completely frustrated, returning entire 5.1 system tomorrow

  • 23 March 2013
  • 42 replies
  • 22888 views

Userlevel 2
You simply cannot get true 5.1 sound out of this with its extremely limiting optical routing option. Virtually no TV on the market will output 5.1 from external HDMI devices, nor will a receiver. Tested and researched this for a full day now with different receivers. 2100 bucks for 5.1, to be stuck with dummied up 5.1? I cant live with that. Is ANYONE getting TRUE 5.1 out of a playbar using either a TV or a receiver?

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42 replies

Is ANYONE getting TRUE 5.1 out of a playbar using either a TV or a receiver?
Yes. My Sony TV passes through 5.1 from HDMI.

Despite this I actually switch S/PDIF directly from DTT PVR and DVD Player. 5.1 from both, depending on content.
Userlevel 2
Yes. My Sony TV passes through 5.1 from HDMI.

Despite this I actually switch S/PDIF directly from DTT PVR and DVD Player. 5.1 from both, depending on content.


do you have to pull cables to do this? I understand a few select Sony TVs have this capability. The large majority of TVs on the market do not, though. Its unfortunate.
Userlevel 2
if I may ask, which sony TV do you have?
It's a Sony KDL-40WE5.

There are comments on the forums that the more recent Sonys pass through 5.1.
Userlevel 2
It's a Sony KDL-40WE5.

There are comments on the forums that the more recent Sonys pass through 5.1.


Thank you. Im currently looking to return my Samsung for a sony kdl60ex645. Im researching if the TV will do it.
Userlevel 2
Almost all new LG's output 5.1 from a 5.1 HDMI source.
I'm using an Octava HD11ARC to work around this nuisance. It works as it should and with the IR extender I can put the box out of sight.
Userlevel 2
Update: for those of you with this problem, MONOPRICE sells a box for 45 bucks that is 4hdmi in, 1hdmi out with a toslink out too. Works like a charm. 5.1 dolby working well. Be advised. The playbar does not play dolby digital plus, so for now no netflix.
Userlevel 2
I'm using an Octava HD11ARC to work around this nuisance. It works as it should and with the IR extender I can put the box out of sight.

Curious, how do you manage with only 1 HDMI in? I have 4 and have run out. I couldn't think of anything else to add, but with 4 I have cable, a BD player, ROKU and soon to be a Wii U. Is there something I'm missing??
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Update: for those of you with this problem, MONOPRICE sells a box for 45 bucks that is 4hdmi in, 1hdmi out with a toslink out too. Works like a charm. 5.1 dolby working well. Be advised. The playbar does not play dolby digital plus, so for now no netflix.

Can you elaborate on the "no netflix"? Do you mean that there's no audio from Netflix through the Playbar? Or just that there's no 5.1 audio?
Userlevel 2
Can you elaborate on the "no netflix"? Do you mean that there's no audio from Netflix through the Playbar? Or just that there's no 5.1 audio?

sorry, just no 5.1 audio. There is stereo just fine.
I was a bit disappointed as well trying to get true 5.1. Now.. I have since sold my 5.1 receiver and completely migrated to SONOS. The sound is that incredible. The issue was not with my TV or SONOS but with the attached components. My setup - Samsung LN60C630, Apple TV latest version and Tivo 4 Tuner. Tivo and ATV are connected to TV via HDMI, Optical out from TV to Playbar. In the Apple TV settings menu, I switched the Audio settings from Auto to Digital, played 3 movies from iTunes, 1 streaming from iMac and 2 from Netflix all in 5.1. This was confirmed via the audio settings on my tv as well as in the about my SONOS selection on my iPhone app. The TV switched from PCM to digital, and SONOS went from Stereo to 5.1. When I switched the ATV back to Auto, my TV went back to PCM and SONOS app showed stereo. I am still messing around with the settings on my TIVO. I have been testing some of the audio settings with HBO HD. The info guide shows the audio transmitting at 5.1 but my TV remains PCM and the iOS app continues to show stereo. At this point, I am convinced the problem is with TIVO not sending 5.1 through HDMI. Even with my 5.1 receiver, I was never able to experience 5.1 sound via HDMI. My work around was to connect an optical cable directly to the TIVO. In my case, I don't mind too much if regular TV is not 5.1.. as long as when I watch a real movie via iTunes/Netflix I hear all the crash, bank, jingles background sounds etc... I am good.

Hope this helps.. !!
Userlevel 2
Guys, there is a 45 dollar splitter box that'll make it all work at monoprice.com. it has 4hdmi in and one hdmi out and an optical out. Connect the playbar to it and voila!!! Dolby 5.1.
Userlevel 2
Guys, there is a 45 dollar splitter box that'll make it all work at monoprice.com. it has 4hdmi in and one hdmi out and an optical out. Connect the playbar to it and voila!!! Dolby 5.1.

Its back ordered right now but it did work for you?
Userlevel 2
Its back ordered right now but it did work for you?

yes it did
'Curious, how do you manage with only 1 HDMI in? I have 4 and have run out. I couldn't think of anything else to add, but with 4 I have cable, a BD player, ROKU and soon to be a Wii U. Is there something I'm missing??' - with multiple Sources connected directly via HDMI to an ARC enabled HDTV and the Octava HD11-ARC connected to the ARC port on the TV the Octava unit decodes the ARC audio from whichever Source is selected on the TV via the Octava Optical out to the PLAYBAR!.

Joe

(Octava Inc).
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I too have been bitten by the "no dd 5.1 output from my tv." I have a 2011 panasonic p65vt30. I read the manual and everything I could see says Dolby Digital through digital optical out. Hooked up my $2000 sonos set up (playbar, sub, 2x play 3). While it *does* sound amazing, compared to my preivous panasonic htb520 soundbar set up, the surround audio created is a bit distracting! (a little loud, sounds kind of fake. I'm assuming it's the dolby pro logic II creating *fake* surround sound from the stereo).

Anyway, reading every word in the panasonic manual three times carefully, it seems the optical digital out will only do 5.1 from ATSC sources, whereas NTSC sources will only output PCM. (which, of course, means TiVo and Apple TV will only be PCM/stereo).

So, I've looked at the various switchers people have suggested, but I'm concerned about the "auto off" features of the playbar. I only have a TiVo premiere and an AppleTV connected via HDMI to my TV. The Tivo will never stop sending signal over the HDMI (or optical out, for that matter). So, bypassing the TV for that, isn't really a great option, since there is no "off" for the play bar (or even a remote sequence) that the play bar would accept from a remote to turn off the incoming audio when the TV is off. (I know i can change the input using my sonos remote software.. But, that kind of defeats the "simplicity" argument). I *really* hate having to use mutliple remotes to turn something on, or off, or to change inputs. I use the TiVo bluetooth remote so the Tivo is in another room, as well.

So, to keep the simple 1 remote functionality, it really seems that the audio should come from the TV, rather than an external source. (And that's likely what Sonos intended... The play bar is not a multi-input receiver, afterall).

My panasonic plasma does support ARC over HDMI. And, that's how I previously had the panasonic htb520 sound bar connected. I have seen some HDMI to optical (Toslink) converters for reasonable prices. Does anyone think that would be a good way to go? (I realize at that point, the TV would be providing a variable audio output... But, I've already switched the audio remove commands coming from my Tivo remote for the sonos to work and not see the "Speakers Off" notification on my TV. so, I figure I can set my TV audio at a good level and still use that set up so the TV isn't varying the audio level).

I've scoured the forums, third-party reviews, and AVS forums. I realize that everyone has their own opinions, and viewing preferences are not consistent, etc, etc. But, I'm a bit indecisive at this point.. I've already shelled out $2k for the sonos audio set up.. Do, I spend more, live with the simulated surround with the added play:3s, or ditch them and keep the *still amazing* audio of just the playbar and sub?

Bottom line, I'm not interested in purchasing a new TV at this point.. So, should I:

1. try an HDMI to optical converter and use the HDMI/ARC output of the TV so I can get 5.1 to my Sonos setup? (not really interested in an HDMI switcher due to increased complexity and concern about being able to shut off audio from the TiVo when the TV is off).

2. repurpose my 2x play:3s to some other part of the house (my home office, for example)

3. just suck it up and find a suitable 65" - 70" TV replacement for my 2011 Panasonic plasma that will *absolutely* output 5.1 over optical (from all sources that provide it).

I should say the following:
I'm an avid sonos user. Have been since 2006. This playbar set up is in my bedroom. So, true *5.1 surround* is not critical... I have never had that in that room, and I have a 7.1 set up in my main viewing area. I Have 5 different zones in my house (not including the new Surround zone I've set up)

Thanks for anyone's input. 🙂
Userlevel 1
I too have been bitten by the "no dd 5.1 output from my tv." I have a 2011 panasonic p65vt30. I read the manual and everything I could see says Dolby Digital through digital optical out. Hooked up my $2000 sonos set up (playbar, sub, 2x play 3). While it *does* sound amazing, compared to my preivous panasonic htb520 soundbar set up, the surround audio created is a bit distracting! (a little loud, sounds kind of fake. I'm assuming it's the dolby pro logic II creating *fake* surround sound from the stereo).

Anyway, reading every word in the panasonic manual three times carefully, it seems the optical digital out will only do 5.1 from ATSC sources, whereas NTSC sources will only output PCM. (which, of course, means TiVo and Apple TV will only be PCM/stereo).

So, I've looked at the various switchers people have suggested, but I'm concerned about the "auto off" features of the playbar. I only have a TiVo premiere and an AppleTV connected via HDMI to my TV. The Tivo will never stop sending signal over the HDMI (or optical out, for that matter). So, bypassing the TV for that, isn't really a great option, since there is no "off" for the play bar (or even a remote sequence) that the play bar would accept from a remote to turn off the incoming audio when the TV is off. (I know i can change the input using my sonos remote software.. But, that kind of defeats the "simplicity" argument). I *really* hate having to use mutliple remotes to turn something on, or off, or to change inputs. I use the TiVo bluetooth remote so the Tivo is in another room, as well.

So, to keep the simple 1 remote functionality, it really seems that the audio should come from the TV, rather than an external source. (And that's likely what Sonos intended... The play bar is not a multi-input receiver, afterall).

My panasonic plasma does support ARC over HDMI. And, that's how I previously had the panasonic htb520 sound bar connected. I have seen some HDMI to optical (Toslink) converters for reasonable prices. Does anyone think that would be a good way to go? (I realize at that point, the TV would be providing a variable audio output... But, I've already switched the audio remove commands coming from my Tivo remote for the sonos to work and not see the "Speakers Off" notification on my TV. so, I figure I can set my TV audio at a good level and still use that set up so the TV isn't varying the audio level).

I've scoured the forums, third-party reviews, and AVS forums. I realize that everyone has their own opinions, and viewing preferences are not consistent, etc, etc. But, I'm a bit indecisive at this point.. I've already shelled out $2k for the sonos audio set up.. Do, I spend more, live with the simulated surround with the added play:3s, or ditch them and keep the *still amazing* audio of just the playbar and sub?

Bottom line, I'm not interested in purchasing a new TV at this point.. So, should I:

1. try an HDMI to optical converter and use the HDMI/ARC output of the TV so I can get 5.1 to my Sonos setup? (not really interested in an HDMI switcher due to increased complexity and concern about being able to shut off audio from the TiVo when the TV is off).

2. repurpose my 2x play:3s to some other part of the house (my home office, for example)

3. just suck it up and find a suitable 65" - 70" TV replacement for my 2011 Panasonic plasma that will *absolutely* output 5.1 over optical (from all sources that provide it).

I should say the following:
I'm an avid sonos user. Have been since 2006. This playbar set up is in my bedroom. So, true *5.1 surround* is not critical... I have never had that in that room, and I have a 7.1 set up in my main viewing area. I Have 5 different zones in my house (not including the new Surround zone I've set up)

Thanks for anyone's input. :)



Not sure i will offer a solution here but after reading many comments on this forum I can't help but to think something is very fundamentally wrong given the number of people focussing on what their tv output in terms of audio . A good tv in my simplistic mind is all about picture quality and also connectivity to some extend but a tv is meant to view not to be part of an audio solution. I am sensing that are a lot of people are trying to retrofit the playbar solution because they are wanting to like playbar yet at the end if the day is a very disappointing solution. Folks we are not talking cheap dollars here, 2500 cad all on if you want to full solution. This is way beyond HTIB pricing structure.

I would never consider selling my 2012 65 inch plasma to accommodate for playbar. Gosh we don't even know if toslink out will exist on TVs 3 years from now. HDMI is the new standard and had been for years.

I am a die hard fan on sonos and have multiple zones. I purchased the entire playbar solution which I ended up returning main, because of poor audio reproduction on music, I also got bit with the PCM issue and really the cost could not justify the solution I had at hand.

My view of things now is playbar is meant to replace internal speaker period. If you are going to go all the way with the 5.1 solutions you should look elsewhere. I would have like to love the playbar but I was never able to convince myself that I did, sadly so.
Userlevel 2

Bottom line, I'm not interested in purchasing a new TV at this point.. So, should I:

1. try an HDMI to optical converter and use the HDMI/ARC output of the TV so I can get 5.1 to my Sonos setup? (not really interested in an HDMI switcher due to increased complexity and concern about being able to shut off audio from the TiVo when the TV is off).

2. repurpose my 2x play:3s to some other part of the house (my home office, for example)

3. just suck it up and find a suitable 65" - 70" TV replacement for my 2011 Panasonic plasma that will *absolutely* output 5.1 over optical (from all sources that provide it).

I should say the following:
I'm an avid sonos user. Have been since 2006. This playbar set up is in my bedroom. So, true *5.1 surround* is not critical... I have never had that in that room, and I have a 7.1 set up in my main viewing area. I Have 5 different zones in my house (not including the new Surround zone I've set up)

Thanks for anyone's input. :)


1. Either that or a toslink splitter. You can connect all your devices (AppleTV, BluRayPlayer etc.) through optical out to the splitter and the optical out of the splitter to the playbar. It will cost you about 60$ for a remote controlled version of the splitter and the toslink cables. It will work perfectly with movies supporting DD5.1. Not so with current bluray disks that only support DTS. But you can work around the later by using the TV optical out only for DTS.

I know, it sucks, but until Sonos blesses us with DTS we only can use our 2000$ setups with 1990's technology (stereo to simulated surround) for the latest bluray movies.

2. Shure, why not? But you will miss the surround sound, it really makes a better movie entertainment

3. Definitely not. About 3000$ or more because of Sonos' design flaw? I wouldn't recommend that, at all. And like others stated, toslink is a deprecated legacy technology. I guess there will be a Playbar2 in the future with HDMI connectivity. I'm pretty sure. Or Sonos will go bankrupt, the other option ;)

In the IT and tech industry it is all about innovation. Either you bring innovative, disruptive technology or you go belly up pretty soon. Sonos does innovation with great sounding _and_ great looking devices with a high WAF (women acceptance factor) without the cabling hassle. I love it!

But on the other hand they messed up pretty hard by not implementing HDMI and, for the worst part, no DTS support, yet. As soon as they upgrade the software of the playbar to do DTS, this system will be unrivaled in the high end wireless surround section, although the missing HDMI and I will recommend it to anyone.
Userlevel 2
You need the Octava HD41ARC HDMI switch with optical audio output . It has 4 HDMI inputs and can convert the hdmi audio to toslink.
Also for the DTS track issue, you can program the Octava with EDID so if there is a DTS track it will force the source to play 2 ch PCM to the Sonos.
OOOORRRR you can go with a MUCH cheaper solution like this one. It does the same job.

http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=101&cp_id=10110&cs_id=1011002&p_id=7974&seq=1&format=2
Userlevel 7
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Do any of these switches swop between inputs automatically or do they require the user to press some button(s) on the switch or remote?

If the latter then this is still not a suitable long term solution!
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I went with the HD11-ARC HDMI Audio Converter. My TV is new enough to have 4 HDMI inputs and ARC. So, this should work great. I use TiVo primarily with Fios, or AppleTV on this. No DVD/Blueray. So, using my TV as the switch is more desireable for me so I don't have to use multiple remotes or manually switch.

I'm optimistic, and I'll keep you posted how it works.

Thanks for the replies.
Userlevel 2
Do any of these switches swop between inputs automatically or do they require the user to press some button(s) on the switch or remote?

If the latter then this is still not a suitable long term solution!


I purchased this
http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=101&cp_id=10110&cs_id=1011002&p_id=5557&seq=1&format=2
and it works like a champ with the cable box and roku streamer. Amazon prime movies in 5.1 no problem. As far as switching, I trained my logitech remote to do it all in one fell swoop. A "watch Roku" activity press on the remote switches the TV input, the HDMI splitter and allows control for the Roku streamer. NOW, we need to get upgraded software to allow for DD PLUS.
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I just purchased that one, as well.

The Octava one with ARC doesn't actually work for me. (though, I suspect it's my TV). My 2011 Panasonic Plasma doesn't appear to output DD over HDMI for any incoming HDMI sources. So, I will be going the switch route, afterall.

I should have just done that first. But, I really wanted to keep this a minimal install, without having to take the TV off the wall, run new cables, etc. But, it is what it is.

Until I get the new box, I do have the Octava in place (though, it's taking direct input from the TiVo), and it works great. The 5.1 with the 2 play:3s really does add quite a bit of punch. Overall, the sound quality of the playbar, sub, and play:3s is outstanding.

Thanks for the input and discussion.