the back. I do not know if Disney WOW is on Surround.
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Thanks for the input. I'll try it with a bluray player when I get home today and see how it comes out. Disney WOW has surround calibration clips as well as color calibration. Pretty decent tool to adjust your TV and surround.
Userlevel 7
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Thanks for the input. I'll try it with a bluray player when I get home today and see how it comes out. Disney WOW has surround calibration clips as well as color calibration. Pretty decent tool to adjust your TV and surround.

You need to ensure that the audio id definitely Dolby Digital 5.1, not just "surround" sound.

Don't forget in the app or controller you can select About My Sonos system and find the Playbar and it will tell you the format of audio being received (That output from About my Sonos doesn't update if you change the audio - so need to close and re-enter that menu if you change anything.
Userlevel 7
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Most streaming video apps for TV channels/networks don't stream in surround sound (can't speak for all of them though, some might). Make sure that your XBox One is set to output audio to the Optical connection, not HDMI, and that it's Bitstream with Dolby Digital selected as the Bitstream format. Then put a Blu-Ray movie in your XBox One, download the Blu-Ray Player app if you don't already have it, and enjoy the movie.

As far as XBox One apps go, I know that Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, and Plex (if you have a Plex media server) will all stream 5.1 audio if it's available in whatever is being watched.
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Most streaming video apps for TV channels/networks don't stream in surround sound (can't speak for all of them though, some might). Make sure that your XBox One is set to output audio to the Optical connection, not HDMI, and that it's Bitstream with Dolby Digital selected as the Bitstream format. Then put a Blu-Ray movie in your XBox One, download the Blu-Ray Player app if you don't already have it, and enjoy the movie.

As far as XBox One apps go, I know that Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, and Plex (if you have a Plex media server) will all stream 5.1 audio if it's available in whatever is being watched.


I have tested using the same method (YourTube and Disney WOW) with my Onkyo 7.1 home theater and it worked perfectly. Now with the Sonos 5.1, I can not hear the base nor the left and right rear channels. While i was testing with Xbox1, the audio was coming from the tosh link cable since it was directly connected to the play bar.

I can hear from the left and right rear speakers but i'm not sure if they are "Surround" sound.
Userlevel 7
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What does "About my Sonos" say whilst listening to Youtube and Disney WOW?
Userlevel 7
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I didn't say to use Youtube or Disney WOW. I said to put in a Blu-Ray movie. Like Stuart said... what does "About my Sonos System" show when you use those apps? I'll bet it's stereo and not Dolby Digital 5.1.

Your Onkyo receiver may only be receiving a Stereo signal but is making it fill all speakers. Receivers have all kinds of settings to make things sound different than they were originally intended to sound.
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Yes, I understood that. Audio input on "about my sonos" only says stereo when it is connected to the Blu-ray player.
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Just tried with different sources and get different results. With the Blu-ray player, I get stereo. After playing with audio settings on Blu-ray player, I get unsupported.

With Amazon fire TV stick (thru TV optical out), I get stereo.

With over the air TV channel, I get 5.1 surround.
That's an indication that you need to check what each device is sending out to the TV. Each one should have an "audio" settings page, make sure they're set properly.

Of course, each device's settings page is likely in a different place, otherwise life would be easy, and fun. I've just gone through this myself, having gotten a new TV, and suddenly found out last night that the optical out was set to PCM, rather than Bitstream. Sonos does a fair job of interpreting that stereo signal into something resembling Dolby Digital, but since all of my devices inputting to the TV are set up to use Dolby Digital, I'd prefer the TV to just be passing the same data out.

Vexing. 🙂
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That's an indication that you need to check what each device is sending out to the TV. Each one should have an "audio" settings page, make sure they're set properly.

Of course, each device's settings page is likely in a different place, otherwise life would be easy, and fun. I've just gone through this myself, having gotten a new TV, and suddenly found out last night that the optical out was set to PCM, rather than Bitstream. Sonos does a fair job of interpreting that stereo signal into something resembling Dolby Digital, but since all of my devices inputting to the TV are set up to use Dolby Digital, I'd prefer the TV to just be passing the same data out.

Vexing. :)


Thanks for the tip. I just finished tweaking my Amazon Fire TV and Samsung BluRay player. I was able to get 5.1 Surround from Amazon Fire TV but apps such as YouTube and Netflix on Fire TV stick can only output stereo. From the BluRay player, I have an option to set to PCM and Bitstream with both setting output stereo sound.

Seems like I need to get another device to get the surround sound. Any suggestion on a device that can output 5.1 surround on Youtue, Netflix, Kodi or any other 3rd party video players? HDMI pass thru surround system was so much easier compare to this.
Userlevel 5
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Your bluray player should be able to transcode to dolby. Check the sound setting and set output to recoded dolby and surround.
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Your bluray player should be able to transcode to dolby. Check the sound setting and set output to recoded dolby and surround.

Maybe because my BluRay is 5 year old, i only have 3 options under Autio Options. PCM, Bitstream (uncoded) and Bitstream (audiophile). All settings gives me stereo sound.
Yea, you've entered in to my "I have a minor amount of knowledge, just to be dangerous" zone.

I'd listen to many of the others here on these boards who have run into this issue. Their experiences will be ultimately more satisfying than any guesses that I would make. There are a lot of posts about devices that will take inputs, be they HDMI or other, an then do some transcoding, and provide an output that's Dolby Digital (I think). But I can't point to one that I am confident, having no experience whatsoever. So I'll bow out of this thread, and allow others who have more expertise give you their opinions and knowledge. Best of luck!
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Yea, you've entered in to my "I have a minor amount of knowledge, just to be dangerous" zone.

I'd listen to many of the others here on these boards who have run into this issue. Their experiences will be ultimately more satisfying than any guesses that I would make. There are a lot of posts about devices that will take inputs, be they HDMI or other, an then do some transcoding, and provide an output that's Dolby Digital (I think). But I can't point to one that I am confident, having no experience whatsoever. So I'll bow out of this thread, and allow others who have more expertise give you their opinions and knowledge. Best of luck!


Thanks again for the tips. All of them help me understand more.
Then I'm happy. Learning about how it actually works is a big step in the right direction 🙂