completely frustrated, returning entire 5.1 system tomorrow

  • 23 March 2013
  • 42 replies
  • 22914 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

Any update on this? I have Apple TV and TiVo premiere connected, and was really interested to extend my 7 sonos zone system to the TV, but just can't see a reliable setup for reliable, easy 5.1 viewing.

Thanks so much for posting your issues and research. Saved me a lot of time. I'll wait for a solution before getting involved.


I went ahead and purchased the following:
http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=101&cp_id=10110&cs_id=1011002&p_id=5557&seq=1&format=2

It's been perfect. Now, my TV is like a typical home theater monitor set up. It only ever gets signal from 1 input. The monoprice switcher takes input from my TiVo on Fios, and my AppleTV.. It sends video via HDMI to my TV, and audio via optical to my Sonos Playbar. True 5.1 on the full playbar set up (with sub and 2 play:3 surrounds) sounds *much* better, and more realistic than the simulated surround before I put in the switcher..

The switcher has it's own IR remote. So, I just programmed my TiVo remote to control the input on that, rather than my TV, and all is good!


Can you tell me/us what brand/code you set the remote to when setting up your Tivo remote to power the monoprice splitter on/off? I would love that solution so I don't have to introduce yet another remote to the family (or replace my beloved Tivo peanut).
Badge +2

The switcher has it's own IR remote. So, I just programmed my TiVo remote to control the input on that, rather than my TV, and all is good!


Did you program the TiVo remote to control the switcher input AND control the switcher Power. I'd figure that the switcher needs to be turned off to cut TiVo audio to the soundbar. I want to use only my TiVo remote, and i know the remote can power two devices. So if I can get it to change switcher inputs and power of the switcher and the TV power i'd be all set.
Badge +2

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). 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.


Thanks so much for posting this set-up. It's the same as mine and i'm glad you were able to program the tivo remote to turn off the switcher. that was my solution and wasn't sure if it would work - glad it did....
Userlevel 2
Is ANYONE getting TRUE 5.1 out of a playbar using either a TV or a receiver?

My Sharp LC60LE757U does pass DD 5.1 from HDMI input through the optical out.
Userlevel 2
I've tried multiple sources through my tv or directly into the play bar but no matter what I do the app always reports a stereo input.

For example optical direct connection from a ps3 straight into the playbar.

Audio out settings on the ps3 are set to digital 5.1 not dts.

What should I expect to see? What am I doing wrong or does it only really do stereo?



...funny thing is when I'm obviously getting 5.1 by connecting the Amazon box to the PlayBar (at least I assume I am because I can hear a helicopter in a movie go front to back and then left to right) my ABOUT shows my PlayBar's input as ..... BLANK.
Userlevel 2
I just bought this TV along with a Playbar, Sub and the two Play 3's. The TV will output Dolby Digital or PCM through the optical out from any of the HDMI inputs. When playing TV via Media Center, most of my cable channels are DD so I get surround, but when I play a Bluray via PS3 I get no surround. Is this simply because the Playbar won't decode DTS? Or should I be able to get surround from a Bluray with this setup?

I'm still playing with the settings but assuming your menu is similar to mine there's a setting in the Audio section called BITSTREAM that has to be on for 5.1 to be passed as an output.
Userlevel 2
Its back ordered right now but it did work for you?

Look up B003L14WB8 in amazon.com
does it only really do stereo?
If Playbar sees a 5.1 signal it will do 5.1. There have to be satellites (sub, surrounds) to reproduce the relevant channels of course.

The PS3 will only be able to output 5.1 if the original content is in that format. If it's in stereo then, despite the 5.1 audio setting, stereo is what you'll get.
Userlevel 2
I've tried multiple sources through my tv or directly into the play bar but no matter what I do the app always reports a stereo input.

For example optical direct connection from a ps3 straight into the playbar.

Audio out settings on the ps3 are set to digital 5.1 not dts.

What should I expect to see? What am I doing wrong or does it only really do stereo?
Userlevel 2
TV is from 2012 (Sharp Aquos LC-80LE632U). Internal speakers are turned off. Have U-Verse wireless STB. All HD content OTA should be 1080i, and PS3 should be 1080p. I don't think the TV should be doing any converting. Signal being sent from source is what should be displayed.
As an industry, the program providers and transport companies (the cable company) don't care much about audio. In my experience lip sync can vary from channel to channel and program to program. The movie channels tend to be better managed than anything else.

A constructive trend that I am seeing is that devices, such as some receivers, are beginning to compensate for their own video processing latency. If the video is delayed a few frames, the unit will insert a matching audio delay. Exactly where this delay is inserted is not specified. (before or after the HDMI takeout point? TOSLINK output? Analog output? Digital processing?) This does not, however, compensate for issues caused up the chain at the production studio or cable company.
Userlevel 2
Badge
aasun,

Do you have an issue with audio delay? I have the exact same switch as you, and I think the Playbar processes the audio from the optical faster than my TV processes the video from the HDMI. I turned off audio compression in Sonos and set the delay, but I can't get the lip sync perfectly. One tick mark on the Audio delay is too much, and another tick mark is too little. And to top it off, it changes for various sources. Some HD channels seem to sync perfectly, other channels (HBO) have it off quite a bit. If I watch a BD on my ps3, it changes again. Starting to drive me crazy.


Hmm.. I would be very sensitive to that.. I haven't seen anything like that. We're not watching any BD in this set up (only Tivo and AppleTv). We have Fios, and have watched broadcast, Cable, HBO and Showtime frequently, and haven't seen anything like that.

How old is your TV? Is it possible that the TV is trying to do any conversion from the different video sources, which could be why the "processing" may be faster or slower depending on the source?
Userlevel 2
aasun,

Do you have an issue with audio delay? I have the exact same switch as you, and I think the Playbar processes the audio from the optical faster than my TV processes the video from the HDMI. I turned off audio compression in Sonos and set the delay, but I can't get the lip sync perfectly. One tick mark on the Audio delay is too much, and another tick mark is too little. And to top it off, it changes for various sources. Some HD channels seem to sync perfectly, other channels (HBO) have it off quite a bit. If I watch a BD on my ps3, it changes again. Starting to drive me crazy.
Userlevel 2
Badge
Any update on this? I have Apple TV and TiVo premiere connected, and was really interested to extend my 7 sonos zone system to the TV, but just can't see a reliable setup for reliable, easy 5.1 viewing.

Thanks so much for posting your issues and research. Saved me a lot of time. I'll wait for a solution before getting involved.


I went ahead and purchased the following:
http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=101&cp_id=10110&cs_id=1011002&p_id=5557&seq=1&format=2

It's been perfect. Now, my TV is like a typical home theater monitor set up. It only ever gets signal from 1 input. The monoprice switcher takes input from my TiVo on Fios, and my AppleTV.. It sends video via HDMI to my TV, and audio via optical to my Sonos Playbar. True 5.1 on the full playbar set up (with sub and 2 play:3 surrounds) sounds *much* better, and more realistic than the simulated surround before I put in the switcher..

The switcher has it's own IR remote. So, I just programmed my TiVo remote to control the input on that, rather than my TV, and all is good!
Userlevel 2
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. :)


Any update on this? I have Apple TV and TiVo premiere connected, and was really interested to extend my 7 sonos zone system to the TV, but just can't see a reliable setup for reliable, easy 5.1 viewing.

Thanks so much for posting your issues and research. Saved me a lot of time. I'll wait for a solution before getting involved.
Userlevel 3
Badge +7
I just bought this TV along with a Playbar, Sub and the two Play 3's. The TV will output Dolby Digital or PCM through the optical out from any of the HDMI inputs. When playing TV via Media Center, most of my cable channels are DD so I get surround, but when I play a Bluray via PS3 I get no surround. Is this simply because the Playbar won't decode DTS? Or should I be able to get surround from a Bluray with this setup?
Userlevel 2
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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.
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.
Userlevel 2
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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 7
Badge +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!
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 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.
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 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
Badge
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. 🙂